I have decided to honor you.
We haven’t really seen each other the past few years, but somehow ignoring you hasn’t been a good thing. Most people probably think that you are just a horrible part of me, who gives no care about the people it hurt, including herself.
You and I both know that is far from the truth.
In the thick of the disease, when I realized that I was actually sick, I felt completely helpless. I somehow could imagine eating again, but not living without you. Not making plans without you.
But time has passed, and I now have a productive and healthy love for conscious and compassionate eating and, in general, I love being in my body. Actually, most of the time, I don’t think about it. I don’t even own nail polish or lipstick anymore.
But there are also the yoga classes where I enter the room and all I can see is how all the other women have thinner legs than me. Less hips. If only I were skinnier. And there my brain goes again. Skinnier, skinnier, skinnier. If only I just lost 20 kilos. I swear to you, in the moment it seems like a reasonable idea.
The truth is, you made me miserable, but you also comforted me – I don’t except anyone who hasn’t met you to understand that.
I get now why you come knocking on my door from time to time: you want to be seen for what you really are. And you are, after all, not that different from the energy and determination that allowed to finish my masters at 21 years old or move to the other side of the world. You wanted me to succeed.
Although I am glad you failed, I understand you better than ever before.
You are the part of me who wants to be seen, appreciated and loved. You are the part of me who wants to belong. You are the part of me that is terrified of not being good enough. Of being unlovable.
So, finally, I have understood that the only thing there is to do is to love you. Unconditionally. Shamelessly.
You have taught me what is worth dying for and what isn’t. You have taught me gratitude for the friends who held space for me to be sick. You have taught me to forgive myself for not knowing better than encouraging others. You have taught me that everyone who tells me that something is wrong with me has something to sell me, whether it be a product or an idea.
You have taught me how short, fragile and precious life is.
Rainer Maria Rilke (in Letters to a Young Poet) said it best: “Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.”
This is how I see you now: a tiny child terrified of being too broken, too wrong, too fat, to be loved. I honor your struggle and the hurt you have been carrying all along.
So, dear Anorexia, this isn’t really a Thank You letter. You don’t deserve a Thank You letter after everything we went through.
This is a love letter.
And it is what you have been waiting for.