“We all have two wolves fighting inside of us. One wolf is the voice of lies, which make you despair. The other wolf is the voice of hope, which reminds you of joy and goodness. Which wolf wins the fight? Simple. The one you feed.“
The Wolf Inside
A friend shared this old folk tale with me several years ago. I was just starting my eating disorder recovery journey. For a long season anorexia dominated my life. I was so used to believing the voice of restriction and self-hate. I lost touch with that gentle whisper of hope. This story empowered me to start sifting through the disordered thoughts and destructive lies that told me I’d never be enough. And begin to actually believe the message that I am worthy, just as I am.
I wouldn’t be at the place of freedom I am today without my counselor. Or my nutritionist and support system right beside me. One of the biggest lies I still have to fight is that I don’t deserve to get help. That deceptive voice tells me, “You’re not sick enough to get treatment.” Or, “You should be able to have it together by now.” This compounded with the hurtful message from some in the Christian community around me that I “should just be able to pray away my mental health issues.”
Going Against Society’s Rules
Recovering from an eating disorder in a culture that screams “the thinner, the better” and promotes restrictive behaviors can feel like trying to scale an icy mountain. I recently thought of the wolf story and thought,
Wow, this feels so hopeless. I’m not even trying to feed the voice telling me my worth depends on my weight. But everywhere I turn or every time I look at social media, boom, it’s there! How in the world can the other voice become the stronger one?
The second after I thought that, another idea came to mind. What if the loudest voice doesn’t have to be the strongest one?
What if the dominant message from society, media, or the people around me doesn’t have to be the one I believe? And what if the strength of a belief doesn’t come from its frequency or volume, but in its endurance?
No matter how deafening the messages of despair might be, if even a whisper of hope keeps holding on, that voice proves itself resilient and powerful.
Picture a tiny flower whose roots hold strong through the torrents and wind gusts of a rainstorm. The plant is certainly smaller than the storm. But wouldn’t it be the stronger of the two, since it kept growing when the weather changed?
I’ll probably never go through a day where I don’t face a weight-loss-promoting ad, Instagram post that makes me compare myself, or comment that makes me feel insecure. But at the end of the day, if I still am holding on to that voice that tells me I’m enough, I’m deserving of help, and I have so much to fight for, I say that’s the voice that’s the strongest one.
I don’t know exactly where you are right now with the lies in your own head. Maybe they’re telling you that you’re not enough, or that you’re too much. Or that you don’t deserve love or support. Or that your struggles are something to be ashamed of. Or that there’s nothing left to fight for.
There Is Hope
But whenever you feel like those messages are screaming, take a deep breath and search for that voice of hope. That quote, that encouragement from a friend, that song lyric. Even if that message is just a whisper, that’s okay.
Hope doesn’t have to scream the loudest. Simply knowing it’s there is enough.