photo

photo

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

To the Woman Lost in Her Eating Disorder


To the woman struggling, the woman caught in the death grip of her eating disorder:

I see you. I know you’re trying to hide—to disappear—but I see you.

I see you because I was you.

*

Do you remember those yellow rubber Livestrong wristbands that were all the rage in the early 2000s?

I do. In fact, I’ll always remember. I’ll remember because while other people were using them to show their outward support for a worthy cause, I was using one to support the ongoing deterioration of my self-worth.

I was using one as a catalyst for my own self-destruction.

I can recall, very vividly, slogging away on an elliptical in a tiny workout room near my college campus, periodically sliding that yellow band slowly up and down my withered arm: I would start at the emaciated wrist, traverse the path to a bony elbow, cross the spot where the bulge of a bicep used to be, and finally end at the top of a protruding shoulder bone.

I would leave that bright yellow band there, for a few minutes—tucked beneath my armpit—and relish in the knowledge that it still fit there, that all my hard work was paying off.

I would leave it there to remind me that the hours of exercise, the days of starvation, the constant sense of being half-alive, was worth it.

That isolating myself from friends and family was worth it.

That living the shell of the life I once knew was worth it.

That being numb was worth it.

That ED—the disease that had possessed me with a ruthless, unforgiving ferocity—was worth it.

I convinced myself that as long as my arm was skinny enough for that little yellow band to encircle every part of it, everything I was doing was worth it.

And yet, even though I believed my destructive behavior was worth all of the consequences, was worth losing myself, I never stopped feeling worthLESS.

*

That’s what anorexia does to you. That’s what an eating disorder does to you. It tricks you into thinking that you’re working toward something—an accomplishment, a meaningful goal, a happy ending in which you’ll finally feel fulfilled.

But there are no happy endings, no dreams fulfilled, no real achievements. Those are all figments of your imagination that ED plants in your mind to keep you under his control.

You can never reach your goal because there’s always another one. There’s always more weight to lose, less food to eat, longer workouts to perform.

There’s always more you can do to become less.

And so it becomes a manipulative cycle. ED convinces you he’ll make you happy if you just keep giving him a little more of yourself, until finally there’s nothing left to give. Eventually, you’ll forget that you ever even hoped to be happy, because happiness becomes an elusive, intangible concept—like the soft serenity of a cloud in the sky that you can clearly see but know you’ll never touch.

It’s like signing a contract with the devil. You sell your soul for empty promises, and you end up with nothing but—

Emptiness. In every possible sense of the word. Physical, emotional, mental, spiritual.

*

This is the part where I’m supposed to talk about the turning point in my life. This is the part where I’m supposed to tell you that everything works out in the end, that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

That you are stronger than your eating disorder.

But I’m not going to do that. Not today.

Today I’m going to tell you the truth, and the truth is that not everyone beats ED. The truth is that you’re not inherently stronger than your eating disorder. The truth is that you have to choose to be.

The truth is that people die from this disease. The truth is that I was almost one of them.

The truth is that you could be one of them, and that if you don’t make the choice to fight, you probably will be. I don’t believe you want that. I don’t believe that youthe real you, the you without ED—is ready to sacrifice your life to this disease.

So don’t. Instead, CHOOSE. Choose right now not to become an empty statistic. Choose right now to fight for what you want.

Do you want to be that girl on the elliptical, measuring her worth with a small yellow band, suffering quietly—senselessly—as a means to an (unhappy) end?

Do you want to continue sacrificing yourself for empty promises?

Do you want to BE empty?

Do you want to just keep going through the motions, the ones that are slowly killing you?

Or do you want to STOP?

Stop and look at what you’re doing to yourself. Stop and ask yourself if there's something you're blatantly ignoring: an instinct, a deep-rooted feeling that you want to stop, a sign from the universe... 

*

It was right there—literally at my fingertips—all along: the words I needed to see.

Livestrong.

Live. STRONG.

*

You have to choose. No one else can do it for you.

Choose to live. Choose to be strong.

Because even though I’ve never met you, even though you don’t know me, I know you. And I see you.

I see that you’re worth it. Just like I was—just like I am—worth it.

It’s about time you see it, too.

*

For more information on National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, and what you can do to help save a life, check out nedawareness.org. And please, if you know someone who's suffering, consider sharing this post <3

9 comments:

  1. Powerful and moving. So dead on...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. I didn't even think about it while I was writing: The words just kept coming. It was so odd. I appreciate you taking the time to read (and comment!).

      Delete
  2. Thank you for speaking. I also find it hard to be a loud voice but I believe in this second life we live.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for reading and taking the time to comments. I hope you've found peace in your own struggles. Hugs to you!

      Delete
  3. I'm sure that was both difficult to write and liberating at the same time. beautifully written and so important.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YES. That was exactly it. Writing it was like reliving it and freeing myself from it all at once. Thank you for reading and for taking the time to comment <3

      Delete
  4. Thank you for sharing your story. What a powerful message!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank YOU for the encouraging response :)

      Delete
  5. Good post Sam. I had shared it on my Facebook group.
    my blog

    ReplyDelete