Growing up, I was one of those girls who people thought had it easy. I learned at an early age to strive for goals, achieve, and measure people’s value (including my own) on material things. I was rewarded well for the efforts I put on this outward success, and yet, they left “Edie” brewing.
“Edie”(pronounced ee dee) was the eating disorder I had for 20 years. She knew that a hyper-focus on achievement could foster a sense of isolation. Then, she could make her nest in the rot of loneliness within me.
I used to be filled with judgement – judgement towards people who I thought were below me and judgement towards myself for lacking in comparison to those who I aspired to be. I remember thinking that people who believed in God were weak. And, I had an insatiable appetite for socializing, most of which left me still hungry.
Initially, Edie left the external achievements dead in her wake as she disassembled and killed off life as I knew it. Like a marlin on a line, she went diving, diving, diving down into depths, and I was hooked in trying initially to fight myself loose and then giving in.
Eventually, she drove me to the center of myself where I found God, integrity, my voice, and intuition.
Each eating disorder comes to disassemble some way of being – learned or inherited – and the purpose and procedure of each is unique to its host. They are cosmic puzzles that each of us who have them must unravel ourselves because the learning transforms us from the inside out.
Yes, Edie was a dis-ease that wreaked havoc on my life and other lives I touched, but I’ve learned that sometimes we are better in the end for having all the stuff at the bottom kicked up.
While I am at times saddened by how much of life I “missed,” in the next breath I remember just how much Edie gave me.
Today, I am sober and eat intuitively. I don’t label anything as bad and instead choose what is most nourishing. And more importantly than the eating behavior, I feel my feelings and am as brave and honest as I can be.
Today, with Edie gone and that lonely part healing, I am learning how to tend to it lovingly. I am learning almost for the first time what it means to be in relationship, to be compassionate with myself and to be with others authentically.
Only a handful of people during my two decades with Edie were safe enough to come in and see the disease that had made its home in me. Even still, they had museum seats while I wrestled her, tried to contain her, strangled her, starved her, surrendered to her, and eventually learned with her.
I have shared parts of my experience on stages, through writing and in conversation, but still, most of what I went through remains unsaid as I continue to mine the experience with enough curiosity and time to accurately articulate what I went through.
National Eating Disorders Awareness Week starts on Monday.
While yes, people need to know about warning signs, symptoms, causes and effects, there also needs to be a greater understanding of what an “eating disorder” is…because in the end, it is not about eating. For me, Edie was my generational healer and great teacher in living true.