Recently, Marzipan (who has a wonderful blog that you should check out if you’re not already familiar with it) posted a letter written by a mother to her daughter’s ED. Jenni Schaefer has written two successful books on her ED recovery, part of which involved addressing her disorder directly. And I’ve heard from a number of sources that sometimes it can be good to write letters to people or things when you feel you have something you need to say to them that you’re unable to express directly (I guess that sentence might be a bit awkward when you think of it in reference to things only, but I think you catch my drift).
I’ve been having a harder time than usual when it comes to eating recently. Restricting can be a coping mechanism–it’s not a healthy one, obviously, but a behavior doesn’t have to be healthy in order to help you cope. It’s just that you want to cultivate the healthy ones while trying to minimize the unhealthy ones. I have been eating, in spite of my complete lack of desire to, and while that might not sound like much, sometimes that is a victory in and of itself. But I’m struggling. So I thought maybe I’d try writing a letter to my own ED, whom I’ve decided to name Crawford, since it’s a bit less obvious and makes things a bit more personal. I didn’t choose the name Crawford for any reason other than the fact that it was the first thing to come to mind when I was thinking of names. Anyway.
I think it’s best for me to be up front and honest with you: I really don’t think there’s room for you in my life any more. You and I have a complicated relationship, and I know I’ve turned to you fairly often when things have been difficult. But over the past year, as I’ve relied on you less and less, I’ve started to become more aware of all the ways you’ve hurt me. Whatever you want to call this weird thing we have together is over. It’s time for me to move on.
I know you’re probably thinking that I’ll be back; by now you know that there’s something about you that appeals to me and that makes it hard for me to turn my back completely. You know that I’m scared about what will happen if I break things off with you entirely. But you know what? I’m more scared of what’s going to happen if I don’t. I don’t want to live this way anymore. You take so much out of me, and out of my life. You give me temporary relief, but the damage you’re capable of doing is permanent…it’s just not worth it , really. You make me numb and distant. You keep me from feeling the negative emotions, but you also keep me from feeling the positive ones too. I realize now that I’d rather feel everything–good and bad–than nothing at all.
There are things in my life now that are much more important to me than you are. I love running, yoga, my family, my fiancé, and my friends. If I’m always hanging around with you, I don’t get to do those things and I don’t get to spend time with those people. You keep me from the things that I love, and you keep me from the people I love, too. And really, there’s nothing you can say or do that’s going to make you more appealing than spending time with Nat, or running a marathon.
You might not believe this (and I guess I can’t blame you, since I sometimes don’t believe it myself), but I’m stronger than you are, and I’ll be fine without you. In fact, I’ll probably be better than I’ve ever been. And while I know that there will be days that are harder than others (like today, as a matter of fact), I also know that on those days, there are people in the world who support me and will help me when I can’t help myself. There’s nothing you can do for me or give me that will benefit me in any way; the only thing you are capable of doing is hurting me. And I care enough about myself at this point to realize that that makes you worthless.
I’m sure that in spite of everything I’ve said in this letter, you’ll try to stick around. You’ll follow me everywhere I go, and you’ll probably try to tell me that I’m the one who’s worthless, that I won’t be okay without you, that I need you in order to be an interesting/attractive/better/happier person. Those things are all lies, though. And even though you might still talk, I don’t have to listen.