Imagine living with an abusive partner for a very long time. I don’t have to imagine. My ED covers all bases when it comes to domestic violence. Some readers may find it distasteful that I compare this illness to domestic violence and I understand that. My intention is not to undermine the experiences people who have suffered as victims. But I do see some similarities in my experience of ED, and in the dynamic between the domestic violence victim and the perpetrator. Why don’t victims just leave? Why do they put up with the violence? Why don’t I just eat? Why not just stop throwing up? Why do I want to inflict this violence on myself? Of course I do not.
I wonder how people who have had the strength to leave are, after the experience? I know myself to be a certain kind. I have become, a person with limits. If those limits are stomped upon I scream. Well, I don’t quite scream, but I will tell you that you shan’t do it again.
It’s so different from how it used to be! I used to bend over backwards for people and sacrifice myself on the altar of ‘You shall help others but not ever yourself’. There’s an over-used image of the air masks dropping from the ceiling in case of an airplane emergency that we, in the ‘caring scene’ (ie people who work or volunteer to support other humans), use as a handy metaphor all the time. I used to be a person who would climb over bodies, just to make sure every other f*cker but me had a mask and was sitting comfortably. I would curl up in some corner, on broken glass and plane rubble, and hope to live. Help thyself first – haha, that ain’t me! Well, wasn’t me. Now, depends on the day. But on more days than not, I do find the strength to grab a mask for myself and only then help another. If someone tries to take mine, I am like ‘Oh no she betta don’t’ (RuPaul voice).
I’ve noticed I can be really firm and totally tell a person who is wronging me that what they are doing isn’t right. It feels most empowering! Plus, I really think some people in the world need to hear some straight-up T about their behaviour. They may not realize what they’re doing is unethical or uncool. If no-one tells them, they may never know, and will continue ploughing down sensitive souls like the old me, wherever they roam. This week I told someone I thought what they did to me wasn’t right or fair, and even though they didn’t say sorry, I was proud of myself. I said and made my peace.
A lot of people with ED seem to struggle with letting out uncomfortable emotions and confronting those who do them wrong. Instead, they turn the feels inward and hate on themselves instead of hating on the person who treated them unfairly. In recovery, at least for me, this trend is shifting. As I verbalize my opinions, however uncomfortable people feel about them, I don’t have such an urge to deal with my feels in unhealthy ways. Simple, yet such a hard thing to manage before I surfaced from the murky waters of illness.
So this Friday’s lesson again, kids, is that recovery is awesome. If you are still just ill, you should totes give this thing a go (I know, cos it’s *that* easy). But heck, if I can do it, so can you!
PS. I am spending this weekend at the AGM of the Eating Disorder Association of Finland (SYLI ry). As a board member at my local association I was happy to receive an invitation. It’s a chance to catch up, make new friends and make plans for world domination! I cannot wait!