NEDAwareness 2014: Breaking Up With ED

I have a confession to make. I’ve never been in a relationship.

(Big apologies to my tenth grade “boyfriend” for this statement. No offense, you’re a great guy, but I don’t think you quite count.)

I can’t pretend I know exactly what it’s like to go through a breakup, although I think the experience is different for everyone. I’ve watched friends go through them. I’ve watched my little brother go through them. I’ve watched overly dramatic television characters go through them. They’re sort of inevitable. Most relationships end. But they don’t all end the same way. Sometimes things deteriorate of their own accord, when two people realize they’re just not as compatible as they thought they were. Sometimes someone falls in love with somebody else. Most of the time someone gets hurt.

In honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, which ends tomorrow, I’m going to share the closest thing I’ve ever had to a breakup. I’m going to talk about ending my relationship with my eating disorder.

My ED (which I not-so-affectionately personify as “Ed”) was manipulative and charming. He wasn’t smart, but he was clever. He made me completely dependent on him and used that mercilessly to prey on every ounce of confidence I had. It was a tumultuous, violent, and abusive relationship, and the worst part was that he wasn’t some separate entity. He was a part of me. Leaving him was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

I loved him, even when he was horrible to me. I loved him when I decided I had to let him go. I still love him. I think I always will.

I think about going back to him sometimes. When my life gets too difficult and I feel like there’s no one else I can rely on, all I want is to lean back and have him catch me. How sick is that? I know that all of his words are empty air and that he lives with the sole purpose of destroying me, but I still feel better when he’s there.

Does that sound familiar? I think it might. It’s a breakup. Not a romantic one, but a breakup all the same. When I’m drunk and sad, I’m in danger of “texting my ex,” except for me, that means giving in and using disordered behaviors. Sometimes all I want to do is call him and I need my friends to come over and talk me out of it. I have a box of stuff that reminds me of him – too-small t-shirts, diet cookbooks, running wristbands – shoved under my bed where I won’t be tempted to look for it. It’s been a year, and I’m still not over him.

More and more, I’m realizing that’s okay. Maybe I’ll never be over it. Or maybe in another year, I’ll laugh at the fact that I just said that. I don’t know. What I do know is that we have every experience for a reason: to learn something. Relationships end, but each one teaches you something about yourself you didn’t know before. Every mistake leads the way to better mistakes, and every bad relationship leads the way to great ones. If anything, you learn not to stand for anything less.

I’m not going back to Ed, because I know I deserve better. But I wouldn’t have figured that out if I hadn’t let him break me. Being knocked down was the only way I figured out how to stand on my own.

Break up with Ed. Get out of there. Love him, miss him, yeah, that’s life. Just don’t go back. Something better waits for you on the other side.

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24 comments

  1. Yeah, I know how this feels. Except it’s my twisted addiction I want to go back to. Same thought process though. It treated me like shit, but it’s clever. Maybe I’ll call him “Dick.” (Get it? Ad-dick-tion?)

  2. The further away you get from Ed, the more insidiously bad qualities you will recognize in him… my leaky esophagus and acid etched teeth know exactly what you are talking about. Stay away from judgemental, domineering men in your future, Sweetie, they all have the same middle name, “Ed.”

    1. Oh, man. Yeah, I hope I’ll only continue to distance myself from those awful things. I’m sorry to hear that Ed is still poking his head into your life. Nobody should be taking charge of our lives but ourselves 🙂

      1. Thank God, since my beautiful new life with my Egyptian husband, I never have a moments thought for Ed, but what I mean is that the damage to my health have stayed with me

  3. Wow, yes that is a breakup. I can relate too. It’s harder in some ways, since you have to choose to let go of part of yourself, whereas letting go of an abusive relationship is often a process of reclaiming yourself.

    1. I think it is about reclaiming ourselves, too. I definitely felt like fighting my ED opened me up to parts of myself I didn’t even know existed.

  4. I love the way you describe your relationship with Ed (before and nowadays). I recognize a lot, but I didn’t really break up with him yet (I’m afraid of missing him to much I think), but I’m really working on it! And your point of view helps me in this struggle. Thank you for that!!

    You go girl, you deserve way better that this silly ‘Guy’ Ed!!! 😘

  5. 1. Wow, someone other than me who has not dated anyone! 2. I think breaking up with Ed is the best thing you ever could have done. Without him by your side, you have become the most beautiful woman you could become.

    1. Haha, you know what? At this point, I’m embracing it. I like to think of myself as a researcher. So I’ll be really good at dating when I actually start doing it.

      And thanks for that. I feel like a much stronger, more confident person without him! GTFO, Ed!

  6. You are one of the strongest people I have ever met, Gwen. And you know my life soap opera, but this inner strength you have takes much more than walking away from another physical human. You’re incredible. Every day. And yes, you do deserve better.

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