When I first began to restrict my food intake, I was miserable. Every day dragged on, the beauty in life faded away, and I lost the tiny bit of hope I had hidden away in my heart. Although this journey has taught and strengthened me, I would not wish Anorexia on anyone.
However, I have a hard time giving it up myself. There are numerous different reasons for this but one in particular has been bugging me lately; I am not special without my eating disorder.
Now I know that this is the eating disorder talking but I feel like a lazy, worthless, untalented pig without it. When I stopped feeding myself, I uncovered willpower and strength that I had no idea dwelt within me. Finally, I could do something well that none of my family did. Instead of isolating miserably, I was forcing my whole being to fight for survival. Each day I dared my body to fail on me and pushed it to its limits.
And this made me special. Right? I mean, I was almost super-human. Although I did not care for myself, I pushed myself harder than ever in school, work, and chores at home. Once I lost my eating disorder, I would be nothing again.
But, however convincing that belief seems, it is a lie. Eating disorders do not make people special; who people are makes them special. Every human being is unique, loved, and special. This is not something that is increased or decreased with an illness!
In our culture, the word “special” has become a label much like “Anorexic” or “blonde.” People either long to become talented, smart, or attractive fit this label or struggle to maintain it. However, everyone is already born with these quality. It just materializes in different ways.
My middle sister Christine, for example, always seemed far more special than me. Her artwork lined our walls like a museum, her swift legs outran many boys, her jokes caused the grumpiest guests to smile, etc. I could go on and on about her. In my eyes, she was the golden girl, perfect in anyway. If only I could be as special as her, my life would be so much better.
As we have grown older and closer, I have come to see that Christine does not have a fantasy life. Strong and determined, she faces numerous struggles. This realization has not only helped me to admire her more as a real (but totally awesome) person but also brought me closer to her.
I have also learned from my sister that everyone is special in their own way. Christine and I are polar opposites. Yet, we offer different gifts to the world and those around us. After all, if everyone in the world were the same, much would be lacking.
So, letting go of my eating disorder makes me feel like I am losing my only special quality. But what kind of talent is starving oneself anyway? It is not even willpower; true willpower is choosing to eat despite my fears! Although anorexia sometimes makes me stand apart, it does not do so in a positive way. It shames, isolates, and controls me. Without it, I can be free to be myself with others. And maybe someday, I will be free to be special without my eating disorder.