I am a rebel girl. Most people would look at me and laugh because they probably see a goody-good girl. What most people don’t realize is that behind my cute smile, wisps of blonde highlighted hair, and a slew of professional and academic accomplishments is a rebel. 

Becoming a Rebel at Age 9

“Give me that piece of bread!” this was yelled at me all too much. It created a gif of a piece of bread ripped away from my 9-year-old hands in my head. I used food as a coping tool. It was my all-time favorite tool in my overflowing treasure chest of destructive eating disorder “coping” skills. “Go ride your bike!” “Go for a walk!” “Go, play tennis!” or “You NEED to move and exercise!” was beaten in me for decades. When told to do something, I would dig my heels in and state most emphatically NO! I love sports but refused to play them out of pure rebellion. I started to eat to bury my emotions inside of me. I thought I “needed” food to help me deal with the voices and emotions flying in my head. I became addicted to the highs that food provided me.

I became sicker, and food still got ripped from my hands. I became yelled at more to go and exercise and stop eating as the number on the scale started to climb at an alarming pace.

When I moved out, I felt free from the ripping of food from my hands. The constant weigh-ins on the scale in my bathroom, and the white crinkled excel sheet that my weight got scribbled on, with the chewed pencil that was attached to the wall by a fraying, lifeless, lonely piece of dingy gray string that looked at me saying I get you as I am you. I didn’t realize at the time that being a rebel was destroying my life. I had built a wall around myself that I thought was there to protect me, but in reality, it was barricading me from feeling truly happy.

Goodbye Rebel

I sought treatment for my eating disorder and was slowly getting it under control. Yet, something was still holding me back. On a subconscious level, I recognized that my greatest desire was to run with my ponytail swishing side to side and taking a variety of fitness classes at my gym. However, I needed to free myself from my destructive thoughts and trust that all would be okay. I grappled with these conflicting feelings daily.

For years I never played sports despite my overwhelming desire for the high the endorphins gave me. It was my decision as a rebel to stop playing. I gave up what made me happy in life. I was hurting myself and no one else.

I Found Myself!

After landing my dream job, teaching, I dedicated my time to helping others. I soon realized that I needed to be “selfish” and reserve time for myself. An extremely challenging concept to swallow. I went back to my gym, which used to make me want to pass out from anxiety, took a giant leap of faith, and hired a personal trainer. My reason was not to lose weight but to have fun with someone who would challenge and inspire me while providing support with my eating habits. I knew from past experiences that if I focused on clothing size or numbers, I would never go. I needed to go out of love. I found a trainer, Melissa. She does not judge me, unlike so many others, but instead inspires me to be my authentic, vibrant self. When I am around her, I feel free. I laugh, joke, and act a little crazy. She brings out the once caged little girl inside of me.

After training with Melissa and attending fitness classes at the gym, I came to the realization that after twenty-one years of bread being ripped from my hands that it was time to tell E.D. (eating disorder) to pack his bags and hit the road. Finally, my true self was shining through like the blinding sun during my morning commute to work. 

I am still a rebel, but I try not to let it stop me from feeling happy.

“Girl, you got this!” – Melissa (my trainer)  

Brianna Ricotta is a teacher, blogger and poet that strives to inspire her students and readers as others have done for her. She pulls inspiration from the world that surrounds her.

Image courtesy of Soragrit Wongsa.