by Shannon Baker
Disclaimer: The beginning of this piece may be triggering to some readers.
“You can go back in a minute. You know exactly what to do. It’s way easier than recovery. It’s safer. Just cut more corners, hide a little food again, restrict just one meal, have one less supplement, just lose a little weight. It’s no big deal. No one will know; only us, and you can always trust me. Don’t you miss your old ways and sickly body?? Don’t you miss the power you felt and the control you had?? Don’t you miss getting stares and comments? Don’t you miss your coping mechanisms? What about your identity?! Don’t you miss me???”
These are just some of the evil messages and questions ED relentlessly tries to whisper in my ears. Even if somedays he’s not screaming them or I choose to ignore them… they’re still there. They still hurt me. They still haunt me. He makes his lies so appealing, his beliefs so tempting and his rules so concrete. But, dear ED, here’s the ugly truth….
I know I could go back. I know exactly what to do. It’d be the easy thing, and it has been my safe place for my entire adult life. But even though you manipulate and convince me that people won’t notice a little weight loss or it’s no big deal at all to miss a supplement or skip a meal because “I’m just not hungry” or “It won’t make a difference.” The trouble is, if I give you an inch, you will so quickly (and joyfully) take a mile!! One meal skipped will turn into two, and a “little weight” will turn into several pounds and make me more susceptible to relapse, then I’ll get sick and brainwashed again so nothing will be skinny enough. I will enter your hell again, be your prisoner of war, and lose all sense of reality. But you see, LOSE is the key word. Since you’re the master deceiver, you make me believe that losing just means weight; that senseless number on the scale that was my priority and purpose. You fail to tell me that I could lose everything! Let me repeat, everything. I could LOSE my marriage, I could LOSE my new amazing friendships, I could LOSE the relationship with my sister that I’m so passionately fighting to rekindle, I could LOSE all the pride my parents feel, I could LOSE the bond with my dog, I could LOSE my chance at being employed full-time again, I could LOSE my strength to do yoga, I could LOSE the opportunity to have a child with my beautiful husband, I could LOSE the trust of my family, I could LOSE the ability to laugh as much, I could LOSE my energy, I could LOSE my memory again, I could LOSE feeling joy and the taste of freedom, I could LOSE time (lots of time), I could LOSE my bubbly, friendly, kind hearted, empathetic personality, I could LOSE my soul, I could LOSE my precious, most faithful God that saved me… I could LOSE my life. (Never bothered to toss any of those in there, huh?!) So from here on out, every time you simply tell me to lose, I will think of everything you will maliciously take and ruthlessly steal.
It reminds me of the misleading slogan that Special K so graciously put out to the world (insert full sarcasm) – “What will you gain when you lose?” Well, as a recovering anorexic, that is a horribly detrimental message to our twisted brains. It only feeds our illness; it romanticizes and glorifies the deadly disorder. But what if it said… “What will you gain when you gain??” That is our message my friends; that is the question I want us to ask ourselves every day. Now, I know it sounds crazy because we loathe the word “gain”; it’s an awful swear word because we only associate it with weight; that dreaded number that will go up. But don’t you see? JUST like ED uses the word “lose” to only mean one thing, we do the same exact thing with the word “gain.” So, I challenge us to look beyond the weight, look beyond the number, look beyond the mirror, look beyond our biggest fear and focus on what we will gain by recovering. We could GAIN hope, we could GAIN confidence, we could GAIN a healthy brain and a functioning heart, we could GAIN peace of mind that has always been such a foreign concept to us, we could GAIN friendships and relationships, we could GAIN a new hobby or passion, we could GAIN overflowing gratitude, we could GAIN the glow back in our face, we could GAIN more kindness and love in our hearts than we ever imagined, we could GAIN a whole new perspective, we could GAIN joy and laughter, we could GAIN a freedom we’ve never quite experienced, we could GAIN an enormous sense of relief, we could GAIN our voice back, we could GAIN our hair back, we could GAIN the ability to actually be present, we could GAIN cohesive thoughts, emotional regulation and decision making, we could GAIN our light back, we could GAIN our souls back, we could GAIN our real God back, we could GAIN our life back!! If you noticed, NONE of those things have to do with weight or a number or a size.
The definition of gain is: “to get something desired, especially as a result of one’s efforts.” In other words, what do you desire in recovery? What do you desire for your life? Those things are POSSIBLE through our efforts, our willingness, determination, retaliation, and actively choosing light over darkness and life over death. Did you know the actual definition of lose is: “to come to be without (something in one’s possession or care) through accident or theft, so that there is little or no prospect of recovery.” Wow, is that enlightening!! This is the truth, my beautiful warriors! We have lost it all because of THEFT because “he comes only to kill, steal and destroy.” (John 10:10) This speaks volumes because those two words (lose and gain) are completely opposite. JUST like our eating disorder. Every single message and belief that it has ingrained into our minds is the exact opposite of what’s real. Stop means go, up means down, happy means miserable, healthy means fat, sad means happy, discomfort means comfort, good means bad, bad means good, darkness means light, light means darkness, insecurity means security, slow means fast, relaxing means rigorous, beautiful means bones, eat means don’t eat, hope means fear, thankfulness means anger, positive means negative, empty means full, hunger means restricting, restricting means weakness, calm means panic, panic means calm, truth means lies, and lies mean truth, love means hate, hate means love, and… gain means lose.
So, no – You will not enhance or better my life, you will only TAKE it! You won’t stop until I’m gone and my headstone reads exactly what you want it to… ‘She won at anorexia.’ But you know what son of a b**ch? …
What if I want to lose your game? What if I want to win at LIFE??!