Once upon a time, you were filled with self-love and compassion. Your warm heart enabled you to understand self-love. It enabled you to feel joy. You had a life full of meaning and a life worth loving. This was before your eating disorder gained strength and control…before your eating disorder left you empty, and hollow, with nothing left to feel. When would the numbness end?
Food. What once nourished your body and soul now tortures you, leaving you hollow and alone, walking numbly through the dark. The empty pit deep in your body is endless and vacant, and the only thing that ever makes you feel something is food. It’s a deadly cycle, the way in which food terrorizes you, then quickly comes back to mask its sins. The food feeds itself. Over and over again.
You feel empty, but not the kind of empty that can be filled. It’s the kind of empty that resembles the old torn down construction site that has so much potential, yet is left alone through the winter. It’s the kind of empty that can be seen in the wilting flower stranded in the cold; lost and alone yet left alone to shiver silently. All of the feelings that you once felt are masked by this drug that we call food, taking you to a small, secluded place where you are stranded in isolation.
Sometimes you reach for recovery. You grasp onto a little piece of your old self – something that once made you feel joyful or free. You try to scoop up any little ounce of compassion, sympathy, or hope. You even crave sadness, just so you can feel something for once. When was the last time you felt a genuine, heartfelt emotion? You crave emotions deep down to your heart, deep down to your core. But the illness is so powerful, and you are so weak. You don’t know how to feel anymore. And now you are left tired, beaten, and stranded.
The number on the scale drops lower and lower…but what’s the difference really? You’re stuck. You hate yourself when suddenly the number creeps up by a pound, but when it goes lower, you don’t see the skeletal version of yourself that others claim they see.
Or you see that fresh loaf of bread on the counter, or those chocolate cupcakes and sweets left over from the party. And suddenly you can’t control yourself anymore. So…Cheers For a second you feel the sweet surrender and the rush of flavor as your mouth and body is consumed by the warm, chocolate, heavenly flavors. But you keep going. You eat and eat, until all of it is gone.
But then, after the fleeting, empowering moment of bliss that consumes you as the bread enters your food deprived body, you panic. The guilt hits. You start to cry – tears of guilt and bitterness. How did you lose control again? You are weak. You run to the bathroom and put your hand down your throat, praying that you can get everything back out. Afterwards, you look in the mirror at your empty, sad, swollen red eyes. You clean up and then go to sleep even emptier. But the calories are out of you. So at least you have that going for you.
The next day you run an extra mile..or maybe two..or three. You crave perfection. But you aren’t strong enough to run much further. Your body is starved.
You wake up feeling disgusting. Revolting. And fatigued. This pattern is getting to be more than you can take. You don’t really want to be alive anymore. Life is becoming meaningless and sad as the cycle continues. But this is why you must fight. You must fight with everything you have.
Because the truth is, you CAN get better, and you will get better. But first you must want to get better. You must choose recovery. And you must choose it with every bit of strength you can muster up. Your eating disorder has been such a comfort to you…it is familiar. It is your best friend, it is your family. And that’s what makes even wanting to recover so daunting. Leaving the familiar and choosing the unknown and the uncomfortable is terrifying. But it is worth it. You are worth recovery.
You get better if you continue to fight every second, of every minute, of every hour, of every day. Because to beat this illness, you have to fight with all of your might. You have to stay standing when you feel like gravity is trying to knock you over. You have to keep standing when someone tells you “you look good,” and the word FAT flies into your brain.
You have to fight it. Punch it. Beat it. You cannot let this eating disorder steal your life.
It’s a terrifying thing when something in your body fights against all logic, and takes you into this downhill spiral. You may feel stuck, as though there is no way out, and no light at the end of the tunnel. Your life has become meaningless – what are you living for anymore? You look to food as a fix to everything. You are obsessed. You are addicted. Every little bit of it consumes you, and cheats you from the life you deserve.
You no longer know what is real versus what is a figure of your imagination created by this awful disease. It is a trap…and it is time for your beautiful soul to be released from this trap. Traps can be broken and the cycle can end. The rain will lighten, and the sun will come out.. Maybe you don’t believe this – and I understand. I’ve been there myself. But even when you’re feeling miserable and feeling as though you’re losing a battle that cannot be won, I want you to remember that it CAN be won.
You CAN beat it. And life will become so much more glorious when you do win this fight. You must be willing to accept the unknown, and walk into the grey. Things will change, and recovery will be painful. It will not be a linear process. It will be difficult with many mountains and sinkholes.
You are saying goodbye to your worst enemy, but you are also saying goodbye to your best friend. So be gentle on yourself.
Ending this relationship with food will be the hardest, most daunting battle you will ever fight. When you are lonely or sad, food has always there to comfort you. But what if there were better, less abusive, less toxic ways to fill the voids in life? What if you could look to life, rather than to food, to bring peace to your heart and calmness to your soul? Take this to heart and realize that there are better relationships for you, starting with the nurturing and loving relationship you have the power to form with yourself.
So take baby steps. Be strong yet caring. And be sure to meet yourself where you are at. Do not judge yourself or participate in negative self-talk. Realize that you are sick, and realize that you need to be cared for and loved, not harmed. Acknowledge that your eating disorder is a part of your life, and saying goodbye to it is going to be sad. But try to focus on what you can do to challenge it, and what you can do to fulfill your needs in more positive ways. It is vital that you try to understand your eating disorder as you say goodbye, because somehow you must find out who you are again. As you say goodbye to this old life, say hello to a new life…a better life…a life worth living. A life you deserve. And remember: you deserve sunsets and friendships. You deserve miracles. You deserve a toasty fireplace on a cold winters day.
Choose recovery. Choose recovery every time. For once you are in recovery, you will see all the beauty around you that you missed when you were preoccupied with food…when food was your life. You will have space in your mind for new and better things – you will hold a new love for the world, and you will have more love to share with others. You can cultivate new friendships and relationships. You can love your family and love yourself. You will find peace and clarity in this new life. You are beautiful and powerful, so please start to let your light shine through and you will begin to live a life you love.
So as you start your journey to recovery, hold on to any bit of hope you can find that shows you the light on the other side. Celebrate every single little victory, as little by little, one travels far. Reach out for support from friends and family, as love from others will bring you a long way. Practice sitting through the cravings and urges, and remember that the struggle will result in strength. Do your very best to piece together any bit of compassion you have to cultivate your resilience. For this is no small battle. This is your life you are fighting for.
This world can be a beautiful place if you allow it to be. It is never too late to start life fresh, to turn to a new chapter in your book. So please, please, please remember: You are a warrior. A strong, beautiful, and powerful warrior. It’s time for you to start fighting this battle.
You can do this. I promise.
“Life is unpredictable, it changes with the seasons. Even your coldest winter happens for the best of reasons. And though it feels eternal, like all you’ll ever do is freeze, I promise spring is coming. And with it, brand new leaves.” –E.H