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i'm actually tremendously thankful for the damn thing.

i remember the first time i told tom i was glad to have had the eating disorder. 

it must have been nearly three years ago and i probably didn't use the past tense because it was still very much present. he immediately challenged the statement: you're glad you had it, or you're glad in spite of it?

that question has hung in the air between us for years now. tom knows the answer. and he knew, even those three years ago, that i knew--deep down i already knew. but he also knew it would take the intervening time to know i knew and then be able to articulate it. 

yes. the whole thing. the whole fiasco of a thing (a thing i would never wish on anyone) i count as one of the great blessings of my life. 

and let me tell you why: the eating disorder proved the single greatest educator of my life. or if not the educator, it was at least the classroom in which i learned.

1. don't put all of your eggs in one basket. 

happiness is a tricky thing, wouldn't you say? it's always somewhere else. over there. contingent upon when i's and if i's and the like. for me, for so long, it was well, when i'm thin, if i ever get thin then i'll be happy. i won't feel sadness, i won't feel anxious. i'll get the parts i want, i'll get the guy i want, i won't have to worry about sidelong glances from this person or that person, i won't have to fear. 

i won't have to fear. 

that was probably the big one. thin would eradicate all the ills of my life. it would be the plateau on which i would coast.

here's the thing.

thin does none of those things. absolutely not one. don't get me wrong, it has its advantages, but it does not heal relationships--it doesn't heal the part of yourself that is so hurting and broken--the part of you that becomes co-conspirator in this fallacy so that it gets left alone to fester and brood.

a few years ago when i was coming out of the worst of the disease, but still very much in it, i dated a man many years my senior who made me feel like a giant among women (in the best possible way) until he didn't. you're so young, he would complain. you have so much to learn, he'd reproach. and all i could think was, but i'm trying. are you? i wake each morning fighting to get better and be more and inviting the demons into the ring with me. do you? 

he wasn't worth it. so i didn't really ask those questions. he's not the only person i've cared deeply for who i look at and think, all that wasted time. all those many years spent disliking yourself--spent focusing on this or that just to avoid dealing with what you clearly need to deal with. 

the eating disorder forced the boil. it made manifest my problems in a way that i couldn't help but deal with them. and for that i'm so tremendously grateful. 

the perfect job, the acclaim, the moment you become a parent--if you expect those singular moments in time will bring lifelong happiness, well you set yourself up for one hell of a fallout when you wake up weeks, months, years later and realize it wasn't everything you expected it to be. 

and man, does that fall hurt. 

i may be getting a late start now on certain things (careers and relationships and the like), but i'm pretty damn confident in the foundation i've built.


Shannon said...

What!? An eating disorder doesnt heal a broken heart!? Who knew. ; ) Lovely post Meg

wildchild said...

Such an important thing to learn. No one worldly thing will fix all of our troubles. Thanks for sharing

Clio said...

You’re not late getting started, there’s no time limit. You’re just right

Ruth said...

Wow. I've heard this all said before about not depending on a singular thing to bring your happiness, but somehow your words resonate with me right now like no other. I always tell myself when I move out of my parents' house, when I find love, when I have a good job.....now I'm inspired. Thank you for writing this :)

Unknown said...

i'm thin and i hated it all my life. but i'm trying to finally love myself as i am - no boobs and curvy hips. thank you for this post!

Amanda said...

Beautiful post. I don't think you are late getting started at all. Bad relationships and moments that hurt are the some of the best moments in life becuase they really do prepare us and help us discover who we really are. Don't be too hard on yourself, Meg. You are a wonderful person, inside and out.

ox, amanda


MERN said...

http://www.ted.com/talks/shawn_achor_the_happy_secret_to_better_work.html Hey Meg,
I watched this video in a team meeting at work last week. I have found it applies to all area's of my life. Maybe you will enjoy it as well. :)

Ana Magdalena said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I too am so grateful for my eating disorder. It forced me to face my issues in the most raw, painful way possible. But at least it forced me to do it. It was about time.

Anonymous said...

thank you, thank you for this! I haven't gone through the experience of having an eating disorder like you, but sometimes (rather, many times) what you write about it parallels a lot of what I've experienced with my depression. so, thank you for writing about this. reading these experiences which have been written in a way unlike any I've read before and narrated so articulately feels so incredibly therapeutic.

also, your third to last and last paragraphs reminded me of these two quotes I saw on pinterest:



The Lewicutt's est 2006 said...

Happiness comes with being able to be joyful and seeing your blessings in the moment (at least that's my take on it). It is tricky. Foundation is key. It's one of the best things you can do for yourself. Late according to who's schedule? Psh. You're right on time.

Sera said...

i'm so glad you shared this today, meg. :) i really needed to read this.

Kristi Harrison said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I am currently in the grip of an ED and reading the posts that you write help in a way that only someone who has been and experienced it can. Thank you.

Erin said...

when you decide to write a book, i will definitely buy it and, most importantly, read it.

nessa said...

I have been reading your blog for a long time now and always wanted to leave a comment. You are so brave and your words truly touch my soul. You have such a great gift of being able to look into and express your hurts and your past which made you grow into such a beautiful person, and your writing just translates all of that into beautiful words. Your strength shows in the ability to do that, in the fighting for life. You have truly inspired me to look at myself and appreciate who I am. I really wish you all the best and look forward to learning more from your life experiences. Thank you.

Natalie said...

It looks like I am a little late with this whole story, but I am so glad I found it. I keep wanting to comment on each post I read, but I can't really think of anything to say except for "thank you" and "this is wonderful." And I am not even talking just about your story with NED; I mean for all of your posts! You have such beautiful writing. This whole blog makes me happy. Thank you :)