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My letter to bulimia

by Millie

To my dearest friend and worst enemy,

“Isn’t it funny how when you’re coming to the end you always think of the beginning?” – One of my sister’s friends just posted that on twitter, typical of the way people have taken to cryptically posting their feelings for all to see and worry about. But that aside, it made me think of me and you. We’re coming to the end, at least I really hope we are. It sounds sad to say it, I won’t deny I loved you, how could I not when we spent so much time together, but I haven’t seen you for two weeks, and you know what, they’ve been the hardest two weeks of my life but I feel like it’s the start of something better. You were great when we first met, you always had time for me, you listened, you were there when no one else was and you helped me deal with everything.
When we first started out I was so unhappy, and in a way you saved me. I stopped cutting - I didn’t need to, I had you to work through my feelings with. You were there for me 24 hours a day, seven days a week; if I needed you, you knew and you were there with no questions asked. When I spent time with you nothing else mattered, I didn’t feel bad, I didn’t have to worry about not doing well enough, I didn’t worry that I was a disappointment, it didn’t matter that I wasn’t trying anywhere near as hard as I knew I could, it didn’t matter that I had never been kissed, and that look in my parents’ eyes – the one that came out when I’d forgotten to do something or fallen short of their expectations, that didn’t matter either. It didn’t even matter that I wasn’t good enough for me. You helped me with other things too, I hated my body and my weight, and you fixed that. I thought that was the main thing you did for me, you helped me lose weight. With your help I stopped being repulsive and fat, I lost weight faster than I even thought possible, and it was so easy, I didn’t have to worry I just left it all to you and it dropped off. Within months you’d helped me lose more than X stone. I could fit into all my clothes, and I’ll tell you what, that was the best feeling – I tried on my mum’s old wedding dress and it was a perfect fit. I got compliments on how slim I was looking, and I felt like I’d achieved so much. And all the while you were working quietly in the background so I could have my cake and eat it, this beautiful new body wasn’t really mine was it. It was yours. That was where the problems started, I’d taken so much from you, you’d stayed up all night with me, never let me feel alone. You’d listened to every worry I had, nothing was trivial to you, I never felt silly telling you about something that had upset me. You’d taken away so many of my fears; I didn’t feel upset when you were around. You were my secret, the gem I kept close to my heart, you were my get out of jail free card and you did your job so well. Too well.
You started to get demanding, you know you did. The times I called on you weren’t enough and you started visiting me when I didn’t want you there. You started following me around, with me at school, home, work; I was at your beck and call. You said jump, I said how high. But still I didn’t care, you were giving me what I needed and it didn’t matter what you took away in return. Didn’t matter that I was losing out on time with my friends – I was with you. It didn’t matter that I was beginning to become sickly, that my periods stopped or that I felt dizzy every time I stood up, it didn’t matter because you said it didn’t, you told me it was a good thing, a sign that we were succeeding. I didn’t care that I still wasn’t thin enough, you were helping me along that road, at some point soon I would be, surely. It didn’t matter that my goal kept moving, you were aiming at it with me. I didn’t care that you made me greedy, I didn’t care that you made me spend all my money on you, that you made me steal. I didn’t care that you made me disgusting, that you wouldn’t let me tell anyone about you. I didn’t care because you were still giving me everything you did before, it didn’t matter that I couldn’t escape your clutches, because I didn’t want to. I could see that you were hurting me, but the alternative – a life alone, without you – was so much worse. I knew no one would understand me the way you did, I knew that instinctively, what we did together was disgusting and it made me disgusting; we had to keep it between us two. I needed you still.
I still need you, I still want you, but we both know that any help you give comes with such a high cost. I tried to leave you, do you remember? I’d had enough, I wasn’t thin enough and I wasn’t happy, I still wanted someone to be there for me, but not you, you made me repulsive. But I didn’t drop you completely did I? I still needed part of you to make me feel better. Do you remember how you’d make me eat, more than I ever thought possible, everything I could get my hands on; all the while I felt nothing. It was amazing. I couldn’t give that up. You saw that and whispered in my ear. I heard you while I was eating my feelings. I knew what came next, what should come next, what you wanted to come next. But I didn’t give into you. Do you remember? Remember how malicious you’d get the next day. You knew the depth of me, my biggest insecurities and worst feelings. You knew just where to aim. You’d tell me how fat I was going to get, how I was no better than the woman across the road on a mobility scooter because her overeating had incapacitated her. You’d remind me of the sheer volume of food I ate last night and how greedy and disgusting that made me, think how many people are starving in this world , you’d say, think how many of them could have survived for so much longer on the food you devoured last night. Think how fat you’re getting right now. You’d make me feel worse than ever before, you’d make me feel so guilty I couldn’t or wouldn’t eat (I’m still not sure which is more accurate). I thought I could beat you like that, but what with all the time we’ve spent together you know my body better than I do. You knew what was coming even when I didn’t. You were there waiting when I caved, when I truly had to eat. You were there, reminding me how much better food made me feel, how good we were together, how much I needed you. I’d finish eating, feeling sick with the sheer volume of food mixed with guilt. You’d take my hand and lead me to the bathroom and help me undo everything I’d done when I caved. I knew you had me then.
I was yours completely, I lost all pretence of control. I ate when we felt down and I threw it back up on command. I felt awful every time. It was painful, and horrible. I felt such shame, I could only share it with you. I lived in a constant fear of someone finding out about you, but also hoping, hoping every time I left that bathroom that someone would be there, someone who would hug me and send you on your way. I’d thought you were giving me the love I craved, but it turned out you were just using me. Every meal time turned into a battle with you, how much would I eat? Whatever it was you made me feel guilty anyway, so I might as well give in to the release of food and eat everything, then you’d help me fix it. The problem with this side of you was that you were nowhere near as effective, I put on weight, I put on loads of weight. I felt and looked fat, so I turned to you more. But you’ve been consuming too much of my life. Carrying you round is burning a hole in me, you demand every waking thought. You continually fill me with guilt. You isolate me from my friends, you don’t let me trust anyone. You don’t let me work, you know I can’t do that properly so I might as well not try, we’ll stick to the things we’re good at eh.
But you know what, you’re wrong. You don’t love me, you need me. But I don’t need you anymore. This is going to be hard, hell it’s been so hard already, I miss you, I want you back. But I’m not going to take you back, I really won’t, not this time. We’ve had too many last times to count. But this time I mean it. Everything you told me was a lie. Sure you were always there, but you never had me and my best interests at heart. People aren’t infallible, they can’t be there like you can, but they care where you don’t. They love me, and they can even accept me with you in tow. See how wrong you were. I have friends, I’ve always had friends and I’ve always been loved, you just wouldn’t let me see that because then I wouldn’t need you. What about my weight? Well to hell with that, you weren’t helping lately anyway, and so what if I put on a few pounds? Yes I know I’ll hate it, I know I’ll feel disgusting and I’ll want you more than anything, but that’s where things have changed. I’m better than the person you make me, my life would be so much nicer without you in it I can’t even imagine. I dream of the day when you don’t whisper in my ear, when you aren’t sitting on my shoulder judging everything I do, slowly guiding me to a fall so you can catch me. I know that day’s coming and I’m not going to give up, not this time. I don’t need you anymore, you don’t just upset me, you upset the people I love. It took me stepping away from you to see that. And it’s not on. I’m leaving and never looking back, well maybe just a glance, but only to check you’re still far away.
I’m kind of sorry to part after all this time, I never meant to get here. I’ve loved you and I’ve hated you, but I’ve accepted now that you were a huge part of my life. This is goodbye, goodbye and thank you. Thank you and sorry, I should never have let you in in the first place, you don’t belong with people.
My dearest friend and worst enemy

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