Dear Eating Disorder: I Miss You, Goodbye
I miss you.
I miss the fact that when people, places or things let me down, you were there for me. It felt like nothing else in this world mattered. You made me feel numb and complete all at the same time.
I miss the way you made me feel. I miss the way you made me not feel anything at all.
I miss feeling fragile and safe with you; like I was protected and no one could touch me. That people could touch me physically but not ever really reach me. That it was you and me until the end and nothing else mattered. That we had a special secret no one could ever really comprehend. I miss being just out of people’s grasp… Because if I was out of their grasp, they couldn’t possibly hurt me.
I miss feeling productive 24 hours a day. Like I was so hungry and anxious and starving that all I did was run around, work, make money and get errands done. There couldn’t possibly be time for anything else.
I miss feeling like Superwoman. Like I could defy hunger cues and basic physiological needs and still carry on. Like I was stronger than everyone else because I knew how to control, control, control.
Some days I think I cannot carry on because you are gone. The grief is so strong I want to curl up into a ball and not get up until I am “thin” again. Some days I can barely look at myself in the mirror — I pinch my cheeks and turn sideways in the mirror and analyze and get on the scale and hate myself and cry when I apply my eyeliner and baggy clothes and put my undone hair into a messy bun and go to work just to escape the negative self-talk. Work has become a reprieve from myself — my thoughts, my feelings, my self-destruction.
And yet… dear eating disorder…
There are things I will never, ever miss about you.
You made me cold. Not just physically, like I had no circulation in my toes or fingers, but like my soul was cold, unreachable, drained… Robotic, solid, frozen in time. I cared about nothing and no one and felt like I existed on this Earth only to count calories, exercise and lose weight.
You made me dumb. Not just dumb like making poor decisions about my health and my well-being, but like I couldn’t even form sentences because I was so damn hungry and all I needed was some fat or protein in my diet.
You made me afraid. Not just afraid of calories and sugar and fat and food, but of love. I was afraid to love and be loved. I was afraid to be touched. I was afraid of others but mostly of myself… Of being and of feeling. I was afraid of sadness and excitement and grief and anger and everything that comes with being human.
You ripped my heart out of my chest. The beat of it was nothing but a solid, empty drum; taunting me; reminding me I am still on this Earth despite my own wishes to be anywhere but in the present moment. You made me a shell of a person. You took away my ability to do anything but be a slave and cater to you and your sick needs. You killed my spirit, took away my will to live and almost took away my life.
You lied to me. You said that I would feel better when I was thin.
You screwed up my understanding of the English language and made “beautiful” and “emaciated” synonyms of each other. You ruptured my entire sense of self.
You said people would like me better when I was quieter, shrinking and when I took up less space in this world. You said I would be prettier.
In reality you turned a vibrant, vivacious, energetic young woman into an obsessive, fearful, selfish little girl. You drained her humor, her zest for life and her energy. People who once were drawn to her saw her disappear into the background. You got what you wanted for a short time, but it didn’t last.
I have succeeded in spite of you, eating disorder. My light may have been dimmed by your overbearing, icy, presence, but it has never gone out.
Just because I have thought about you and long for you does not make me weak; It’s being able to stay away from you in spite of your wishes that makes me strong.
I may still be cold at times; I may still be frazzled with anxiety and feel like I am not as articulate as I would like to be at times… I am still afraid often, if not, most of the day.
But, dear eating disorder…
It is not in your control, and that is all that matters.
I call the shots, forever and always.
Do your best.
I will not falter.
My name is Molly and This Is Where I Stand.
This piece originally appeared on This Is Where I Stand.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.
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