It takes six little words feeding the eating disorder voice, to override a year of conversations nurturing the timid voice of recovery.

I don’t like eating disorder patients

Why would someone feel the need to say that out loud? We all have a million thoughts run through our head. In polite society they aren’t supposed to actually dribble out our mouths. Do you realise your skirt doesn’t actually cover your butt? I can smell the sweat from your hairy armpits. Your son’s a right little shit.

It’s not hard to keep your mouth shut when an unnecessary thought whizzes by. Although I noticed as my grandmother became very old – and she lived to be a very respectable 98 and two thirds – she started to vomit out a lot of thoughts that I suspect (hope) would have remained unspoken in years gone by. Perhaps freedom of expression made her feel freer, but it certainly didn’t offer any sense of freedom to the recipients of her free reign of thought.

Upon hearing of my unlikeability as an eating disordered person, I promptly slumped into a regressive pity party. Those six little words echoing endlessly, inflating the ego of the barely suppressed eating disorder until it was puffed up like a porcupine fish – popping all the little pearls of hard-earned wisdom tenuously floating by.

Ed the Eating Disorder voice has lived inside my head for five decades.

Honing skills. Mastering craft. Manipulating thoughts, situations and events until everything about my existence is crafted by Ed. Everything. And Ed’s priority is how I look. How I look was determined by my mother. And those looks were determined by perimeters physically impossible for my body’s predetermined genetics. Ed wins. Simone loses.

Over the past few years I’ve been learning new ways of thinking, practicing new ways of believing, experimenting with new ways of behaving. It’s unfamiliar. Foreign. Little Simone with the golden curls finding her voice. And she’s not very good at it. Six little words from a voice of authority and she’s back in her box, silenced.

Onlookers stare and wonder why.

Why can’t I just let the words wash over? Let them go. Focus on things I’ve learned and forget about a handful of words from someone who should know better. It isn’t that easy. Those words feed a voice that hungers to be back in the spotlight. Voila. Centerstage with a microphone and a willing audience of one. Those six words give strength and courage to an ego that needs little encouragement, and collapses the faith of a voice that’s inexperienced and unpracticed. The scales aren’t yet balanced. Small waves unsettle the equilibrium.

I don’t like Ed. He sucks. But he’s also familiar and safe. He makes promises I believe. He’s delivered on a lot of them. As time goes by, my job is to teach the girl with the golden curls how to stand in the spotlight with the microphone, work that audience and deliver better promises. To balance the scales forever.

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