Even with an ED, You Belong

18 Aug

My treatment team has always emphasized the importance of community and fostering social relationships in my recovery because, for so long, I isolated completely. Not too long ago, the only person I saw was my Mom when she came home from work. The rest of the day I spent with my eating disorder. I was lonely and the loneliness felt dark, enveloping, a huge gaping hole swallowing me from the inside out. I feared I’d never be able to fill that void I felt so intensely- that I was unlovable because of my eating disorder, so I should stay away from everyone. It was easier to hide in the apartment than face a world where I would inevitably sometimes get hurt, be afraid, or, perhaps most frightening of all, have to eat in public.

But the eating disorder said it’d keep me company. It wrapped me in a blanket of despair that provided security from the uncertain world and held my cold, spindly hand in its iron, death grip. Though I felt I could trust no one, the ED was different- it was constant, stable and predictable. Even if the rest of my life felt shattered, the ED gave me one thing to hold onto: “At least, at least you are still THIN.” 

As I’ve grown in recovery, I’ve found, however, that the desire to live and feel connected outweighs the fear that once kept me alone.

Today, I visited some of the teachers at my old high school. They were, of course, shocked to see me and from the look on their faces, they didn’t seem to think they’d ever see me like this. Over and over again, in each classroom, I heard the same phrase uttered, “You look so good!” And while a few months ago, the ED would have sensored their words before they reached my ear, twisting them into, “You look so fat,” today, I felt proud. They wanted to know how I came so far and pulled through; they sensed the magnitude and strength it takes to overcome an eating disorder. It was a radically different visit than the one I had taken a few months ago when I was near my all-time lowest weight.

Seeing me months ago, after I took medical leave from my freshman year of college, I saw concern written across their faces at the dramatic amount of weight I lost so soon after leaving inpatient “weight restored.” Most of them seemed doubtful then that I would ever reach the height of success they once expected from me. They saw me as someone to be pitied- someone who had everything going for her, but lost that in the grips of a wretched medical illness.

The visit today was inspiring for both me, and I hope for them as well. After hearing how healthy, good, well, beautiful, strong, and pretty I looked, I left feeling like I was on top of the world. For once, I didn’t have to lie about what was happening at home and outside of the classroom door. It was a whole new dynamic because I am not a sufferer anymore. I danced through each concrete hallway with my head up, confidence blaring, a bounce in my step and eyes sparkling. I refuse to let my ED make me suffer so much anymore. I don’t deserve it- I’ve done enough suffering for a lifetime. Two years ago, I hid behind a mask of perfection, pretending I was confident and put together, pushing through the pain inside. But that’s no longer: chatting with my AP Government teacher, I told her, “Honestly, I have not felt this good in a very long, long time.” She responded simply, “I know… you’re smiling.”

Most of all, today I felt connected, like I belonged, and that I was always remembered, always loved.

Recovery means risking hurt, rejection, rumors, criticisms and all the mess that comes along with relationships. But it’s worth it. Take a poll. Go see old friends, old coworkers, old teachers. And if you have none of those, I’ll tell you. Let this message flood your pores, ricochet in your ears, and sink into every part of yourself:

You deserve. You are loved.

You belong here.


4 Responses to “Even with an ED, You Belong”

  1. menia August 30, 2011 at 12:23 PM #

    It definitely worths it. I’m so happy for u!keep up the good work 🙂

    • eodwyer August 30, 2011 at 2:56 PM #

      Hi Menia,
      Thanks so much for reading! And yes, it took a long time, but now I can see that all the hard work in recovery really has paid off. BTW, I took a look at your blog and really like what you write as well. Plus, I LOVE vintage things, too! Especially hats! I can’t get enough of cloches!

      • menia August 30, 2011 at 4:52 PM #

        thanks you very much 🙂
        i love vintage sooo much and luckily for me many vintage stores are opening here.but i should concentrate and start writing again.summer can take your mind off.maybe you can write something about vintage too.

  2. eodwyer September 2, 2011 at 7:43 AM #

    Definitely! I look forward to seeing what you’ll write! And yes, I should! I’ll try to write something about vintage in one of my upcoming posts. Keep an eye out! ❤

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