Me Without You: Leaving A Toxic Relationship

You’re sitting on your bed shaking, wondering how you got here. Wondering how you got to this place where you’ve stopped choosing yourself. How did it get this far? How did small decisions lead to big habits? So you walk to the bathroom, you turn on the fan, and you sit. You sit and decide if you’ll take the next step or you’ll stop here. Over and over and over again.

You can hear people in the house laughing, talking about something that happened earlier today or some hilarious moment that they shared with someone. But all you can feel–all you can hear–is that voice in the back of your head and the pit in your stomach saying that this is the only way.

Then it happens. You start ridding yourself of the worry and anxiety and feel your adrenaline rushing and your eyes watering as you sit in the same spot that you’ve sat countless times over, getting rid of any evidence that you went too far and lost control.

Control. After all, that’s where it stems from right? If I can fix this one thing, I can fix my relationships, my grades, my worries. You put yourself through the ringer trying to collect all of the pieces that you’ve spilled everywhere. You want to hide the mess and the hurt and the pure panic that you have because you feel so out of place in your own body. After all, that’s what got you here in the first place.

So you go through the pattern. You brush your teeth, you pat your cheeks so nobody sees your bloodshot eyes, and you sneak back into your room so that no one even knows what you’ve been doing. Because this was meant to be hid. This is a really deep, dark, messy part of you. You have an eating disorder.

Two years ago today I decided to give up the most toxic relationship I’ve ever had: my intricate relationship with an eating disorder.

I gave up hiding spots under my eyes. I gave up pretending I had a coughing fit to cover up bloodshot eyes and tears. I gave up lying to my friends and family about being sick. I gave up time spent on the bathroom floor crying because I still didn’t feel better after getting rid of evidence that I lacked control. And that’s when I gained my life back.

I gained the feeling of being full.

I gained the feeling of pride that I finally chose myself.

I gained a complexion that lacked purple spots for days after a bad episode.

I gained freedom from a toxic lifestyle that affects hundreds of thousands of people everyday.

I didn’t know that my eating disorder had become a part of who I was until my first year out of college. When I first started living day to day without bulimia, I felt like each day was a part of a competition I had with myself. Make it to one month. That will feel like you won a trophy. Make it to six. That will be something you can finally admit to the world. I celebrated the 15th of every month for eleven months, feeling like I had this special tie to an exclusive club that only certain people were apart of.

I hit my one year mark and I found myself oddly nervous–maybe even embarrassed–to post something so personal and intimate with the public. I was overwhelmed by comments and messages from people I love and internet friends that I’ve never even met in person. I was humbled by the outpour of familiar stories and private messages from people that were still dealing with their own disorders.

So I felt like I should feel different. Don’t get me wrong, I did feel significantly more grounded in my body and the awareness I had gained about food, but I was still suffering  from the stress of feeling unworthy.

I found myself second-guessing my choices, feeling inadequate, and fearing how wrong I might be about my big dreams. I was angry that I felt that way. I was confused. I began mapping out the trails of negative energy and thoughts that I had, tracing them back to a need for control. I needed to control every aspect of my life: when I woke up, how I woke up, what I ate, when I ate, what I would do every afternoon, when I would go to the gym, etc. I had given up bulimia, but I hadn’t given up feeling worthless.

At the end of the day, I could see how the habitual step of choosing to harm my body and my mind just to feel like I had gained back control had led me to a place that was lonely, unkind, and distorted. I realized that after five years of trying to “fix” myself, I had found every reason in the book for why I was not capable of leading a strong, joyful, incredible life. My mindset had been so overtaken by a disease that I had to accept that there was much more to work through than just giving up a bad habit.

I truly believe that without the unwavering support of friends, family, strangers, and other writers, I would not have reached this two year mark. There are many moments when I feel overwhelmed after eating out or embarrassed when I lose control. But I have begun to realize how much I have grown in the span of these two years, and it fuels me to keep moving towards self-love each day.

When I look back at the time I lost, the lies I kept telling, and the way that I gave up a piece of my self-worth each time I gave in, it makes my heart hurt for the girl that lived in that place. But in the same glance, I see that she has made me stronger today than I could have imagined. I see that she makes me open, honest, and empathetic. I see that she notices when other people are suffering. I see that she will forever be the piece of me that holds a promise to herself and to her worth. So on the 15th each month, I toast to the girl that thought there wasn’t another way. I toast to a life without an eating disorder.

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