by Maria Aritzmendi
To read this piece in its original Spanish, click here.
I was 18 years old when my bulimia symptoms appeared. I did not realize that it was a disease. I began to purge to lose weight, thinking that I could stop when I wanted.
I do not remember why it occurred to me to go ahead and do it. I really do not know. Maybe I saw it on TV or perhaps I heard of it. The fact is, that in that moment my only desire was to lose weight. I never imagined the problem I was getting into, much less how this disease would change my life completely. I was purging in secret every day, hoping nobody would discover me, but something in my mind was telling me that what I was doing was wrong. I did not mention it to anyone because of the fear of what people would think about me.
However, the disease began to overwhelm me. During our family gatherings, I only pretended to be present, because absolutely I did not enjoy them. I saw food and I experienced a terrible fear; I felt anxiety by wanting to it all and then would run away to purge. I hated family Sundays, because I believed my family just gathered to eat.
My behavior started to change. I was becoming a bitter and distant person, and slowly, without realizing, I started to hate myself and especially my body. During that time, I was incapable of see myself in the mirror, I felt that I was really disgusting and nasty!!!!
My negative emotions were growing increasingly worse. “The boat was sinking and I was just drifting.”
I experienced tachycardia. Sometimes, I did things at a normal speed and I felt as if I was doing those a thousand miles per hour. Sometimes, it was the opposite, it seemed that everything was in slow motion and quiet. That feeling was very overwhelming. I was living like a “zombie”, and it felt horrible that everything was the same to me, without any illusion.
Tired of that life, I decided to put an end to so much suffering, of 18 endless years of hating myself. Thanks to my family support, I got the right treatment in a clinic. There, I started to understand that the food had nothing to do with how I felt. I realized that food was where I focused all my emotions and feelings.
Today, almost three years later, I have begun to live in reality. I love myself, I respect myself, and of course, I accept my body. Before it was impossible for me to enjoy food, but now I have no fear, no guilt, I enjoy eating: every bite is a blessing for me. I recognize that at the beginning my body was resisting, because I used food to suffer from. I had done a lot of damage to my body, and now I needed to learn how to make it feel protected, accepted and loved.
Now that I have found my rainbow of happiness and love, as well as of acceptance and respect towards myself, I have been doing a lot of internal work. And nobody is going to take it from me!
Today, I can live the moment on firm ground. Now, if something is annoying or bothering me, I feel it and then I just let it go.
I learned that crises are opportunities and that I have to make the best of them. Today, I see, I live and think positive. I see my body as something unique because I’m unique, so I take care of it and, of course, I don’t damage it anymore. I have learned that nobody and also no BODY is perfect.
I am happy and enjoy my family and my life in a healthy way. I am not ashamed of the disease and I do not punish myself anymore. It was a bad experience, I do not deny it, but I leave it there, in the past, like part of my history, to remind me that one day it was part of me. I accept it and I do not blame myself; now I express myself freely.
Today, I do not see food as my enemy, nor do I use it to feel or to evade my emotions. I use it for what it is: a source of energy to nourish my body so it can function normal, food is not a bad thing. I also exercise me but in the right way.
Once I had broken the chains, I have come out of the cocoon to transform in a beautiful butterfly that enjoys her freedom. With dedication and patience, I now know that there is a long way to go and much to learn. But slowly, day by day, I open my wings a little more – enjoying, breathing, loving and feeling my life – because my life is mine and only I have the power to be happy, and to take decisions about myself.
When I go to bed, I fold my wings and rest, so I can resume my journey tomorrow. Today, more than ever, it is clear to me that: “It is never too late to learn to fly”.