Anti-Anorexia/Anti-bulimia: An Essay
Anti-anorexia cannot be explained in theory. You have to experience it. The more you go free of anorexia/bulimia, the more you develop your own definition of anti-anorexia/anti-bulimia. Before I was able to externalise it, I thought Rebecca WAS bulimia. Because it was part of me, I couldn’t fight it without hurting myself. I couldn’t even think of a way to start fighting it. It was all hopeless. When I knew that Bulimia was the problem and I renamed it and relocated it, that made it possible for me to stand up to it.
Talking anti-anorexia talk came in fits and starts. I would get lost before a come-back and when I returned to anti-anorexia, I realized that my use of language hadn’t been consistent. Anti-anorexic talk makes you feel stronger. You feel you have the power to fight against it. I now think in anti-anorexia about 98% of the time.
Speaking out against it was so important. Up until then, Bulimia was speaking for me and whatever I had to say wasn’t “good enough” or “important enough”. It shut me up and spoke for me. I definitely thought for awhile that Bulimia was speaking in my interests but when I started seeing through it, it was neither looking after nor looking out for me. It was tricking me. It was all a big betrayal. I felt betrayed because it had never told me my life would turn out like it did. Before anti-anorexia, I just thought I wasn’t controlling Bulimia properly. I thought it was all my fault”.
Guilt connected everything that was bad to me and then blamed me for it. I felt responsible for everything. I would take on too much. I wouldn’t allow myself time for me. I would either worry about people or give them advice that I should have been giving myself. I think guilt is 100% behind Bulimia. I cannot imagine a person going free of Bulimia without going free of Guilt.
In fact, I didn’t think I deserved to be guilty anymore. Somehow I must have seen through it. I didn’t believe in it anymore. That happened really quickly.
Bulimia compounded the Guilt I was feeling. It made it worse. It told me – ‘You deserve to feel like this….and to live like this. You don’t deserve a life’. If I asked “why?” it would reply – ‘You are guilty’. And I never raised any objection to that. I just had no self-appreciation or respect so I deferred to Bulimia without question.
I first started defying it by not listening to it as much. And I was starting to speak for myself a little more at the same time. This was the beginning of my resistance. It then tried harder to take me away by saying such things as “Don’t bother; you can’t defeat me” or “You can’t do without me”. There were lots of times when Bulimia tried to talk me into a share of my life – 50-50 so that I could pretend I was all right but really stay with it. I was trying to trick mum and dad so they would think I was okay but they could see through it immediately”.
How I started to go free was to defend myself. This meant I started standing up for myself in relationships. With my mum and dad, I defined a line behind which I became more responsible for myself rather than having them be so responsible for me. I demanded more respect from my boyfriend and life in general. I just started to stick up for myself. I stopped taking responsibility for everything. I started standing back and weighing things up logically. A lot of that happened while I was writing my -anti-anorexic’ journal.
Reading other stories from the archives was incredibly helpful. You could read about other women fighting their way out and that started to make my own escape possible. And it was new for me not to compete with other women and I began to realize that was very anti-anorexic for me. For in the past, I used to try to copy other women in terms of appearance, work, performance – well just about everything – and just do everything better than them. I trod on a lot of women’s toes by trying to outdo them. This provided me with false ways of feeling good about myself at the cost of their friendship. I no longer measure myself against other women. I don’t begrudge them anything because I no longer begrudge myself”.