I make no secret of the fact that for several years in my early 20s I struggled with anorexia. I am currently one of the very fortunate, as it is estimated that approximately 30% of those who have an eating disorder at any time will live in recovery.
And I do just that. I live in recovery. You see, anorexia isn’t about food. It never was for me, though as a young woman of 21 I certainly didn’t understand that. As a young woman of 33 there are ways in which I am still understanding it all the time.
There is something within me that sees it as a challenge that I want to accept as little as possible in every situation, and because I am resourceful I can, to my own detriment, make it work. The situation seems to be a success while I am failing to thrive, every single time.
I accept challenges such as accepting love from men who are withholding or unavaible to give it in any number of ways and accepting a salary fit for a high school graduate, not someone with a graduate degree.
All the while I feel all right because I have such a small appetite. Whether for food, attention, love, money or happiness – I’m just not that hungry.
So I’ve had to ask myself, how cured am I, really? I got through the food bit but was still living on crumbs in other areas of my life. I was overlooked and underappreciated and just tired.
I was organizing some old notes from a counseling class and at the top of a page had written, “In order to recognize that one is being devalued, one must have extraordinary self-esteem.”
I’ve surprised even myself with the ways I’ve recognized in the moment that I’ve been devalued in the past few months. Taking nothing rather than very little is often scary, and the person that offered you little in the first place, whether in the form of pay or affection, may not understand. They don’t have to. Know that you deserve the whole cake, not what’s left on the beaters, and keep smiling.
In addition to being this thing, “former anorexic,” I’m something else. I am, without a doubt, a bit of a badass.