March 14 (UPI) -- Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi explores abuse and pain in an open letter to her younger self.
The 48-year-old chef and television personality reflected on her experiences with sexual assault and endometriosis in the message published Thursday by CBS as part of its "Note to Self" series.
Lakshmi was born in India and emigrated to the U.S. as a young girl. She experienced many challenges growing up, including feeling out of place and being sexually assaulted as a girl and a teenager.
The Top Chef host recalled how it was "as if nothing happened" after she was molested at age seven and was "silenced into submission" after being raped at 16. She found comfort in cooking, which would ultimately launch her career.
"It comes really easily to you, and the kitchen has always been your happy place. In fact, you don't know it yet, but your actual career will be about tasting the world," the star wrote. "You'll realize along the way you are of value. Pads, you won't just survive, you'll flourish."
Lakshmi faced other challenges as an adult, including being diagnosed with endometriosis. Her experience with the disorder inspired her to establish the Endometriosis Foundation of America in 2009.
"Womanhood comes with a handicap you won't understand. The uterine disorder, endometriosis, affects every aspect of your life. But you meet a doctor and he saves you," the star wrote. "When the pain has finally receded, you begin to understand. Your voice matters."
Lakshmi ended the letter with a message of hope and encouragement for her younger self.
"Life has a plan for you," she said. "You'll be a mom and your heart will burst with a happiness you've never known or thought possible. You'll see that this is the belonging that you've always searched for all your life. You will finally know peace."
Lakshmi is parent to 9-year-old daughter Krishna Thea with Adam Dell. She told People in December her daughter inspired her to go public about her experience with sexual assault in an interview with The New York Times in September.