Unpacking my bulimia

Bulimia, Anorexia’s ugly, less popular little sister

One day my sister, my mom and I were walking out of the grocery store. My mom said, “don’t worry you’ll grow out of that baby fat”. It was if I had been hit by a MAC truck. Baby fat? I hadn’t realized my body needed to change. I was fourteen at the time and began my rollercoaster journey with food at that point. I was familiar with diets and exercise. My mom had done Weight Watchers before, but she was tall and thin, so it was often for those stubborn five pounds. My sister was a fitness fanatic and ate very little. I attempted to model my eating habits after hers. If I ate like her I would look like her. But I liked to eat and not eating was hard for me. I attributed it to my lack of willpower. I was weak and could not control my appetite. Pathetic. Yet another reason I was not like my sister. I was an active child, so I focused more on what I was really teased about, my looks. I was the ugly girl. I became preoccupied with dreams of how I could become one of the beautiful girls. My life would come together at that point. I would have friends, win homecoming queen and have sex. I was at a loss though. But I didn’t know how to change my looks, to be more appealing or beautiful. I tried makeup and bought clothes like the other girls. None of it worked. My life was still the same. So, I turned again to my weight. I tried once again to be an anorexic. But I sucked at it. That is when I learned about bulimia. I do not believe any eating disorder is glamorous. They all lead to a hard, painful, lonely life. But anorexia always looked so much more beautiful. In tv movies, models and ballerinas would have anorexia. They would be thin and frail and excel in whatever they were doing. I haven’t ever seen a movie where a girl succeeds after sticking her IMG_1326finger down her throat. After she bends down in front of a toilet, wiping bits of vomit off of her chin. Nope not the same. I was losing weight, but I still looked normal and I wasn’t the best. Why couldn’t bulimia be like anorexia? I, as I always had, felt like the ugly little sister. It wasn’t enough damnit. As if further proof was needed to show that eating disorders don’t work. After years of therapy I came to understand that bulimia was a way for me to punish myself through binging and then cleanse myself through purging. I had been bullied, teased, ridiculed and abused. My self-esteem was in the toilet. I was bad and the only way I could cope was to binge and purge. The binge hurt. I felt so full, stuffed. The purge was a relief. I felt empty, relieved. My recovery is rocky. I go for weeks without engaging, sometimes months and then I relapse. It isn’t about weight. I dig deeper. I may feel inadequate or frustrated with myself or fearful of my future. These feelings are familiar among all eating disorders. Relapse isn’t just for the ugly little sister. As we all go through recovery we struggle with learning to love ourselves, our bodies and accept our realities. Relapse can happen and that’s okay.