Yellow and orange flowers
Say It Brave

We Deserve

By Nōn Wels
I deserve joy. I deserve good things. I deserve to be seen. I deserve to be healed. I deserve connection. I deserve success. I deserve to be nourished. I deserve love.

I woke up this morning to a specific thought I haven’t had in over a decade: I don’t deserve food.

These kinds of thoughts were oppressively prevalent during my 10-year battle with anorexia, a decade marked by cognitive fog, brittle hair taking death plunges from my scalp, a perpetual (and quite literal) heartache and the stegosaurus spikes that protruded from my spine.

 It was an all-consuming self-destruction. A masochism. An arduous exercise in self-hate.

 And yet, as I’ve had time to sit with this and unpack what it means, I realize it’s a frame of thinking I’m all too familiar with.

 At the core of all my struggles—from childhood through today—is this deeply entrenched belief that I don’t deserve anything.

 I don’t deserve joy. I don’t deserve good things. I don’t deserve to be seen. I don’t deserve to be healed. I don’t deserve connection. I don’t deserve success. I don’t deserve to be nourished. I don’t deserve love.

 I don’t deserve.

I don’t deserve.

I don’t deserve.

 I don’t.

I don’t.

I don’t.

It’s an old story that continues to be played in my head and heart, like the cable tv rerun of that one show you can’t recall the name of or particularly enjoy, yet you can’t turn your eyes away from the screen.

The old limiting stories are ever-present, simply playing the roles they’ve been assigned, however conscious or unconscious. I’ve written them in permanent ink, with the cavalcade of traumas and emotional wounds looming over my shoulder holding a shotgun to my head, dictating how I see myself in the world.

I’ve got to change this story. I’ve got to rewrite it.

One time, I was lucky enough to be a participant in an “On Being Human” workshop led by the magical Jen Pastiloff. Jen had asked all of us to each write down a morning prayer, something we can say to ourselves and to the universe each morning.

I wrote this: “I don’t deserve to be in pain.”

I repeat that in my head often, even when the odds are stacked in the favor of me deserving that pain.

I wonder, perhaps, if I said it aloud:

“I don’t deserve to be in pain!”

I wonder, more so, if I said it differently:

“I deserve to live without pain!”

Now try this. Say this aloud with me:

I deserve joy. I deserve good things. I deserve to be seen. I deserve to be healed. I deserve connection. I deserve success. I deserve to be nourished. I deserve love.

We can rewrite these old stories that limit the love we allow into our hearts. We’re holding a magical permanent-ink-obliterating eraser. We hold the pen that tells our stories.

We are the pen.

We deserve.


Nōn Wels
Written by

Nōn Wels

Nōn Wels is a mental health advocate, writer, doggo lover, runner, empath and feely human who resides in Southern California. In his late teens and early twenties, he nearly died from a mixture of undiagnosed depression, anxiety and anorexia. Now, in his late 30s, Nōn shares his experiences openly to allow others to be seen and heard.

In 2018, Nōn created the “You, Me, Empathy” podcast to give others a safe space to feel their feelings and share their stories of mental health, recovery and personal triumph through eating disorders, mental illness, trauma and myriad ebbs and flows this wild wonder we call life throws our way.

In 2020, Nōn launched the first phase of The Feely Human Collective—a collaborative mental health community that serves to empower each of us to tap into our innate capacity for empathy, vulnerability and emotional wayfinding. The Feely Human Collective features workshops, an online journal, a podcast and shop. Later phases of the collective will include workshops in businesses and schools, in-person retreats, a live storytelling series and much more.

Finally, Nōn wants you to know you are worthy, you are loved, and you are not alone.

Follow Nōn Wels and The Feely Human Instagram. Follow the You, Me, Empathy podcast on Instagram.

Eating Recovery Center and Pathlight Mood and Anxiety Center are accredited through the Joint Commission. This organization seeks to enhance the lives of the persons served in healthcare settings through a consultative accreditation process emphasizing quality, value and optimal outcomes of services.

Organizations that earn the Gold Seal of Approval™ have met or exceeded The Joint Commission’s rigorous performance standards to obtain this distinctive and internationally recognized accreditation. Learn more about this accreditation here.

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