I’ve been living with an eating disorder for over 3 years. I’ve been in treatment for about 3 months. Throughout the treatment process, I’ve been sure that tomorrow is the day I’ll get better.
The funny thing about eating disorders is that they don’t feel like a problem. They feel like a solution. A solution to your intense emotions, a solution to your lack of control. So in the midst of fixing yourself, you find your brain telling you to stop. You find your body seizing up and suddenly you’re in a whirlwind of crippling anxiety, and the only way to calm yourself down enough to be able to breathe properly is to succumb to the bad, self destructive habits that got you here in the first place. Then you find yourself thinking “Great. I’ve calmed down. I can breathe. I can work on this tomorrow.”
Tomorrow will be a great time to start facing your demons.
Tomorrow is especially appealing when it’s the start of a new year and you’ve made a resolution to totally and completely eliminate this monster from your life.
You think, a week or so before the ball is set to drop on 2014, that since you are committed to this resolution, it’s fine to let the disorder in just for a little while…might as well while there’s still time. Because honestly, you have no idea what you’re doing with your life, you feel like a screw up, and the only thing you know how to do is restrict and follow the made up rules that now feel more like a security blanket.
I’ve tried to explain the horrifying feeling of an eating disorder slipping away, and the best way to describe it is this: Imagine that your whole life you’ve worn a corset. You’ve become so accustomed to it that you’ve lost all your actual muscle’s strength and are now relying one hundred percent on that corset to keep you upright. One day, you decide to untie the strings and suddenly, you can’t even stand up by yourself. How terrifying, right?
With the thought of never, ever having that corset tied around your tiny frame again, you’ve strapped it on just to feel the comfort in it for the last few days of 2013. You skip dinner so that you don’t feel guilty drinking screwdrivers later. Because of this, you feel drunk long before you actually are intoxicated.
Tomorrow is the day, and it’s coming fast.
You feel lonely because you always feel lonely. You text your friends, hungry for connections that you won’t allow yourself to make. But tomorrow will be different.
2014 will be different.
The day dawns beautifully and filled with sunshine. You go to brunch with your siblings and shovel food into your deprived mouth, feeling hopeful about the new year and the promises you’ve made to yourself. And suddenly the reality crashes down around you.
It’s tomorrow, and you’re not ready.
You fumble in the dark for your corset strings, and while you struggle to tie the laces you realize what you’re doing to yourself, you see what you’re doing to your family, you feel more hopeless than ever, and before you know it, you’re hyperventilating and can barely breathe.
So that’s how I started my new year. 2014. With tunnel vision from lack of oxygen. With my brother stroking my back, telling me to just breathe, you’ll get through this. With me wishing I didn’t have to feel anymore. With my mother in tears telling me she can’t keep watching me kill myself.
Tomorrow happened, and it happened hard.
Today I start living without the corset. I have to hold myself up. The comfort I feel from the security blanket I’ve grown to rely on is really only suffocation. It’s literally smothering the life out of me, and that’s no way to go.
I’m not going to die in 2014.
I’m going to live. Happy new year.