Dear ED Voice,
I’m not sure when you started, or when you got so loud, but you’ve outstayed your welcome. You’re mean and selfish, and when I’m having a good day, I know you’re always waiting around the corner to take it away. You encourage me to delay eating because it feels good to starve. And just when I think that’s what you want me to do all the time, you tell me it’s time to eat too much, too fast. You like it when I have a hard time walking around because my stomach is too full of food and I feel too bloated to exist properly. You thrive on the guilt I feel for being “out of control” or the embarrassment I’m drowning in, knowing other people are watching me overeat.
There’s nowhere safe from you: You ruin outings with friends by screaming about the unhealthy food choices I’m about to make — you tell me the fats and sugars are going to kill me. You say I’m one French fry away from the massive heart attack that’s going to rip away everything I love. You say I’m going to die young, and in pain — all because of the food I couldn’t stop eating. You tell me I’m not worth the food I’m enjoying. That I shouldn’t take the time I need to eat when I’m hungry. To be allowed to eat, I need to always be productive, or distracted, or unsatisfied.
When I’m naked, you’re the loudest. You drown out the voices of the people who love me. You point out the rolls, the sagging skin, the bulges and you tell me I’m disgusting. When they say nice things about me, it feels like they’re lying. They’re words feel as ugly as you’ve succeeded in making me feel.
Honestly, I’m so tired of you. I’m tired in general, but the weight of carrying you around is too much these days. You know what sucks about having an eating disorder? The fact that you never shut up during the recovery process. Not enough people warned me about that. I’m over you telling me that I’m unworthy because there’s more of me. I might take up more space on the subway or need to buy new clothes to wear, but honestly, there’s so many amazing things my body can do! Why don’t you ever talk about those things?
Today I ran up three flights of stairs to catch a subway before it left. I carried heavy boxes at work and bent down in ways that at one point may have been impossible. I can breathe and blink and laugh and hear. I can sit, roll over and burp. I love doing all those things. One day I may not be able to do some (or all) of those things. That scares me, but it helps me focus on the present.
I’ve told you before, and I will continue to tell you until you listen: Things are changing. You don’t get to tell me that I’m going to die if I eat fried chicken. You don’t get to tell me that all I deserve to feel is the pain and guilt of a bloated stomach after a binge. You don’t get to tell me that I’m ugly, unloved, disgusting or worthless. If you want to watch me while I learn how to eat until I am satisfied, or to stop seeing the morality of food choices during every meal, then that’s fine. But you will do it in silence.
You’re going to fight. So am I. I’m worth this work, this effort. I’m always been worth it, and I know I’ll always be worth it. The best day of my life is yet to come — one where I am going about my day and hungry, or at lunch with coworkers, or looking at an old, new, or unflattering photos of me, or trying on clothes at the store and I suddenly realize that you aren’t talking. Or the day when you work up the courage to say something and my own voice drowns yours out.
I’m getting closer to that day.
Your time is running out.