When you are in the midst of the war against your body, you often forget your true identity. As I have written before, eating disorders are vicious and tricky and they tend to take up your entire self. They make you believe that their thoughts, words and actions are yours and they are very, very convincing.
Over time, you forget the real you and you go deeper and deeper down that hole that ultimately leads to death or other terrible outcomes. When that happens, we blame ourselves and we feel guilty, ashamed and even extremely mad at ourselves for having done so much damage.
Maybe you have osteoporosis, maybe you cannot get pregnant, maybe you have problems with your teeth or even heart damage. The consequences of eating disorders are plenty and vary, but they are all horrible and lead to a lot of misery and pain.
It is easy then to fall into the trap of self-pity, self-loathing and think that it won’t matter now anyway to recover and to get out of this hellish state because you have already ruined your life, your body and your health.
While I understand these thoughts and have experienced them many times, it is crucial to distinguish between yourself, your actions and your choices and those that the eating disorder leads you to do. Nobody would willingly chose to hurt themselves as much as we do when we’re entangled with an eating disorder.
No healthy, rational thinking person would engage in all of these unhealthy, damaging actions that our eating disorders make us do. Nobody would ignore all the horrible threats eating disorders present if there wasn’t something else going on in our mind. Nobody would willingly lose all of their friends or the work that is their passion. Nobody would lie so easily as your eating disorder does.
No, whatever consequences you face today that were caused by your eating disorder, please keep reminding yourself that this wasn’t you.
When I went into treatment about a year ago and I continued to be forced by my eating disorder into abusing laxatives and working out despite the rules of the sanatorium, I lied and lied and lied about it without any trouble. I even believed my lies to a degree and I was completely fooled by that devilish voice inside my head.
I knew that I had already developed osteopenia (which later on turned out to be a false diagnostic), but I did not care about it because I was not in control. I was not the one with the wheel in her hand and I was not to blame.
When I gained a lot of pounds, reached a healthy weight and thought that my menstrual cycle would return, I was devastated to find that month after month, nothing happened. I cannot put into words the guilt I felt and still feel at times, the accusations I talked myself into, the pain I felt for my husband and the coming to terms that I did that, I caused this outcome.
But I was wrong. I hadn’t chosen to become sick, I hadn’t willingly said that I wanted to destroy my ability to have kids and I was not to blame. When I realized that, I was able to forgive myself and reached a place of serenity and inner calm.
That being said, this post is not an excuse for you to lean back, put your legs up and continue to let your eating disorder be the driving force in your life. No, not in the least. I still hope you fight and fight and fight some more in order to be free, healthy, happy and live the life that you deserve.
I didn’t write this post for you to feel good about continuing to engage in destructive habits and behaviors.
This is just a reminder that your eating disorder takes over and leads you into actions that aren’t yours, thoughts that don’t come from your healthy part of the brain and a feeling of not caring about life or death or any outcomes anymore. But wherever you are in your recovery journey, you can take back the wheel and you can milden the consequences to a degree.
By eating regularly and nutritiously, by not listening to your eating disorder voice and by regaining your territory step by step, you will get stronger physically and mentally and this will help you and your body to deal with whatever situation, whatever damage your eating disorder had caused. But if you stay in the destructive relationship with your eating disorder, this cannot happen and the entire situation will get even worse.
No, you are not to blame, but you have the power to get your life back and make the best out of every situation, no matter how long you have been tied to your eating disorder.
It takes time, patience and hard work, but it also takes the realization that you can forgive yourself and that you can and should blame it all on your eating disorder. Once you have come to this step, you will feel empowered to fight for your life and get the justice you deserve.