You’ve had me in your grasp for five long years.
I thought I had gotten better at points in this journey with you, which I had, until you showed up again and again: in different forms, in different ways.
You first told me that I had to be perfect, that I couldn’t ever slip up, I couldn’t show any flaws. This drive for perfection was planted, took root inside me and grew so large I couldn’t see anything else.
I always did what you told me to do, first starting with starving myself senior year of high school. I ate less than 1000 calories a day just to keep you happy. I ran 5 miles a day on top of that to win you over even further. You told me that happiness came from what I looked like. You told me skinny girls are the prettiest, the happiest and the most admired. I had to be nothing but the skinniest girl.
In the first 4 months that you came into my life, I lost 25 pounds, countless friends and my first love… all because of you. I ended up 5 pounds shy of my “ultimate goal weight” and you still weren’t happy. I was all alone now, with you in my head.
My high school teachers had to contact my family, and caused me shame and embarrassment. I was just trying to make you happy, you’re the only voice I heard; what was so wrong with that?
College started; you disappeared for months and I thought I was rid of you. Until the day I looked in the mirror and saw how my obsessive drinking, partying, and junk food eating had took its toll. You came back and slapped me across the face for ruining all your previous hard work.
So, I started up again. Got myself a trainer, and lost all the weight I gained, and even more. Sophomore year of college; I was just almost as thin as high school, but you still weren’t happy. You floated in and out of my head for all of that year, constantly criticizing me for something you could control.
It wasn’t until I got my heart broken that you had me in your full grasp again. You told me I wasn’t pretty enough, wasn’t thin enough, and wasn’t good enough, for him, or for anyone. Those thoughts continued for months, reaffirming your original command, “you must be perfect”. That summer was one of the worst few months of my entire existence.
Then came my love for a “healthy” lifestyle, I thought I was cured! I was going to the gym, eating clean, stopped drinking, and “lived” my life. Little did I know you were always there, watching me be “fit” and “healthy”. Telling me I HAD to lift and eat clean and work harder, and then I’d be perfect. I had to have abs, a perfect butt, and perfect muscles to be happy.
“When will I be good enough for you?” I would often ask ED. There was always no answer. It was always: “work harder,” “be better,” “look better”, etc. If I worked hard, it was tolerated by ED. If I messed up, it was hell with ED. Not once in those past 5 years did I think to work on my insides rather than my outsides.
You always told me I’d never be good enough for anyone. I almost pushed away the man of my dreams… because of you. But luckily, he sees right through me, to you, and tells me countless times that’d he’d never leave because of your grasp. Unlike you, he loves me for who I am as a person, not for what I look like. He helped me put you to rest, and for that, among many other things, am I eternally grateful.
Health and fitness had been my thing, my hobby, my niche, for YEARS. And it wasn’t until I gave it up for a while, did I find happiness. True happiness. Happiness not involving the clean foods I was eating, or the number on the scale, or the amount of weight I lifted. I subscribed heavily to “diet culture” thinking it was “healthy’ and was making me “happy.”
Happiness comes from laughing with friends. Happiness is working out because you love it. Happiness is getting a good grade because you studied so hard. Happiness is waking up every morning truly healthy. Happiness is no longer caring what ED thinks.
You will no longer have power over me. I choose to stand up to you. I choose to no longer listen to your constant bombardment of harsh expectations. I’m going to do things I love. Working out because I want to, eating right because I value health, treating myself more, following my dreams in all areas of life, and being happy with AND without the gym; all without your criticism. I am going to value my body for what it can do and be thankful for what it has given me over the years. This eating disorder mindset will no longer have control.
I am going to tell you, “I am SO much more than what I look like” until you (and I) believe it. It’s not going to be easy, but I KNOW it will be so worth it.
It’s time for me to shine.
I won’t miss you, ED.