The burden of being my family member or close friend and knowing about my eating disorder is, I perceive, astronomically high. If I let them in, it would be disastrous. Despite my desperate desire for support, I feel unbelievably guilty every time I take someone’s time to talk about this issue, in any way. I feel so guilty that immediately after I reach out, I swallow a huge pill of regret that sits in my throat for hours. I worry something I say will cause them to think I can’t handle or figure things out on my own. I dread being perceived as crazy, and not being understood. I also fear the opposite: someone thinking it’s no big deal at all, and writing it off as a phase or not important. Dropping the subject once I have gotten up the nerve to open my mouth, would be devastating. Which is why, even if I do say something, it is akin to pulling teeth to get me to continue. 

I am far too sensitive. My dad used to tell me exactly that frequently in my teens. I internalize everything you say. It doesn’t matter who you are, how long I have known you, or what our relationship is. If you say something to me that can be construed as any type of criticism, I will take it as such and use it to berate myself in ways that make the phrase “you are your own worst enemy” seem like the very least of someone’s demons. I am my own worst army.

Words resonate and cling inside me. Everyone’s words. This is why I cannot be great at anything. This is why I cannot share things I think I am great at. Because one person will criticize it, even in the slightest, most ghostly way, and I will still hear it, and only it and never move forward with whatever I was doing. If one person thinks it’s bad, than everyone thinks it’s bad.

I am so fearful that even when a close friend told me the other day that she felt like she couldn’t control how much she ate when she got home from work every day, I still couldn’t muster up enough courage to say, I know what that’s like. Not in a meaningful, honest way that could have been really awesome for both of us to have someone to lean on in a frustrating moment. Instead, I told her maybe she could call or text me next time she felt like that, and that maybe saying it out loud would make it real and stop the behavior. 

I think that works sometimes, for me. But I can’t use anyone like that. Even if they’ve offered. I feel like I only get one or two times and then I’ve used up all the money in the bank, and I have no idea how to make more deposits.   

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