A Letter to Ed

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Yesterday marked week 6 of the creative writing course I’ve been taking. When I got accepted into the 8 week work shop I was super excited, I was happy to tell people I was taking a writing course and I welcomed the changes it forced on my work schedule. What I didn’t share quite as openly was that it was run through Sheena’s place, an eating disorders support centre, and that its primary goal was not to improve creative writing skills, but to act as an outlet for the emotional struggles of someone dealing with an eating disorder.

Why, when I have been so open about so many things over the past year, would I shy away from sharing this detail in particular? I’m still not sure. But today, in the words of Brene Brown, I decided to step back into the arena. I’m showing up, I’m doing my thing and sometimes that’s the bravest thing you can do.

In the world of Eating Disorders, we often refer to our diagnosis — whatever it may be — as Ed. Giving the disorder a name and personifying it of sorts, has helped me, and many others I'm sure, work through negative thoughts, feelings and deal with that damn unpleasant internal critic that plagues us all. Yesterday in class we were asked to write a letter to ED. I would like to share mine with you.

Dear ED,
Over the years you have taken so much from me. So much more than can be properly understand through words alone.
You’ve sabotaged opportunities.
You’ve steered me clear of excitement and adventures
You’ve turned my home into a dangerous place instead of one of comfort and warmth.
You’ve confused my understanding of love.
You’ve stopped relationships in their tracks.
You’ve turned my body into a complete stranger.
You’ve made me fearful of sex.
You’ve robbed me of time with friends and loved ones. Time. You’ve taken so much of my time.
Who knows where I’d be today had we never met. But we did, and you know what? Look where I am in spite of you.
I wish it was as simple as finding something or someone to replace you with — believe me I’ve tried. I still have a hard time grasping how hardwired you’ve become inside of me and how intertwined you’ve become in my life. How you do such an amazing job at pushing those potential ‘things’ and ‘someones’ away.
The truth is, I don’t actually know what my life will one day look like without you? Will that day even ever come? Maybe. It doesn’t matter anymore though because I am no longer sitting around waiting to find out. I have decided to live regardless of your presence. I’m starting to do the things that thanks to you for so long I didn’t think I ever could.
I’m sure you’ll stick around for a while yet. I mean, you’ve done a pretty good job to date have you not? But there’s a difference now ED, I don’t care. It seems the less attention I pay you the less fuel you have to grow and pull me back down. For every time you’ve tripped me up over the years and caused me to fall I’ve always gotten back up and I am finally able to recognize the strength you’ve helped me build in doing so.
You used me for years ED, but now, I’m choosing to use you. The lessons you’ve taught me have helped me become the woman I am today. And let me tell you she is determined to do great things. Amongst them, stopping you from overpowering others in the same way.
I am not naive. You’re not gone yet. You’ll fight and you’ll knock me down, but I promise that every time I will get back up stronger and faster than I ever have before. I do not think this is the end but I do bid you farewell dear ED. Thank you for getting me this far, you served a purpose no doubt, but I have much more important things to focus on.
I’m done with surviving, it is time to thrive.
Sincerely,
Jamie

Though eating disorders are far more common than often recognized, eating disorder or not, most of us have an ‘Ed.’ Maybe yours goes by Stu, or Tom or Joe. Or maybe he’s a she and responds to Elle. They may all look different and sound different and come about in different ways, but at the core — shopping, drinking, unhealthy relationships, over exercising, isolation, you name it — they are all one and the same. They serve a purpose but in the most unhealthy of ways. Through any and every one of them though, we can all open up, show up, and Struggle Strong.

Yes, the workshop became an insecurity of sorts, but I have already taken so much more out of these past six weeks than I anticipated. Not just the learnings from writing activities themselves, not just the inevitable growth from stepping outside of my comfort zone but the power I’ve felt from simply taking two hours a week dedicated to no other purpose than me time and true self care.

Its been a positive experience. Its all part of my journey. So why did I ever stop sharing and why shouldn't I be share this?

Jamie Snow