I keep waiting for this grand moment or this perfect announcement to admit that I battled an eating disorder. Yes, I've left drippings of my struggle in past posts, but I've never had the courage to admit it.
For 10 years, an entire decade, I struggled with bulimia.
I don't even think the guy I dated for 8 years had any idea. Or even cared. And maybe that was part of the problem.
I was so scared to get labeled into the "she had an eating disorder" category that my truth was silenced and I was left alone to sit with it and marinate in its shame.
I thought of telling my Dad and seeing his disappointment and sadness. I thought of telling my brother, but figured he had too much going on with his own life.
I told my Mom and Sister and cried with them. My Mom makes jokes to ease her sadness about my pain. My Sister tries her best to understand and I can feel her pain when I talk about it, which I don't do often.
You see, bulimia isn't something that's meant for dinner conversation. It's like being a part of a secret society, but no one wants to be in it. We are all trying to fight our way out of the dungeon.
It was something I used as a coping mechanism because I didn't know how to deal with pain. I didn't know that at the beginning. I was doing it to stay skinny, but anyone who's had the disorder/disease knows that you are never skinny, you're actually overweight. Or you are really good at losing 5 pounds and gaining it back the next day. Your skin is usually gray and your face is bloated.
I thought that no one knew, that I had done the best job ever of keeping it a secret until I was at a dental cleaning. I was seeing a new dentist and he stopped examining my teeth and looked me dead in the eye.
"So J, do you or have you ever had an eating disorder?"
I felt my face get really hot and immediately started sweating. Despite my inner feelings coming outward, I answered him honestly.
"Yes, I used to have an issue, but I'm better now."
He said, "Good, because the enamel on the back of your teeth is pretty much gone."
I cried the moment I got into my car. I had never admitted to anyone, let alone myself that I ever even had a problem!
The story goes in so many directions and I'm sad thinking about what a lost and lonely girl I was. I faked my emptiness so well, I smiled and turned my attention to other people in pain. My favorite thing was making everyone else feel better so I didn't have to focus on myself.
This year I celebrate more than 3 years of freedom away from my eating disorder. I think about it a lot and can tell who has an issue when I hear other women talk about their body or what they've been eating. My heart aches for them and in my head I send them thoughts like, "I am here for you when you need it." Or something like, "I see you and I understand why you are doing this, but know that you can get out."
Battling an eating disorder is a mental fuck. "Scuse my French, but that's the damn truth.
I am speaking my truth, because I am tired of hiding it. I am hoping my honesty allows you to be honest about your struggles. The cat is out of the bag and there's no more hiding.
I'm officially out.