37 years of throwing up.

October 25, 2017


Thirty-seven years ago, I decided I had problems because I was fat. If I were thin, the anxiety, bullying, and sexual abuse would disappear. Happiness would be mine. It was the first of many lies my eating disorder told me.

I believed the thought instantly. I never questioned the truth of it, not once, not for years. It seemed logical in a completely illogical way. There was a simple fix for the horrible feelings I had, for the pain I was in. The correct number on the scale would solve everything.

I spent the next ten years restricting, bingeing, and exercising compulsively. It didn’t make me perfect, and it didn’t make me happy. The answer from the eating disorder was predictable: I was doing it wrong. No more half-assed efforts at getting it done. I needed to commit wholeheartedly. This meant I would start throwing up everything I shouldn’t have eaten.

It was a bad decision. Bulimia is a ride you don’t want to hop on.

Bulimia destroyed large chunks of my life. It brought nothing but waste and missed opportunities. It cost me a fortune: I went bankrupt twice. The physical damage, especially to my teeth, is permanent and expensive to fix where that’s even possible.

My eating disorder gutted any remnants of self-esteem, and it never, not once made me happy.

It’s been two weeks since I last threw up. Before that, I went for three months before I slipped. I’m averaging two and half months of “sober” eating between slips since my most recent in-patient treatment program in early March 2015.  I have to remind myself to feel good about these numbers. They’re an accomplishment the eating disorder wants to discount because I’m not perfect. Ten weeks between episodes is, however, infinitely better than the before. I was throwing up forty times a day, almost every day, for nearly three decades.

That’s a lot of waste, literal and metaphorical.

I’m still not close to being an instinctual eater. I don’t eat because I’m hungry. Sometimes I’m hungry, so I eat, but mostly I stick to the schedule. I left behind a natural relationship with food long ago. I’d like to get it back. I want eating to be about food, not about worrying about my stomach and thighs. I’ll have to fix more than myself. Bring on the revolution.

Not vomiting doesn’t translate to being eating disorder-free. I’ve switched to the thin side of restricting these days, although I can avoid an anorexia diagnosis by controlling the speed of my weight loss. That’s a desirable, recovery-averse thought that circles. I find it challenging to eat enough anyhow: my portion control still isn’t good. I’m oddly resistant when it comes to measuring the minimums I need to eat, an amusing about-face from the years I wouldn’t eat what I couldn’t measure. And yet, despite the pushback, for the first time in forever, I feel like I’m moving forward while leaving my eating disorder behind.

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