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A Letter to My Eating Disorder: You Will Not Win

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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 741-741.

Dear Eating Disorder (ED),

I remember the first day I met you.

Your voice started as a whisper and grew into a loud, threatening voice that sounded like my own. You told me it was OK to skip lunch that one day in the summer before high school. You told me it was OK if I skipped meals every day. In fact, you said it would be better. You said I would feel better.

I had the control over what I ate. I could control how I looked. You said I would be happier, and you said it would happen fast. The more I was disciplined, the faster I would achieve my goal. I was always a competitive person and you used that to fuel my desire to be the best, to look the best. I never achieved the goals you set for me because I was never good enough for myself. The goals were unachievable for anyone, not just me. I learned that from you. I never thought I was good enough.

You told me I could run farther. Just one more mile and I would get that “runner’s high.” You told me I could get a thigh gap — something you thought showed beauty, status, success. You told me I could be more fit and, therefore, a better soccer player for it. You told me getting the body I wanted would also get me friends, boys, confidence, happiness…

It’s been 7 years since that summer I met you. Looking at what I have now: no boyfriend (no one even talking to me or looking at me like I am anything more than a one night stand), less friends than I have ever had, no confidence, a bad reputation, no soccer, stress, sadness, depression, suicidal thoughts, an extreme obsession with fitness and eating healthy, decreased focus on school and my future, a distorted body image, a sense of hopelessness, more doctors appointments, more therapy, rehab, acne, hair loss, tooth decay, a bad habit of pulling my hair out, missed social events, missed food outings, lower grades, a distorted list of what’s important in my life, an ability to tell really good lies…

I believed nothing else mattered as long as I looked and felt how I was supposed to: thin. You lied, ED. Everything you said I would have, I lost. You kept telling to keep going, and that my goals and what I wanted would come. They never did, and I’m ashamed I was manipulated for so long. I let you take everything away from me until I became someone I couldn’t recognize. I don’t know if my life will ever be how it was before you. My thoughts revolve around fat, calories and exercise 24/7, 365 days of the year. I’ve lost years of my youth I can’t ever get back, that I don’t ever want to look back on.

Was it really worth trying to have everything you wanted? I can’t remember the last time I ate something I wanted or did something because I wanted to. I can’t remember the last time I was happy. I have been a prisoner in my own body for the past 7 years and I feel I don’t have the option of being someone else. I feel like I am stuck with this body. I don’t get another choice. This is my body. My body doesn’t have a return policy. The relationships I’ve had have changed, some beyond repair. I have been your puppet, your host so you could live and thrive. You have taken my identity, my personality and changed the path of my life forever. I can’t change or erase the past, no matter how bad I want to sometimes. I can’t go back.

Yes, you have been there for me, but only because it benefited you. You wanted to win. You wanted to make me “better” — better than I ever was. The best me I could be. You wanted what was ”best for me.” You “just wanted me to be happy.” Perfection doesn’t make people happy. Perfection is something no one can achieve. I’ve spent my whole life trying to achieve perfection and I’ve failed over and over again. Striving for perfection broke me. It’s only made me more miserable because I can’t ever achieve it. I want what I can have. No matter how hard I work, I will never achieve perfection. I will never be perfect. I will never be your definition of perfect.

And you will not win, ED.

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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Originally published: April 17, 2017
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