You would alleviate the pain that threatened to overwhelm me and turn my flaws into perfection. You made me believe that if I let you come first in my life, you would make me a disciplined student, a successful musician, and a person in control – a person my parents and instructors could be proud of, that my love interests would desire, and that my rivals would envy. Unstoppable.

It’s only now after dragging myself and my loved ones through every circle of hell and finally committing to recovery that I see I couldn’t have been any more wrong. I see you now for who you are and who you’ve always been. You are a parasite who made my body your host as you leeched on the essence of my personality.

As you fed on my life, you grew bigger and stronger while I grew weaker. You stole my humanity until I was nothing but a robot under your command. You distorted my perception of the world to see food as the enemy and my body as a vessel for destruction.

You drained me of my very character. You kidnapped my quirks, my wit, my values… they were still inside me somewhere, but my eyes which once experienced life in vivid color were replaced with a black and white filter, and my lips were sewn shut by secrets of starving, binging, purging, and compulsive exercise.

You turned me from a passionate musician, a promising student, and an animated friend with light in her eyes and big dreams into a liar who was hateful and depressed and empty, just trying to fill the void with anything she could.

The story could’ve ended just like that, but it didn’t. I went to treatment countless times, but each time I was discharged from the hospital or rehab I would just retreat back into the “safety” of self-destruction. You were a leech with your teeth buried deep in my skin, but slowly I am becoming strong enough to pry you out. My life is no longer a ticking clock counting down until my mind and body give out.

I still clash with you every single day, but I refuse to let you steal my future or shorten my lifespan anymore. No more abuse. No more aching bitterness from longing to be good enough. No more crying in front of mirrors or losing my sanity trying to meet unrealistic, brutal standards meant to make me loathe myself. No more.

Instead of hugging toilet bowls, I’m now hug people who uplift me. Instead of losing weight, I’m now gaining life and happiness. Instead of counting calories, I now count smiles and times of genuine laughter. Instead of measuring my worth by the number on a scale or the inches around my waist, I measure my life in precious memories.

This is me saying goodbye, ED. You have overstayed you’re welcome, and I don’t need you to feel secure anymore. I am beautiful and empowered simply because this time, I choose recovery. You can have your “skinny”, but I’m choosing life.

What’s Your Story?

We want to give you a chance to share your story of learning to celebrate the beauty of your own unique body and soul.

Was there a major turning point in your eating disorder recovery where you finally accepted and appreciated your body? At what point did it happen, and what led you there? In what ways did it change your life?

Send a 500- 1000 word essay to [email protected] The first ten essays to be chosen for The Meadows Ranch blog will receive a free The Meadows Ranch blanket as a special gift!

Submit your essay by Jan. 15, 2017. We look forward to reading your incredible stories!