Friday, June 9, 2023

The Master of My Destiny

I think I was nine years old when I ate an entire medium pepperoni pizza by myself. I didn’t think anything of it; I wasn’t even really all that hungry. It was there, and I just kept going back to the kitchen stovetop for more slices. It wouldn’t be until about five years later when I started caring, not caring, and beating myself up about what I ate and consumed.

A common theme throughout my life was never feeling good enough, something pointed out by a perceptive woman when I opened up to her about eating disorders, toxic relationships, and my struggle with ulcerative colitis, an autoimmune disease. I have a habit of putting others’ beliefs, needs, and problems before my own. It’s like I’m nothing without other people. The less I weighed physically, the less of me, the more important I was. And even that wasn’t enough.

My teen years and early adulthood were filled with depression and anxiety. I loved food because it made me feel good and I’d eat more to feel better, but it’d make me feel bad because I thought I was eating too much, so I’d either completely cut myself off after that or continue overeating to feel good again. There really was no middle ground, it was all an extreme hybrid carousel/rollercoaster ride.

I was about 22 when I got diagnosed with colitis. For months, I was like a natural laxative machine. I was running to the bathroom, I’m not joking, at least fifteen times a day. I lost forty pounds, I loved being able to count my ribs, and I had stomach pain and horribly low energy and was so pale all the time. (My stomach’s hurting just thinking about all of this.) No matter what I ate, I’d lose it all and more down the toilet. And all I was focused on was comments from people and friends asking, “Have you lost weight?” or excitedly saying, “Oh! You got skinny!!” It took someone else to tell me to go to the doctor before I even contemplated getting looked at. I didn’t care about myself. I was losing weight– why would I care?

But I went. And I met the coolest gastroenterologist who told me, “You are the master of your destiny.” Control was not something I was used to for myself. I was a dissociative daydreaming codependent, I wasn’t in control of anything. I took the anti-inflammatory medication he prescribed me for a few months, gained a lot of the weight back, and felt my money was better spent on smoking, so I just stopped taking the pills and stopped going to my appointments. I turned to bulimia to make the nausea from my colitis flare ups go away, then did it even when I didn’t have nausea, and was losing weight again. I was just adapting, I wasn’t truly acting or growing.

Then I met someone who helps me see the value in and of myself, just for being me. Not because of anyone else. I’m learning to balance my physical, mental, and spiritual health, and understanding that they are all correlated. I’m sober, going to the gym every other day, and being more conscious about calorie intake and what and how I’m eating. I have fewer negative and suicidal thoughts throughout the day, and found solace through meditation and energy/crystal work.

I’m about to be 27 very soon, and as a rock fan, singer, and bassist, that’s a very unlucky year for musicians. I honestly didn’t think I’d live past 30. I never planned anything for my life, but now that I’m feeling and seeing clearer, I know I can at least control my food in a positive way, which will build a solid foundation for more goals to lay upon.


Nothing and no one is perfect. A conversation with an old coworker summed up that there’s no perfection, only progression. So when I want to make southern drop biscuits one day, and an avocado and veggie bacon (a lifesaver) sandwich on toasted sourdough bread the next, I can.

My destiny

Both were delicious! Now, I’m trying to enjoy and appreciate my life and all that is good and yummy, and take care of myself, not punish myself because I’m not something or someone else. I am the master of my destiny.

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Ashley Burdette
Ashley Burdette
Ashley Burdette is an open-minded southern writer and photographer who loves good eats, music, dreaming, and cats.


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