My Eating Disorder Makes Me Feel Like I'm Never Enough
Enough: a word that usually means fulfillment. You’ve reached the top. You’ve had all you want. You are satisfied.
For me, it seems to represent the opposite: a lingering want. Much left to be desired. A representation of failure. Never enough.
Never pretty enough. Never smart enough. Never kind enough. Never thin enough. A shitty wife. A shitty friend. A shitty daughter. A shitty fill in the blank. Never enough.
Enough: a word that positions itself in front of my dreams. In front of my wants. A word that feeds my fears. My insecurities.
Don’t try it. You may not be good enough. Why would you think you could do that? You will fail.
Enough: a word that feeds my anger, but keeps me in a box. Don’t retaliate — you might piss someone off. Don’t get mad — you might look unladylike. Don’t react — you might give someone the wrong impression.
You will never fucking be enough.
I’ve struggled with an eating disorder for over 10 years. “Struggled” doesn’t feel like the right word, though. Struggle indicates some sort of a scuffle — a battle. It has felt more like a dance — a slow dance, a dramatic dance with twirls and dips. I’ve danced with my eating disorder for over 10 years. I’ve held it close. We know each other well. We’ve got the steps down.
Maybe relationship is the better word. We’ve been connected to one another for over 10 years. We were incredibly intimate for a time. The kind of intimacy that might grow from codependency; where you spend days together in dirty sheets because you can’t seem to leave one another; where you share a toothbrush and don’t give a shit. You stay holed up in your crappy apartment together, sucking the life out of each other. You’re too tangled up — too entwined in one another to see beyond yourselves. My eating disorder and I had that. Our relationship was smothering — overwhelming. I imagine it’s what drowning feels like.
We’re more acquaintances now. We’re polite to one another — on speaking terms. But I’ll never go back, because my eating disorder will destroy me.
If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorders Association helpline: 800-931-2237.
I don’t know if I’ll ever be fully “recovered.” I read articles and see people on social media touting recovery as this idyllic state of mind; this true peace with your body and with food. I feel as though, just like with eating disorders, recovery isn’t so black and white. I can’t just turn this switch off. I can’t just mend my relationship with food and be “normal.” I can’t just look at my body and love it. My recovery will never be wrapped up in pretty, shiny paper and finished with a big bow on top. I think there are parts of me that will never fully recover — pieces scattered throughout my body like shrapnel and hurt parts that are so embedded in my being and so hard to reach, like I’ve been through a war. I’ve lost so much from this. It has left its mark on me.
I don’t say that cynically. I have and will keep evolving and growing and becoming more myself. That’s the driving force behind writing this down. I just want the definition of recovery to be something more fluid — something that changes and matures. That’s what it is for me. That’s why I struggle with saying “I’m in recovery from my eating disorder. I’m no longer anorexic.” Because that’s a lie. I may not be engaging in my eating disorder behaviors, but my recovery isn’t absolute; it isn’t this enlightened state of being, but more active. It’s cancelling my gym membership because I’m tired of doing cardio. It’s forgetting to count my calories one day because it just doesn’t cross my mind. It’s being kind to myself and acknowledging the imperfections of life instead of trying to control them or bend them to my will.
I feel like I’ve entered the phase of tackling the mental piece of my eating disorder. In treatment, in all of my previous therapy, there was a focus on the physical and the behavioral — an urgency to just get me to eat.
She is starving herself to death – someone feed her.
I’m fed now. I’m armed with various coping mechanisms. I’ve done the work to stay grounded. I know that “fat” is not a feeling. I can identify an irrational eating disorder thought and move past it. I don’t binge and purge when I’m upset. I’ve done the work. I still struggle, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve done the work here.
I haven’t done the work to understand the why behind all of this. My eating disorder is and was a symptom of something.
I’m no longer in the throes of anorexia and bulimia, but something is there. Those thoughts are there. Maybe not the thoughts urging me to skip a meal, propelling me into some bizarre war with food, but they are there. The thoughts that keep me from pursuing the things that are important to me — the ones that squash my confidence, my surety. The thoughts that tell me I’m not enough — that I will never be enough.
There is an anger bubbling up inside of me; an anger I try to push down. I feel it creeping up my throat, trying to crawl out, and time after time I swallow it down. It festers and grows and rumbles around in my belly. It is aching to break through.
I am so mad. I am livid. I am fucking furious. It’s a feeling I despise — that I am afraid to unleash. Because it will be torrential, and I’m afraid it will destroy whatever it touches.
I can’t keep it in me. I can’t. I have to speak up. It has to come out.
But I’m the agreeable one, the nice one, the encourager, the ray of sunshine, miss fucking positivity. I like to think I’m strong — that I take no shit — but I feel so fucking weak. I feel like a failure. I allow fear to control me. Maybe my fear and anger are one in the same.
That’s why I’m here. That’s why I’m writing this. I refuse to keep myself in this box. I refuse to limit myself. I’m worth more.
I am enough.
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