I had eaten my fair share of birthday goodies.
Self-loathing and hate towards my body enveloped me entirely in that one moment. And I remember having a very clear and decisive thought that seemed to burrow down into my very core:. And so it began: ED—the name many people use to refer to their eating disorder. I could go on about how it started innocently at first, and gradually got more and more severe. I could tell you numbers and compulsions, habits and food-related fears I have grappled with over the years.
And all of those things are important. My whole life until that point had been a back-and-forth game of feeling completely and totally unloved by the one person who should have cherished me and loved me the most—my dad.
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There was no physical abuse, but verbally and mentally my home was a living nightmare to me. And each time there was another incident, I was left cowering in my room, crying and feeling out of control—my young, naive self scared, alone, and not sure how to process everything going on around me. I would hear his apologies and hesitantly daring to believe, yet again, that things might actually change this time. Venturing to hope that I would see and feel his love. The eggshells we walked on always broke again as his rage and anger towards who knows what was taken out on us.
I was at an all-time low, even though I had been through worse before. It was the end of my senior year of high school, and I was undergoing more stress than I thought I was equipped to handle at the time. My boyfriend was my entire support system because of a growing distance between myself and my parents and the lack of support from people I thought were my friends at the time. It had to have been killing him. I understand that, emotionally, I was a lot to handle. I have had a very difficult human experience in my nineteen years and high school was the peak of my inability to handle it.
Everyone knows it — something about high school just psychologically burns you out. Even the honors students are suffering. I should know, as I was one of them. I went to the International Science and Engineering Fair twice out of four years and took fourth place my senior year. I took countless concurrent enrollment and AP classes and worked a full-time job.
I was not happy, as much as I wanted to be.
My boyfriend, though I didn't realize at the time, was my main cause of unhappiness. We were two fundamentally different people, and I had to sacrifice a lot of the person I was to make our relationship functional. It went far past the point of compromise — he would not budge and I was bending over backwards trying to make him love me like he used to.
I wanted to have his baby because I thought it was going to make him love me again. In short, I met somebody else — the man I am with today. Breaking up with my boyfriend was still one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. We had been together for three years, and I had invested a lot of time, money, and energy into the relationship.
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I had become so much a part of our relationship that I didn't know who I was without him. I felt so entrenched in his life that I was unsure if I would be able to separate from him and start all over again. My current boyfriend was incredibly patient and kind through all of this, and understood when I told him I needed time to find myself before we could be together. It wasn't that I fell in love with somebody else — it was that I met somebody who made me realize I could be loved as I was, and I wanted that. I wanted to be loved, and to be a strong woman.
My ex-boyfriend never allowed me the autonomy to become as independent and strong-willed as I am now.
After I broke up with my boyfriend, I didn't know what to do. We swore to stay friends, and we didn't make too many changes all at once. The first few weeks I cried often, and thought about going back on my decision. I remember driving home from a concert with my best friend and suddenly bursting into tears for no reason.
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I felt alone in the world, even though I had my best friend and the man who would become my new boyfriend. I felt stripped of everything I had. I felt as though the boy I had dated for three years had taken everything from me. He was everywhere I looked. He was in my clothes and in the air. He was in my car and my music and my dreams.
I couldn't get rid of him, as hard as I tried. This honestly sounds really dumb — but there were a lot of things my boyfriend and I disagreed on about my clothing and I realized I wanted to dress like myself instead of dressing like his girlfriend. I bought a new jumpsuit that I looked great in. He hated jeans with holes so I bought two new pairs. I bought a sleeveless dress I have to wear braless. I bought two crop tops. I started to wear these clothes and I started to feel better. I got a tattoo. It's just a little one, the constellation Cassiopeia on the back of my right shoulder, but it has significant meaning to the connection between my baby brother and I.
My ex also hated tattoos, and made me promise against my will that I would never get one, even though I really wanted them.
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It sounds dumb, again, but he made me feel like I was a bad girlfriend if I didn't agree with him about these things and let him be in control. I began to take a yoga class over the summer because I knew I needed something to distract myself. The teachings about chakras and balance, both physical and mental, were the lessons that really began to stick for me.
I loved yoga as a form of exercise, but the positive psychological effects I was seeing and the closeness I felt with my body were really what I needed at that time.