*disclaimer – this is simply my experience based on MY story and journey. I do not in any way speak for all chronically ill or eating disordered human beings, nor am I in any way claiming that all chronically ill people have disordered eating or that disordered eating is the cause of all (or any) chronic illnesses*
I am so, so, so sorry. I am sorry for the years and years that I punished you for things that WEREN’T YOUR FAULT, for other human’s choices, for MY choices, for the emotional and mental and physical pain I felt. I’m sorry for the decades you spent flooded in cortisol as I denied – well, everything. I denied my pain, and my traumas, I denied you calories and nutrients and REST and water. You were my enemy, and I waged all at war on you, when all you were trying to do, dear sweet body, was to literally just KEEP ME ALIVE. Keep me breathing. Keep my blood circulating. Keep my muscles moving. But I didn’t understand, or couldn’t understand. I attacked you because I needed SOMETHING to control, and your struggle to keep me alive was the perfect scapegoat, because you see, we’ve always been just a bit at odds. My desire to GO GO GO pushing against your need to stop, your insistence that NO, REALLY, WE CAN’T DO THAT, THAT HURTS, I’M TRYING, BUT PLEASE CAN WE TRY SOMETHING ELSE, HELP, I’M SICK drowned by my need to keep up, be “normal”, meet expectations, BE ENOUGH. I thought if I kept pushing, kept fighting you, I’d finally win and EVERYTHING WOULD BE OKAY. I would be happy. The people I loved would love me back and like me and validate me, no one would leave, they’d see how small and lovely and perfect I was and CARE about me… The pain would just magically vanish and the bad things I wasn’t facing or letting myself FEEL would just – not exist anymore. And when that didn’t happen, when that NEVER HAPPENED, when the pain was still there, and they left, or didn’t care, or lied or used me or let me down, when I would finally break and FEEL those feelings – I BLAMED YOU. You were too big, not big enough, just WRONG. Too thick in the waist, too chubby in the face and the arms, too short, you didn’t look like the other girls – the ones on tv and and books and magazines – and THAT was WHY THINGS WERE WRONG. So I hated you, and I complained about you, and I gave you even less nutrients and less calories and less water and punished you with even LESS sleep and MORE caffeine and alcohol (and those medications in Guatemala that destroyed our liver and already compromised immune system) and FLOODED you with lactic acid and cortisol and whatever else kind of stress hormones there are… and when that didn’t work I PUSHED EVEN MORE and more and more AND… and then, in the middle of all that chaos, you did an amazing thing. YOU CREATED AN ENTIRE HUMAN BEING. A whole ass little person, right there, in our uterus. But it was really, really, hard on both of us. And you let me know that NOPE – GUESS WHAT, I’M IN CHARGE. And I had to listen. I had to eat. I had to stop, I had to rest. But the whole time, mentally, I fought. YOU were still the enemy, EVEN while you grew and nourished and protected the little human who I so desperately loved, I couldn’t see any of that, I was so focused on how WE WEREN’T DOING ANYTHING. We weren’t cleaning or working or exercising or BEING PRODUCTIVE. Yes, I see the irony NOW, but then, no. I couldn’t see it. I just saw how LAZY and WEAK and SICK we “always” were. HAH. You were fighting to keep TWO human beings alive, but I thought you were weak. And even AFTER our little human was born, I still didn’t appreciate you. THEN I was so angry at the lines where you had stretched to fit his perfect, chunky little self (I TOOK MY VITAMIN E, WHY DID YOU STILL GET STRETCH MARKS!!), at the extra fat you’d stored to fuel us both (NO NO NO NO), at how feeding him was so hard and made me so tired and and and… I kept doing this to you – to us. Two more times. We grew three whole entire human lives and still I hated and punished and restricted and beat up on you. Even when I wasn’t ACTIVELY abusing you, I ignored you. I ignored our pain, the signs you were giving me that SOMETHING IS VERY WRONG, HELP, WE’RE SICK! I stuck my head deep, DEEP in the sand (while railing at and griping about other people I saw coping this way.) I ignored your needs, I just ignored it all. I WAS FINE. THIS WAS FINE. EVERYTHING WAS FINE. And when it wasn’t, guess who I blamed…YEP. You. ME. Us. We were the WORST. So weak. So lazy. So slow. So round and ugly and useless and emotional (FEELINGS, EW) and SICK. Always sick. And then – AND THEN, my poor, long suffering body, when you finally, FINALLY couldn’t even allow me to fake a semblance of “normal” and “okay” anymore – then I bemoaned my fate at having such a pitiful, defective, “broken” brain and body. Like – WOW, THINGS BREAK WHEN YOU DON’T TAKE CARE OF THEM?! Who knew? But no, instead of realizing this, I blamed you. For what I’d done, for what I allowed to be done to us, for the very fact that we were sick. I BLAMED YOU. Over and over and over, I blamed you for things outside of our control, for being less than some idealized version of “perfect”, for being HUMAN. I loved comparing you again, too. “Look, SHE’S chronically ill and SHE STILL DOES THINGS! She has a LIFE.” “They’re disabled and have a career!” The abuse just couldn’t stop. I couldn’t stop. I’m still struggling to stop. Stop hating you, stop fighting you, stop comparing you. To be fair, I did have a LOT of “help” creating these beliefs – but the brunt of the burden falls on ME my dear, and I fully accept that. So I’m trying. Because finally, finally, I can accept – It’s not OTHER PEOPLE’S job to care about us, it’s OURS. It doesn’t matter if we fit into the ideal of the “beautiful girl worthy of love” – we ARE. We are worthy of love, just as we are. Beautiful or not, we are worthy of respect, and joy, and happiness. You and I, dysfunctional body and messy brain, we’re worthy of all this and more. Our worth is ours and ours alone, and it’s long past time we found it, and OWNED it, and made it all ours.
So body, I’m sorry. I know we’re doing our best. And it’s okay that we need to sleep. Like – A LOT. Processing years of repressed feelings takes an insane amount of energy. It’s okay that we need food. WE NEED Calories. CARBS. Veggies. Fruits. Snacks. It’s okay and it’s normal and DAMMIT we’re going to just eat the food. Dance in our underwear. “Unfollow” the people online who make me feel like our worth changes based on the number on the tag inside our jeans. I know it’s going to take us some time to come to some kind of an agreement, and I know I’m still really not great at the whole “not fighting you” thing … But I’m trying, and I’m going to keep trying to love you, exactly as you are, exactly where you are, no matter what. Because we deserve that kind of love, even – ESPECIALLY – from ourself.