When It Feels Like You're in a Relationship With Your Eating Disorder

Being married is hard work, I think anyone who is married knows that. Marriage is many things, but ultimately it is a relationship.

Anorexia and marriage don’t share very many similarities. I am grateful for that. But I have come to find they do share a few.

Healing from an eating disorder is hard work. It is a day-by-day, minute-by-minute choice that must be made. I’ve found letting one thing go, say a snack or an unhealthy thought, can lead to detrimental scenarios. I could be fine one minute, and the next I could be struggling to drown out my ED — or “Ed” — thoughts.

And that isn’t even the half of it, but I’ll leave you with that example. Living with an active eating disorder is hard work, too. I don’t want to dwell on this aspect, because it’s dark and ugly, but it’s the truth.

When I began down this road, which I hope will ultimately end in recovery, I was essentially in a relationship with “Ed.” I followed “him” wherever he chose to go. I worshiped his opinion. I was willing to go to the ends of the earth for Ed.

Do you see a connection here? Just a little?

I wanted to write a little bit about marriage and my husband, because they have both played roles in my recovery process. Then I realized the connections and how, in some ways, I am giving up Ed for my marriage.

I thought marriage would fix me. I really did, even though I acted like I knew it wouldn’t.

And for a while I stayed at a stable weight, but I was still really uncomfortable around food. I thought maybe a new environment would help, and it did a little bit. But I knew I couldn’t keep it up forever.

I blamed marriage for making me feel unsafe. I blamed the house. The weather. My husband.

I didn’t blame Ed though.

Guess what happened when I finally got Ed behind bars for once…

I began to feel a little safer. I started reaching out to my husband instead of the eating disorder.

Ed always knew what would make me feel better. He always knew just what I needed, without me even having to tell him. We seemed strong together.

My husband is a gentle human. Whereas Ed doesn’t mind seeing me struggle, my husband hates it. Of course, he wouldn’t intrude on my relationship with Ed, because he knew how much it would hurt me.

It took a long time for me to listen to my husband instead of Ed. In fact, I still struggle with it. I know my husband’s love runs so much deeper than Ed’s. I know Ed only loves me for what I give him.

Ed’s whispers of a cure to all my pain are malicious, yet addictive. He knows how difficult it is for me to feel it all. He knows without fuel, I shut down and only talk to him.

Being married has given me so much more than Ed ever could. In fact, in many ways I believe marriage saved me. Marriage and the relationship it holds. The love that isn’t in the terms and conditions. The support and care.

Ed never cared about what happened to me. I’ve found someone who does, and even on my not-so-good days, that is enough.

Image via Thinkstock.

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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