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When the pain gets great enough by Cassandra V.

I will never forget the day I got clean. I was more broken than I had ever been in my life. I hadn’t lost anything on the outside, but I was completely dead on the inside. I hated everything about me and everything I had become. At this point in my life I was willing to do anything, and so began my journey.

My clean date is April 27th, 2009, but I’m not here to talk about how I got clean. I remember thinking that when I got clean, this horrible eating disorder I had been suffering with my entire life was just going to go away. I remember thinking that once I put the drink down, all my other problems were just going to go away. That was the farthest thing from the truth. My first two months of being clean, I didn’t purge but I was beyond obsessed with myself, my body, and the way I looked.

Eventually, I started the horrible cycle of my bingeing and purging. It didn’t take long for me to start where I left off in my addiction: stealing food, buying food from multiple fast food places at one time, throwing up everywhere and anywhere I could, lying to people about what I was doing with my food, and being completely and utterly consumed with myself.

Every day I woke up and said that I was going to stop purging today and every day I threw up my food. I had no choice in the matter, it was the only way I knew how to live, it was the only way I knew how to stay skinny, and it was, for me, unacceptable to not be skinny. I threw up anywhere between 5 and 10 times a day and I lost a lot of weight very quickly. I also became very sick, very quickly, and this whole time I was trying to stay clean.

I look back on this time in my life and I have zero idea how I didn’t pick up a drink?? I had a sponsor and I was working Steps with her. I was honest with her about my bulimia and I shared about my everyday struggles. She was so loving and she never judged me, but she had no clue what to do with me. I was stubborn and I didn’t want anything to do with going back to treatment or going to food meetings. So I worked my Steps and threw up my food day after day after day. I was miserable and I was watching people around me enjoy their lives, enjoy being clean, and they were happy overall. I was the farthest thing from being happy and I was beyond resentful towards the fellowship and everyone in it. Something, though, told me that I needed to share my struggles and so I started to share at meetings about how I was clean but I was dying from bulimia. People were warm, loving, welcoming, and supportive. It was the first time I actually felt loved by others and felt like I could share my pain. My eating disorder, however, still kept me from getting too close to people, but I kept going to meetings, I kept sharing, I kept doing my Step work, and I talked to my sponsor every day. I didn’t have any relationship with a Higher Power because at that time I didn’t believe in God and wanted nothing to do with any of that.

Although I had all this going on, I had this feeling deep down in my gut that one day this was all going to get better if I just kept doing the next right thing, if I kept working hard on my Steps and if I kept getting honest with the fellowship.

Right before I celebrated my first year clean, I went to a women’s spiritual retreat. I finished a Fourth Step and something happened to me, something switched in my head. I guess you could call it a spiritual awakening but at the time I didn’t see that. I just knew something was different.

I celebrated my year clean and decided that things were going to be different for me. By no means did everything get better right away, but I started to make an attempt to stop putting my face in a toilet. I didn’t eat much and I exercised a lot in the beginning, but I didn’t purge and for me that was so huge. I had long stretches where life was like this, and then I would go back to purging again. This lasted for awhile, but for me the long periods that I had without purging were amazing and they were making me stronger and stronger to fight this illness.

Eventually I wasn’t purging at all, but the mental obsession with self and the endless thoughts of food were driving me crazy, so I decided that I needed to find something that was going to give me some structure. I found a food sponsor, I started to see a nutritionist, and I was weighing and measuring all my food. I broke my scale and got rid of all the clothes I was “going to fit into again one day.” It’s been a couple of years now since I have purged and I am beyond proud of that.

I don’t know how I didn’t drink through all of this. I guess I always knew in the back of my mind that if I drank I would never stand a chance against this illness. Most days are good for me, and others are really hard and I want to give up on everything. Sometimes I push my lunch back later then I should or I think about skipping a meal. I sometimes over-exercise out of fear, and I stand in front of the mirror and tell myself how horrible I am, even though I know I have no business doing that!

My point is, I am not perfect at this food thing, far from it, but I am proud of me and proud of the progress I have made. I am finally happy and I am doing a lot of different things to better my life! I am on my Fourth Step in the OA Workbook and look forward to finding out some things about myself and my eating disorder. I no longer let my eating disorder control my life.

I have realized over the years that the reason why I went through all of this was to be the voice of the eating disorder in the rooms. At meetings I talk about my eating disorder all the time and I am not ashamed of who I am. I believe that we need to talk about the eating disorder in the rooms more. So many women and men are clean or sober and they are dying like I was, and all they need is someone to listen, to hear them out and love them through their struggle.

I am proud of who I am and who I have become so far, and I have to thank God and the rooms for all that I am and all that I will continue to be.


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