It’s a chronic illness.

I’m going to apologize in advance for any lack of grammar and eloquence this post may contain.  I’m emotional and in my experience, those things tend to go out the window when I’m in such a state.

I either want to be locked away so no one can see me or I want someone to wrap their arms around me and smother every bit of doubt pulsating through me with kisses and snuggles.  A tad contradictory, I know.  But I feel like such a nuisance and am embarrassed of my disordered thoughts and momentary breakdowns.  All of a sudden, I feel utterly disgusted with my body and life for reasons that probably have nothing to do with my weight, but of course, I will fixate on.  Why?  Because weight has a simple solution.  Exercise, starve – problem solved.  Associate weight with any other problem and with every pound you lose, your problems will shrink as well.

That’s how eating disorders work.  Or at least, one way they work.  Eating disorders and depression are far too intricate to have just one explanation.  Either way, it’s just a lie presented in a pretty little package begging to be unwrapped, and right now I feel like a 4 year old waiting to rip open every present under the Christmas tree.

I’m scared.  I thought I was doing so well.  I exercise moderately.  I eat moderately.  I’ve been feeling good and confident.  Then I go out and socialize, indulge in things that I like, and then feel like utter shit after.  I just – asdfghjklasdfgwhatthefuck?!  Is this how life is always going to be?  Take a couple days off from exercising and suddenly I’m the victim of self-abuse?  Has the progress I’ve made these past 3 months been an illusion?  I don’t think so.  Then whyyyyyy?  Will I ever get to a place where I can do things without a free pass from exercising or starving?  A place where if something unexpected or bad happens, I don’t immediately fixate on my body and beauty.  I just can’t imagine a world like that.  Not today at least…

I’m grateful for the growth my struggles have given me, but god dammit, I hate this fucking disease.  I hate my polluted blood.  There are days where I just get so mad that this happened to me.  Days where I do nothing but cry over the person I might have been if it had been different and pine after the years I’ve lost to this disease.  I want it gone.

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What does your weight/body image mean to you? How has your body image changed throughout recovery – has it gotten harder or easier to deal with?

Nothing.  They mean absolutely nothing to me.  Some days my ED voice tells me that my body is all I’m worth.  But the reality is that my eating disorder will always be an unhealthy coping mechanism, a diversion from the actual problem.  When I feel shitty about my body, it means something completely unrelated is wrong.  Berating my body hurts less than what is actually hurting whether it be depression or just a dump in the road.

Thankfully, my body image has changed considerably.  The way I view my body doesn’t hold me back as much anymore.  I can say now without even flinching that I am beautiful.  This year I’ve really grown to love my curves.  Bad body image days happen.  It still boggles my mind that I can wake up in the morning and look in the mirror and think, “Goddamn, I am a sexy goddess.”  But then when I eat something and look in that same mirror literally five minutes later, I’ve magically gained 50 lbs.  It sucks.  Still, on most days, I can say, I am beautiful. 

But I don’t think I ever would have been able to say that if I didn’t learn how to love the me that really counts – the person on the inside.  My eating disorder has always been about hiding the things about myself that I saw as ugly and shameful.  None of these things were physical.  If I became perfection on the outside, no one would ever see the imperfections on the inside.  It took a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to open myself back up after I tried to starve them out of me.  I have flaws.  Plenty of them.  But so does everyone else.  It was hard to convince myself that letting people see the “ugly” sides of me wouldn’t scare them off.  And sadly, they did.  It hurt at the time and even looking back it stings, but the people who didn’t stay made room for people who would, and now I have an abundance of friends and family who love me for me.

I am beautiful.  My heart is beautiful.  My mind is beautiful.  My body is beautiful.  Feeling strong makes me feel sexy.  And I mean, c’mon.  I had to dance around in granny panties in front of an audience.  If I was able to make that sexy, I am sexy.

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The Ten Commandments

No, not in the biblical sense.  Although, they are much more sacred to me than any religious text.

Today I was going through an old journal of mine and stumbled on this entry from two years ago.  I wrote it right after my last therapy session before I moved back to Keene (a grueling decision I made that I thank myself every day for making).  I thought it might be helpful to share as it gave me some needed insight on how much progress I’ve made in recovery.

August 22, 2011

Today was my last day of therapy.  This is what I have learned:

  1. I am much braver and stronger than I thought.
  2. My depression and eating disorder do not define me.
  3. Anger is not a useless emotion.  But hold on to it for too long, and it becomes toxic.
  4. I can stand up for myself intelligently and with class.  
  5. My friends and family are my greatest motivators.  But they are not my saviors.  At the end of the day, the only person who can pick myself up and move forward is me.
  6. Be honest with yourself and with others.  Always.
  7. There is no point in keeping things bottled up.  It will only hurt yourself.  If you just talk things out and tell the truth, you will have a healthier and stronger relationship with yourself along with the people around you.
  8. Assumptions can lead to the worst misunderstandings.  Just talk. (Notice a trend?)
  9. Making mistakes is human, and I am not an exception to that.
  10. I love me.

When I wrote these ten, say, commandments, I was praying they were true, still not ready to let go of the disordered hand that guided me through most of my life.  They were merely lessons to me that had yet to be practiced.  Nearly two years later, I can let out a big sigh of relief.  These are no longer mantras I have to mentally recite to myself every day.  They are engrained beliefs that I no longer question.  They are all true.  It’s hard to believe there was a time when these words were foreign to me.  I may not always be happy where I am now, but I’m not where I used to be and that’s good enough for me. *pats self on the back*