Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders and Relationship Impact

Bad, Good; It's Hard to Tell--A Zen Story About Mindfulness | Libero Magazine 1

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My last relationship started in a hot tub and ended 8 days later in my car.

Though short, this relationship would prove to be one of the biggest turning points in my life and as most relationships of the ‘not-lasting’ sort go, the significance of this one lay not in the ‘During’, but in the ‘After’.

It all started so quickly; we skipped the “first call,” “first date,” “test the waters” part and jumped head on into Relationship mode…And our scene faded out just as quickly as it had started.

The timing was wrong, the situation was wrong, and I, ignorant of these realities, was caught blindsided.

It would take months for me to figure out what went wrong and why things didn’t work out – this is what I learnt…

Let me first say that this blog is not a way for me to mourn over a love lost or to bash on an ex-boyfriend, nor is it a “diary” – the reason I am writing this blog is firstly, to explain what happens when you enter into a relationship with ED by your side, and secondly, to give those who have been in a relationship with someone who is still attached to ED some insight as to the influence that ED can have on a relationship and to explain why they are not responsible for ED’s entry (or re-entry) into their ex’s life after the break-up.


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As you already know, ED entered my life when I was 17 years old.

Over the years I have had times when I thought he was gone for good, only to find him pop up in moments of weakness and lure me back in to his intoxicating clutch because I had never actually chased him away.

I was aware of the tendency ED had to resurface, and so when I found myself sitting in my car completely shocked by the words coming out of my now ex’s mouth, reason and restraint left me and I shifted in to one mode: Panic.

As he was speaking, as his words slowly (and painfully) cut through to the deepest parts of my being, I began getting flashbacks – not of the times I’d shared with him, but of my relationship with ED. I envisioned myself weak and starving in the middle of the afternoon, or torturing myself in the gym for hours on end, or bending over the toilet with my finger in my throat.

I was being released by this guy and was headed right back into ED’s arms.

I was petrified.

I couldn’t let it happen. I cried, I pleaded, and when that didn’t work I yelled…

Then I pleaded some more.

It wasn’t that I was desperate for him – I was desperate to NOT be left alone with ED. I was fighting like hell to protect my life. I remember at one point my ex said: “Have some self-respect and let me go.”

That was just it, I had no self-respect.

I didn’t even know what self-respect was – ED had stripped me of that so many years ago.

The way I saw it, as I stood there in the parking lot, I had two choices: stay with my ex or leave with ED, and I panicked as I began to realize that the choice wasn’t even up to me – the guy was leaving whether I liked it or not.

And just like that, he was gone.

I could already hear ED whispering in my ear, saying I wasn’t good enough, telling me all the ‘reasons’ why I had just been dumped: too fat, not pretty enough, not sexy enough, too serious…the list went on.

ED followed me around for the next few days, flirting with me, waiting for me to
let him back in.

He was relentless.

I could feel him creeping around every corner – stalking me, waiting for the opportune moment to leap in and take over.

I couldn’t be alone like this. I was unprotected. It was just me and ED – I needed protection again.

I needed to feel safe.

In my desperation, I found myself at my ex’s door – an attempt to repair the damage and, hopefully, birth some sort of friendship. But it was premature; it was an attempt to paint over a wound that was still open and bleeding and all that it produced was an infection.

I tried again.

So bent on resuscitating the friendship, I jumped, prematurely, at any opportunity I could – but, naturally, these efforts fell flat.

Words were shot across the room that were less than kind and I was kicked out on to the curb (literally).

I took this as a sign of hatred and then allowed his words to build upon themselves until they formed this monster that barely resembled their original context. I allowed myself to settle in to the idea that my ex hated me and then used that to fuel (and justify) my own self-hatred.

And then I let ED back in.

Bulimia became my way of life and I began drifting away into an abyss. It reached the point where not only my friends but I too was frightened for my own life and nothing anybody could say was snapping me out of it.

I fooled myself into thinking that my ex had all the answers I needed to stop my self-destruction, and if only I could somehow talk to him, he could save me. But now I know that he didn’t have any more answers than any of my other friends had – no one else could save me from myself; I was my only hope.

I found myself with no other option – I had to stand up to ED on my own.

In order to do that I had to forgive myself, I had to love myself, I had to know that I was worth it.

It was a process, and through it this is what I found:

Relationships are not meant for three. When I walked in to this last relationship I wasn’t walking in with just me, I was holding ED’s hand the entire time. Sure, he kept a low profile while I was ‘blissfully dating’ but I knew he was there – I could feel his breath on my shoulder. So from the start, the relationship was doomed.

I realized that I should never have been in a relationship to begin with. As long as I had ED in my life I couldn’t fully commit to a boyfriend.

I wasn’t loving myself – so it was impossible for me to receive his love or for me to properly love him back.

I also realized that there is an unnatural sense of ‘need’ or ‘attachment’ to a relationship when you know that ED is waiting for you on the other side of the break-up – you become so petrified of things ending that you cling on to your partner even when you know things aren’t right. I held on white-knuckled, with clenched fists, to something that had turned into dust.

So here comes the big question: Can I blame this guy for my relapse? Is he responsible for sending me back into the pit with ED?

The answer is No.

He did not send me into the pit; I jumped in (albeit with a lot of coaxing).

Yes, the breakup triggered the return of my bulimia – but this was because, in the past, I had never told ED to pack his bags. IT WASN’T ABOUT THE GUY.

Things happen. Life throws curve balls and we are left with the decision of how to deal with them. It could have been a car accident that killed a friend, or an ‘F’ on an important exam, or a random comment made out of ignorance. In my case it was a break-up.

I let that breakup lead me back to ED. I let my ex’s words burrow deep into my heart and change how I viewed myself. I let myself live in guilt and shame for months – feelings of being hated, feelings of hating…

It wasn’t about the guy.

And now, looking back on it, although I would never wish this on anybody, I am thankful for this heartbreak.

It forced me to kick ED to the curb. I am on day 38 of recovery and I am still going strong!

As for my ex, I have no feelings of bitterness, hatred, or regret towards him. I do not blame him for what I went through after our break-up, and, if I ever run into him again, I will be reminded only of how thankful I am for the situation because through him I got the opportunity to face ED head-on once and for all.

Now I can say that when my next break-up comes (assuming one will come) I can take it in stride and not be afraid because I know that ED will NOT be hiding around the corner waiting for me to fall back into his grasp – I am free.

Lauren is the Founder and Editor of Libero. She started Libero in April 2010, when she shared her story about her struggles with an eating disorder and depression. Now Lauren uses her writing and videos to advocate mental health and body positivity. In her spare time, she enjoys makeup artistry, playing Nintendo, and taking selfies with her furbaby, Zoey.

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