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  • Writer's pictureLouise G

b words and other stories | breaking up with an eating disorder.

Hey, it’s me! Lou!

Let me ask you something.

If I told you that I had once been in an abusive relationship, where I endured a lengthy period of time experiencing physical, psychological and social harm and distress, that included coercive control and gas-lighting, and that I eventually managed to find a way out of this awful situation, enter recovery, and start a wonderful life free from this, what would you think?

You would hopefully think – wow, that is incredible. Good for you. You absolutely deserve to have a beautiful life, a feeling of safety, freedom from harm. My god, I hope you never ever see or hear from that jerk every again. Right?

And this is what an eating disorder is like. A really bad, abusive relationship that you didn’t seek, you didn’t ask for, and that you don’t really want, and everyone wants you out of it, or to stay out of it. But you can’t get out of it, it’s controlling, it has a hold over you. You’ve tried to leave it, you’ve tried to ignore it, you’ve tried to just live with it, and you’ve tried to make it happy. None of these options are really options, because the eating disorder is toxic, it is an illness, and it will never change.

Initially, there may have been a little honeymoon phase. The eating disorder “love bombed” you. You felt good, excited, confident. People noticed a change in you, “hey, have you lost weight, you’re looking great”. They didn’t know about the eating disorder. But the eating disorder had latched on and done what was needed to convince you to let it stick around for a bit longer.

Over time, like a bad relationship, it didn’t feel the same. Something wasn’t right anymore. The eating disorder had changed. You started to feel weak, tired, controlled. You became cut off from your friends and family. You avoided situations and found yourself lying to people. You felt fearful, alone, but also somehow unable to ask for help. You had lost your identity, as it became enmeshed with the eating disorder.

There were times that people did kind of notice that something isn’t right. “You look tired”, “are you looking after yourself?”, “how come you don’t come out with us anymore?”. These could have been perfect opportunities to cry out for help. But the eating disorder is crafty. It knows what to say and do to make sure that people don’t worry about you.

You made attempts to leave the eating disorder, but they fell flat and the eating disorder often got more forceful. You tried to create a life where you functioned and co-existed with the eating disorder without anyone knowing, but it became difficult to sustain. You gave in to the eating disorder to try and make it happy, but you only felt worse and became more desperate.

But, there did eventually come a time, when enough was enough. Perhaps you got to the point of feeling there was nothing left to lose, went all in, and decided to call it and walk out on the eating disorder for good, and started your recovery journey. Or perhaps someone else forced their way in and dragged you out of there, maybe even against your will initially, with the eating disorder kicking and screaming the entire time.

And there you found yourself, absolutely terrified. Feeling alone, ashamed, guilty, and wanting to return to what felt familiar. But, you persisted, entered recovery, worked through the trauma that was the eating disorder, and you made it. You re-built your life, and there you were, kicking goals.

But, like all relationships, especially the shit ones, there are days that you still think about the eating disorder. Maybe you even miss it a little bit.

Perhaps the eating disorder sent you a little message to check-in with you, see how you’re getting on with life. Oh hey, I promise I’ve changed, did you want to catch up sometime? Insert lame winky face.

And maybe you’re a little bit curious. I mean, there were some good times in the early days. So, maybe I could just …

NO. And the answer is NO. NO. NO. Just NO.

Let me take you back to the start of this piece. What would you think if I told you, hey I might go back to that jerk to see if he’s changed?

I’m going to take a guess. Something like, “WTF Louise?”.

So, I’m just calling it right now.

Nothing good can ever come from an abusive relationship. Or an eating disorder.

The eating disorder has not changed. But YOU have.

You don’t owe the eating disorder anything. You don’t need to prove anything to the eating disorder or anyone else. And also, there are no rear-view mirrors (or reverse camera) on the fabulous eating disorder recovery party bus that can only drive forward and is full of all of your favourite things and people.

If you, or someone you know, are impacted by an eating disorder, please, reach out for help.

The Butterfly Foundation

1300 ED HOPE

Lifeline 13 11 14

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