Many people who have experienced an eating disorder can tell you how terrible it was. And how it brought pain and shame into their lives. What if I told you I have gratitude for my eating disorder? I too have a 500-mile-long list of things I hate about anorexia. However, through the healing process, I have learned to appreciate its gifts too.
Did your eating disorder help you?
Ana, as I called my eating disorder voice, was just trying to protect me from what my distorted mind views as a threat. She lured me into isolating myself because my sensitive soul couldn’t take another rejection. Ana pressured me into being thin because she was looking to be lovable.
She taught that by fitting into society’s standards of beauty, she would achieve it. She taught me to distract my mind by counting calories instead of overthinking things that were “wrong” in my world.
In a world where extraordinary people are deemed weird, Ana gave me a escape and a “friend” to trust through my awkwardness. My eating disorder was the only way I knew how to cope with the pain of not feeling good enough.
Understand it’s purpose with gratitude, but don’t cling to it
I’m not saying by any means that an eating disorder is the best way to cope with feelings of inadequacy. I’m just saying that I understand why Ana came into my life.
At the beginning of my recovery, I hated Ana with all of my soul. I couldn’t move forward because I was so busy fighting her. Now that I accept her as a contributor to my life’s story, I’ve been able to distance myself from her.
I see Ana as a child. She doesn’t know how to handle feelings and emotions, so she chooses to shut them down by obsessing over calories and exercise. She’s so afraid of the unknown, that she prefers to isolate herself and remain in her comfort zone.
Ana been hurt before, so she keeps away from developing relationships just in case something goes wrong. She’s not mean or bad, she’s just trying to remain safe.
But life is not well lived that way.
Moving forward with gratitude
Now that I see my eating disorder as this foolish child, I can make conscious choices to go against what she wishes.
Instead of fighting with her, I look towards her with compassion, as you would with a scared child.
Now I can encourage myself to go out of her comfort zone, inviting her to come along. Little by little, we have discovered that there’s not much to be afraid of in the outside world.
On the contrary, life is better with friends, family, instead of isolated. It’s fun to choose naps and movies when I feel tired instead of exercising to burn extra calories.
Life is better when I’m living it and not letting Ana take control.
I don’t know if Ana will ever die, but I know she won’t ever drive the car. She’s in the back seat, in her baby carriage, and I decide where to drive.