Getting an eating disorder is like getting married. You end up committed to this one thing in your life, this one thing that begins to take precedence over all other things. Sometimes you plan it out carefully. Just like some brides read up on the latest trends of wedding receptions and research flower meanings and dress styles, a victim of an eating disorder can do the same. She can read up on the new diet trends emerging and go to pro-anorexia sites to figure out the latest techniques. She can figure out what ways she can transform her favorite recipes so that they are as low-calorie as possible. Or, just like a drunken Vegas wedding, an eating disorder can pop up out of the blue and the victim is stuck with a hangover, a cheap diamond ring, and a huge commitment.
Some people are lucky though. Just like some people can easily fall into an eating disorder (Vegas McDonald’s wedding), some victims can just as easily fall out. Just like Britney Spears was able to get a divorce in twenty-four hours, these people can slip right out of their disordered thinking and back to their real life. Unfortunately these people are far and few in between. Usually, divorcing an eating disorder is a messy ordeal. After all, an eating disorder is an abusive husband. He makes promises to his bride he can’t keep. Promising her love, perfection, and joy while at the same time driving a wedge between his bride and all that she loves. An eating disorder destroys all relationships his victim has before, keeping the bride away from her true friends and the family that loves her. He steals her mind, making her a placid victim. This is besides the physical abuse he inflicts upon her body. The constant bruising all over, the dizziness, the constant pain. And just like an abusive boyfriend refuses to let his girlfriend go, so does the eating disorder cling to its poor bride.
I am one of these brides. For the last three years I have been married to anorexia nervosa. It started off when I left home for the first time. I was overweight, and I’ll admit I wanted to lose the weight. I dreamed that if I had a normal BMI I would be perfect. That all my problems would be solved and I would be happy. What a lie that was. Over the course of that first summer, I lost the weight and at first I was happy. Everyone loved my new shape. I was thin, but not overly so. I was a normal weight for the first time since middle school. I could wear pretty clothes for the first time ever (I’ll admit it, I was the awkward kid growing up. I wore Disney princess overalls!) and I was proud. Then I got on the scale and learned I had gained weight. I had gained half a pound. And that’s when my world shattered.
Because I felt like if I gained back the weight, they would no longer want me. My anorexia told me that to be loved by anyone, I had to be thin. I had never felt loved my whole life (probably why I became anorexic in the first place). The attention I gained from losing the weight made me feel like the people in my life cared for me for the first time ever. Seeing the weight on the scale return made my world feel like it was ending. Everything I worked for seemed in vain. I began losing weight rapidly. I began to withdraw from everyone. Nothing seemed important to me other than losing the weight. Because without the weight gone, how could anyone care for me? My parents had stressed all my life the need to be thin. My father had told me no one could care for fat chicks, while my mother tried to get me to join her on a round of crazy diets. Just like a life-sucking boyfriend, my eating disorder fed off of these insecurities, using them to bring me closer to him.
I will not go into the details of my disorder. Luckily I was caught early on in my issues, so almost the entire course of my disorder, I have been fighting to be free. But it is hard. When I go against my disorder, I feel like no one will ever love me, ever appreciate me. My disorder was never about being pretty or becoming rich. I am probably one of the biggest slobs ever, definitely not a type-A personality that most people think of when they consider an anorexic. I never cared about what people thought of my looks. I guess to me, this is a way of controlling the world. It gave me a sense of purpose. It told me why I wasn’t feeling loved. I was too fat for my parents, my friends, or anyone really to love me. My anorexia gave me a challenge. If I lost the weight, anorexia told me, I would be loved. And as such, I clung to him. I married him.
I know now all his vows were lies. Sure he might intend to stay with me all my life (not that I’ll let him!), but never in health; only in sickness. Never good times; only bad ones. And my life is definitely poorer because of it. I now know that I can find love without this eating disorder. That I am worth it. You don’t need a specific shape to get a man. My parents have one of the strongest loves between them that I have ever seen, and my mom has been overweight their entire relationship. So now, I set forth to separate myself from my anorexia. To move on and create real relationships. To find real and true love, not this fake poop anorexia offers. I am setting forth to divorce my eating disorder. Because what I want does not involve a clingy and abusive boyfriend, but a happy ever after. One with me riding a horse into a beautiful sunrise. Because this divorce is not an ending, but the beginning of a beautiful life. And I really like horses.