Life is not easy. Life has never been easy. But the absence of discomfort is the absence of life itself. Life with a buffer is no life at all,
Sometimes inhaling is like a sharp knife in my lungs. Reality; cold and icy, stabbing deeper into my chest with every breath. I can feel my pulsing heart, every restless thought. There’s release in the discomfort, an absolution, an immediacy that I have long denied myself.
It’s hard to know the exact moment when I became too overwhelmed to function in the world. It may have been when I was twelve, but it might have been before then. I do know that there was a time when life was a delight and the world seemed to offer only wonderful new experiences.
I’m a thinker, a feeler. I am doomed feel the shit out of every part of my life. And when life brought tragedy to my doorstep, it was too much. I needed solace, I needed a safe place, and I found it in food. My life was out of control, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t have complete control over when and if and how much food I would put into my body.
The irony, of course, is that food, either the absence or the excess of it, began controlling me. My eating disorder was a cancer that consumed me, and I wasted away while I told myself that I was empowered.
An eating disorder is a jealous mistress, and she demands all of your time and attention. She separates you from former friends and loved ones with an aching inevitability, until one day you look around and realize how alone you have become. When you’re in a committed relationship with your eating disorder, all you have are your private binges, your private purges, and your private abhorrence at what you have become.
Saying goodbye to my eating disorder might have been the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done. To confront my feelings, to confront the world around me without my private, shameful form of stability is like learning to walk again. You have to reconstruct yourself from the ground up, you have to decide who you are without an addiction. You have to learn to love yourself, not in spite of your flaws, but because of them. You have to remind yourself over and over again that you are a whole human being who deserves love, and deserves not to live a life of private shame.
Life without an eating disorder is difficult, it is not a walk through the park on a sunny day. It’s sweat, it’s tears, it’s deciding to live in reality every day. And every single day it is worth it.