I'm Finally Stronger Than My Disordered Eating

by Karen Szabo
Originally Published: 
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If only you knew.

How deep my need to be skinny really went.

How I struggled, trying desperately to play off my obsession to be thin and perfect.

How awful the conversations in my mind were, and sometimes still are.

Staring at the photoshopped pictures in magazines wondering how I could achieve the perfection in these photos was a constant for me.

These bodies were the ideal bodies that I wanted so badly.

The ideal bodies I knew weren’t real, yet still dreamed about.

In 2006, I was twenty-seven, living on the other side of the country, and I was down to my lowest weight.

In all honesty, I was the happiest I’ve ever been with the way my body looked.

If only he knew.

I had only met my boyfriend — now husband — seven months prior, and I was already at a low weight. There was no way he could know the lie I was living, and I wasn’t about to tell him the truth.

But the truth was, I was not naturally this skinny.

I was average sized, with hips and curves in all the right places.

But I was not having it.

I was not loving it.

And I was certainly not looking at my body with pride and confidence.

To me, my body was a vessel that wasn’t perfect and I needed it to be.

It wasn’t slender like a straight rod. It was bumpy like hills in the countryside.

It needed to be smaller. Skinnier. Prettier. Better.

If only you knew.

Being skinny has been a goal of mine since the time I remember ever making goals. It was always an obsession. It was always on my mind.

“If only my ribcage didn’t stick out so much”

“If only my hips weren’t so wide”

“If only my butt was smaller”

When I started going through puberty, I thought that I could squeeze my separating hips back to those pre-pubescent days. I thought if I wished hard enough while pushing my hips inwards, someone in the clouds would hear my call and I’d be magically “cured.”

If only you knew.

My thoughts were rampant.

Weight defined me. It said who I was.

My worth was dependent on how small I could become.

And small is what I became.

Confidence grew in me like a plague every time I saw a rib jutting out.

Pride foolishly fulfilled me every time I measured my arms.

I was doing it! I was becoming as skinny as I could be and I relished in it.

But my soul was hurting.

It was hungry.

It didn’t want to fight with me anymore.

It took a while, but I slowly regained the weight, and then some.

I felt like I was being punished for my bad choices by gaining more.

I felt like I didn’t deserve the body I so badly wanted.

Eventually, with the support and love from my friends and family, my body — the body I had before I started abusing it — slowly returned to me.

But it’s not the end.

The thoughts are alive and well in my mind; I think they always will be.

I get some reprieve, but they always find their way back to me, like a pathetic stalker of sorts.

There are good days and bad days.

But the difference now is that I have perspective.

I have awareness.

I’m stronger than my body dysmorphia.

I’m stronger than my disordered eating.

I am stronger than I ever gave myself credit for.

And I’m beautiful the way I am.

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