No One Tells You

When I close my eyes, a girl appears in my mind like a phantom; a figment of my imagination

In my head I know she is not real, but in my heart I wish she was

This girl is slender, with cheekbones that stand out like sharp corners of an intersection, thighs that stand apart from each other like pillars of an ancient Grecian building, supporting a delicate, birdlike frame that is soft and wispy at the edges, as if she is made of smoke

If I breathe too much, I will blow her away as easily as sending the pieces of a dandelion gone past its prime flying into the wind, so I hold my breath for as long as I can

Eventually, though, the weight of needing to live settles on my shoulders as if I’m Atlas, made to support the world, and I let it out in an exhale that swirls her away like steam billowing from the top of a cup of tea

She will be gone until I summon her again

You see, the part that no one tells you about recovering from an eating disorder is that it is necessary to choose recovery every minute, every second, and to ignore that girl in your head, pretending with every fiber of your body that despite your bloated, distended abdomen and thighs that brush gently against each other as you take steps along your journey, you are beautiful just the way you are

No one tells you that there will be a rhythmic chant driving at your mind like a jackhammer, threatening to break the thin protective barrier that shields you from the mental onslaught of hatred and disgust that is constantly trying to fight past your feeble defenses

No one tells you what to do when the idea of being sick starts to become romanticized, and the girl in your head gestures to you with a smile and invites you to deviate from the path you are on and join her in a sprint to your destruction

No one tells you what to do with the wave of revulsion that rises in your throat whenever you contemplate taking another bite of food, which glowers at you from the plate with glowing eyes like a predator in the shadows

No one tells you how to silence the demons in your head; to banish them to the corner where they belong, how to not hang your head in shame when others declare how they haven’t eaten all day or how they’ve spent their morning running like gazelles or simply being their thin, svelte selves

No one tells you that sometimes you will wish for nothing more than to be sick again, to let your eating disorder claim you and send you to your early grave, because the idea of being dead seems less painful than the excruciating effort it takes to be alive

But when I close my eyes and envision the girl I want to be in my head, she is distorted, hazy, and faint

Like the sound of a voice over the radio marred by static because you haven’t selected quite the right channel

And in my heart of hearts I know that the girl I am meant to become is real, and beautiful, and strong

She laughs in the face of the monsters in her mind, reducing them to no more than silly, childlike illustrations in a book meant to be read to toddlers

She is friendly and bubbly and outgoing, with a sense of humor as sharp as the crack of a whip and a laugh that resonates deep in your body like an echo that reverberates with a sound as pleasant as waves crashing against the shore

Instead of cowering in fear at the prospect of making the difficult decisions that recovery necessitates you make every damn single moment of your life, she faces them bravely with a sword made of intelligent, logical rebuttals and a shield made of self-confidence and faith

She has a fire burning deep with in her, setting her eyes and her smile ablaze with an unquenchable desire to live

And when she smiles, it suffuses you with a gorgeous feeling of warmth, and you know you are safe and welcomed

Slowly but surely, I am learning how to love the girl that I am fated to be, and dispel the illusion that is the girl my eating disorder tries to entice me to become with slick, practiced words and empty, fractured promises

I am learning that despite it being the most difficult journey I have ever embarked on in my life, despite it being a decision I have to fight to choose an infinite number of times per day, that recovery is truly, honestly, brutally, genuinely, wonderfully, incredibly, worth it.”

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4 thoughts on “No One Tells You

  1. Hi! I thought maybe you might like to check out our new blog as you clearly have a gift for writing so I’m hoping you like reading, too. We’re a group of people who are using reading in order to try and silence our eating disorders through distraction and our love of the hobby. We post book reviews so that people who need a distraction from eating and negative thoughts have a place to find something new to read, even if it’s just the blog itself, but also so that people who don’t feel like they can read because it’s not “productive” enough for their ED-voice can know that there’s a reason behind their reading. This makes it more enjoyable for them and less pressure to always be “doing” things. We’re hoping to silence anorexia’s voice, one book at a time. Please let me know if you’d like to join us and contribute.x

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