This month is my seven year anniversary in my recovery with my eating disorder. To some it’s no secret that I am a recovering Bulimic. It’s always been a struggle for me to talk or even admit that I had a problem. Over the years, I found that sharing my story helps in the recovery process. Today I am not ashamed to tell people that bulimia was a part of my life. When I hid it from the world I was ashamed. Ashamed that my relationship with food came down to one thing: purging what I ate. From the time I woke up until I laid my head down at the end of the day I was in a constant state of the process of food entering my body and how quickly I would force it to leave.
When people find out that I had an eating disorder many want to know why. I’ve always struggled to answer that question. For many people it starts because they want to be skinny. I’ve always been a confident woman, and been proud of who I am and where I came from. I can’t tell you how many times people have described me as a woman who has her stuff together and even more so people who have described me as being perfect. Looking back I guess I would say that it was that strive for perfection that would really tear me down. The church I went to demanded it, in my family it was expected, and as a result in my distorted mind I created this unrealistic expectation of what I though perfect meant. The perfect life: being the perfect student, having the perfect body, the perfect church goer, the perfect friend, the perfect daughter, the perfect sister, the perfect girlfriend, the perfect worker, the perfect woman, PERFECT at EVERYTHING. The demands of perfection that I placed on myself (that I thought other’s placed on me)led to skipping meals, obsessively exercising, purging, and to top it off diet and laxative abuse. Looking back it’s amazing to me how much that drive to perfection wasted me away mentally, physically, and spiritually. For years I was in denial that I had a problem. I always had an excuse of why I was so thin: too busy to eat, exercising to release stress, etc.
I can’t remember the whole details that brought me to seek help for my eating disorder. All I remember is one of my co-workers confronting me and expressing to me that she felt I had a problem. Of course I denied that I had a problem, until I couldn’t deny it anymore. Passing out during exercise and randomly I knew wasn’t safe. During treatment I remember my counselor asking, “Why and what got me this far in my eating disorder.” I remember answering control. I realized that things in my life could fall apart and not be perfect, but my weight, exercise, and bowels were the one thing I could control. Over exerting my body was a way that I could release the energy of trying to be perfect when I couldn’t. He then asked “what brings you to treatment now?” My answer: “I realize that I no longer have control and there is no way in hell I can ever be perfect. I don’t want this to be my life. I am better than that.” I wish I could say that I was one of those people that sought treatment and never had a relapse. Yet, those thoughts of inadequacy, worthlessness, and urges to be perfect continue to creep up in my life. Looking back on my life the cost of my addiction went beyond paying for treatment: food is different for me I can’t stick a piece of food in my mouth without knowing how many calories I am consuming, exercise is not as relaxing as it used to be as I am constantly wondering if I am doing too much or not enough, and I can never walk in the store without having urges to want to walk down the diet and laxative isle. I feel like I can’t really ever let my guard down when it comes to being in recovery from bulimia. Emotions are with me every day. While the urges to revert back to my destructive behaviors are far more under control today than ever before it can sometimes tap me on the shoulder as a simple reminder that those urges are only an emotional breakdown away if I’m not careful. All I know is
Today I am NOT bulimic.
Today I am a RECOVERING bulimic.
This is my life and for that I am thankful!