It was an early morning in September 2012 when I pulled up to my doctor’s office for a basic check up appointment. It had been a couple of years since I had been back at this center for eating disorders. I walked through the front door and was filled with a rush of emotion as memories of my eating disorder flooded back into my mind. I walked in and noticed a teenage girl sitting next to her dad in the waiting room. Her shoulder bones were poking through her shirt and she had dark circles under her eyes. The dad filled out paperwork as she nervously greeted the doctor. I looked over at them both and smiled. I wanted to get up and tell the young girl that it was all going to be ok, that eventually the thoughts would go away and one day she’d feel freedom from this addiction.
I used to be that girl. Some days I still am. My story, “Starving the Host” is about my eating disorder that almost killed me. I was the designer in this year’s Invictus group and had no formal training in writing. I wanted to remain quiet and to somehow make it through the year without sharing my story. I wanted to keep my thoughts and past actions to myself. That slowly began to change as I continued on with Invictus. I began to share small bits of my life at our Saturday meetings, slowly tearing down the walls I had built so perfectly in high school. I had spent so much of my life trying to come across as if I had it all together when really a committee of voices had been raging through my head for so many years. I also began to run with Brad some mornings and we began to share about our own addictions. It was the first time in my life I felt like I couldn’t scare somebody away with what was really going on in my mind.
This summer I turned my final draft into Brad, five years since the day I had made the decision to stop vomiting and get better. Invictus helped me to talk again about my eating disorder. In order to write my piece I had to reconnect with the people I had pushed out of my life in high school and have those hard conversations with the people I hurt through my disorder. It was a process of healing broken relationships and struggling to understand some of my worst days. Finishing my piece was one more step in my recovery.
Our Invictus essays went live an early morning in November. I was getting ready for work when I saw my piece on the Internet for the whole world to see. A year-long process had just ended. I scrolled through the pages and was reminded that it just wasn’t about surviving my recovery from my eating disorder but it was also about living. I still have bad days and could relapse again, but that is ok. Life happens. Now I have a written reminder that freedom from my eating disorder is something worth living for and that this is just the beginning.