I want to share something that makes me cry every time I read it. Just a few days before leaving treatment in Chicago, my therapist had me write a goodbye letter to my eating disorder. I’ve struggled with eating disorders for nearly thirty years but this round of treatment felt different. Maybe this really is goodbye.
Dear eating disorder,
I never gave you a name or found a way to separate you from myself. I only recently learned that you are not a part of me.
You stole me from the playground many years ago. At times, I put up a fight but you never quite loosened your grip.
I wondered what my life would be like without you. There have been missed opportunities and soured relationships. You were at least partially to blame.
On Sunday I will leave treatment and this is your final notice to vacate my mind and body. I am moving on without you.
I will go back to Toledo and be the wife and mom I always wanted to be and that my family deserves.
I’m going to chase my dreams without reservations. You’ll never stand in my way again.
You’ve been in my life for so long that it’s hard for me to be independent. I will learn, grow, and relish my newfound freedom.
You will no longer speak for me or decide for me – for the first time I am in charge.
This isn’t “see you later”; this is goodbye forever.
(Quick note: Many people name their eating disorder. This can be beneficial in recovery because it can help separate you from your disorder. For example, what are your thoughts, and what are your eating disorder’s?)
John Morales says
Many people name their eating disorder. This can be beneficial in recovery because it can help separate you from your disorder.
Seems like a case of reifying an abstraction, to me.
I don’t think I could do that, at least not honestly and genuinely.
I’d have to pretend. But then, what would be the point?
I guess I would lean towards “whatever works for you, personally”. Ultimately, your recovery is up to you and you need to use the way that best speaks to your understanding and your personality.
Not being argumentative, just curious: If your eating disorder is not part of you, then what is it? A parasite? A separate personality? An alien invader? How were you taught to think of it?
It’s really hard but I try to just see my eating disorder as an illness…something that’s not a part of me and something that’s not my fault. When I have negative thoughts about myself and my body it can be really difficult to say the thoughts aren’t me, they’re the illness. I’m working on it.