What makes up a person's identity? Relationships Interests Career Friends Education Beliefs Goals . . . Eating Disorders
Yesterday we explored our identities. Each one of us drew a pie chart, proportioning out what we felt made up our identities.
Anorexia nervosa took up three-quarters of my identity pie chart. How did that happen? When did anorexia slide in, taking over until it began to eat the other portions of my being?
And how can I stop anorexia from consuming what's left of me?
The other quarter of the chart has personality/outlook and spouse as the next biggest portions. That also saddens me. Depression and anxiety are scrawled in as the dominant features of my personality right now. When did I lose my ability to smile and laugh? When was the last time I laughed, really laughed with joy???
Then there is David. How could I allow anorexia to so consume me he only rated a small piece of my identity? I love him so much and think of him constantly while I'm here. I miss waking up next to his warm, smiling face in the morning. The safety of lying next to him at night, arms around each other and knowing nothing could hurt us, is gone. I go to be each night in a twin-size bed, wrapping the covers tightly around me in a pathetic attempt to feel held.
How could I let things get this bad again?
I have fought to keep the other parts of my identity. Squeezed into the chart are interests and my (sometime) strong belief in God and my Lord Jesus Christ and the importance of serving others. Friends and education are still there and both still mean much to me.
But anorexia nervosa is the demon swallowing all of it. Like a hungry monster, it is moving across the landscape of my identity and tearing chunks out of it here and there. Anorexia became larger as I became smaller. But why? Will there ever be an answer?
Now I am fighting back. Each bite of food I take is another step toward making anorexia's hold on my identity smaller and smaller.
Not that I like it. I hate every mouthful and the urge to just dump the food in the trash is strong. I fight urges to just jump up and scream, "I hate all of this" and then hurl across the kitchen my still-full plate with the hated food. I crave laxatives to cleanse my body of all this food inside me like a junkie craves meth or crack. I still want to feel the emptiness of restricting, the cleanliness of a pure body.
I become more depressed the longer I am here. My therapist here says that is normal and it will get worse before it gets better because my eating disorder is fighting back. (It feels strange to write about a different therapist — I am so used to working with Dr. Sackeyfio and will I ever meet with him again? My fear of abandonment runs deep.)
I keep waiting for the thrill of recovery, the sense of a new life to kick in. I keep waiting to feel and sound like the others here. But so far it's not happening.
But what would I be going back to if I left now? The ghost of myself, memories of a different life fading with each day of restricting and becoming smaller. And eventually, nothing.
Identity. When will I know who I am? I once was so certain — or was I? Am I too old to figure all this out again? It feels like being a teenager in some ways, with mood shifts and questions and answers elusive as wisps of dandelion fluff floating through the summer sky.
Identity. I want, no I need, a different pie chart. I am choking on this one, choking on anorexia and its relentless hunger for me.
Identity. And I am ... ???