You stole part of my life for years. Robbed me of dance classes I couldn’t participate in, dismantled friendships, borrowed only to never return my confidence, self-esteem, and happiness. The worst part is, I was proud of you. I took a sense of pride in working out twice as hard as anyone else beside me, finding the resistance to refuse that piece of pizza, and being thin enough that people thought I was a model. I thought having an eating disorder was the only thing I would ever be “great” at. The only thing I would ever amount to.
I will never get those years back that you took from me. I will never get to re-dance those dances I missed, attend all the social outings you talked me into ditching, gaining back those friendships lost, and catching up on the hours of sleep I lost. Or gaining the time I spent in therapy, doctors appointments, and crying over how I wish that your voice would spare me that day.
What no one tells you about having an eating disorder is how exhausted you are. Conditioned to follow your demands dripped with hatred; destruction was draining physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. No one tells you what happens behind closed doors-the amount of tears shed, the internal battles fought between your heart, mind and soul, the repetitive calorie counting, the secret exercising after everyone else has long drifted to sleep, the feeling of my hip bones piercing through my skin and the never ending voice whispering “it’s not enough, you’re not enough.”
You used to scare me, but not anymore. In fact, I owe you a thank you.
Without you, I would have never understood how to celebrate what my body has the capability to do. Without you, my heart would have not experienced the love and support of true friendship. Without you I would have not been able to fathom what it felt like to really fight for happiness. Without you I would have never been exposed to the art of vulnerability and authenticity. Without you I never would have rebuilt my passion for dance. For these things I thank you, because it has helped shape me to who I am today.
Here I am two years out of treatment reflecting on the life I have right now in this moment and appreciating the place I am in as a human being just as I am. I made choice to live life without you but you sneak back into my life every now and then. Sometimes for a day, sometimes for a week, sometimes for a month disguising yourself as perfection, anxiety, and people pleasing. I have my own moments of relapse, I am not perfect nor would I ever want to be. But no matter the facade you play, I can recognize your voice anywhere and proceed to kick you out of my life. My mind is not a vacant space for you to rent. There is no room for you at my inn because my mind is already booked with my dreams, my goals, my memories, my friendships, my valid fears, my hopes, my creativity, my motivation and my love. There is not an ounce of space for you, you can’t have a spot. To be honest eating disorder, I haven’t even fully figured you out yet, but I have figured out how much better life is without you. I have figured out what happiness feels like without you, what friendship feels like without you and what love feels like without you.
Somewhere in the world right now, you have eight million people held hostage in the grasp of your hands. Eight million people who’s time is being wasted believing lies about them that aren’t true. Eight million people who’s passions aren’t being pursued. Eight million people who’s support system and friendships are crumbling before them. Eight million people who cry themselves to sleep. Eight million people who skip meals. Eight million people who lost their joy. Eight million people who don’t remember what it’s like to live without a fiery voice barking orders in your ear. Eight million people who have a false representation of what love is. That is eight million people too many.
Recovery is a life long commitment and sometimes I forget that. However I promise I will fight you today, tomorrow, next Tuesday, ten years from now, any day because I know my love and strength will kick your booty any day!
To those who pull the covers over your head and cry yourself to sleep, those who can’t get themselves out of the gym, the people who deprive themselves meals, the dancers and athletes who only see fat in the mirror, the patient frustrated, drained and exhausted in treatment—something ED doesn’t tell you is recovery is worth it. You will find your worth in something much greater than anything your disorder can give you. I’ve been in your shoes, some days I’m back right there with you but the greatest weapon we have against ED is each other and our love.
The girl who found her joy again