[This is a pretty personal post, reflecting my own thoughts and experiences]
A few days ago, I made another failed attempt at opening up to my partner about my eating disorder. The failure wasn’t necessarily on my part, though – but I guess I can’t really blame him for not understanding the situation at all or how to respond or handle it.
I ended up noticing this horrific fact:
My life is going great. I have just graduated from college with two bachelor’s degrees, I got into graduate school, and I landed an awesome graduate assistantship position. I have a partner who loves me, a handful of supportive and amazing friends, and a family that I wouldn’t trade for the world. My first nibling is even joining my life in the next few months. And yet I am not happy nor am I proud of myself.
I was thinking about this, confused. Is it depression? Am I just depressed again? Maybe, but my mind brought me right back to the root: I feel like a worthless failure because I gained back the weight — and then some. Somehow, my self worth has become so deeply engrained in my weight, weight loss, and weight gain, that the number on the scale and the shape and size of my body has managed to completely outshine all of my other achievements and positive aspects of my life. What gives?
Is it the Eating Disorder talking? I mean, probably. It’s having a really convincing conversation with Society, who is like, “you need to be actively losing weight.” And then the Eating Disorder replies, “you are so right. That is what’s important in life.”
And then me, body positive and feminist as f*ck, steps in and tries to argue, “you don’t need to lose weight for any reason whatsoever – you’re fine – you really should be focusing on loving yourself for who you are and your body for what it is and how it looks naturally.”
And then I try to explain to the Eating Disorder and Society this idea of radical self love and a body’s natural weight set point. They get mad, they argue back, and sometimes I win the argument, but a lot of the time I lose. And then I cry in the shower, most of the time.
I’m used to these conversations. They happen in my head nearly constantly. But what threw me off was when my partner seemed to be mimicking the voices of the Eating Disorder and Society – but of course he didn’t mean to be. He’s brainwashed by our diet-centric thin praising society just as much as the rest of us are or were.
My exact words were “I don’t want to want to lose weight anymore.”
And he attempted to convince me that it’s okay that I want to lose weight. Is it okay? Is it okay to want to do the thing that almost killed you? Is it okay to want to do the thing that you became addicted to? I don’t know. Can we even compare it to something like drugs – would you tell an addict that it’s okay to want to relapse?
Is intentionally losing weight automatically a relapse for a person recovering from an eating disorder?
Did my disordered mind take what he said and interpret it as “it’s okay to relapse / you should lose weight / you should relapse / I want you to lose weight”? Yes. That’s exactly what happened. He was trying to console me and tell me not to be mad at myself for still being stuck in that mindset, and I asked him: Do you want me to lose weight?
Of course he said no, he didn’t mean it that way. And I believe him even if my eating disorder doesn’t.
For me, someone who never received professional help, the end goal is and has always been not wanting to want to lose weight anymore. Body acceptance sprinkled with a handful of days of body love. A healthy relationship with food, eating, weight, and my body.
I mean, maybe he was right. Maybe it is okay that I want to lose weight still. It just means I’m not 100% better yet, but my awareness means I’m on my way there. And that’s enough for me right now.