“I am not my relapses”

My sophomore year of high school, I became extremely uncomfortable with how I looked and constantly compared myself to other girls in my class. I had permanent physical imperfections like a large scar down my chest from open-heart surgery and a scar on my leg from a benign bone tumor. I held insecurities from getting teased by my “friends”, never having any sort of a relationship with guys, and striving to do my best in the competitive atmosphere of an intense preparatory academy.

That year was the first time I purged. When my eating disorder first developed, I barely ate anything. When I did eat anything that I considered bad, I would “take care of it”. I dwindled down to a size where I could easily see the bones in my back and I was elated when a girl at school said I was “pretty in a fragile way”.

I wanted to look perfect and for a point I was extremely close to my goal. Eventually a good friend caught me purging, told her mother, and eventually the news spread back to my mom. Our confrontation was very dramatic as my mother revealed to me that she had an eating disorder when she was in high school as well. My habits momentarily subsided, and I began to eat more in order to satisfy my friends and mother who were aware of my problem and monitored me. Yet this brought me to a darker and more secretive state. Overeating would become a norm and I began to rely more on purging to fix the changes in my body. Mix in stress eating from the college application process, hormone changes that come from birth control, and the famed freshman fifteen. Damage control became a necessary burden.

I am now a sophomore in college and I don’t think that I have abstained from purging for longer than a two-month period since I initially began. However, I am much more secure in myself as a person, have amazing friends, receive attention from guys, am involved on campus, and truly can say I am happy most of the time. Yet this secret still lies inside. I am always striving for that perfection through how I act, how I dress, how I am perceived, and how my body looks.

I feel like a hypocrite as a leader and role model on campus as I preach body positivity and rejection of patriarchal beauty norms, yet adhere to them to such an intense and destructive degree.

I don’t want to be bulimic. I don’t want to always relapse. Yet what would I look like if I stop?