I thought that I had reached my limit and exposed all the deep, dark secrets of my eating disorder. That I had probed every sensitive area, and subjected each to my ridiculously exaggerated analytical-lens.

Nope. I still manage to shock myself.

They keep coming, thick and fast, like unpleasant discoveries or bruises that are so deep they are only felt when you push the exact spot.

This post’s on possession. It’s not something I’m particularly proud of; but it might lessen – this possessiveness – if it is acknowledged and moved on.

For as long as I can remember, I have been “the ill one”. It is not a title that most people (myself included) aspire towards; but it has been, nonetheless, a position, of some description, which is better than being nothing at all.

My status as “the ill one” depended on one feature: the eating disorder. Take that away and, whoosh, there’s nothing there. This meant that holding onto the eating disorder was a good thing (which we all know is a bit of a distortion), and that it was important that the eating disorder was MINE. And no one else’s.

This is, of course, ridiculous, given that many people suffer from eating disorders and they are a condition, rather than a characteristic; but putting logic to one side here, in my immediate circle, the “eating disorder” position was filled. By me.

(In hospitals, this was, of course, totally different, and it was a relief to find out that I wasn’t alone in my experiences; but, as I mentioned, logic doesn’t seem to apply here, and consistency was never that relevant to my eating disorder when it wanted something.)

In the instances, therefore, when others expressed an interest in dieting, or lost a little weight, the defensiveness kicked in; and, like a military campaign, the eating disorder rallied the troops and upped the antes. I didn’t feel understanding – or compassion – or a desire to get involved. I felt possessiveness. And threat. And jealousy. Because the eating disorder is MINE.

As I said before, this is not something that I am particularly proud of. It is also something that kept me stuck for a very long time…..

Today is a little different. I appreciate that I might have been tricked into seeing the eating disorder as an asset. I understand that it did not replace an identify – but just stood in for a total lack of self esteem. I am enraged by just how cruel – and destructive – and absolutely devastating they are to everyone involved –

And yet, I am struggling, still, with this perverse sense of ownership over something that I don’t actually want to own. With feelings which don’t seem to apply to the wider world but, in my little context, are still lurking there.

I have tried to articulate them – but words fail me, and it seems hard to move beyond what should not be said –

So, instead, I am left only with an image of a gnarled hand, clenched tight, like stone; and it is only when I start prising the fingers open that I am beginning to understand it is not the eating disorder clasped tightly inside –

It is a little part of me.

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2 Responses to “Possession”

  1. Abby says:

    I can totally relate to this, and have even written about it myself before. When people talk about starting a diet/exercise plan, I get irrationally pissed off (not openly, of course). I know it’s ridiculous, but I feel like I “own” healthy eating and activity and anyone else who tries to get a piece of it diminishes what I feel I have to do to keep it relevant in my own life.

    Like I said, irrational, but something I deal with all the time. I even encourage other people to just “be normal” and splurge on this or that, take a rest day, etc. for no reason other than it does make me feel a little bit more secure in my own place amongst the “healthy” (yes, I realize the irony). I’m struggling with this at work right now, as my boss has lost 80lbs and feels like she discovered fruits, vegetables and exercise. She feels “skinny” now and relays all the details of her healthy means and workouts. Quite honestly, I think she’s now obsessed.

    Anyway, this cannot be avoided in every day life. People are all entitled to eat healthy, exercise and talk about it, so I guess it’s just up to me to realize that it doesn’t have to affect me. We’re all different, and being sick doesn’t make me special–it makes me sick. Just like tuning out my boss when she goes ranting about fat-free cheese, I have to tune out the voice that tells me I have to diet better, exercise more…great post.

  2. Melissa says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I resisted the urge to edit myself with this post, and your comment, along with some replies on twitter, have made me feel far less alone.

    I think you hit on a crucial point in the final paragraph: it can’t be avoided and tuning out that voice is therefore paramount. Hopefully this will create some space for the other healthier voices to develop and become stronger, so that the struggle isn’t so hard.