Today is a big day for me, and I have a lot of feelings about it, so I wrote the following piece on my phone this morning. I hope you like it.
Today is a very special day for me—it marks three years of being anorexia and bulimia free! That means that for 1,095 consecutive days, I have not starved myself, binged, or purged.
Those 1,095 days were hard. Some were harder than others, but but all of them required me to actively choose myself over my illness in everything I have done, over and over again.
Today, I want to share with you all some things I’m thinking about on this 1,095th day.
The first two pictures are of me last night in a time of struggle. To be so close to a milestone and still feel such a strong urge to break my streak was astounding, ironic, frustrating. To claim that I am “well” when I still have to make conscious choices to stay away from the bathroom and distract myself with other things and sleep until the feelings of anxiety and fear and disgust and all those nasty tools of the enemy pass—that felt hypocritical. To admit to those feelings now is embarrassing. As transparent as I want to be with you all, it’s still a point of shame for me.
I took these pictures to remind myself that I can live that struggle in real time and still love myself, that I’m allowed to like the way I look and fight the way I feel, that choosing health and happiness over old demons is always a victory, regardless of the disappointment that comes with the demons still being there at all. I took those pictures, and I liked them. I then texted people who make me happy, I read, I played piano, I talked to my parents, and I went to bed. And those things are small, but they were huge for me; those things meant that the morning after, this morning, I am able to say “year three” instead of “day one.”
The last picture is of me right now, after running for the first time in a while. It is cold and rainy here in Tennessee, and I am asthmatic and sleepy, but I really wanted to do this. I ran from my house to the next neighborhood. If you know my place well, this was not far. At all. But I did it, and my lungs burned and my feet cramped and my face froze and I just smiled because it felt so ridiculously good to be on the other side of that three year mark and to be running because I love myself and not because I hate myself. I sit now at the next neighborhood’s entrance writing this, my butt getting soaked from the wet stone beneath me, my fingers freezing from the rain as I tap on my phone screen, my heart not minding any of it. Just happy. just relieved. Just validated. That’s where I am right now.
I absolutely must thank God first and foremost, because regardless of what others believe to be true or not it was those conversations and that relationship I had with Him that kept me alive from when this mess started five years ago up to now. I know I will not be toppled when I put my trust in Him. I am overwhelmed by how thankful I am for that.
I also want to thank the loved ones in my life: family and friends who, with the smallest of comments and slightest of gestures kept me on the right track all these years. For those friends in high school and college who helped and continue to help me normalize eating, for the family members who offered me a space to hurt and the resources to heal, to all the people in my life who knew when to push me and knew when to hold me and knew when to just listen. Thank you all. I will continue to rely on your support, if you will let me.
I don’t write any of this to tell people in the depths of eating disorders that it just “gets better.” It’s not that simple. I don’t even know if I’m “better” or not; I don’t know what that looks like here. I can’t say that this war is “over” because I don’t know if it ever will be. I know, however, this at the very least: for 1,095 days and counting, I have been winning.
I write this to encourage you and to give you visibility. For my sisters and brothers fighting this fight: you are allowed to let this process to be gradual. You are allowed to have a hard night and a victorious morning. You are allowed to own your triumph in the presence of your failures. You are allowed to fall. You are allowed to be frustrated about that. You are allowed to get back up. You are allowed to be proud of that. You are allowed to have day ones. You are allowed to have year threes. You are allowed to not have it all figured out yet. You are allowed. You are valued. You are strong. You are here. I love you.
I’m going to walk home now. Again, thank you all.
Here is a link to the National Eating Disorder Association Hotline and Click-To-Chat Button: