So Thanks For Making Me A Fighter

I’m doing well.

I visited my therapist for the first time since winter break. “You seem to be in a really good place,” she said.

“You sound happy,” a friend told me on the phone. “I love hearing you sound happy.” I love hearing me sound happy too.

I was chatting with my academic advisor in her office, and she told me I had a really great attitude. I don’t think I’ve ever been told that before. I usually have a remarkably disturbing and pessimistic attitude, one that tends to make medical professionals uncomfortable. Twice my therapist has kept me ten minutes after my appointment was supposed to be over because she was worried about something I’d said. Yeah, having a good attitude is new to me.

“Want some chocolate?” one of my fellow interns asked me at work today. She slid the two-pound bag of caramels toward me. “Sure,” I replied. I ate a few. I still ate my entire lunch half an hour later.

I’m happy. Not creepy happy; things aren’t perfect all the time. But relatively speaking, I like my life. I like the people I surround myself with, I like the work I do, I like the hobbies that occupy my free time. I like me.

I think for a long time I was working toward the wrong goal. I spent so much time fighting the eating disorder that I forgot what’s important. I’m important. It’s not about making the ED weaker, it’s about making me stronger.

Eating disorders don’t disappear. The thoughts that drove me to self-decimation still occur just as frequently as ever. I sometimes spend hours agonizing over my reflection in the mirror even when I have better things to do. I still order fish instead of steak at restaurants because I know it has fewer calories. I still get nervous when things don’t happen right on schedule, the way I like them. The eating disorder is strong, and it will probably always be strong. The difference now is that I am stronger.

I write and I know that my writing matters. I study and I know that it does not define me. I sing and it touches people. I goof off and they laugh. Sometimes, just sometimes, I walk past a mirror and I see someone who’s a little bit beautiful. I know that I have the potential to do great things, regardless of whether I meet someone’s subjective definition of “perfect.” Even if it is my own.

Recovery is a lot of really hard work. It’s long days and uncomfortable situations. It’s emotions you don’t want to feel. It’s a battle against something you so strongly perceive as part of yourself that sometimes fighting seems fruitless. It’s not. Because the eating disorder isn’t you, or me. Finding yourself, growing yourself, and loving yourself – that’s the only way to beat it. I had to stand up tall, stare it in the face, and say, “I am stronger than you are.” I had to trust that I was smarter, more important, more worthy.

I don’t pretend that I’m an expert, because I’m not. I’m just happy. And that’s something I never thought I could be. Imperfect, but still happy. I am not a supermodel or a movie star. I am not a genius or a comedian or Beyonce. I’m just me. That’s all I ever have to be. And that’s okay. I can live with that. I can be proud of that every single day, because it’s more of an accomplishment than anyone will ever understand.

Ed

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33 comments

  1. Love the picture. And you. You’re one of the bravest people I ever met. And hard working. I wish you weren’t so far away. Keep your head up, you’re beautiful.

  2. I just thought about you yesterday and you post. Amazing. I am glad you are doing well, you definitely seem to be on the right track. πŸ™‚

  3. Love the picture Gwen! I am so glad that our paths met and I really enjoy reading your blog and seeing all the progress you have made, such a journey and look at where you are now. Keep it up! πŸ™‚

  4. I haven’t been following your blog long, but all I have to say is wow. And this was amazingly written. Thanks for sharing, and glad that you and Ed have broken up.

  5. Recovery is hard work, and I have to remember that I’m important. Doing what I love and making myself stronger is the goal, not fighting the eating disorder (or in my case, addiction).
    Great read, and glad to hear of the happiness.

  6. Great post. Good to hear you’re beating this disorder. No matter what it is, we have all been through things that bring us down. I cannot put a name on what I’ve been through, but doesn’t it feel good to be able to stand tall and proud now? All the best and I look forward to following your journey πŸ™‚

  7. I think you are in such a good place Gwen. Sometimes the hardest part is admitting and accepting the problem. You certainly have done that and are moving forward toward a better life. From the limited photo evidence you provide here I think you have no reason to be concerned about your appearance. You seem to be a lovely young girl that deserves some great days.

  8. I always thought eating disorders must be the hardest, whether it’s too much or too little. Then my crazy bipolar reared it’s ugly head. I celebrate the good days, which still usually include bad, whether it’s too up or two down. We just have to stick it out. Keep up the good days.

  9. I was just ‘discovering’ random blogs at wordpress, which brought me to this lovely story. Thank you for sharing your positive thoughts!! These kind of motivating stories help me though rough days..

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