I remember being eight years old and getting on a scale.

I was offered $1 for every pound I would lose while in summer camp. That year, I went from being a petite, slim child to being Chubby.

For most of my life, my body has been the most identifiable part of me.

Being fat was my identity, and others wanted me to be accepted. That meant thin.

I was told that no one would want me when I was fat.

(I was eight, I didn’t know what that meant.)

I was told I couldn’t have friends.

(I tried to become really funny and that helped.)

I was warned that I wouldn’t get anywhere in life being Fat.

(I believed them.)

I was born. I was born infinite and unbreakable and I remained that way even as outside voices told me I was broken and hopeless.

But the thing is, I have been whole since I was born. I was born infinite and unbreakable and I remained that way even as outside voices told me I was broken and hopeless.

Trying to make sense of these inner and outer voices, in my teens years I began experiencing intense depression. I couldn’t make sense of the world or where I was going. It was hard to see the way forward and be a participating member in my life.

My relationship with food reflected that chaos. I didn’t know how to act around food. I tried to control it because it felt like the only thing I could control. However, at times, it was my only comfort. The only thing that would always be there for me, so I quieted the inner turmoil with eating.

On the worst day of my life, the noise of external pressures got too loud for me to live through. I was 15, looking over the water, trying to see if life was worth living. In that moment, I was given the gift of seeing my unbreakable wholeness. I was able to realise that if I found the inner strength to choose it, there was a future for me. I would go on to live a full life. In a moment of clarity, I knew that within me I had the strength to get better, be loved, and one day I hoped to raise a family and do incredible things.

Over the next few years, I kept choosing myself over and over again. I began the deep process of shedding layers of hiddenness through therapy, 12 step programs, and inner work. That promise kept me growing into the version of who I am today.

Today, when voices come in from the outside, I listen to myself first.

When I look in the mirror, I look at my body and see a partner to my soul. A body that is the vessel that allows my potential to come into this world.

My body allows me to get through each day and to participate in this incredible life I live.

My eyes and mind allow me to delve deep into the truths of Torah and teach it to others.

My legs walk me through the streets of Yerushalayim, allowing me to explore and experience this dream of living in this land.

My hands allow me to cook nourishing meals as an act of love for myself and others.

My voice allows me to share my wisdom, my story and my love.

My heart allows me to feel the fullness of this world.

I know I will find a partner who will connect with my soul and be attracted to my body.

I hope one day my body will bring new life into the world and I will be able to nourish it.

Together, my body and soul allow me to live a wholesome, engaging and loving life.

No matter my size, that is what I deserve.

Photo Credit: Shira Lankin Sheps

This article originally appeared on The Layers Project Magazine, where you can find more meaningful stories about Jewish women. Click here to purchase the new book from The Layers Project, "Layers: Personal Narratives of Struggle, Resilience, and Growth From Jewish Women". Use code Layers10 for 10% your order.