The First Step This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

December 9, 2012
By , Philadelphia, PA
Knowing that I made my mother cry was the worst feeling in the world. Knowing that I made my father cry was even worse. But more than the guilt, I feel anger. I should have checked my website history more carefully, I reprimanded myself. The only reason they even found out was because I wasn't careful enough. I glance back up at their crying faces, making myself cry too.

This is just another performance. If I cry and act ashamed, they will let it go, and I can go back to my routine.

“Why would you do this to yourself?” my mother sobs, and I'm afraid for a moment that I will get emotionally invested and give in to their pleas to stop. I make my lip quiver. More crocodile tears fall.

“You're beautiful just the way you are,” my ­father's voice is shaking. I off-handedly realize that this is the first time I've seen either of them cry. “You know that most of these people die, right? You don't want to die, do you?”

I open my mouth to answer but my mother jumps in before I can say anything. “Is this my fault? Is this because of something I've said to you?” My heart sinks in my chest. “Yes,” I want to say, even though it isn't true. In that moment, I want to place the blame on someone else, even if it does not belong there. But I know that I can't hurt my mother more. A meek “No” is all I manage.

This was last June, after my first year of high school. The day before it happened, my father opened my door, and I shut my laptop before he could see the screen. When I claimed I'd done that because he startled me, he said “Okay,” and I thought that was the end of it.

The next day, my father's suspicion led to the inspection of my web history. What my mother found was my account on an eating disorder support website – the only place where other people understood my OCD rituals with food and my self-hatred. They blamed my disease on this website. When they told me that the website was forbidden, I said quietly, “But a website can't teach you to hate yourself.”

I nodded solemnly when they said I had to see a therapist, and when they said they would send me to a treatment center if this behavior continued. I dreaded the day they would put all these commands into action.

What happened, or what never happened, is the reason I am thinking about this now. Back then, I thought I did not want help. I was perfectly content to continue in my harmful ways. Now I regret throwing away a year of my life on hatred and punishment, and I wonder where the plans for my recovery went. After that day, it was only brought up once. I never received therapy. They never shipped me off to a treatment facility.

I ate with them, and they thought I was getting better, but I was purging the minute I could get away from them. I still have not given this up completely. I realize that I cannot keep doing it forever, and it will ruin me if I let it.

Before anorexia and then bulimia, I had goals. Real life goals, not weight goals or the desire to make myself suffer. I still have those goals, beneath the disorders. I want to go to an Ivy League school. I want to do something impressive with my life. However, my habits have been slowly, but surely, returning to what they were before their intervention. I want to stop; I want this nightmare to end more than anything.

I'm beginning to realize that I cannot stop without help. For some reason, asking for help seems so much scarier than what I've done to myself for the past two years. Change is hard, especially when you're so accustomed to a routine.

Today I will face my fears and approach my parents. Do not be fooled; a large part of me is still full of self-loathing and the thoughts that started everything. This fight is nowhere close to over, and it will not be over for a long time, but I've taken the first step toward real recovery. This time I hope there won't be a relapse. This time, I am recovering for good.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

rheame said...
Dec. 31, 2013 at 3:35 am
I wish you well for life.i hope God gives you courage to accomplish your goals and all the best.
FaeNotMyName This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 22, 2013 at 5:32 pm
I hope all is going well and that you've been able to ask for help. As a fellow recoveree, I can tell you that having support and help is essential to recovery, and also that if you want to accomplish those things, you can't be purging. It's an addiction and therefore hard to quit, but it's a procress and you might find yourself slipping a few times. But that's totally normal. The most important thing is that you get back up on your feet afterwards and keep fighting to get yo... (more »)
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