I can’t write about my eating disorder. I thought I could. I have been in recovery since 2001. I eat pizza and cake and three meals a day plus snacks. I don’t hate how I look. I don’t wish I was thinner. I like my weight and have stayed within five pound for the past nine years except during my pregnancies and postpartum periods. And I only know my weight because I go for yearly physicals.
I wanted to write about my struggle and triumph over anorexia. Because I think that the worst part of an eating disorder is the isolation. Me and my head and my food and my WILL. Falling asleep in the middle of the day because I don’t have enough calories to stay awake. Counting ribs to calm my anxiety. My pseudo-recovery back then consisted of hiding in stalls on other floors of my college dormitory until the bathroom was empty so I could vomit. The string of therapists and medications and diagnoses. The inpatient treatment facility that kept extending my stay.
I wanted to write about crying during my first yoga class in treatment because connecting my mind and body in a way I had denied for five years was overwhelming. So was giving away my “skinny” clothes a year after finding recovery. I spent days and hours praying to a God I did not understand to help me to eat and love my body until I did. And I have spent my days since then reaching out to others at different points of their recovery to give and get support.
I wanted to write about my immense disappointment in the recovery field for not giving a solid community to the eating disordered. That those who are still active in their disease have more forums to discuss staying sick than those who are well. But I also remember that the only reason I could stay at my treatment facility beyond 30 days was because a lone insurance operator took pity on my story and added my treatment center to their network. Because otherwise the insurance company had not a single inpatient facility covered. That most doctors weigh us and hug us but don’t really know how to help us.
I wanted to write about how disheartened I am by the media’s portrayal of eating disorders as a symptom of a magazine instead of as a disease. My desire for bigger breasts may be a symptom of what sells. My desire to not eat for years until I was so underweight people thought I had cancer. That is not from the magazines. Crossing that line did not make me pretty or trendy. And who saw me? I hardly left my house.
Because when I was in the throes of my disorder, all I wanted was to not feel. To not deal. I hated how much life hurt. And I was looking to stop it. To control it. So I chose my body for my “it.” And I tortured it forgetting that it was my body. I was hurting myself to hurt myself to hurt myself. And sometimes to hurt you. To show you how hard it was to live in all this crazy in my head.
I wanted to write about how I believe that it is easier to blame society for eating disorders than it is to help the eating disordered. We are so frustrating and stubborn and crazy. And while I currently don’t buy the magazines stuffed with stories about how I am not good enough, I could have never made the choice had I not begun eating and living and feeling again.
I believe in changing our society’s warped view of women and of bodies and of health. But I don’t believe that will save a single woman already in the grips of an eating disorder. I pray that the pediatricians and internists and psychiatrists can do that. I pray that the few treatment centers and support groups available can do that. I pray that my story can do that.
Because today I am beautiful and whole. I love the shake of my butt when I dance. I love that my nails grow and my periods are regular. And I love that I rarely sucked in during a photo. Because I can even love the curve of my belly.
I know, deep down in my soul, that the thinner I crave is not even the thinner I see. It is deep and dark. My thinner is about disappearing.
And I want to take up space today. I have things to say and do and feel and write.
I have people to love. I can’t do that if I’m not here.