Thank you Bulimia!

Story of Hope by Tatjana - Coach ISA Power

Would I, if I could change it all, choose not to have had an eating disorder?

She was my friend. My faithful companion. Thanks to her, people could try to hurt me, even leave me, not love me, and still I wouldn’t feel hurt or unloved. I felt nothing. Well, only sometimes, at 3 A.M. in my bathroom, after the 5th round of overeating and vomiting. Then I would start to feel endless sadness, gripping pain, isolation… a kind of general weltschmerz. (world weariness)

I wanted to feel better, but I was not ready to give up my bulimia!

I first went to therapy wanting to feel better in life, whilst thinking I could keep my bulimia. I wasn’t really ready to give up my bulimia. My therapist asked me: 'Do you want to live? Go home, think about it', is what she said.

I went home, ate, vomited, ate, vomited, ate, vomited… and called her with my answer: 'No, I don’t want to live.' I thought she would send me to a hospital, call my parents, or at least be very, very concerned about me. Instead, she said:  'OK, then we will work on that goal'.

Soon after, I almost had a deadly car accident. Whilst being in the hospital they also removed moles from several places from my body, because they looked dangerous. I also had to do an HIV (aids) test, and while waiting for the outcomes of both tests, I was afraid they might turn positive. This fear surprised me. Life gave me an answer - I wanted to live!

I started to ask myself questions!

If I actually want to live, how do I want to live? Like this? Hiding from everyone, and getting dressed and driving to the other part of town in the middle of the night, just so nobody would recognise me whilst buying enormous amounts of food? Is this why I am on earth? Is this the only way to survive this sadness I have inside? Is this what my life is supposed to look like?

My shift!

Then many ups and downs later, I had another therapist, I started to work on one goal only. I wanted to be free from bulimia. In less than two months, really I was FREE.

I was open, happy, I allowed myself to feel again. I worked so hard on all that pain, I did all those psychological exercise that make you cry and leave you completely exhausted. (And yes, more optimistic the next day, feeling as if few hundred of grams of pain was gone from your soul.) Now I want things to happen, I wanted my life to shine. Shine from within!

It was love at first sight!

He was drawn to me, he was in love with me immediately. And I remember how it felt to feel again, to be present. But mentally I wasn't strong enough yet. I realised this when he broke up with me. I relapsed. So I rushed back to my therapist for help, and soon after I was back on track.

Now that I was exposed to love again, I wanted more. It had felt great. I knew love was what I needed. A couple of weeks later I met another man, a trouble kind of man. He was like the wind, he would come and go. I was head over heels. It was like meeting my soul mate. But most of the time he was not there for me. My heart was longing to be loved, but that was impossible with him. And so I turned back to bulimia again. When he was around, it was so intense that I calmed myself down by eating and purging as soon as he left. Before I knew it, I had a full time job called bulimia again. The man eventually left me, but bulimia stayed.

Food and mood

It took me 6 months to get myself back on track. Then I taught myself how to keep my blood sugar on a steady level. In order to be healthy and emotionally stable I ate properly. I rather wanted to be healthy than trying to be thin. I wrote down what I ate, and how I felt afterwards. I wanted to know what really happened in my body, and I started to make connections between my emotions and overeating.  It worked - what a miracle - but it was a full time job.

I started to touch my belly saying: You are my belly. I wished you were smaller, but you are still mine, and I am happy you are mine. I looked at myself in the mirror and said: I am willing to learn to love you. With whatever shape of form you (belly) have. 

The acceptance of my own body, empathy to my own pain, and forgiving myself from my own mistakes made me very vulnerable. But it was (and still is) a kind of vulnerability that you want to lick from your plate. The more I see and admit who I am, the more vulnerable I become, and strangely enough stronger too. 

Love hit me again!

Then love came, again. I really felt loved by this man. This feeling was so scary and new, I didn’t know how to handle it. So I slipped, again. This was so frustrating, but I knew from the beginning I was going to beat it quickly. You need just one experience of stopping, then you know you CAN stop and you know that life is better without an eating disorder.

I shared it with my partner, and he wanted to help me. He wanted to know exactly what it was and how I felt. So we ate together (a lot). And then we vomited, together. For me it was easy for him difficult. In the end, he said – well, it is not at all so special, your bulimia. What do you mean?! All that suffering, isolation, all that hugging of the toilet, all that money… And not special?!  Well, ok, then…

Was this what I needed to hear?

I remember that moment when I was looking at myself in the mirror and saying: Ok, even if I stay bulimic for the rest of my life, I will make the best of this life, the best I can. I accepted it. If you don’t want to go bulimia, then, ok, we’ll live together. I think it was the last tiny bit needed, full acceptance. Few days later I went to buy an ice cream (forbidden!) and ate it on the street (forbidden!) and I thought, ok, now I will vomit. So what? By the time I came home, I felt too lazy to vomit, and there was I! Free again!

This was 15 years ago

I was suffering from bulimia for about 4,5 years, with small breaks in between. She was owner of my life, a cruel one, a sadistic one. Why was it so hard to let go? 

Well, a lack of hope, loneliness and tiredness made me believe that this was all I could be. The old me judged herself and the world. After crawling my way from the kitchen to the bathroom so many times and learning to love and appreciate myself even while acting in that way, I think my heart became bigger, embracing my own and other’s people faults. I don’t frown on anything since I stopped frowning at myself. I know what it is to be really low. 

Thank you bulimia!

Thank you bulimia for teaching me such great life lessons. It is such a gift -  true empathy that you brought into my life. She was like a bridge, my bulimia. The bridge connects; it is a one way road, back or forth, no left, no right. If I wanted to get well, I needed to go forward. Forward was a discovery tour to learn who I am and how I could become closer to my(inner)self. Thank you bulimia, for leaving me no other choice, but to look into myself. 

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