The worst part about this whole journey is that the issues I dealt with via my eating disorder don't go away when you start trying to avoid symptoms, or change thought patterns. I didn't start mattering the day I decided I wasn't going to throw up anymore. I didn't undo years of trauma when I stopped stepping onto the scale everyday. I didn't stop having anxiety attacks. I didn't stop feeling unloved and worthless in the moment when I realized that beauty begins with acceptance.
I think this is true for most people, but comprehending one's self-worth is a cycle. There's a feel good part, and a feel shitty part. For people who have self-destructive habits or compulsions, the feel shitty part is briefly alleviated when you act on the impulse. The burning of a knife across exposed flesh takes away some of the worthlessness for a minute because it shocks your system into a completely different kind of survival mode. There is relief after emptying your stomach because you feel like you got rid of the bad stuff; emotional emptiness is exhausting, but the work to make the physical match the emotional seems comforting.
But I've decided that shocking myself into a fight or flight response, or forcing my stomach to be empty so I can fake some kind of peace are not options for me anymore. I have to find new ways of dealing with the feelings of worthlessness, the trauma and abandonment, anxiety, depression, and isolation. Of course, by now it seems like the only part of this whole thing that anyone really cared about was the part where I said "I have this thing, and I want to heal it". Everyone congratulates you when you stop hitting yourself, but what really matters is the aftercare.
In the eyes of everyone I know, life is back to normal. I'm the confident, beautiful, center of attention my loved ones are used to seeing. The hard part is over, Rachel has accepted that she's fat and no longer needs to do anything about it. "You're beautiful," I hear, but it doesn't really mean anything because my physical form is not what this is really about. I just channeled it into something physically self-destructive because that's how I was taught.
I'm drifting between being outspoken and being silent. It's a cycle, you understand. Except, there are some feel okay parts (happy), some feel shitty-but-okay-with-that parts (outspoken), and some feel shitty-and-think-no-one-cares parts (silence). Sometimes, all three happen at once. Sometimes I just feel unloved and want to hide and never talk to anyone ever again. Sometimes I open up and bare my soul or let my guard down and somebody does something shitty that ruins my entire weekend.
Sometimes, someone throws a temper tantrum and yells that something isn't fair, and I completely shut down.
What's not fair is not being able to turn to the things that give you comfort. But I'm not interested in fairness. I discovered that the world is a cold, cruel place a long time ago and came to terms with it. When I had the flu as a child and my step mom said that if I threw up I was going to have to clean it up, I realized the kind of world I was up against (I might have been 7).
Life isn't fair. And the kicker is, no one actually gives a shit when something bad does happen because they're too busy thinking about their own things. I'm guilty of that too. And while I at least try to spend time with the people I love when they're having a tough time, the fact that I'm alone right now is a sign that life is not fair.
Boo. Fucking. Hoo.