Anyone who has battled an eating disorder will tell you there is a line drawn through life. It’s not huge or obvious or obnoxious. In fact, it’s quite small and almost always invisible to others. Staying on the right side of the line is a war won not through the end result but the daily battles.
You see, this fine, fine line is occasionally overstepped. Maybe a toe sneaks over the line or a whole step is taken but, whatever it is, you’ll always catch yourself at the edge, back up slowly and resume living on the right side.
But sometimes, when fate decides to come and play, you don’t just take a step or two over the line. The control you thought you had begins to slip away. Slowly, at first, and then like a tornado it rips through your reality, destroying everything in its path. And before you know it, you find yourself falling head first into that bottomless pit.
After several years on the road to recovery, I finally felt ok. Ok to eat a slice of pizza now and then. Ok to indulge in a full fat latte once a week. I was ok.
Fast-forward four months and I began to cross that tempting line again. At first it was a missed meal, then a harsh thought after looking in the mirror, followed by an extra mile on the treadmill.
But I reassured myself I was fine. Having an eating disorder isn’t a one-time thing. It can be a struggle to stay afloat. So I had picked up some old habits. It wasn’t as bad as it had been before.
The sounds of her sobs still haunt me to this day. A reminder of the chill that ran through my soul not wanting to believe it, but knowing deep down that it was true. The sudden death of a close friend was the tornado in my life.
This was different. The carefully balanced scale reached the tipping point.
Without even realizing it, I had gone five days without eating. I wish I could have stopped myself, but at that point, it was too late. The dark side had consumed me as I gained ultimate control again. Control over my body, what I chose to put in my mouth and what I chose to refuse.
It was exhilarating. Like the feeling of tequila running through my veins, I felt alive.
If this path of self-destruction and self-deprecation is familiar to you then you also know that the high doesn’t last long. The hunger pains slowly increase. A permanent winter takes refuge in your bones and won’t shake no matter how many blankets you wrap around yourself. And a glance in the mirror reveals that the days of shiny, full hair are long gone.
But I had crossed the line, that fine, fine line running through your life. Oh darling, I had fallen into the deep end and, once you’re in that deep, the swim back to shore seems impossible.
What do you do when you’ve gone too far? What do you do when you don’t recognize the face staring back at you? Where do you go from here?