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The Lies I Told When I Was Struggling With Bulimia

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Lying about my eating disorder was a regular practice for me for over a decade. I even lied about the diets I was participating in to sound like a better person, as if my adequacy as a person depended on how well I counted calories. As my disordered eating progressed into full-blown bulimia as a teenager, I became a professional at hiding my behaviors. I was convinced I needed to be thin, and if anybody found out I was “cheating” on my diet, I would be shunned by the culture I had become so engrossed in. My eating disorder entrenched me in lies, and anxiety stemmed from the fear of being “found out.”

When I finally broke the silence and came forward about my eating disorder, I felt an immense amount of relief. I no longer had to hide. I was able to receive help from those around me. Though I didn’t receive the care I desperately believe I needed, I was able to begin therapy and work through many of my difficulties.

Being honest with where I am at in recovery is essential to my growth. If I am having a hard day, it is imperative that I reach out for support. If I slip up and use a behavior, I must be accountable for my actions and tell a professional in my life. I reach out to friends and tell them how I am doing. I resist the urge to respond with “I’m fine” when asked how I am, as it is usually a lie. The smallest forgery can affect my ability to stay on a positive road towards a recovered life.

If I am trying to hide something, it is usually due to shame. I am afraid I am bad for participating in an eating disorder behavior, or that I am not giving my 50 percent to a relationship I care deeply about. It is sometimes because I am afraid of the consequences my truth will bring. Regardless of the reasons behind lying, it causes an erosion of my ability to care for myself and a tenfold increase in my anxiety.

As I show up more authentically in my life and tell the truth on a regular basis, I am able to look people in the eye. I am unafraid of existing or being “found out.” I have fewer fears and my anxiety is lessened. It allows me to grow both as an individual in recovery from an eating disorder and as a human being in general.

Lying is exhausting. Keeping track of the lies I told each person was making me sick with unnecessary worry. With this newfound willingness to tell the truth, I am able to show up for my life in a way I’ve never been able to before. I have incredible friendships that I would not give the world for. I may not be able to mend the relationships I’ve lost, but I can accept responsibility for my actions and move forward. I am tired of being intertwined in fiction and unable to remember the true from the false. I want an easier life for myself, and I believe that is possible if I tell the truth on a regular basis.

Showing up as an honest human being can feel nearly impossible sometimes. Today my lies are less apparent to those around me — I lie by omission. I simply don’t tell people what is going on in my life. I have lost close friends by not telling them my truth. It has been heartbreaking to have the realization that I was not a good friend because I was not sharing equally in the relationship. I am not a quiet person, but I rarely tell people about my hardships. By practicing vulnerability on a regular basis, I am learning that opening up to those around me creates strong relationships. It is by building a foundation of honesty that I am able to create true connection with those around me.

Getty Images photo via kevinhillillustration

Originally published: March 20, 2018
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