So, one month after my 26th birthday - my condition was so grave that I had no other choice but to go inpatient and I knew this. There was no denying it any longer. I had been seeing a new therapist for about two months prior to this time and she is the one who got me to admit and accept that I needed help. I credit her a lot for helping me start on this road to acceptance of my illness and my recovery. I truly thought that this was going to be the start of a new life. I guess I was naive to the reality of just how entangled in my anorexia I was. But I didn't know that at the time. All I knew was I had lived with my e.d. for so long and I honestly thought that this was finally my time to get better and move on. I thought that I would go into this treatment center and come out recovered. How naive and stupid I was... because when I was admitted to the center and started to work the program I realized that this was going to be the hardest thing I have ever had to do. At the center, I quickly retreated back into my denial thinking and was hesitant to let go of my behaviors. I was afraid to let go, and the e.d. was so much in control even in this place that I thought I was "safe". It took quite a few months of being there before I was finally really ready to accept the idea of letting go of my e.d. And it was then, that I finally saw that change in me and I started to honestly try to work the program and even stop all the behaviors I was still trying to engage in secretly (dumping out my feeding tube, hiding food, exercising at night, ect.) I was ready to recover, to get better, and to have my life back!
I didn't think that I would still be in treatment (I honestly thought that was going to be the time I let my e.d. go for good!) and still be struggling as much as I am three years later...
A couple of days ago, I was looking through my recovery journal. I haven't looked through it for quite a while, and I came across this letter that I wrote. One of the assignments that we had to do at this treatment center, was write a letter to our eating disorder. When I wrote this letter it came from my heart and that place inside me that longed for freedom from this horrible illness. This is that letter:
I am writing this letter as the first step towards my recovery from you. It has been 13 years since you first came into my life. I was a young, naive, and awkward girl and I fell right into your arms. In a world that felt so chaotic and unsure, I felt safe and in control with you. You were a place that I could escape to when things got too hard or scary. You promised to protect me, and not only did I believe you - but I defended you from anyone who told me otherwise!
But as the years went by, you became more and more addicting! And even though you were hurting me, I was so terrified to let you go. I just had to accept the fact that you would always be a big part of my life, and I would just have to try and live some sort of a "normal" life. But you couldn't even let me do that! So here I am in a freaking treatment center because of you!!! You have brought me so close to death more times than I can count - but I am still here and I am still going to fight! I know that I am not strong enough to fight you on my own, but I have an amazing treatment team and lots of people who love me and want me to recover.
You have deprived me of my innocence, my morals, (and above all) my health!! You have taken away my happiness, my right to make healthy and positive decisions, and you have cut off my emotions and replaced them with your own. You have convinced me that these harmful behaviors were acceptable ways to deal with problems and emotions. You have convinced me that these same behaviors would protect me from feeling any kind of hurt or pain. But instead, it numbed me of any emotion I was feeling! I thought that by participating in our "secret games" I was in control of my life and my feelings - but in reality, I wasn't in control of anything, you were!!!
You told me what I could and could not eat, to purge if I did eat, how long I had to exercise, and you even convinced me to take all sorts of harmful pills! And if I would start to question you - you would make me feel guilty and tell me that I needed to work extra hard that day! I thought that by listening to you and trusting you would make me perfect. I can't believe how naive I was to have let you into my life!
You took away my self-esteem and confidence. You have taken away my ability to handle simple everyday tasks, because of your controlling grip! You have wrapped me around your finger so tight, that every aspect of my life has to be cleared through you first! I believed you when you said that you would never hurt me or make me cry - so how come every time I think of our relationship, I can only remember pain, sadness, and countless tears as what you've contributed! You have kept me isolated from so many of my friends and family, and you have destroyed very special and intimate relationships. There was never room for three in these relationships, and I always picked you! Because of you, I am struggling to find out who I am and what my purpose in life is at the age of 26! Instead of 18 or 19 like most people. You have taken away so many years from me that I will never get back! I'll always feel like I am trying to catch up to everyone because you have pushed me so far back! You have taken away anything that once gave me joy. You have made me feel so shameful and guilty about so many things in my life.
So today is the day that I am finally saying goodbye! I will no longer accept your phone calls, text messages, emails, or any of your tempting "sweet" offers. I will not allow you to come to my home or visit with any of my family or friends to see how I am doing. I am cutting you out of my life!!! I know that it will not be easy, it won't be a clean break by any means, but I am prepared to fight! I have people on my side whom I do trust, and who truly love me.
Our relationship has spun so out of control - I am too dizzy!!! The longer I stay with you, the worse off I am. Every time I have managed to stand up - you have been right there in front of me ready to push me down again. But that is coming to an end. You have ruined my life in every way and you are not worth it! I am worth it!! My recovery is more valuable than anything you could offer me. So with all of my heart and soul, I am closing the curtain on our foolish and deadly relationship and taking my final bow.
When I read this, I started to cry because I feel like I have lost this girl. The girl who wrote this letter is not me anymore. Who I am now is a girl who is exhausted and beaten down by this illness. Who keeps trying to let it go but for some reason can't - the e.d. doesn't want to let her go... Or maybe, I am just not strong enough to let it go... I don't know, but what I DO know is that I want this girl back! I want to be the girl who wrote this letter! I want to feel like recovery really and truly is in my grasp and that it is achievable! I want to fight, and I want to win! But all I feel like lately, is that I am losing, and that I am hanging on to a rope that is so frayed and worn that I am not sure how much longer I can continue holding on before it breaks or before it slips out of my hands...Where is that girl, and how do I get her back?