What I Miss (And What I Don’t) From Having Anorexia.

(I wrote a post about what I missed and didn’t miss from being an obese post-adolescent.  I figured, because this week is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, that I should follow that up with the other end of the spectrum.  I fall into the unhappy category of those who have experienced both sides, yet the triumphant category of those who are on the positive side of recovery from both as well.  It needs to grow.)

You know what I really miss about being anorexic?

I miss control.  

…Huh. That’s about it.

There is nothing else I miss about that vindictive, vitriolic, SOB of a disorder.  It is consuming, self-flagellating, self-congratulatory, and ultimately heartbreaking.  How dare I miss one second of that isolation? Except for the comfort of control, I miss none of it.  And there is a lot of comfort in knowing exactly how your day is going to turn out.

What I don’t miss:
everything. else.
I don’t miss being dizzy when I stand up.
I don’t miss pulling clumps of my hair out in the shower.
I don’t miss having nothing to wear because my clothes were falling off.
I don’t miss having grey/yellow skin, the result of eating baby carrots to replace real food.
I don’t miss measuring my wrists with my thumb and forefinger to see how small my arms were getting.
I don’t miss being afraid to get out of bed.
I don’t miss the dry, bleeding knuckles from the lack of fat in my diet.
I don’t miss low calorie high fiber turkey wraps for lunch (actually…I still eat these but I put a shitload of avocado in there too.  FAT.)
I don’t miss nearly passing out in gyms.
I don’t miss actually passing out in restaurants, rehearsal halls, bedrooms.
I don’t miss the self-satisfied feeling of victory when I pulled on a size 2.  I also don’t miss the crying fits when I’d eat broccoli and the size 2s would be a little snug.
I don’t miss feeling weak.
I don’t miss being vegan because I thought it would make me lose weight.
I don’t miss trying to reintroduce fat into my diet and my body rejecting it because it was so foreign.
I don’t miss fearing infertility when I lost my period for 2 years.
I don’t miss being powerless.
I don’t miss crashing.
I don’t miss vitamin/calcium deficiency.
I don’t miss being worried about going on dates because, omg, what if the food at the restaurant made me fat?
I don’t miss the panic attacks.  Oh, the panic attacks.
I don’t miss the early days of yoga classes, of getting obsessed and going every day because I just wanted the ‘yoga body’, of being so upset and afraid and not wanting to deal with the openings that were going on in my emotions that I would fall to the floor in tears.
I don’t miss finding crap like Walden Farms Zero Calorie Peanut Butter (WTF?!) in the store and actually getting psyched about it.  And that Better’N Peanut Butter crap, too.
I don’t miss working out for three hours so I could have a piece of cake and a glass of wine at a friends’ house.
I don’t miss counting calories on websites.
I don’t miss weighing myself every morning and figuring out my food based on if I had gained or lost.
I don’t miss eating until my stomach hurt because I was so hungry I was blacking out.
I don’t miss being so. goddamn. hungry.
I don’t miss clearing out my kitchen at 4PM.
I don’t miss people telling me “You look so skinny” and feeling smug about it.
I don’t miss trying to lose my curves and looking like a displaced Skeletor in the process.  Oh, my poor butt.  I’ll never leave you again.

new year’s eve 2009.  I’m just glad anorexia didn’t take away my flawless fashion sense.  At least, not at first.

So what happened?

Everything.

I cried.  I laughed.  I played.  I worked.  I slept in.  I got up early.  I drank so much coffee I’m probably part Ethiopian.  I ran.  I stopped.  I ran some more. I did so much freaking yoga I’m shocked I still have arms.  And I ate.  I ate food. I ate life.  I ate love.

Recovery is so much less of a struggle when you have a strong support system.  And post-recovery is even better when you have people around you who tell you they love you every day, and tell you you are beautiful every day, for reasons that have nothing to do with the size on the back of your jeans.

I’m full.

I am a survivor.  Of binge eating.  Of obesity. Of compulsive exercise bulimia.  Of diet pill abuse.  Of anorexia.

I am hesitant to say I am fully recovered, because eating disorders are like alcoholism in my opinion; once you have one, you will have it sitting in your presence for the rest of your life and it is your choice to feed or famish it.  But before you get your hypocrite hammers out, let me reiterate that when I do make little lapses in judgement, or I have a moment of weakness, it is not because I’ve been starving myself or working out for hours at the gym.  It mostly comes from stress from school and life manifesting itself in ways that probably aren’t the best for me.  I also have the odd distinction of being someone who was obese, then anorexic, so I do have to watch my diet and make sure I’m making healthy decisions simply because I have health issues in my family that relate to weight.  But I don’t freak out anymore.  And I don’t skip dessert.  Ever.  I didn’t even give it up for Lent.  (I gave up Twitter, if you were wondering why I haven’t Tweeted in a week.)

But I am human.  I mess up.  I have my moments when I lapse into lack of better judgement calls and make stupid mistakes.  I’m learning.  I’m still relatively young-ish.  I have a lot of years ahead of me, and I want to spend them with the fullest of my vitality.  I owe it to the world to give it the best of myself.  I still have foods that make me nervous, but doesn’t everyone?

Plus, I really, really like my body.  I don’t see myself changing it for anyone else any time soon.  That tummy I tried so hard to get rid of, to lean out, to shred up? That butt that disappeared? I welcome it back with arms wide open.  How dare I attempt to shrink myself? I should be expansive.  I am expansive.  I could span the world.

Also throw on there my small chest, wide hips, soft stomach, big legs, broad shoulders and crooked smile.  My strength.  My silliness.  My grace.  My awkwardness.  My empathy.  My strength.  My humanity.

Because you only get one body.  Might as well work it.  Or, to put it in more colloquial terms, WERK.

Rock it.  Werk it.  And honor it.  Because it’s the only one you’ll get. Might as well throw an awesome party in the best house you can.  Your house.  Your body.

I wrote this piece to honor and celebrate National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.  It’s time to talk about it.  And I will always be here to listen.


You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

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5 thoughts on “What I Miss (And What I Don’t) From Having Anorexia.

  1. I'm happy that there's an Ally in the world. I'm even happier that she's inviting happy over for an evening of games and banter and that she's healthy while doing it.

    It's tough having an eating disorder (I, too, have been both ways), as well as seeing someone go through it. It's a shared joy when a person finds a sustainable path that works for em.

    I say it often in these bits and bytes, but thanks again, Ally, for letting us in on your journey. The food/exercise extremes are not who you are — but they are a part of what's led to who you are. Personally, I find the funny, thoughtful, frazzled, literate, tired, joyous, loving Ally that we get glimpses of in the interwebs is a gift, a sample from the dessert plate, that echoes the love you share with your family and close friends, and the love you deservedly receive in return.

    Like

  2. Oh girl, you'll never understand how much I needed this. It made me cry, and realize that I can be a strong person even if I did eat too many fries, even if I did take a week off at the gym, even if I'm not perfectly proportionate, even if I'm not the body every girl wants or the skinny, hot, tan, fake girl guys desired. Days that I miss that control and that slight hungry feeling, but no one, NOT ONE PERSON who has never experienced anorexia can understand how much hunger, fear of food, fear of failing and fear of never been loved we experience. Not to mention that obsession of thinking about food ALLLL the time. I mean all the time too. I Google searched, “I miss being anorexic” and I am just so blessed to read this instead of a pro-ana site that would inform me on how if I drink a bunch of lemon juice with hot peppers, smoke cigs, work out every minute of my life, and count everything I ever put in my mouth than I will turn beautiful.

    YOU brought me back to life and helped me feel so in control that I am perfect, wonderful, and in control of my life and deserving of love from myself and others whether I am skinny or fat.

    I greatly appreciate this because I have been missing seeing my emaciated bone look for awhile when in reality I;ve been spending too much time looking in the mirror instead of looking in and approaching certain problems that stir up desires to be anorexic again.

    Thank you for giving me back something I thought I'd only gain from starvation.

    Fuck Pro Ana.

    I'm Pro Ally!

    Thanks girl! You rock!

    Like

  3. This definitely made me cry. It really is all about control.
    There are days and sometimes full weeks where I have to seriously have a conversation with myself and remember all the bad things about anorexia. Here I am 10 years “recovered” (I put it in quotes because you are right, it never really leaves you. I'll always be an anorexic) and sometimes it all seems like yesterday. But when I think about it off hand all I remember is the control.
    I don't miss my “meals” being fat free low sodium chicken broth.
    I don't miss almost passing out at sports practices.
    I don't miss the agonizing hours looking into the mirror analyzing every imperfection.
    I don't miss being proud of my collarbone sticking out and being able to put my hand under my ribcage.
    I don't miss being hungry all the time.
    I don't miss hiding.
    The list goes on and on. Thank you for reminding me about the things I don't miss.
    My husband is a huge support system for me. He understands some days I just don't want to face the world. About once a year I have a total melt down where I just can't get comfortable and feel terrible about myself. And you know what? Only once a year? I'll take it. I used to feel like that every day.
    I went from anorexia to cutting and it's been 5 years since I've cut.
    I've made a lot of mistakes but the biggest is not loving the body that loves me.
    Thank you for this post.

    Like

  4. I struggle with every issue in every post I've read so far.I love camaraderie and suggestions. It is 1 am here and I am bleary eyed, but I am going to blogroll you so I can keep reading!

    Like

  5. Thank you so much for this post. You can't even know how much I needed it – I feel like I want to print it off and frame it for reference for when I do have slipups in my own recovery process. Especially this part: “I welcome it back with arms wide open. How dare I attempt to shrink myself? I should be expansive. I am expansive. I could span the world.”

    You are beautiful, girl. Thank you.

    Like

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