There was a point in my life, towards the beginning of college, where it seemed as though my entire life was falling apart around me. The final straw that broke my emotional back was my break-up with my high school sweetheart. Amidst the mess, I found myself feeling utterly out of control of every area of my life.
At first, I thought I was just so worked up that I would end up getting sick. Then, I believed that I was too upset to have an appetite. Eventually, I had completely lost any desire for food at all. I don’t contribute all of these extreme feelings to simply the break-up, but rather to the accumulation of all of the messes in my life. Aside from losing what I thought was my one great love, my family and school life seemed to be hanging on by a mere thread.
At first, getting sick and not being able to eat felt like another wave of uncontrollable circumstances, but eventually I decided I wanted to have control of something-of anything- in my life. So, I found myself taking control over what I did and more often didn’t eat.
I continued down this path of avoiding, controlling, and rejecting food for several months. People in my life began to notice. As my weight decreased and my control anxiety increased, I found myself back in the dating pool. I was terrified to put myself out there when I still felt like a mess. Regardless, I let myself flirt and have fun, in hopes of forgetting.
During that time, I crossed paths with a boy who challenged me to face my struggles head on. Our relationship was flawed and short-lived, but he helped me to regain control for myself in my life. I remember the first time he said “eating disorder” out loud in my presence. I shuddered at the label that he was putting on me. In the beginning of what I would call my recovery, I found myself simply eating to please those around me but still getting sick in solitude. There was a deep kind of sadness in his eyes when he said to me at a party, “I can hear you in the bathroom.” I remember using excuses like the stomach flu or a hangover to cover up my actions. I had no idea how to openly admit what I was struggling with.
Our relationship came and went, but my road to recovery was sparked by his boldness. He could have never fixed the problem. Nothing he, or anyone else, said could make me feel comfortable in the skin I was in. No one could hand me the control I was so desperately seeking. At some point along the way, I decided to take back control of my body and my life. Just as much as I can’t blame my break down on one break-up, I can’t give credit to one boy for helping me back up. I was the only one who could decide to get back up.
So I did. I got back up and fought through feeling sick whenever I ate and fear of the pounds that would creep back onto my body. Every single day since I have had to make the decision to get back up. Honestly, there are still days when I fall right back into the anxiety and control eating of my past, but I have learned to forgive myself and get up the next day. I wanted to find meaning and strength in that relationship to magically solve my problems, but I couldn’t. I was reminded by that relationship to challenge myself and not accept the struggle I felt weighing down on me.