Getting To Know Your Eating Disorder
"It's funny but you learn more about your eating disorder the further away you walk from it. I learnt more about Ana the more I began to let go of her".
This week I want to talk a bit about Ana, and the role she played in my life.
Ana definitely had an important job in my life. She had a major role that made me feel unique and successful, although often for the wrong reasons. Ana would pat me on the back and congratulate me for being the thinnest person in the room. She would clap her hands and grin when I would miss a meal. She would throw a party when I lost weight and treat me with bundles of kisses from her when she noticed bones being more visible than before. All these things showered me with relief as I was pleasing Ana which meant I could de-stress, stop worrying and even be allowed to relax... "Yay! 10 minutes on the sofa!". Saying goodbye to Ana not only meant waving goodbye to all the bad things – she made me feel like guilt, and fear but also all the relief and good feelings she gave me.
Of course, I hated how Ana brought me endless boxes of exhaustion, crates of starvation, buckets of discomfort and bags full of isolation info my life. But I also sadly loved the praise Ana sprinkled over me whenever someone told me I was, "skinny" or had "lost weight". I loved when she treated me to a film because I had skipped a meal, or when I reached 'x amount of steps' or my 'x amount of calorie restriction' she allowed me to relax or socialise! In order to truly say goodbye to my eating disorder, I had to say goodbye to all of Ana, the good sides and the bad sides.
It's funny but you learn more about your eating disorder the further away you walk from it. I learnt more about Ana the more I began to let go of her. Strangely the best way to get to know Ana, Mia or Ed is by waving goodbye to them. The larger the distance becomes between you and your eating disorder the larger your perspective grows. When you step away from your eating disorder, you step away from the situations your eating disorder puts you in. When Ana, Mia or Ed isn't in your face twenty-four hours a day you learn what she/he was doing when they were there all day long, for what reason and for why we kept hold of them for so long.
I gained prescriptive on Ana and discovered what her role was when I began to recover, I could watch her now that I wasn't with her twenty-four hours a day, every day! I saw what she would have done to me, I heard what she would have said to me. I understood how self-destructive she was making me. But you never understand this when you are in the current moment, it's only when you step away, that you can spot her games for yourself.
I know that waving goodbye to the good side of your eating disorder will be harder than saying adios to the bad sides but there is good news about losing the good side of Ana, Mia or Ed. I learned my own way of making myself feel unique, I developed skills to reduce my own stress without Ana, and found other ways of comforting myself. I didn't need praise from Ana, I didn't need to be "allowed" to do something, everything I do now is my choice and I don't need to deserve things or be allowed to do things. Ana is not my unique identity, I don't need the benefits she gives me as I make my own, just like I make my own identity. So, I said my last goodbyes to Ana, the good and the bad sides, and this time, it’s for good!