The truth about eating disorders is that it functions just like any other addiction.
The disordered are unaware of the exact moment that they fall into the disorder just as a heroin addict is unaware of the exact moment that they depended on junk.
The disordered depends upon their disorder to keep them functioning in life. Perhaps it started out as a great diet, a purge here or there after an extremely large meal. Perhaps it began as a statement of our bodies. We desired to show the world the pain and depression that we were feeling inside. Perhaps it was a mask. A shell of a person that we created to hide the awkwardness underneath. There’s a million possibilities.
My situation was that of circumstance. I wasn’t taught proper nutrition or fed well as a child. I was raised by many different people, none of which ever showed me to cook. It just didn’t work out. I also learned to deal with stress through losing my appetite. This happened many years after forced eating disorder symptoms stemming from many books that I had read on the disorder when I was way too young to be reading that type of genre.
Many young girls fall into this last category.
I read and watch and see millions of girls starting at the age of 11 and 12 post and promote this genre on instagram and tumblr and pinterest. I was lucky in that, when I was that age, social media did not exist.
The genre is out there, everywhere, not just in “media” as it stood 10 years ago, but in the boxes in front of our children’s faces.
This is the truth.
I have a 7 year old daughter now, and she can YouTube and Spotify better than I can.
I made a promise to myself and to my maternal ancestors out there that are pulling for me to break the cycle of maternal maladies in my own lifetime, that I would not try to censor my daughter of life, but rather tell her the truth about life in that moment in order to gift her with truth in her mind of what life is like when she grows up.
I want her to know that we are shopping at dollar general for groceries right now because I can’t afford anything else. I also want her to know that going for an evening walk with her and baby dog is the most spectacular part of my day. I don’t prepare her for anything more than this because then she won’t develop unrealistic expectations of the world around her. I want her to put faith in herself and not in this world. I want her to see that she has to work hard for what she believes in. I let her cheer me on in these times of struggle, without sheltering her away into fairytale land. Because at the end of the day, she will share in our victory with a joy that matches the circumstance, and not an expectation that it should have been that way to begin with.
She knows that the times I have gone away, I have had trouble eating. I will tell her more as her intellectual understanding develops. For now I want her to grasp that eating disorders are not secrets. Neither is drug addiction or alcoholism.
Because the ultimate truth about eating disorders…
They are all built on secrets and unrealistic expectations.