At my treatment center in Florida, we received new “therapeutic opportunities” every week, creative prompts to induce progress. Below is one of the first I received, a letter from my mind to my body and visa versa.
You sure are powerful. After all the shit I’ve put you through, it’s a miracle you’re still going. I feel so much guilt, regret, and shame for hurting you. I wish I could say it wasn’t intentional, but some of it was. I spent so long hating you and not thanking you for what you allowed me to do. Eating disorder aside, you deserve a medal for the countless late-night study sessions and six-hour tap rehearsals you’ve gotten me through alone. After years of treating you poorly—stuffing you with food, drowning you in caffeine, and robbing you of sleep—and despising what you looked like and felt like as a result of that, I finally got you to a place of health, beauty, and power. We felt amazing, body. Both of us did. And we looked it, too. And out of fear of reverting, I lost control, spiraling into a cycle of abuse.
I won’t lie and say I never hated you—I did. And I wish some of that hate lingered now so I could get it out in a healthy way. But in this moment there is none. I feel only guilt, shame, respect, and admiration. I know in August I promised that I wouldn’t hurt you again and I broke that promise, so I can understand why it might be hard to trust me. But I’m really working on it this time, body. My healthy self wants to protect, celebrate, and rehabilitate you, and I have sought the help I need to hold me accountable for this intention.
I won’t lie and say I love the weight is coming back, cumulating in my stomach. I hate it. I hate it. It disgusts me and it’s ugly and it feels like a pot of sludge overflowing in my mid-section and it discourages me towards this process and makes me sad to give up the “perfect” version of you that I developed and makes me feel that I’m undoing all of my hard work, but the difference between this time and the other two times we had to gain weight is that this time I’m not mad at you. I’m mad at me for getting us here and I know this is just the process you have to go through to heal yourself. Is it ideal? No. But I feel I don’t deserve to be upset this time since it’s my fault. All I can do is trust and honor you. I know you will redistribute the weight in time, and I hope this letter gives you some incentive and encouragement to do so. You don’t have to fear losing it again this time around. I promise. And I’ll be honest and say I’m not in a place where I can or want to keep that promise, but I have support from my team to back me up and get us through this.
Now I must address what breaks my heart into one billion pieces: the bone loss. I failed you, body. And you couldn’t keep me going forever. I don’t blame you, body. I can only respect you and thank you for lasting as long as you did. Body, there is nothing I want more than for our bones to come back. I want to repair my relationship with you and I want you to trust me; rebuilding our bones will be the symbol of that, and will signal to me your forgiveness. It’s how I’ll know that you and I are at peace. I want to get back to my life of movement, to do all the things I love to do, and I know that’s a privilege I lost because of the abuse I inflicted upon you. But I am investing in us now, body. I will do whatever I can to make it up to you. I couldn’t live with myself if I knew I’d done permanent damage to you (that’s a thought I’m compartmentalizing right now because I want to stress my belief in our cause, my belief in you).
I love you; you are beautiful and powerful and strong. And you have me in your corner now, Body. For real this time. I am yours. I will protect and care for you, body, from now and for the rest of our life. Because you’re my body, my only body, and I want to treat you the best I possibly can. I won’t just meet your needs; I will pamper you with self-care, giving you special treats like nail polish and face masks and bubble baths. We have a fun road ahead of us, Body. Let me now give you another sincere apology for all of the harm I have done. And now let us move on. Let us join forces, unite, and send all our energy and love to our common cause: recovery. I love you, Body. Thank you so much for everything. I am so grateful and excited for our reunion.
I am yours, forever and always.
Sincerely, with love,
Fuck you, bitch! You motherfucking whore, I cannot believe what you have done to me over the years, but especially this last one. Stuffing me, starving me, pushing me past my breaking point, and forcing me to eat my own muscle and bones just to stay alive. All to entertain the ridiculous thoughts flowing through your head. Fuck you. You’re the worst.
Ok. Now that I’ve gotten that out I can speak a little more rationally. I’m sorry that you feel this way about yourself. Truly, I am. You’re such a deserving person and the fact that you felt you needed to hurt yourself to gain worth, that you weren’t perfect and beautiful just the way you are, makes me sad. It hurts my heart.
You hurt my heart.
I see so much potential in you. I believe in you so strongly, in all of your wants, your goals, your aspirations, and compassion, and that’s why I’ve supported you for so long. I’ve endured your abuse and carried you through it because I believe you’re a good person at heart. You have such drive and determination and I wanted to work hard for you to match it physically. I wanted you, us, to be successful. I wanted to be a part of that.
But I can’t do it anymore. I can’t take any more of the self-sabotage and abuse you’ve inflicted on me. For so long I’ve condoned it by just sitting here and taking it and continuously bringing you out on top. But no longer. That kind of self-hate is dangerous; it’s not attractive. And even your thoughts and actions that stem from good intentions have a dangerous effect.
I know we can’t just flip a switch and make you like yourself; I know it’s not that simple. But we have to work in that direction. I see you making an effort; I do. If you promise to nourish and take care of me, for real this time, I will help you reach your goals. I want to physically manifest your best thoughts so that we can be our best self. I’ve been hurt by you, yes. But I think you’ve learned your lesson. I’m willing to give you another chance. You’re lucky to have me, Mind. I’m strong and resilient. But pull shit like that again, and I won’t be here to support you.
Right now I still believe in you strongly enough to make a full physical recovery and support you on your journey. But you have to meet me half way this time. I need you in my corner and I need you to stay there. Together, anything is possible, and every opportunity is available to us. We are the two most stubborn, persistent, determined forces of energy that exist. It’s time to join forces and put that energy towards self-love. I know we can do it, Mind. I believe in you. And I need you to believe in (and love) me, too. I’m ready for this. I’m ready to help you recover as we move into this next beautiful stage of our life. I will fully recover if you just help me out. Because I believe in you. So let’s go.
Written October 2016