Tonight, I have decided to break up with my eating disorder- Ana. This is not the first time I have tried to cut ties with her, and probably will not be the last. Even when she does not fully implement herself back into my life, Ana continues to creep into my mindset.
It happens when I look into the mirror, go out to eat with friends or see people I am fond of from afar on social media. Ana always reminds me that she makes me a better person – more interesting and more beautiful and more sympathetic. And while her voice is strong, I will try my hardest to recognize that what she says is not true.
I am enough without my eating disorder Ana.
There was a time before Ana and, even though it is sometimes hard to recall, there will be a time after.
What my eating disorder tells me
Ana tells me I am best when I am small. The tinier I become, the bigger she is. My eating disorder gives me a false sense of protection, and this is how Ana maintains her dominance. Being aware of her method does not necessarily prevent me from her influence, however. In many ways I have internalized her effects. I pinch my skin and deprive my body to make her how she wants me, which has subsequently turned into what I want for myself.
Ana and I never really had a set-in-stone state of when we started. It didn’t necessarily begin well or on romantic terms, but she certainly seduced me. She became my source of comfort when I didn’t want to confront other areas of concern in my life, and was a scapegoat for my other issues. She let me turn to her when I had –– or thought I had –– no other resource for my unhappiness or inadequacy, and so I did.
My eating disorder’s rules
Ana prescribed a set of rules and conventions, not grounded in reality, for me to follow. But these notions always changed. Sometimes she made me skip breakfast. At times she let me eat breakfast, but then I had to run for an hour afterwards. Other times I didn’t even have to move, but then I wasn’t allowed to consume anything.
Sometimes she let me eat with friends, but then I couldn’t eat by myself afterwards. Sometimes I had to isolate myself from the people in my life, and Ana had me all to herself. I heard my parents laugh over wine and bread, and my friends over cake, and I could not join. I’d get sad, and then Ana would poke at my rib cage, my cold body and rail-thin legs and laugh. My eating disorder told me as long as I had these things, I should be happy. And even though I wasn’t, I really thought someday I would be. I thought Ana had the secret, emblematic reason for joy and success in life. I trusted her to someday give this to me, while she weakened me until I was nothing but bone.
Ana doesn’t have “a look”
Some people expressed their worries about Ana. Except, they never called her by her name. They just said I looked ill or too thin, or were worried about my diet. Some people didn’t say anything. Some people wished, explicitly, that they had Ana. As if you can buy Ana in the form of a diet-pill. Little do they know that Ana does not have a look, a body or a face. She is different for everyone.
Many people still are with Ana. Some know it, some do not realize it yet. Some people think they are not sick enough to be with Ana. The truth is, you will never feel good enough for Ana until you are dead. And then you cannot feel anything at all. Fortunately, I am not there. And I do not want to let Ana bring me there.
Breaking up with my eating disorder Ana
Tonight, I am breaking up with my eating disorder Ana. I know it is not that simple, that there is no on-and-off button. But I will work towards separating myself from her. Now I will go against her words, which means I will have to go against some of my own.
I will grow, I will learn, I will be okay.
And I am growing, learning and becoming okay.