Letter from Dory to Marianne
Q: How did you come to the point where you could overcome anorexia/bulimia?
I don’t know if I came to a POINT where I could overcome anorexia and bulimia. I think being free of anorexia/bulimia is an on-going process. But I do think changes in my life made it possible for me to BEGIN to WANT to fight anorexia/bulimia. It is important to know that there is no ‘miracle cure’, although I prayed for one often enough. However I waited months for that miracle cure. There was no ONE experience, event, change, etc. that stopped my anorexia/bulimia. I believe it was a combination of things which lead me to the point of being READY to overcome anorexia/bulimia.
Let me provide a brief background. I moved into an apartment with two supportive friends. I felt it unfair that bulimia affect them. It’s interesting because I did not feel like this when I lived at home with my parents. Bulimia was the worst ever at home. My parents tried to understand and support me, but all feelings of independence and control of my life disappeared at home- I didn’t WANT to try and fight. The apartment gave me a strong sense of independence- I had to be responsible for Dory and her life- I was not ‘watched over’. I was treated as ‘normal’ and that helped a lot. My parents tried to do the same but I didn’t need to be in control because they were there to take control and ‘carry’ me. I gave up all responsibility for my well-being and self-care at home. I started a new job. I had been forced to leave my previous employment because of bulimia/anorexia. I was determined to not let this happen again. I NEEDED the new environments of home and work. I began to exercise in a ‘healthy’ way. At first this was an attempt to ‘balance the scales’ ie. if I ate, I would exercise to negate the effect the food had had on my body. Slowly this stopped being so important. My body started to become strong and healthy- I felt good about this! Exercise was also a ‘a time filler’ ie. as bulimia/anorexia became a lesser part of my life, I had more time at my disposal. Initially this scared me a lot- I was frightened to spend time alone in case I was bulimic. Over time, I realized I was the controller of an episode, not bulimia.
The fuller my life became- a new job, new apartment, the gym, family and friends- the less time there was to be bulimic and the less I wanted to be. I had much more time to rediscover what gave Dory pleasure, my desires, appetites, hopes, etc. and more importantly I felt I deserved them all! I had much more time to think about OTHER things, OTHER people besides bulimia. I stopped CONSTANTLY thinking about bulimia/anorexia and began to look outside myself. Through working with David I learned to step back and externalize my emotions, feelings, etc. I learned bulimia/anorexia was the problem, not Dory. I learned to EXPERIENCE my feelings instead of shutting off or up. I allowed my feelings to ‘speak’ to me instead of bulimia/anorexia.
I could step outside by realizing I had choices. I also changed my focus. I stopped focussing on bulimia and began to look at outside forces. There had been a time when I felt I could not step outside. It seemed impossible to fight; there was no choice. I just could separate bulimia/anorexia from Dory. How could I fight something that was not there! I had no idea where to begin. Giving in to bulimia and leading a bulimic life was far easier. I couldn’t think logically or objectively. I lost the ability to ‘weight up’ situations and see both sides. Bulimia only ever offered one side- the losing side.
I have taken control of my life. I trust myself a gain. I feel self-confident. I feel powerful in my own life. I have discovered myself at a deeper level. The woman anorexia and bulimia hid never went away; she just waited to be uncovered and rediscovered. The journey to freedom was not an easy one. It took time! Confronting bulimia and anorexia was incredibly painful and at times overwhelming. The path of self-exploration I took gave me the space and time to learn more about Dory. I realised I had a deep inner strength. I also learned to be patient with myself and I tried not to be so hard on myself. I experienced a number of come-backs and overtimes which I found difficult to cope with. But I realised it was not the end of the world. It became easier to recover from a set-back and in fact they now made me more determined to win. The more I lead an anti-anorexia/anti-bulimic life, the harder I worked to make it endure.
Q: Were there steps along the way?
I suppose there were steps to be taken to overcome anorexia and bulimia. The most important step was I WANTED to overcome bulimia. I really believe that was fundamental to my recovery. I wanted a life and I wanted to be happy. I was fed up and bored with bulimia. Life was going on around me and I was missing out. I was fed up with feeling so miserable and desperate. Fundamentally, I realised I was a good person and DESERVED more. Dory DESERVED happiness. I did not deserve to feel so GUILTY. I had a choice, a choice every minute of the day. I did not have to ACCEPT anorexia and bulimia. Through my sessions with David, I began to ‘see through’ anorexia and bulimia. I started to “see’ the ultimate betrayal. I got angry at anorexia/bulimia.