Here’s the thing about eating disorders. They don’t differentiate. One is the same as the other, despite being dressed up in a different costume. I have suffered from anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, and exercise addiction for the past 4 years. And the one thing I’ve come to realize is that the self hate that comes hand in hand with an eating disorder is all consuming regardless of which type you are struggling with.
I have hated myself when I was 89 pounds, as passionately as I hate myself now at 170 pounds. I have punished myself and called myself horrible things; I have believed I am unworthy of any sort of happiness for so long now that it has just become my way of life.
To go from a severe bulimic with the body weight of an anorexic to a binge eater who is genuinely overweight is a journey I wouldn’t wish upon anyone.
The confusion and shame that comes with watching your body change into the one thing you hated out of fear and disgust for so long, the whole time feeling utterly powerless to stop it, is a mindfuck of the highest degree.It’s one thing to have to personally accept the changes you see in the mirror, something I still have yet to be able to do, but it’s an entirely other beast to learn to accept the looks of people in your past.
People who only knew you or cared about you as the skinny hot girl. A skinny girl with issues yes but one thing I’ve come to learn through this journey is how truly pathetic it is how often appearance trumps all other qualities in a person, whether they are good or negative. Skinny and hot was, in my mind, so much more acceptable than ugly with a good personality.
I am a much more well rounded (no pun intended) person now than I ever was during my anorexic exercise addiction phase. At that time I was selfish, I was vain and yes tragically insecure but I channeled that emotion by telling myself I was superior, superior to those who weren’t as fit as me, as slim and lean. I couldn’t understand how someone who had the less ideal body type could be happier than me, and I revered them for it. Now- after suffering injuries and endless hospital stays; I am by all accounts, the person I promised myself I would never be. A person who no longer controls food, but is controlled by it.
And I am not happy. I am miserable. I traded one eating disorder for another, and the only positive that I can think of is that I am now, in most senses of the word, a better person than I was at the other end of the spectrum. I hate myself no less than I always did, but I can empathize, as I have lived both lives. I am humbled, and I have come to realize you are nothing unless you strive to be a good person.
Well… In theory I have.
The only problem with that theory is that I am still learning to separate “good” from skinny, it scares me to think that I can be happy in a body that is anything less than perfect. There’s a part of me that can’t lie to you, there are days that I think if I could choose to go back to the silly, self-centered skinny girl, I’d do it in a second.
Because I still can’t face the people from my past, whose faces scrunch up in confusion upon seeing my body taking up so much space. I can see the gears in their brains working themselves into overdrive, trying and failing to concede this new body with what they knew of the old one.
I have lost friends, potential lovers who claimed to love my personality but realized they couldn’t love me if my body wasn’t how they remembered it.I have felt more guilt than I thought possible over this body, punishing myself for living a lie. Telling myself I do not deserve to talk to people from my past because I am trapping them, they would not be interested if they knew what I look like now.
But how do I come to terms with something like that? I am me. Albeit taking up more space, but I have been me all along. And to come to terms with the fact that the rest of the world only likes a me in a certain body, is the most painful thing I have ever had to do.
I wish this article was an uplifting one, where by the end of the last paragraph I get to tell you that it was all worth it, that through the suffering I found out who I was meant to be, and that all of those scars- emotional and otherwise, have culminated into a person I can be fully proud of.
But this isn’t that kind of article. It’s not a story of sparkly transformation.
It’s simply an account of a person still trying to find where she belongs in the world and in what body and mind she can let herself do that. Sometimes I imagine what it would be like to be bodiless. Weightless and free.
Unencumbered by the weight of all the expectations I place on myself. Be better, be thinner, and be better. The things I could focus on without the weight of my body taking up all of my willpower and mental energy would be endless. I could be great; I would be everything I have ever dreamed.
Lately I’ve grudgingly come to terms with the realization that I can continue to dream that dream, but only if I learn to find a place for my body to fly alongside of me, instead of weighing me down. I suppose that can be my new dream. After all- a dream is only a pretty picture spun from the silk of your imagination. It’s up to you to take that dream silk and weave it into reality, that part is a magic created by your own perseverance.