- Me at 75 pounds after high school
It is often said that acceptance is the first step to recovery. In the case of my eating disorder, I disagree. I am beginning to realize that I have accepted my anorexia to the extent I have let it become my definition.
I have forgotten that I am witty, that I am creative, that I am intelligent, that I am a writer and an artist, that I am kind, I am Indian.
I have forgotten that I am human, prone to imperfections and eccentricities that are meant to be appreciated instead of shunned. “Imperfection” isn’t in the dictionary of an anorexic. Instead, there is “fat” and its numerous synonyms, “wrong,” “ugly,” “worthless,” etc.
Another word unknown to ED is “happiness.” I always used to dream that I’d find happiness. That, if I was more noble, braver, stronger, thinner, smarter, kinder…than all my peers, “God” would bring me happiness. I gave up on God a long time ago andnever can go back, but something persisted in me to find the happiness. From 75 pounds to whatever godforsaken number my highest weight was, all I ever wanted to be was happy. I wanted others to value me so I could then place value on myself. Because, to ED, that’s what happiness is: success, money, power, fame, beauty…all words with which ED is well-acquainted.
After spending 21 years of my life searching for happiness in every corner of the world–in every movie, every book, every story, every method, every pound–I sit here today knowing only that I am unhappy and have been unhappy ever since I can remember. Isn’t that a little odd for someone who has spent their entire life pursuing (and sometimes achieving) the social landmarks for happiness?
Anorexia’s dictionary is black and white. It cannot comprehend the idea that more is not always better: more points on that paper does not make you smarter, more praise does not make you praiseworthy, more love does not make you more lovable, and more money does NOT make you richer.
To ED, the world is square: a box in which to put other boxes labeled with words that correspond to anything but the contents. Emotions like sadness and doubt are stored under “fat”. Successes are obscured by lists of things you haven’t done. Relationships are taped shut with “waste of time”. There are no circles to be found: no wheels, no bubbles, no pi(e).
Like the face of one tormented by anorexia, the dictionary grows increasingly thin. Words lose all meaning and only numbers begin to matter till all that is left is a dictionary of numbers, of exactitude.
After years of suffering, I think it’s about time I invest in a good, old copy of Webster’s, which, ironically, has many more definitions for “pinch” than those which reference the amount of blubber on me.