I am a bulimic. I think of myself as a recovering bulimic, not as a cured one. Maybe, like alcoholics, we are never really cured, and bulimia is an addiction.
I've been in recovery for about a year, with several episodes of relapsing, but I try to envisage these episodes not as an indictment of my recovery, but simply as relapses that I get over. These usually occur in times of stress, such as during my breakup, or while preparing myself for my new school year. I'll eat a huge quantity of food and then purge.
Last year I started running to combat stress and embrace my body more. I thought that if I could appreciate my body for what it could do, I would stop abusing it-this is encouraged by therapists who practice cognitive therapy. I was following a hand book which uses cognitive therapy as guidance, and it helped me tremendously. This book would encourage me to compile reasons to enjoy my body outside of food. I decided to take up running because it is cheap and solitary. I loathe the idea of an exercice class.
A year later I am training for a half-marathon which will take place in a month. Running has become part of my daily life and has changed my way of coping with sadness and bulimia. It hasn't cured me, it hasn't made me into a perfect Sara, but it has relieved me and made me stronger. However, it has also changed my body in ways that I feel conflicted about: people compliment me on my fitter build, my parents applaud me not for enjoying it but because it has made me slimmer. I don't run to lose weight. I want to accept myself for who I am, without any reservation, and running doesn't change this goal. But when an eating-disordered girl is lauded for looking like she lost weight, it doesn't help her.
My goal this year is to stop listening to these voices. When someone compliments me on my body, I would like to be brave enough to correct them: I am stronger, not slimmer; I am happier and more relaxed, not more beautiful (whatever that means). I know people don't mean it negatively when they say such things to me, but it does contribute to an emphasis on my body as something that should be pleasing to others, not to myself.
LA ROBE LONGUE BRODÉE
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