A Letter to ED
ED (notice I did not say ‘dear’ – you are NOT to be cherished),
I cannot pinpoint the exact moment when you first entered into my life. All I can recall is that you came into my life when I was vulnerable…seeking attention and refuge from something that had hurt me so much. My close friends teased me, calling me fat and overweight. They commented on parts of my body, telling me that I desperately needed to lose weight. And so began the fall into your control.
I wanted – ever so much – to be simply accepted. After realizing that I could achieve this by losing weight, I put my heart and soul into the task. Every moment of the day was put into figuring out how I would lose weight, avoid the next meal, eat the lowest-calorie option, etc. Night and day you tormented me with your harsh words, telling me that I was never good enough. That I needed to be thin in order to be happy, successful, and loved.
But it was NEVER good enough for you. Five pounds meant that I could lose more. Ten pounds meant that there was still room for improvement. Twenty pounds meant that I was getting closer to looking good – but I still had not gotten there. Being ultra-thin was highly important. It would mean that people would stop making fun of me.
Little by little, my ‘meals’ became smaller. A sandwich turned into half, which turned into quarters…which could eventually become nothing. Leaving the house became a chore because you made me not want to see anyone. I missed out on parties and get-togethers because you told me that there would be food there. Holidays were no longer times of celebration – they became events that I dreaded.
My loved ones became enemies. Their constant reminders that I was on a downhill path were only seen by you as hinders to the ‘perfect’ body. And so, you made me shut them out of my life, ignoring every single concern or worry expressed by my family. You robbed me of my teenage years. The normal life of a teenager – going out with friends, trying new foods, buying new clothes, laughing and smiling at the simple things in life – these, ED, you stole. Healthy relationships were something that you never liked because they took me away from you.
Weight became an obsession. The number on the scale captured my attention for every moment in the day. It had to go lower each day in order for you to feel good…for me to feel proud. Getting dressed up and looking pretty was no longer enjoyable as it had been. Now, I just wanted to stay isolated and alone, curled up under your shelter.
You definitely served a purpose in my life. You convinced me that if I lost weight, I would be happy. You told me lies that everyone would love me and that all the teasing that I had endured would disappear. That all the misery and pain would vanish. And in some ways, you were right. People DID stop making fun of me because I was overweight. People did comment on my weight loss, saying that I looked great. But that is where your reliability ended. You promised me happiness, but all I felt was sadness. You promised me better sleep because I would be more confident – all I got were sleepless nights, spent wondering whether or not I would lose weight the next day. You said that I would be beautiful when I lost weight, but I ended up looking sick and unhealthy.
I have become aware of your power over me. I realize that you used me. You used my determination, strength, willpower, and knowledge to control me. You turned me into your slave as you lured me into your dark trap. You manipulated my thoughts, words, and actions, making me believe that I was going to have a happier life with you. You made me forsake all my morals and values, turning me into a person that I would never have thought I would be. You weakened me, making my body and limbs unable to function as normal. Throughout all this, you blinded me. You changed the way I looked at things and caused me to believe that you were doing what was best for me. You created a deep hole into my heart, stripping away any self-confidence or joy that remained.
You nearly took my life on countless occasions. You were the reason why I had two breathing tubes inserted. You were the reason why I was put onto kidney dialysis. It was you who made my kidneys, liver, and heart fail. It was you who weakened my muscles to the extent that I could not breathe. Because of you, I had to receive four blood transfusions. By listening to you, ED, I nearly killed myself. I subjected myself to your will, hoping that you would somehow transform my life into splendor by making me thin. But you did not stop when I was thin. No. ED, you continued to use your ruthless powers and deceptive ways to take my life away.
But I am growing stronger now. I have entered into recovery and am trying to get better. I still admit that you are present in my life. I often miss you, though I hate to say it. I definitely miss the way I felt empty in my stomach…the power that I felt when I was able to go through the entire day without eating much. I look at the food I am being told to eat now and I feel terrible. I feel as if all of my hard work (to become thin) is going down the drain. But deep down inside (and I mean DEEP down), I know that you are just using this to get back into my life. You are angry because you have not achieved your ultimate goal of killing me. And so, ED, you want to creep back into the picture, cautiously taking steps to make me sick again. You are making me mourn the loss of my school, friends, and family. You are trying to convince me that recovery is not worth it. But I must not surrender to the grips of your lies. I must remain vigilant and strong, persevering throughout the entire journey. It is too easy to give into your power, to stop eating and lose weight. To die. It is much harder to stick to recovery, to eat through the pain and anxiety, to gain weight and buy new clothes, and to feel as though I am back at square one. But I will not be back at square one. I will be beginning a new life, free of your strangle. I will do what I want to do with my life. I will be a successful and happy woman who is not under the influence of your commands.
Yes, recovery is the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life. And often, I feel like quitting because it makes me feel worse than I began with. But I know that this will change with time. With the help and support of my friends and family, I can defeat you and kick you out of my life forever. I also know that God will continue to strengthen me, giving me the power and patience to fight. For now, I have learned to ‘trust in the Lord with all [my] heart, and lean not on [my] own understanding’ (Proverbs 3:5). And so, ED, I have to tell you to leave. You are no longer welcome to live in my head, heart, or thoughts.
Your conqueror – and your ex-victim,