A letter written by a caregiver to her partner’s eating disorder
Dear ED, How dare you.
How dare you turn my partner into something I no longer recognize. You make her selfish, which she is anything but. You make her hide things from me, yet I am the only person that knows everything about her.
How dare you shame her.
How dare you tell her that she is not enough. That she is not worth it. That she is dirty.
How dare you make her live in a world full of fear when she is so full of nothing but love and empathy for people. How dare you.
How dare you make her want to crawl out of her skin. How dare you make her want to be just skin and bones in order to be invisible. How dare you take her voice away from her when she is full of knowledge and insight that should be shared with the world.
How dare you break her down into nothing and take her away from me. How dare you make me miss her so much although she is physically standing right in front of me. How dare you be an illness that very few people understand limiting the amount of people that I can confide in. How dare you separate us when we are supposed to be building our lives together. How dare you keep me up at night wondering if she’s okay. How dare you make me pull over to the side of the road and cry alone in my car. How dare you make her so scared and anxious to put anything in her body and take away the joy of food. How dare you make me tell her to take two more bites of food and act like her mom when I am supposed to be her equal. How dare you make me get so mad, frustrated, and disappointed at her just because you embody her.
Shame on you ED. Shame on you for making me scared that she may not wake up the next morning because you made her destroy herself physically and mentally. Shame on you for making me navigate our broken mental health system alone without my partner and best friend. Shame on you for showing me a glimpse of hope, of “normalization” only to completely tear it apart and put our future farther and farther away from us. When will you leave us? Our lives are supposed to be beginning, but instead they’re on hold.
Why won’t you just leave her alone? Her head is full of you. Full of distortions. Full of torturous thoughts.
Please I beg of you just let her be. Your thoughts are a waste of time. She could be spending this time creating and giving back to the world and making it a better place and filling it with joy and happiness, but instead she’s stuck with you. She’s stuck attending to your needs and your desires. Have you ever thought about what she wants? About all that she can give to the world without you present? Please just let her go. I can’t bear to live with you for another day. I’m so tired of fighting you. I just want to be with OJ, just OJ, just as she is without you in her head taking away from our time together. I am ready to continue to grow with her and discover all that we can do together, without you.
About the Author: Jamie Dannenberg (CJ) is the primary carer of her partner, also named Jamie but referred to as OJ, who is in recovery from an eating disorder. As the partner of someone with an eating disorder and a registered dietitian, CJ has had to learn to navigate various roles in their relationship. With OJ, Jamie has become involved in global advocacy work and together they share their experience as a queer couple in recovery on their blog thirdwheelED. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.