Two to Tango

The weigh in has to be, like most things in my life, perfect. I walk to the scale, carefully being watched by the nurse assigned to observe. I pull in all my breath and step onto the scale, eyes glued to the numbers facing me. I needed a perfect number to get weekend pass. I needed to leave this place. I needed perfection. The number reached its stopping point, one pound short of my goal for that day. Ms. Perfect on my one shoulder leapt forward, screaming failure, while Ed on my other shoulder jumped for joy at still having control.

When I lived in a constant state of starvation, I did not feel anything other than nagging emptiness and a base line of anxiety. But with two months of treatment and re-feeding, and with a slight weight gain, I was starting to feel again, and right now the feeling was negative.

I buckled down the last several weeks of treatment, but never had the weight gain that was deemed “normal” for a re-feeding program, and I was still nearly 20 pounds under my lowest healthy weight when I left. Within a week, I had lost all the weight gained while in treatment, and was again close to hospitalization. It was at that point that something changed. It was like the world had given up on me, it seemed like I didn’t care. I wasn’t putting in the effort they all wanted, the weight wasn’t coming fast enough; it just wasn’t enough.

Sometimes when you feel completely alone, you go to a really dark place. In that dark place you realize you don’t need the whole world, you just need yourself. I realized that I was enough and I started to eat. I ate my three meals, and my three snacks, as prescribed by my nutritionist. I attended my therapy sessions and did the homework religiously.

I am not perfect; I will never be perfect. I had to push Ed out of my mind, and out of my life. I read every recovery book I could find, and stayed connected to healthy influences. I read and re-read a letter I had written to myself in treatment. It talked about the fear, the self-loathing, the hatred, the restlessness, the insanity, the hospital visits, the loss of friends, relationships, the guilt, shame and remorse. It was the truth, and I needed to read it every day.

Anorexia, as I’m sure all eating disorders do, breeds a selective memory. To survive I had to remember the truth. I stepped on the scale several months after leaving treatment, saw my goal weight staring back at me, and I started to cry tears of pure joy. I was officially healthy.

Am I cured? Of course not. Eating disorders are lifelong journeys. I used to refer to it as a battle, but ever since I stopped fighting, Ed has had a difficult time making noise in my head. I guess it takes two to tango, right?

Breanne Leclerc-Tremblay writes about her experiences living with and recovering from Anorexia, life as a military spouse and raising her two dogs and two cats on her blog All of The Pretty Things Here.