I’m not a pyrotechnic, I don’t even like fire very much. I am however a master at lighting a match and burning bridges that join me to other people. I stand on one side thinking I am doing both of us good as I watch our relationship go up in flames and they stand at the other side helplessly. Some desperately try to squelch the flame and others wish they had lit the match themselves. Sometimes it only takes one match, sometimes it takes a hand-full. Occasionally, a person refuses to stand on their side of the bridge and blows out every match I light.
Often I don’t even know I am ruining a relationship until only ashes remain, other times I am aware and don’t care enough to change. Ignorance is bliss though, because now that I’m fully aware of my forest burning capabilities and social ineptitude, I have a complex that makes delving into friendships with anyone nearly impossible. Every new friendship is pathetically awkward as I try so hard to be “normal”.
In trying to hide my eating disorder from others, I am guarded and often silent. In social settings I deem myself toxic and poisonous; terrified to let people see all of me because if they really knew me they would know how truly awful I am.
As a child, I learned “children were to be seen and not heard”, which ignited a desperation to be seen and heard. I constantly attempted to be in the center of attention. I was the 10 year old who still tried to sit on laps. I was so very desperate to be told I was enough and I was loved. Instead, I was told to be quiet and settle down so as years passed I did just that. Now I’m hard pressed to let anyone in and when I do, I often respond like a leech. Even when I let someone hug me, I never want to be let go. Can they sense the sadness that fills my heart? Can they feel the healing power of their touch?
Sometimes I think having an eating disorder for so long and being in and out of treatment, I have forgotten how to simply be a person. I don’t know what it’s like to talk to people, to sit down and have a meal with people, or to spend a day without disordered thoughts and silent planning bombarding my brain. I want to be able to engage in normal relationships. I want to be able to share my struggles with others without them consuming the relationship entirely.
I want to show people all of me— the me that is far more than an eating disorder. I want to believe I am more: the dancer, the barista, the nanny, the veteran, the helper, the friend, the sister, the daughter, and a child of the King of Kings.
I don’t want to fear being toxic, I don’t want to run, I don’t want to keep lighting fires I wish I had never started. I want to read stories in the Bible about God’s redeeming power and claim every single one. I want to delve into relationships with an open heart and without a match box waiting to be lit.
Throwing Back the Pearl, Mallory Hood
People Pleasing #2, video resource
Life Without ED, book by Jenni Schaefer