Eating disorders are as tricky as they are fickle. They are the secret boyfriend or girlfriend that you hide from everyone, always praying that they aren’t mentioned at the table. And while this relationship may very well be under wraps, at least to you, many have an inkling of sorts.
As in any relationship, you change, but not in the ways that we deem to be positive; after all, you learn to skirt social situations, evade meals with plausible excuses, and shrug off the spotlight of worry. Within that turmoil, there are the arguments: the meals that are “worth” eating, the not-so-philosophical debates of self-worth, and the constant tug of war between scale and validation.
In essence, it is perhaps one of most abusive relationships that you could ever find yourself involved in, let alone endure. After all, you are both your victim and abuser – you know which buttons to push and which levers to pull.
Eating disorders are about exerting control over the one element that you are sure to have ownership over – your body. Where everything else may seem to be in free fall, the connection to your body is grounded, leaving opportunities to express some kind of prowess and dominance abound. The catch to this “control,” though, is that it slips so easily away from your bony fingertips, yet maintaining the illusion that it is yours, when in fact, it has become so far removed from your reach.
And when you realize this, you perhaps go through the stages of denial and shame, before deciding to be brave. And to be brave, you admit it to whoever may be listening (whether on a blog, via email, or in person). But is that it? For some, this declaration seems to be enough, garnering “understanding and support” from networks and communities. Stopping there, though, cheats not only your welcoming support, but also and most importantly, yourself.
That said, don’t just be brave, be courageous. There is so much more to eating disorders than just numbers; it is the result of something that compels the need for an overcompensation through control over yourself. Whether it may be trauma, depression, or social pressures, that is the core to recovery, not blasé and passing remarks of resignation.
Granted, this is the most difficult abusive relationship to get away from; after all, you can’t leave yourself, which is why you need help. Do it with either a community that follows your progress or in your own privacy with a therapist; whichever you choose, make that commitment to yourself – that is what will move you forward and pass this.
And of course, there are those that ask if you can ever “fully recover,” or if you will forever be teetering between a see-saw of health-conscious decisions and potentials for relapse. The truth? I don’t know. There are the days in which I ask myself if I am relapsing because I prefer to skip a meal, but then there are the days where I remember the rigidity that I had enforced around my eating habits no longer exists. I can tell you that there are the moments of self-doubt, and perhaps that is full-recovery but with just residual memories.
This week (February 24th to March 2nd) is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week with the theme, “Everybody knows somebody.” Click here to learn more and discover how you can do your part.