I have often been told that a breakup with someone is one of the most difficult things I will have to go through, but I think many of us fail to realize we often go through “breakups” just as difficult through other experiences in life–“breaking up” with a passion, addiction, etc. So as bizarre as an eating disorder may seem to those who don’t have one, it is not that foreign when we think about the recovery from an eating disorder as coping with loss–a breakup from something that we feel has become a part of ourselves. No matter how painful it is to live with, the greatest fear is learning to live without it.
Since the eating disorder was my first major “breakdown,” getting through it has taught me what it takes to work in recovery and come out the other side–a kind of preparation for the next series of losses I will and have had to work through. It hasn’t made those next losses any easier or less painful, but I knew I would find happiness and balance again in similar ways that I did with the eating disorder–by writing out my thoughts, talking to safe people about my feelings, venting through exercise, staying busy with new activities, and allowing my mind to deal with the thoughts when they came instead of trying to constantly push them away.
It’s important to analyze our struggles so that we can know how to survive our grief and give back to the world. If we don’t take time for ourselves to understand the hurt, the emotions may build inside and cause us to lash out at others or harm ourselves. The mind is smart. It will not allow you to hold in what it needs to get out. My eating disorder is a prime example of that–something that came out of my inability to address my loss of identity and yearning to be “perfect” to please others.
Sometimes the most comforting feeling is having others somewhat understand our pain–and in recognizing that breakups from a part of ourselves can be just as painful and quite similar to breaking up with someone else, we can be there for each other with more empathy and understanding.