To My Eating Disorder: The Relationship I Didn’t Know I Was In


Dear Eating Disorder,

I had originally planned on doing this over text, but you deserve better. We have had a great run, but we are through. I wish I could say, “it’s not you, it’s me,” but that is cliché and downright false. It’s not me, it’s you. You are the problem. Sorry for being so blunt; it’s just that playing Good Cop for the past five years has gotten me nowhere.

I would like dedicate a song to you (I mean every meaningful relationship has to be defined by a song, right?). Remember that throwback by Rihanna, “Hate That I Love You?” That’s the song I would use to describe this relationship. I love you like I haven’t loved anyone or anything else. You have done so much for me and I have never experienced a relationship like ours (nor do I think I will again. Actually, you are the one who convinced me I will be alone forever!).

You are the controlling boyfriend I warn my friends about. I cannot believe it took me five years to recognize this. It is extremely difficult to admit you have hurt me so badly, but I would feel like a hypocrite if I continued listening to you. I know you are going to beg me to stay, follow me around, nag me, whisper sweet nothings in my ear like the good old days. I really am going to miss you, but I just do not see a future for us.

I spent all of my time thinking about you, prioritizing you, always making sure you were number one. I spent so much time worrying about how to please you that I neglected my friends and family. That is not OK by me. I miss those who actually care about me. They make me laugh. We go on adventures. They don’t lie to me every day and tell me I am a worthless reject and a complete waste of time and space. (You were good at reminding me that every day. You are convincing! You should become a lawyer.)

I am terrified to leave you. You are all I’ve known in my young adult life. Think about all we have done together! We met briefly in Australia back in 2013. I liked you, but I wasn’t convinced yet. We reunited a year later in Madrid, and that’s when I really fell for you. We graduated college together, moved to Boston together, and even got a job at our dream company! It was just the two of us for awhile; no one made me happier. At the end of the day, no one made me feel as confident as you did.

But you made me suffer. It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears (literally) to get your approval. When I finally did, I still didn’t feel good enough. I kept giving, and you kept taking. Until I felt like nothing more than skin and bones. A skeleton. No heart, no brain, no soul. It took me a long time to realize it, but I was your slave and you were my captor. I learned to trust you and put you before everyone else in my life. I let you control me, although you did an excellent job of convincing me I had all of the power.

But we are through. I need a real boyfriend now.

XOXO,

Haley

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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Photo by Toa Heftiba, via Unsplash

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