I Miss You, Anorexia

This probably feels like a strange post to write, especially when comparing it to something like this which I wrote last year.

But anorexia is probably one of the most upside down back to front illnesses in existence. How can I miss something that I loathe so deeply, and that loathes me back?

I don’t know.

That’s the simple answer. I don’t know exactly why I miss it, but I do. It feels like one of my limbs has been cut off. I miss being freezing cold all the time, and not having periods, and seeing the shadows my ribs would make in the many, many hours I would spend body checking in front of every reflective surface I could find over the course of the day. I miss the hollow sound that my hip bones made as I tap tap tapped at them all day, checking they hadn’t suddenly grown a layer of fat that wasn’t there just moments before. I miss drowning in my clothes and the euphoria of seeing the numbers drop. I miss people gasping when they saw me, and being the thinnest person in the room, and seeing people’s concern about how much weight I had lost. These were all signs that I was winning. The more worried people are, the better I am at being anorexic. But most of all, I miss the numbness, and being blinkered to the rest of the world. I heard somebody recently say that living with an eating disorder is like looking at life through a straw, and I can’t think of a more perfect description. My world was minuscule and sheltered and safe. Recovering feels like a layer of my skin has been removed – I feel exposed and vulnerable without my cloak of starvation.

The way I have got myself through recovery is by telling myself that it’s temporary. It’s okay if my body has changed, because in a couple of years I’ll relapse again, as I always do, and I can be thin once more. I will allow myself a window of enjoying food and life and freedom, before I decide that it’s time to fall down the rabbit hole once more. I am hoping, with every inch of me, that once I progress further in recovery I wont want to relapse again. But knowing that I can, that I have a safety net, that anorexia will always be there if I want it, is what helps me to drag myself through every bite, every snack, every meal. Because I know, I know, that there are so many things I don’t miss.

I don’t miss how much my joints hurt, or how my spine used to bruise from sitting in the bath. I don’t miss the lack of concentration or memory or motivation. I don’t miss having to walk around in the dark and the rain, and having feet covered in blisters and cuts. I don’t miss the dizziness and the nausea and the stomach cramps so painful that at times I thought I might pass out. I don’t miss how sad I made people, or how boring I was, or how utterly miserable I felt all of the time. I don’t miss the blood tests and the DEXA scans and the IV’s, or thinking every night when I went to sleep that I might not wake up. I don’t miss the anxiety of going into treatment every day to face what felt like Everest after Everest.

At the moment, if I were to write a pros and cons list for having anorexia, it is fairly evenly balanced. I have a love/hate relationship with it. I don’t want it, but I also feel like I need it. It feels like some innate part of me, and that without it I am incomplete. But a lot of the work I have being doing in therapy is about how I fill the void anorexia leaves with things I value – new experiences, travel, relationships, career, hobbies. All things that also make me who I am. I can exist without anorexia, but it can’t exist without me.

So I hope, as time goes on, the list of things I miss will shrink, and the reasons I want to stay recovered will continue to grow and grow. I hope I will reach a point in which I can say I am ready to leave it all behind for good, to once and for all commit to staying recovered, permanently. I will try this recovery thing, knowing that if it doesn’t work out, anorexia will always have me back if I want her.

Until then I take this recovery journey day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute. One meal at a time.

3 comments

  1. Hi Cara, you said: Recovering feels like a layer of my skin has been removed – I feel exposed and vulnerable without my cloak of starvation…

    Absolutely, but don’t you think that to be exposed and vulnerable, and to experience life through this new way of finding yourself, also makes you so much more stronger, rooted and wise than anyone can ever be if they continued to live life through the lens of a straw? You are stronger, more rooted and wiser than you were before (based only on what I know of you from this blog and twitter). And that’s not because you were starving, but because you fed. But you know that, you are an expert here. There need not be nor should there be a relapse two years down the track, that’s letting AN an in. But you know that already too.

    I’m not a fan when people say ‘you’ve got this’ but actually you do, you really do have the power and wit to never return to where you were only 6 or 7 months ago.

    Keep it up 🙂

    Like

  2. i have had Anorexic and Bulemia can see what your saying/feeling Vomiting big part .Vomiting makes us better
    i was bullied badly as a child soon after i was then sexually abused bt Different Adults so Vomiting for myself
    MADE BIG DIFFERENCE , i take part in a lot lot research .have long list health issues …m.e .ibs .migraines
    the list goes on. people never see the every day effects ,there views/judgements are very Snotty Nosed
    my blog.http;//mark-kent.webs.com
    twitter.supersnopper

    Like

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