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January 24, 2012

the words.

"shame weighs a lot more than flesh and bone."
-portia de rossi, unbearable lightness

i never admitted it to myself and i never said it out loud. i didn't use the words eating disorder until a session with jim maybe six months ago. it was one of those ridiculously profound moments of clarity that felt very "therapy-ish."

"i have an eating disorder. i had an eating disorder," i said.

"it's an illness, a disease," jim said.

saying the word illness makes it sound random, by chance, as if it wasn't by my own doing.

i did this to me. i did this.

these are the types of things i'm still working through. because i believe them. because the amount of anger i have towards myself at times exhausts and terrifies me.

i want my childhood back; i want my life back.

i never used the words with anna or molly, two people who know me better than jim. i think back to anna suggesting portia de rossi's memoir to me. anna knew how much i struggled with losing weight, gaining weight, turning my obsession and hunger for food into an obsession with going to the gym.

she never said, "rhi, you have an eating disorder. you need to read this book." she would just periodically circle back to it while we sat in her living room and i stared at it on the bookshelf.

"yeah, anna, i want to read it, but i've got so much other stuff i really need to read." this was what i kept saying.

anna was on to something there, especially with how she introduced the book. she knew how far she could take it before i'd get defensive. sometimes it doesn't take much for that to happen. she gently pushed me towards it and then either brought it to my apartment or handed it to me when i walked into hers. regardless, she put it in my hands; how it got there doesn't matter.

one of my biggest fears growing up was, "food is stronger than i am." i believed in that and allowed it to rob me of so much time, time i'm desperately trying to make up for.

sometimes i feel as though i should wear this information like a disclaimer on my forehead, the way a person with a food allergy has to inform a waiter.

if it takes a fair amount of energy to even say the words, "i have issues with food. i have issues with my body," that should be all you need to say. you shouldn't have to explain more until you're ready to explain more, until/unless you feel safe enough to explain more. you shouldn't have to feel the need to be on guard for comments and "jokes" that would've made the person you were at seventeen head straight to the kitchen.

someone makes a harmless comment, a comment without thinking, and it takes you back.

"why are you wasting your food? why are you being a food waster!?"

i'm not hungry anymore. i felt full five minutes ago.

"why aren't you drinking your wine? why don't you want your beer?" 

i never wanted the drink, but i took it to be polite.

i thought these things, but never said them.

"i'm recovering from an eating disorder, and i'm in therapy for it."

that is what i should've said.

i'm saying it now.

saying the words out loud, eating disorder, makes them real. yes. however, they were real before i said them out loud. i still binged even though i never told my doctor. i still starved myself to make up for the bingeing. i abused myself. i kept my shame inside. i told no one.

saying the words does not give them power. i don't and i won't allow them to control me anymore.

i'm finally getting to a place in my life where if someone says, "you aren't going to finish that?" i don't immediately become defensive/upset/nervous/self-conscious. i'm able to respond with, "nope. i don't want it."

i don't want it.

“in other words, accept yourself. love your body the way it is and feel grateful towards it. most importantly, in order to find real happiness, you must learn to love yourself for the totality of who you are and not just what you look like.”
-portia de rossi, unbearable lightness

love yourself for the totality of who you are.

i'm getting there.

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