The Relationship Within
I have a bad relationship and I can't give it up.
This person nags me everyday, encourages me to just count one more time, tells me I am worthless. This person reminds me to check myself in every mirror I pass to make sure my thighs haven't grown any larger, turn to my right side to make sure I haven't suddenly sprouted a layer of stomach fat. This person whispers to me in the night that I must recount, that I must fix something tomorrow, that I will wake up in the morning with the voice greeting me, Do you really think you should have breakfast?
But I can't break away. No matter how much this hurts, no matter how much I don't like this person in my life, she resides within me. She is me.
I can't break up with my eating disorder.
"I feel stuck."
"What does stuck feel like?"
I grabbed a box of tissues yet again. How cliche was this? Sobbing in a therapist's office.
"Stuck like, stuck at the same weight. Stuck in the up and down emotions. Stuck."
She nodded. "Are you okay with feeling content?"
Content? What did that mean? That would mean a happy medium. But what do I know about happy mediums? I either used to eat too much or too little. Sure, I finally seem to understand hunger now. I seem to have found a happy balance in life. But I still can't give up that voice. Everyone is okay with the weight gain. My college track coach is okay with it, my friends encourage me to find value in who I am as a person, and my family loves me no matter what. Yet I still hear the voice in all its familiarity: You have got to lose this weight.
"I'm stuck on the past," I say. Meaning, I'm stuck on that part of me that I can't let go.
It feels like a grieving process; like someone has died. A hint of her is there, but I know she only keeps me down, keeps me from moving on in my life. After gaining the weight back, I felt I had lost the powerful Rachael, the Rachael in control. And now I'm left with a blanket of fat to cover me up. Or is it the eating disorder covering me? Did I just need to let that past Rachael go?
"How do people get over a death?" I ask. I feel embarrassed; this is no death. But I felt like losing all the weight through restriction and gaining it all back plus some left me feeling that I lost a piece of myself. And every day I thought about bringing her back.
How do you finish grieving a part of yourself that you want to die forever? I love this past Rachael but I hate her all the same. I knew that the only way to let go, to "unstick" myself, to find a happy medium of contentedness instead of skyrocketing up into restricting euphoria or plummeting down into binge-eating depressive despair, I had to give up the old Rachael. I had to stop dwelling on the past.
The first thing that comes to my mind when I hear "relationships" is boy-girl lovers; dating, marriage, divorce. And then maybe when we expand from there we think about friendships and family members. When it comes to relationships we often think about our interactions with others, but our relationship to ourselves can be just as important, if not vital and influential to the relationships we harbor around us. If we are not healthy with our internal selves, how can we move on in life and enjoy our time with others? With this demon side residing within me, it made it difficult to go out for drinks with my friends, to enjoy a slice of cake, to go out for ice cream for the fear of temptation and guilt afterward. But to "unstick" myself I knew I had to pull away from the old Rachael at last, to not dwell on her thoughts of, Lets get us back to where we used to be, and the past you was so much better.
We will get her back.
I am not that past Rachael. But I am also not the fictional 30-pounds-less-again-future-Rachael. I have to focus on the present, to live in the moment. I have to be okay with who I am right now, without a thought towards future weight-loss or dwelling on the past and hating myself for "messing up" by gaining the weight. I know that to be the best person I can be I must either fix this relationship within me or finalize its death at last.
If I want to live again, that old, destructive self must die.