Once upon a time, when I hated my body, I wrote letters to it.
In 2008 I was going on year 3 of eating disorder therapy, relapsing every week with a binge, followed by anorexic behavior. I hated my body and I hated my career. My body was blamed for failures in show business and my inability to get pregnant. And I believed success in both of those realms would make me happy.
I hated my life. I was depressed.
So I began writing letters to different parts of my body. They were for nobody to read but myself, until now. They were incredibly helpful for me in my recovery. I’ve decided to publish these letters because my life, 8 years later, couldn’t be more different. My relationship with food has completely changed. I have embraced the decision I’ve made with my husband to never have children. And I consider myself a happy, successful person – yet none of the things I dreamed for myself in 2008 ever came true.
Here I was trying my best to see the light in my darkest times. When I re-read them, I hear the voice of someone I no longer know, someone I’m glad to no longer be. And yet, I’m grateful to her.
Sorry. I know I’m abusing you when I’ve eaten as much as I just did. I’m feeling really emotional and confused. And I know that’s no excuse but it’s easier to admit all this now that I’m so stuffed and am forced to deal with it. Really, I wish I had written this letter to you in the midst of the binge, instead of trying to bury it all. I thought about doing it but it was just not happening. I know I love acting, but it seems like that would be the stupidest thing of all to pursue right now. Not now, when I’m going to need health insurance and we’re trying to start a family and ugh. I don’t know what to do. No wonder I ate an entire box of Frosted Mini Wheats.
This is kinda like the college days, when I would push you to the extreme every weekend, or maybe it was every other day. I promise not to do it for a second day in a row. It’s tempting, because I’m still as confused and foggy-brained and wired as I was at 2am and I could use another huge bowl of oatmeal and a box of Frosted Mini Wheats or two. But no, no, no. I’ve got to go on override here and not on autopilot. I’ve got to stick to what I know is best for me.
You’ve always been huge and I accept that. But seriously – I cannot believe that you won’t fit into a certain pair of boots anymore. Not that I’ve worn them in the last year, but I’m just shocked – shocked! I thought you didn’t have to throw out shoes when you gain weight.
Think positive, think positive, think positive….
Dear Roof of My Mouth,
It is astonishing how sensitive, yet resilient you are. Right now you’re complaining because of that super crusty sandwich bread I consumed but I know you’ll be fine in – what – hours? It never seems to last more than that, even when I burn you on pizza or whatever. I have never complained about you for days or anything. That’s so nice of you. Also, you make bubble gum enjoyable. How else would it stretch out on my tongue before bubble blowing? (The tongue gets all the glory, but we know who really makes it possible). If I really think about it, you feel like you should belong in the mouth of an alien or something- all slimy and hard and scaly. Oh God, I hope I’m not really an alien.
BRRRRRRR!! It’s cold in here! And boy, do you guys lemme know it. Woolen socks and fuzzy slippers are no help. You’re little icicles. A lot of people say you serve no purpose. But I find that you are a help when it comes to temperature stuff. I always dip you into a pool to figure out if it’s worth dunking in the rest of my body. And right now, you are a clear reminder – IT IS WAY TO COLD IN THIS HOUSE.
Why are you pronounced “cute” – icles and not “cut” – icles? Is it because you don’t look so cute when you’re cut? Every time I go to get a manicure, they want to remove you guys. And most times, I let them. They bully me – telling me how horrendous you look, all overgrown. That first day, you do look beautiful. But then, you rebel. You cry out, with anger and rage – forming a painful gang of dry skin that snag easily. I’ve tried cuticle creams, olive oil, Vaseline – none of it helps.
The only time it ends is when you’ve grown back completely. And that whole thing that fashion magazines say about just pushing you back with an orange stick (why do they call it that? It’s not orange) and not to cut you (yeah, right, you try telling a pushy manicurist that)? That looks incredibly nasty! So I will keep you cute by leaving you just the way you are. I won’t allow someone else to tell me how to take care of you when you’ve made it abundantly clear you don’t need to be cared for. It’s better in the long term, both for you, and my pocketbook.
I’m really mad at you. Sending me mixed signals for days – the sore boobs, the acne, the morning nausea. There’s a show on TV now called “I didn’t know I was pregnant.” Ours would be called “I didn’t know I wasn’t pregnant.” Boo. I want to be nicer to you, but I’m just so mad at you. What a tease.
I just realized today that it’s been a while since I’ve been very depressed. But not that long ago that I can’t remember what it feels like. Those days when I couldn’t get myself out of bed, maybe only to transfer the cupboard contents into my body, are familiar but getting foggier.
Today marks the last day of NEDAwareness Week. If you think you may have an eating disorder, or know someone who might – here is a free, confidential screening.