An Open Letter to my Eating Disorder
My Dear Eating Disorder,
You were so lovely when we first became acquainted. You provided me with a self I never imagined I would become. Though you didn’t fully introduce yourself to me until I was about 15, you’ve lingered in the background since I was an infant. I couldn’t imagine how I had gone through life without your guidance, and some days it’s hard to believe that I let go. You have impacted my life in more ways than anything ever could. You were a teacher, a friend, and a caregiver, but eventually you took a turn for the worst. You became controlling, abusive, and a life consuming monster.
You taught me things; like how food only tastes good in your mouth, but digestion causes weight gain, and that’s bad. You enforced self discipline, a critical eye, and a sense of determination. But you distorted my mind, and created a cold, dangerous reality. You filled my walls with thinspo, my sink with vomit, my body with exhaustion, my eyes with tears, and my mind with destructive thoughts; but hey, it was all in the name of perfection, right? It was all to help me? To better me? Because you were my friend. And friends take care of friends. Friends can trust friends. Friends can put faith in friends. They can count on them to take care of each other…
But you were not a good friend. And I know you’re going to combat that statement with how you were “there for me when no one was.” How you were “with me through the suffering” and “through the triumph of dropping pounds.” How no one aside from you “knows all the grueling disgusting things I did.” How you, “made me what I am.” And there is some validity to that, however the reason you were the only one there is because you coerced me to shut everyone out. I was a prisoner to your commands. To your ideas. You sucked all the nutrient from my body and turned me into a cold, moody, barely functioning skeleton.
You were someone I admired, and yet you locked me in chains until my body could not physically withstand your regime any longer. Our relationship was strong for about two years, and then you grew tired of trying to make me perfect. Exhausted of my antics. But instead just leaving, you tried to kill me.
You know, when you pulled that little stunt where you shut off my digestive system and landed me in a hospital bed. Remember that? Remember how the doctors kept asking me why I had lost so much weight? Why I was so dehydrated and frail, but you wouldn’t let me mutter a single word? How you fought endlessly to hold me victim; lies spewing from my mouth, pulling every manipulative trick out of your hat so that you didn’t get left behind.
Remember when the doctors misdiagnosed me with Celiac, because you literally would rather me be diagnosed with another disease than publicly expose your existence, when in actuality you just wouldn’t let me eat carbs.
But the doctors eventually caught on. They called you out publicly. You had me wound up, terrified that I was going to lose you. I reached the point of paranoia where I was going through my mom’s phone deleting messages from treatment centers, telling them they had the wrong number when they called.
But being paranoid gets exhausting. Finding ways around eating gets tricky. Laying on your bones at night gets painful. Rejecting dates, and social gatherings gets depressing. Not having meat on your bones gets really fucking chilly. And hurting those around me is heartbreaking.
So that’s why I let go. I let go of your strong grip, so I could gain control of my life. So that I didn’t have to scare my mother anymore. So that my brother wouldn’t be pissed off every time he walked into our bathroom. So that I could talk to my father without being so angry. So that my grandfather didn’t have to constantly make me popcorn as my main food source. So that I could embrace the love my best friend showed me, and share it in return. So I could have patience with people and not be so moody. So that I can sing without bile build up on my vocal chords. So that I can breathe without caring how big my stomach gets. So that I can dance without heart palpitations. So that I can look in the mirror and not hate what I see. So I can stop rejecting dates and people. So my mind can be at peace. So I can chase my dreams. So that I can learn, and gain, and be happy. So that I can live.
Even now you dawdle in my life. Your aftermath impacts me every day from my singing, to social situations, to when I look at myself in dance classes. I can feel you trying to break in. But here’s the thing, your place in my life grows smaller and smaller everyday. You are not entitled to me. And your strength is not welcomed back into my life. I forgive you for what you have done to me, but I don’t dare forget. So on that note I let go as a means to figure out life on my own. As a means to really be alive.
Goodbye my monstrous friend, we are better a part.