Jekyll and Hyde and Multiple Me-s

An eating disorder makes you someone that you’re not.

At first, it made me a liar; then it turned me into an animal; for a while, it made me feel like a fraud; and, then it decided that I was nobody.

Or so it felt.

Jekyll and Hyde and the multiples of me has been ringing around my head for all these years and I couldn’t explain it until I’d put some of the pieces back together; until I started to get re-acquainted with the real me.

The Liar.

I am unable to tell a lie now. I have used up my quota – and some. Mostly, on the amount that I had consumed – or the outcome of the consumption; some, on what the scales didn’t say; the remainder on making sure that the truth was not uncovered.

It’s funny how one lie grows. Or not.

Trying to keep an eating disorder secret is hard work; trying to maintain it, harder still. After a while, I lost track of what I had said (and to whom), and what was real (and what had become real by default)….

The fear of exposure was paralysing – but the biggest cost falls on the perpetrator: each and every lie is a little assault on your sense of self; and, even then, it’s only a matter of time before someone puts the pieces together-

It’s virtually impossible to keep anorexia under wraps; bulimia can be concealed for longer but, eventually,the guilt and the deceit are as corrosive as the stomach acid. In both cases, exposure is almost inevitable.

It’s the reaction that’s a little more variable. I became like an animal.

The animal.

You do things you don’t want to do when you’re cornered.

You go places you don’t want to go when you’re starving.

Supermarkets at 3 in the morning and toilets in stations; growling and hissing at any tentatively stretched helping hands; rummaging through bins and rubbing food in your clothes.

The pain is primitive and raw. Like a savage animal, it screams and screams and screams -

Until you learn to manage it.

Which is where the fraud bit comes in: by day I am human – but just wait until what happens at night.

The imposter.

For a long time, it felt like I was leading a double life. There was the socially acceptable me – and the me that broke the rules and did things that you shouldn’t do. Like throwing up in public toilets or watering plants with build-up.

Being two people is hard: you’re always waiting to be found out; always waiting for the other version to be discovered. Nothing can be taken at face value when its complicated by your secrets, when there’s a ‘but’ for every positive and an ‘if only they knew the truth’ lurking beneath the surface.

So, it’s a total negation: one side cancels the other side out – and you become nobody

Nobody.

If you’re nobody, then the eating disorder has, by default, won. It makes you somebody – or so it will have you believe.

After you’ve lied – and then pretended – and then done things that people shouldn’t do: well, there’s not much of the real you left. There’s not much to feel that confident about.

And so, in the absence of a positive alternative, and when you’ve lost any real sense of self, giving up the one thing that you do have is even harder.

But not impossible….

Because the behaviour are part of the illness, not part of the person.

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