Dear Eating Disorder,
I don’t know what to even call you. Are you my friend or an enemy? All I know is, you are always there. Always present. But rarely do I ever even notice you anymore— other than when I feel a pang of hunger or when I come into contact with my reflection in the mirror. Rarely do I talk back to you as I let you effortlessly control me.
We have a very complicated relationship— a relationship that has left me defenseless, lost, scared, and depleted. I wish I could simplify you and define you, in an effort to fully heal and understand.
You have shown yourself in many forms— as bulimia, anorexia, and as an erratic obsession with exercise and weight.. but you are much, much more than that.
You are a constant conversation in my head about what to do, what not to do, how to be, how not to be— with food, with exercise, and otherwise. You are not simply in the binging and purging, you are not simply in the skipped meals, you are not simply in the time spent on the treadmill or in the gym. You are present throughout my entire day.
You are the voice behind all of my actions. You are perfectionism, targeting what seems to be the easiest and most apparent thing for me to focus upon and control— my body. You attempt to attack and take over not only my physical being, but my personality, worth, and value.
It Has Been Quite a Journey
We have been through a lot together the past several years, you and I, and there are parts of you that I undeniably love.
You have been with me, in some form, since the beginning— since being told by those closest to me to ignore my own feelings for the sake of others’ comfort. Since being told that there was a right way to earn love, and that is by fitting into a teeny tiny box of perfection, performance, and social status. Since the times that I was left unseen, unheard, and unknown by peers, teachers, and coaches.
You have protected me, at times, from feeling like I’m too much and not enough. You have provided an outward defense to keep others from seeing into the “imperfect” messiness of my inner world.
The Comfort of Your Embrace
You have remained a constant I can go back to when things feel too new, too out of control, too much for me to handle. When I can’t trust myself I feel as though I can trust you.
Well, because you have been a source of stability in the outer and inner chaos, a quiet place I can retreat to in my mind. You promise outward beauty. You promise to fill me up without the fear of having to take up more space. Space, that I’ve been told by society that I am not worthy of occupying.
You promise to always be there whenever I need. Morning or night I can always find a way to come to you to avoid dealing with what is going on outside and within. You draw me in with promises of relief, comfort, and fulfillment. I love the way that you give me a sense of control and power.
You help me get rid of the things inside. Emotions that I fear would lead to vulnerability or rejection. The guilt I feel when I can’t please everyone around me. But in getting rid of these parts of me that feel bad, you are also getting rid of some of the good. The protection you provide comes with a price. Invincibility or invisibility.
I feel trapped.. by your promises and the false narratives that you have created about my identity and how I “should” be. I feel trapped by the blanket of safety and the umbrella of comfort that you guarantee.
You have me feeling trapped and isolated from the connection and people that I want to be known by the most.
You’ve cost me relationships. You’ve cost me letting others in by knowing and being known. You’ve cost me countless hours worrying about my next meal. You’ve cost me countless hours in the bathroom—hovering over a toilet or obsessing in the mirror. You’ve cost me the freedom to think and be and create and LIVE.
Loving you has meant losing me. You’ve allowed me to lose my sense of self and be overcome by feelings of inadequacy and anguish. You’ve intensified every negative emotion I’ve come into contact with. But when it comes to positive emotions, you do your best to numb every moment of joy and connection.
You have reduced me to someone I no longer know and someone who God has not created me to be. You’ve stolen trust. I no longer trust myself— fearing the binges and purges that I am capable of. Fearing the voices of my own sanity, crying out for help.
I no longer trust others— that they can handle the depth and complexity and messiness of my emotions. You have destroyed the light and life in my heart. Making promises that you’re not capable of fulfilling. You’ve promised forgiveness and an identity that is not yours to provide. You’ve promised a comfort that is only found in freedom and rest. You’ve promised beauty that can only be found in Christ.
Fears That Surround Me
I hate the way that you make me fear. Constantly worrying someone will call me out, bring it up, or simply notice. I hate the way that you make me feel. You make me feel like a failure because I can never measure up to your unreasonable standards. I can never eat a small enough amount, I can never work out enough, I can never fit into a small enough size, I can never take up as little amount of space as you would like. I can never be kind enough, funny enough, smart enough, or interesting enough.
I hate the way that you make promises you can’t keep. I hate the way that you have stolen precious moments of happiness, fun, and celebration from me.
I hate the way that I have traded living in God’s light for living with you in all your darkness. I hate the ways that you have made my dreams become small. How you’ve corrupted every good memory I have with the shadow of your presence.
I hate the way that you make me feel. Weak, dizzy, and dirty. You have cost me more than just freedom, joy, and relationships. You have wreaked complete havoc on my physical body. I feel totally confused about what hungry is and what full is. I can no longer trust to know what my body needs because I have been fully dependent on you to determine and deny my body’s “needs” for so long.
You exhaust me. I feel my body slowing down, deteriorating beneath the weight of your authority. Exhausted by the mental battle, physical impairment, and emotional confusion.
You Consume Me
I have spent far too much time and energy on you. I have spent far too much money on you. I have wasted copious amounts of food because of you. Imagine the investments I could have made! Investments in relationships, experiences, and growth. You are deceitful. Always helping me find a petty excuse to let you stay and to not just leave you in the dust where you belong.
Enough Is Enough
I’ve had it. You’ve been around long enough. You’ve served your purpose. And I thank you for all the lessons you’ve helped me learn. You have protected me. You have helped me cope. But I am ready to be present in this life. The pain and the unknown are a part of the journey and I want to experience it ON MY OWN from now on.
Enough is enough. You’ve had control over me for far too long. I have to let you go.