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Why I ‘Choose to Eat’ as a Person Recovering From an Eating Disorder

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Editor's Note

If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741741.

I can intellectualize my body’s need for food — its inability to go on without nourishment — but I don’t like to admit it.

I didn’t want to be reminded of my humanness — my “weakness” and fragility. So, I manipulated it. I used food to prove that my life was in my hands. I could choose to sustain it or to starve it away. And so, I chose to waste. Waste my resources, my body, my relationships. Deprived them all and watched them dwindle. I learned that starvation takes away all ability — steals my capacity to move, think, sleep, love. And I can’t starve my body without starving my soul. I starve and I quickly whittle away my logic, my passion, my desire.

I believe I am mighty — that I don’t need the things all others need. I am the exception in a scenario of no exceptions. I believe I am not an eater, a feeler, a bearer of life until I don’t want to be the exception anymore. I want to need food to live, but I don’t want to live. And then, I am reintroduced to life, and curiosity and pain. To humanity, to weakness and to strength. To the overwhelming world of eaters.

My brain still battles my body. Occasionally, I am reminded I somehow came to sustain my life again, and I feel simultaneous joy and suffering. Relief and fear. My heart heals, my hair grows, my body offers to house another. I am alive because I am an eater — or I am an eater because I am alive. Perhaps the choice is not about eating or not eating, but about living or not living. Embracing life or rejecting it. Hiding in a basement, all sources of light blocked out by opaque bags installed, but failing to keep the bugs off of my skin, or stepping out onto a lawn of weeds and blooms to feel the sun warm my face. I eat for that warmth. I eat to experience the sunrise reflected on the mountains outside my window. I eat to stand at the tops of those mountains and rest peacefully in my bed afterward.

I eat to embrace my mother and connect with my father. I eat to laugh with my brother. I eat to accept that I am imperfect and to acknowledge the beauty of that. I eat to enjoy a moment. I eat to solve a puzzle, read a book, write a poem. I eat to be curious, eat to learn, eat to inquire and eat to desire. I eat to believe, I eat to breathe, I eat to live.

I eat because I am an eater. I eat because I am a soul, and I have come to learn I cannot be a soul without a body. I eat because I want to learn to celebrate my existence. I eat because it doesn’t matter who I was yesterday, and I want to discover who I will be tomorrow. I eat because sometimes, some days, some moments, I hunger for life. I eat to give that hunger space to grow until it is satisfied. Space to reappear and be satisfied once again. And again. And again. I eat to say I am OK with this hunger. I eat to say I am OK.

Photo by Luis Reynoso on Unsplash

Originally published: January 5, 2019
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