I’m not sure about all you… but for me, it has been near impossible to maintain a stable relationship with my eating disorder. “Eating disorders, by nature, are a mental illness characterized by isolation and separation” (Barges, 2014). Nothing to me rings more true than that sentence. Whereas outsiders see EDs as a preoccupation with weight and body, they don’t realize the depth of it. Really, the aspect of weight is just a tiny (if not the smallest) portion of it. Suffering from an eating disorder I always felt unworthy. Too fat, too ugly, too stupid, too everything, and so I was never good enough to deserve love and relationships. Looking back now I see that because of that I always would sabotage them, ruining all relationships before they even had a chance to start.
I would temporarily try and push these feelings aside – seeking approval from men. If a man wanted me than I must have been doing okay, I was desirable and that felt good. Yet I was and still am so scared of sex, mostly the act of actually being NAKED in front of another person. Even at my lowest weight, I could never feel completely comfortable with someone else seeing my body. I wanted so badly to be WANTED by men, but once I got their attention I didn’t know what to do with it.
I fell in love with this passage from Psychology today:
“Being carefree about sex is generally the desired state of affairs. So, how can a person with an eating disorder who has major trust issues, body image distortion, demands perfection from herself, coupled with a desire to please and accommodate others at the expense of herself be in a situation which necessitates letting go – risking being out of control? Not easy.”
There is so much truth in this. And sex aside, to just BE in a relationship involves letting go. You need to trust that the other person will love you despite your flaws. I struggled with this the most. Even in my longest relationship I still felt I could never be myself, always striving to be ‘exactly who he wanted’. That’s not fair to him or me, as in the end it just wasted both of our time.
At the moment I am single, and weirdly enough… I am okay with it. I’ve decided the best thing for ME right now is to be alone. I loved how Jenni Schaefer in her book ‘Goodbye Ed, Hello Me’ writes that she is married to herself, even taking vows to love and cherish herself. Really, if we can’t love ourselves than how can we expect to love someone else, and believe that they love us in return? Take the time to figure out who you are, and don’t ever feel the need to suppress that for anyone or any relationship.
In the end, the only person that you can guarantee will always be there is YOU.
“To lose confidence in one’s body is to lose confidence in oneself.”
― Simone de Beauvoir
Chrystal Karges (2014). How Eating Disorders Can Affect Relationships.