I Do Have Moments Of Love, Even With My Eating Disorder.
You can’t just tell someone with an eating disorder to let go. To breathe and relax. To stop caring. To love themselves. To feel without judgment.
It’s like asking a two-year-old to solve an algebraic equation. They might really want to, maybe they might even believe they can do it, but the reality is they can’t. They don’t know how. Even with all the support behind them, cheering them on, offers of rewards and delights at the end, it is just not possible. This is harrowing.
Unlike the two-year-old who doesn’t realize how important that answer is, someone with an eating disorder gets it. Gets that if she can just figure out how, maybe all the pain and fear and hatred and sorrow and guilt and shame and secrecy and torment could be gone. And that’s all she wants. Freedom from it all.
And knowing there is an equation, but for some reason you are too stupid, stuck, weak, out-of-control to work out the answer, makes this whole excruciating existence even more agonizing.
It really is hell. Imagine fearing something so much, being powerless over it entering your body, then in a state of repulsion and dread, desperately trying to remove it. Feeling so angry, sick and violated, but the person who is doing this to you is yourself.
You are choosing this, no one is forcing you, you are to blame, you hate it, you hate yourself. You hate your body. You hate the fact that everyone else can manage this. You hate the pain in your throat and the ulcers on your knuckles and the erosion of your teeth. But mainly you hate your body. The way it rolls and bulges and disgusts.
It makes you so angry, but anger is actually a delight compared to the subtler discomfort, unease, anxiety and fear that just sit there, like the fat, the rest of the time. It’s hard to walk down the street sometimes, hell, even leaving the house because you cant find clothes that hide your secret well enough from the rest of the world.
It is hard, hurtful and dark. But when I write these words, I am detaching from it. There is no it. It is me doing this. I am hard, hurtful and dark. I am inflicting this on myself. Again and again. I feel the anger, and again I realize how nice it is to growl. It’s like I can blame, throw energy outwards for a change.
I guess this is why they say writing is therapeutic.
For anyone who thinks this is about eating too much at mealtimes and then feeling bad, it’s not. It’s about being out of control. It’s about having cravings and urges so bad that you steal, eat out of bins, shake, break things, drop things, forget stuff, lie. You go out in a trance at 10 pm after eating everything in the fridge to get more.
It’s about needing and getting. And then needing again, to get it out of you. And then comes the fear, you know you couldn’t get it all up. Then promising yourself no more. And within half an hour, you’re doing it all over again. This can go on for days, or weeks at a time. Yet somehow you manage to see people, do things, smile.
But then you steal away back into the darkness that is your truth.
And the feelings when you don’t do it. When you can restrict. Control. When you look down at your stomach and it looks flatter. When you know your clothes are looser. When people tell you, “You look good,” it’s like an energy. You feel invincible, confident, you have drive. You look people in the eye.
You feel like you want to do things. You just have to ignore the hunger. Avoid that spiral. You feel that you have managed, are functioning. It takes all of your strength, but there’s so much less fear and regret than being lost in the darkness.
The other night, I was intimate with a guy I’ve known a long time. He was simply kissing me in a way that felt like he cared. And you know what my reaction was? I cried… from my core, with pain, anguish, sadness. This used to happen every time someone made me feel.
Even when my Mum told me I was beautiful… I especially remember the pain of that one. But I do have moments of love, even if those moments trigger a feeling like my heart is breaking. So I know I am not entirely dark, hurtful and hard. I love. I love my sister, I love dogs, I love forests and snow and dancing barefoot in mud.
I love lying in Savasana and the sound of singing bowls and submerging myself in the sea. I love reaching the top of a mountain, I love chanting, I love books, I love feeling like I just made a difference. I love a lot actually. Sometimes I feel like there is a place in me so delicate that I think of it as a petal.
Without him knowing it, that boy allowed me to reach that place. It hurt like hell, but it was there. Today I dragged my bloated body to Yoga, more out of fear of what would happen if I didn’t, and in Savasana I reached that place again. I felt the peacefulness of my being underneath, just for some moments.
Between moments, things get really ugly. Sometimes I wonder if this thing will kill me one day. Happiness, peace and love seem like impossible parts of a mathematical equation. But then they arrange themselves in a way that allows me to breathe for a while. And for that I am so incredibly grateful.
There is sorrow and pain for the torment I cause myself, but there is also light and relief. And in they flood. Sometimes those moments are fleeting, sometimes they keep rolling and I am the best version of me for a while. I don’t know how to keep them going though, I wish I could live without the dread of them vanishing.
I wish I didn’t have to try so hard, or be so scared of going round to a friend’s house, or being left alone.
I am not sure who I’m writing this to, but I am totally messed up. At times I feel so ungrateful, selfish, confused. Sometimes I just feel despair and the hellish cycles of this eating disorder drowning me. If you know these feelings too, I am so sorry.
I hope you have moments of love that roll in every now and again and pull you out of the darkness, even briefly. Whoever you are, thank you for reading this, writing allows me to make this thing real, to feel it and grieve. If you know anyone struggling with an eating disorder, please simply be there, willing and able to listen.