You know it has to be important when I trade up my beloved Trade em Up posts. This campaign by Sloane means a lot to me. It goes beyond the blog world, beyond all exterior validation. It is also something I could write and talk about for days, one post will only chip at what I actually want to say. But to spare you a novel, I am cutting myself short. This is not easy to post. I kept wondering if I really should. This part of my past, I tend to gloss over because perfection is a never ending battle. This probably will be one of many in this type of series, I bet reading some of the other ladies posting on this will inspire me on another route. Here I go…
Perfection is a big part of my personality and has been as far back as I can remember. Perfection was more than just everything being a certain way, it was a form of pressure, mold and lifestyle. It took various forms through my eating disorder – rearing its head in both the onset, sick and recovery period. Yes, even in recovery perfection played a role.
I talked about my eating disorder on the blog quite a bit when I first started. A huge part of my eating disorder mentality, a mentality that made my struggle an over five year struggle, was the fact that I had to maintain this perfect exterior despite the fact I was crumbling inside. Even at my worst, I refused to ask for help, disclose the details of what was going on or even acknowledged that I was in pain. Why? Because I had to be the perfect Alex, I had to be the girl who could pull it all off.
I didn’t understand my eating disorder at first. Sophomore year in high school when I was diagnosed I had no idea that it had such a grasp on me. I thought it would just go away, frankly I didn’t really care if it went away. I was hospitalized twice in high school, both for short periods of time and STILL I would not admit this thing was bigger than me. I went to day treatment twice in high school, skipping almost three months of my junior year. But as I said, my struggle was more than just my high school years so why didn’t this treatment work for me? Excuses aside, excuses I did make in that moment – it was because of ME. I know why and I am at the point where I am willing to admit why. In treatment, I took on the role of the ‘perfect patient‘. I did everything they told me from when I arrived at 9 am to when I left at 4 pm. My weight increased slowly, I chose a variety of foods, I participated, I did it all. I left those doors and the Ed was in full swing. Outside, it was only myself holding my actions accountable. I told everyone, oh I am doing this, oh I am doing that. False, perfect Alex was saying she was perfect when inside she was hurting more than ever.
So what changed? Inpatient treatment my junior year of college. It is where that perfect Alex was broken down with a hammer. And I still remember the moment so vividly. The first two weeks of treatment, I swear I went back to being a middle schooler. (so sad to admit, it was my ED again rearing its ugly head). I refused to speak to anyone, ANYONE not even parents, counselors, nutritionists, other girls there. The place was a small house so only about 8 other girls were there with me and yet I refused to open up. Not one peep. However, perfect Alex made sure to eat all that was in front of her, do what she was told and be the first one in bed. Looking back, I still remember some of my closest friends I made there being shocked at how different I was at the beginning than the end. Well, two weeks in, something cracked. I was pulled into the office with the director and told I was going to be kicked out if I didn’t drink this. I broke down, I cried I begged and looking back I see the inner turmoil I had. On one hand, my ED was telling me good you don’t need treatment get the heck out of there. But the other part of me, knew this was not who I was. Who cries over a drink? Who refuses to speak to anyone, even people who only want to help you? Was this what life was going to be like?
I knew then I had to let go. Let go of everything I had held onto, all those secrets about my disorder I never told people, all those moments of guilt that I still felt and all that I wanted from life. I remember sitting in group therapy for the first time asking to speak. I said, I am not perfect, perfect led me nowhere. It led me here, it led to broken relationships and it led me to dishonesty. All of which I never want to be. In my worst days, I stole food, I lied to loved ones, I cried to myself and I hated every fiber of who I was. I want out.
Wow, this post is quite different than what I thought it would be….
My final breaking down of perfection came as I reentered my college my senior year. After mysteriously disappearing for a month, telling people I got an early internship, I wanted to do anything but return. But I knew I had to, I knew I wanted to graduate and I couldn’t let this image of Alex hold me back. My struggle was one that many saw on a small scale but one I always hid very well. I took part in a lot of school activities, head of many things but yet this secret was mine. Until senior year. I asked to speak on a panel of students, in front of the entire student body, about my eating disorder. Yes, a room full of girls I knew would judge me from that day forward, guys who I would see at every party, friends who only knew the little moments of my breakdown. I told them all the details I was ashamed about. I told them the unhappiness I had, the depression, the embarrassing moments I had to endure. I told them for once that I have flaws but boy am I damn proud of where I am today.
I know I didn’t go into a lot of detail about my disorder. I am always open to it, but not sure what would even make sense on this blog. However, if you ever want to personally email me or ask me questions I so encourage you to do so. As I said, it is something I am always willing to talk about. I would never want what I went through to happen to anyone else. The years in my eating disorder were years I can never get back, years I regret and sadly years I am ashamed of. Today I fight hard to remain in such a good place because I know life is worth it, not having to worry about every little detail of my body, health or food. I could write, re write, edit and re work this post for days. But you know what, I am leaving you with the first draft.
Perfection, yes it does look good sometimes but honestly, I think there is much more beauty in the imperfection.
Let go… cause there’s BEAUTY IN THE BREAKDOWN.