Trigger warning: Eating disorders
In April of 2019, I made one very important decision that changed the course of my entire life: I publicized my eating disorder.
I put my inner demon on display for the entire world to see. I was no longer wearing 100 different masks to hide behind my disorders. I stopped letting my eating disorder take control of the wheel. I, for once, was in control.
For a while, it silenced the voices. It was dulled by the onset of encouragement of others online. It was diminished by those who came forward to say, “Thank you for speaking out for people like me who can’t.” But it didn’t last.
As time went on, the voices charged with their foot down on the gas at sound-barrier-breaking speeds. I didn’t understand. I was on top of my game, taking chances and letting my authentic self take the wheel. So why was I still having such a hard time with the disordered thoughts?
One simple answer: I wasn’t working with my eating disorder, I was working against it.
I am not my eating disorder, nor do I believe that anyone is their mental illness. But I do believe it is a part of me. It’s something that became a living, breathing, personification of everything I despised about myself.
And that right there was the problem.
I was demonizing my disorder, saying that this part of me had to be destroyed like a villain.
But it IS a part of me. It will always be a part of what made me into the person I am today. It is because of my eating disorder that I found myself at the deepest part of the world’s oceans and had to swim back to the top. My eating disorder is what pushed me so close to that ever-fearing line that no one wants to reach so I could learn exactly what my dreams, goals, and purpose in life was.
I’m still building. I’m still in recovery, just a new stage. But the nonlinear recovery process has been so much easier to navigate once I stopped working against my eating disorder and started working with it.
I challenge her.
I question her.
I let her show me the answers.
I listen to her.
I empathize with her.
But what I no longer do is hate her. I don’t hate the version of myself that exists with an eating disorder. I learn so much from her that it has brought me an even more fulfilling life.
How could you hate someone like that?