Wednesday, October 29, 2008

This Is Me Smiling

Today is a brighter day than yesterday. Yesterday, I found out my husband has to take a business trip to another country for about 4 days. . .which means I'm alone in our house for four long days. And when I'm alone, Edie is right there to entertain me with her oh-so-interesting thoughts. And yesterday, I felt overwhelmed on figuring out a game plan to handle her while I'm alone.

And then I came on my blog, and saw all the positive comments on my previous posts. It's easy for me (and I think anyone with an eating disorder) to think I'm alone in this battle - that I have the weight of it all on just my shoulders. Having all your kind support, and knowing there are others out there who struggle with their own Edie, makes me realize I'm not alone - not in the least. And I'm not about to give up.

Thank you for all your awesome comments - I promise to keep writing, if we all promise to keep trying!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Sounds the Heart Makes

When I first decided to get help in my quest to get rid of Edie, I was sent to a doctor to take all sorts of tests - including an EKG. Pads hooked to wires were placed all over me, as the nurse tried to make sure she had everything set to obtain an accurate reading of my heart.

As I laid there, deeply breathing in and out as she instructed me to do, I wondered what my heart was telling them. My therapist was afraid my heart was telling them I was weakened, that by having Edie in my life for so long, my body was slowly breaking down - dysfunctional at best. My doctor was afraid my my heart would tell her that I had done irreparable damage, and that she would have yet another victim of an eating disorder.

What did I think my heart was saying? While everyone else feared for what my beats sounded out, I was wishing my heart was strong, was healthy despite what I had put it through. I was wishing that even though I had given up on myself long ago, there was still a chance my heart was strong enough to pull us both through - to give me a second chance to be rid of Edie.

So, what sounds did my heart make? It wasn't dysfunctional, like my doctor feared. It wasn't weak, like my therapist deemed.

It made the sound of a resilient heart - a resound and steady beat of hope.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Edie is Me

It's a common eating disorder therapy technique to refer to your bulimia, anorexia, binge-eating, etc., as Ed, as in Eating Disorder. When I finally went to get help, my therapist suggested the book Life With Ed for me to read, which chronicled Jenni Shaefer's "break- up" with her eating disorder, or Ed. I gravitated towards the idea that this eating disorder was not really me, but that it was something else inside of me that I longed to be free of.

And yet, I couldn't characterize my eating disorder as a man, because it's hard to separate the two of us. I become her in instances. When all I want to do is binge and purge, it's as though a door opens inside me, and I go in and she comes out. She looks like me, she has my voice, and my body that she so dreadfully disdains. But she is manipulative and mean, and she will say and do anything to let her get her way - which is to eat in secret, throw up alone, and then pretend that all is normal.

No, I can't say my eating disorder is a man, because, oddly enough, it hasn't really been the men that have made me second-guess myself. It's been women, or ads geared towards women, or subconscious society chitchat that streams like an annoying radio station through my head.

My eating disorder is frighteningly female - cunning and clever. At times she is a strong, seemingly confident woman, sure in what she wants and how to get it. Other times, she is pouty and upset, sulking until I let her come out and play again. But most of the time, she is observing -sinking her teeth into my daily activities, determining what people are really thinking about when they look at me, what people mean when they talk to me. She listens and she chimes in with what she deems worthy for me to hear. She is rude and ruthless, and yet, I still let her exist, I still let her tell me her twisted thoughts. . . and I let her stay near my side.

It might be easier for me to "break-up" with a man. Men know nothing of being a female in today's world, and I could never mistake myself for being male. But, I mistake myself for Edie sometimes, and Edie can easily cloak me so I seem to not even exist.

I would never let a man do that.

But, for some reason, I let her.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Meeting Edie

I'm a newlywed, married to a man who still gives me butterflies, who adores every bit of me, and who I know would do anything to make me happy. I have a job that many people envy, and most wouldn't consider work at all. I live in a house that is lovely that are home to two cats that I treat like children. I have a great family. My close friends are incredible. I have all this. . .but I'm still unhappy.

How is this possible? What is it that makes me unhappy? What is holding me back?

It's not a what, but a who. Her name is Edie. And I crave to be rid of her.

I want to find a way to stand up to her and learn to live a life free of her incessant, caustic remarks, but it's a daunting task in a society that judges everything a woman does - from her hair, to her skin, to her weight, to her choices. For example, the magazines that woman are suppose to be drawn to (because they talk about issues we, apparently, deem "important") bombard us with contradicting messages, so that even if we were trying to be really happy and healthy (as so many magazine claim to have just the secrets and tools on how to do this) they fill it with pages critiquing the weight of someone and the weight loss of someone else. Even magazines whose sole purpose is to show us how to treat our bodies better - like, Self, for instance - stuff their pages with diet pills and ads, giving us the option of either listening to their latest exercise regime, or finding the quick fix in a supplement pill.

I'm tired of it all, and most of all, I'm tired of the pressure I've placed on myself to meet those standards. I invited Edie into my life so I could get to that ideal - that perfect size so I could have the perfect life. She has been with me for 11 years, and instead she has given me misery.

I'm not sure when Edie and I first met. I remember my aunt, who I always noticed was incredibly self-critical of her own weight and looks, once looked at my nine-year old legs and declared dejectedly, "You have the family thighs, too." I knew she did not mean this as a compliment and began looking at my legs in a new way. I hadn't truly noticed the flaw in them before, but I always felt something was different about me - and not in a good way. And perhaps now I had an answer - it was my huge thighs!

Maybe it was then that Edie came into my life. She was almost transparent at first, I hardly acknowledged her, but my acquiesced with her judgments and resigned them as "help". She would tell me secrets on how to be more popular, for more people to like me, and let me in on the reasons why people did not like me: I was not pretty enough. And the only thing holding me back was my weight.

Edie continued to hover by my side through the rest of my life - popping in on nights of big occasions - like high school prom, for example - examining my stomach and showing me how to position my hands in pictures to cover the rounded area. She was there when bad things happened - like when I broke up with my first boyfriend. She knew the perfect way to get back at him was to show him he meant nothing, to look better than I ever did, and the only way to do that was to throw up any morsel I ate, so no fat would linger on my body.

She was there, constantly with her critiques, her thoughts, her non-stop chatter about my body and my weight and my looks - pushing me to be better, encouraging me to punish myself if I ate too much, and chastising me for thinking a boy thought I was cute. Impossible, she would whisper. You're too fat to be cute.

And then I met my husband, who Edie hates. I met him and he told me Edie was crazy - that I was, in fact, gorgeous, that I was smart and intelligent and funny, and that was all me - Edie didn't create that.

The more I listened to him, the more Edie screamed at me to listen to her. She fought with me bitterly to keep me all to herself, but she didn't win. I married that man, and learned to tune her out or at least quiet her dismay. I spent my whole wedding and honeymoon without her, and it was amazing.

But, it's as though now I'm back in the "real world", where true happiness can not last because I am not a size 2, I do not have a flat stomach, and my thighs are not sticks. Looking back at wedding pictures, her voice is still there, complimenting me on how I held my bouquet to disguise my stomach, and shaking her head disdainfully at the pictures of me eating cake.

Edie never really left, and Edie never will. I will live my whole life with an E.D., or eating disorder, and I've got to find a way to really learn to live without listening to her - without giving strength to her thoughts. I want to continue on my journey, to know that I am not alone with wanting to not only change myself, but change the world - especially for all the young girls that are about to find out from society that they just aren't good enough until they disappear.