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A Formal Goodbye To Running, From Someone In Eating Disorder Recovery

I wrote this goodbye letter for myself the night before I completely quit running. Prior to this, I had stopped all other eating disorder behaviors, but I just could not stop running. As a result, my thoughts continued to be “disordered.” I decided that “partial recovery” was not enough for me. I wanted to live completely free of the eating disorder.

Here is my formal goodbye to running:

Dear Running,

First, I want to thank you. Despite how bad things got between us, it was not always that way. Before the eating disorder, I genuinely enjoyed spending time with you. You made me feel strong and empowered. Even though you became dangerous, both physically and emotionally, you gave me a sense of control and filled a void in my life. That being said, you also hurt me very badly. You hurt my hips to the point where I could not walk. You became an obligation and a driving force that consistently had me choosing you over other more important things in my life. You gave me a lot, but you took away so much more. You made me feel as though I could not exist without you. You made me feel like I needed you in order to validate my existence. You hid under the pretense of health, but really, you were just trying to keep me under your control. My whole identity became wrapped up in you, and I actually lost sight of myself.

You served a purpose, but the thing is, I don’t need you anymore. I have other ways to feel in control and successful. I have people in my life that I can turn to and positive coping skills for when I am going through tough times. I am strong! There is so much more to me than you, and I have a lot to offer this world. At this point, you are getting in the way of my health, happiness and future. You are keeping me tied to the eating disorder, and a generally disordered way of living and thinking. You are getting in the way of my relationship with others. You are getting in the way of my relationship with myself. You are causing me to lose sleep, and you occupy so many of my thoughts, that at times, I can’t think of anything or anyone else. If you were a person, I would say that you were abusive.

Don’t get me wrong, I see the good that you do for other people. Like I said before, you were once a positive influence in my life. The problem is, our relationship became a toxic one, and I need to leave it. There are so many better ways for me to use and appreciate my body. I can use my body to dance, to sing, to paint. I can use it to lay down and stand up. I can use it to take deep breaths, to see the world around me, to taste, touch and laugh. I can use it in a way that does not involve mindlessly pounding my feet against a conveyor belt with the same songs playing over and over again, just so digital numbers display my self-worth.You are not inherently bad, but you are bad for me.

This may or may not be goodbye forever. I’m not going to worry about that right now. If I decided down the road that I’m ready to rebuild a relationship with you, I might be willing to try. Then again, I am also more than OK with thanking you for what you have done and seeing what else is out there for me.



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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Thinkstock photo via Halfpoint.

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