I was in 4th grade, and I didn’t have anyone to sit next to on the bus. It was a long ride to Nebraska City when I had no one to sit next to on the bus. It was a long ride when the whispers of classmates floated back to my insecure ears.
What is wrong with me, I asked myself, that no one wants to sit by me? What is wrong with me that they whisper like so?
I went home and asked my brothers if I could play? No, they said. They were playing a two-person game that day.
I spoke, but people paid me no mind. I was so tired of being left behind.
I Was Not Enough
Everywhere I went I was not enough. Never smart enough. Never kind enough. Never outgoing enough. Never funny enough. Never athletic enough. Nothing was enough. To be seen was to be not enough. So I became invisible.
To be invisible was to be safe. People did not hurt me if they did not see me.
If “me” is not enough, I will make myself enough. That is what I told my fourteen-year-old self.
And so that is what I did. I was sweet. I studied hard. I was perfect. I lost weight.
I lost myself. I became my eating disorder.
My eating disorder consumed me. My thoughts merged with its thoughts until they were one and the same.
I lost my dignity. I was addicted.
I hid my secret. I was so ashamed. It was all my fault.
I was a waste of space.
I felt guilty when people talked to me because I wasn’t worth the time.
I hurt. I have no right to hurt, I thought to myself.
But still I hurt and I woke up, and I hurt, and I went to school, and I hurt, and I talked to people, and I hurt, and I took care of other people, and I still hurt.
And the only way to stop the hurt was to give in. To do what the eating disorder told me to do.
I filled the pain with more pain and then soon I could not feel anything at all.
To feel is to be human. I lost my humanity.
I thought about death, and it was comforting. And, I was scared.
People Began to See Me
Then all at once, people began to see me. My friend saw me. My parents saw me. My roommate saw me. My teacher saw me. My cousin saw me.
From my heart, there emerged a seed buried so deep I thought it was gone forever, hope.
I realized it is never too late to dream again. I became determined not to let eight years of an eating disorder become nine years of an eating disorder.
I did what scared me. I went to Denver. I did the opposite of everything the eating disorder told me to do.
I Began To Feel Again
I began to feel again. I felt panic and fear and disgust. I felt hatred and shame. I felt regret.
And then I began to feel good things along with the bad. I felt joy and friendship. I felt courage and empathy and adventure and acceptance.
I was vulnerable. I laughed again.
I began to find myself, and I found that maybe, just maybe, myself is enough.
Now I feel everything – the good and the bad. But I can make decisions with my own mind.
I still feel lonely. I still feel rejected. I still hurt. But the hurt does not consume me. The hurt does not control my actions.
It is not easy, but I did not ask for easy. I only asked for possible, and I am strong.
Sometimes I wake up in the morning and cry. Not because the world is a good place and not because the world is a bad place. Not because I am happy and not because I am sad. I cry simply because I am alive and to be alive is a wonderful thing.
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on August 4, 2017
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com