Dear Anorexia, a Letter From the Other Side

Dear Anorexia,

I am writing to address your past existence in my life. You have indeed taken a lot from me. You stole my teenage years, shocked my identity and held me captive as your slave.

Now rightfully free from your insidious grip I wish to demonstrate to you the damage you caused and still inflict in the lives of my fellow brothers and sisters. More so however, I will highlight the parts of me which now stand redeemed from you — won over by Love. The beauty of healing and triumph of recovery. I don’t fully remember how you came to occupy my mind. I don’t remember the day my innocent “healthy eating” was overcome by your authoritarian control.

I do remember how you categorized my small 13-year-old frame as “too big.” The lure of the scale and moment of terror as the number flashed.

I do remember your voice. Your rules and punishments. You were my slave driver and I your slave.

You demanded perfection and I burnt my heart out trying to reach it.

Anorexia — at the time, I believed your lies. My behaviors and thoughts were so far from my control.

You took “Emily” and replaced her with someone unrecognizable.

Where there had been fun, joy and freedom, there were now rules, calorie counts and exercise regimes. Where there had been emotion, there was now this all-consuming numbness.

Those never inflicted by you Anorexia, I don’t think can ever fully understand your all-consuming presence. How you demand, torture and steal. How you occupy one’s mind with a fixation. You steal will-power, motivation and drive. You brought with you the measuring
cups, goosebumps and dizziness. You brought that black-out stare, that state of nothingness. The paleness, fatigue and weakness. The bruising, aching and freezing cold hands.

You demanded the impossible from a malnourished body. You bound it in fear and shame.

Fear to give up the perception of control. Shame to admit I ever had a problem. Anorexia — you spun a web of shame around my weary heart, entangling me in a mess I couldn’t navigate. You wanted me to hide you from the world, to bury you from the light of exposure. You wanted to be my shameful secret.

Anorexia — you weren’t glamorous, you weren’t “a diet gone wrong” nor were you a choice at that time.

You are an illness. You sought to steal from me my childhood, destroy my purpose and kill that free-spirited passion. You inflict so much damage, Anorexia. However, you are never forever. You do not have that kind of authority — whoever you inflict has the opportunity to defeat you in a victorious battle to recovery.

What pulled me from the sneer of your clutch Anorexia, was the discovery of a identity, a love and purpose which far surpassed your idealistic demands.

Discovering I was loved was powerful. Loved beyond the constraints of my eating disorder. Loved whether I was in recovery or struggling. Loved no matter how much I ate or didn’t. Whether exercised compulsively or failures to meet my standard. This was the kind of love I didn’t have to work for- it was perfect, unconditional.

It didn’t demand perfection — unlike you, Anorexia. It loved me in my brokenness, pain and despair. This experience of Love began to grow seeds in my heart. Seeds of hope. Perhaps I could escape from you my slave-master. Perhaps I could no longer be taunted with painful memories of treatments and the triggers of certain foods.

Hope became my life-line. My light in the darkness. My glimpse of freedom from my past. It was that reason to keep fighting you anorexia, that burning fire within. The promise of a new identity, purpose and value.

The discovery that I was worthy acted to disempower you, Anorexia. That I was worthy of recovery. Worthy of this. Love and hope. That I was worthy enough not to attack myself every time I made a mistake. That I was worthy of a life beyond the restraints of rules and
demands of achievement. Through this, I found a strength I never knew I had. A hope which outweighed my pain and love which overcome my shame.

I now stand redeemed. No longer ashamed of the battle I fought against you in the past.
I will use my voice to speak, speak out against you anorexia. In the light of the day, I see you for what you really were. Wherever others are at in their fight against you anorexia- I want to encourage them that you can be defeated. That life will get better. We are loved. We have hope. We are worthy.

Keep fighting my friend.

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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