Hard to believe this all started almost eight years ago, but it did. It was not a gradual process for me; it took hold immediately and devoured my soul. There I was just trying to get by day to day and it hit me like a train. Sure there were signals; huge flashing neon signs saying watch out, call for help, turn around now. But, I saw none of it. I drove head on full steam ahead into Ed. And believe me it hurt like HELL. Sure it still hurts some days, but I’ve learned to separate myself and to be aware of the signals.
In 1998 I got married and thought this has got to be the happiest day of my life and it was. Then things changed and it wasn’t happy anymore. We didn’t communicate, we fought constantly and things turned for the worst and fast. I came to the realization that I did not want to be unhappily married and that I’d rather be unhappily single and learn to be happy again instead. I left my marriage, hoping that things would change. My hope was; my husband would realize he missed me and would come rescue me. He’d tell me to come home, that things would change and we’d live happily ever after. But, it didn’t happen that way, not event close. Divorce lead to depression and therefore depression lead to Ed. Things got messy real fast and I could no longer control the path of my life. Everyone else saw the signs; severe weight loss, anxiety and panic attacks. To me it was simple; I was just sad, broken hearted, this is what was wrong with me. (ELAPSED TIME)
OK, so maybe things weren’t great and counseling could help. I listened to reason (everyone else) and started seeing someone to cope with my depression. From day one she could not get over the fact that ED came to every visit and grew increasingly alarmed by this. I kept telling her, I’m here alone – no one else is with me. I’d look around and think this lady is crazy. But, she had a vision and that was the vision of me and Ed in a mental health hospital. So, I was carted off without consent to Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital in Schaumburg. I shouldn’t say without consent, apparently she was considerate enough to consult my ex-husband and ask him to do the dirty work. So for four months I had to be apart of this nonsense program. Sit in groups with other girls/women and the funny thing is each of them had a friend named Ed also. But hello, I didn’t have a problem remember. I attended therapy as told, went to the classes they wanted, hid in the back of discussion groups they made me go to, and slumped off to mealtime all for their sake. Forever this seemed to go on - sitting with and watching everyone else with their Ed discussing what should be done and how to get out of doing it. I heard and saw it all, so if I didn’t have a problem before this I sure did now.
I learned it all, saw it all and now was doing it all. My mentality was that of Ed and Ed alone. We headed down a very dangerous path together, one which I thought I’d never return. Betrayal, lies, manipulation – all of this was used to keep me in line. It hurt more than anyone will ever know, yet I was unable to help myself. Years of suffering and self-injury lay ahead and I was oblivious to a better way of life. I was in total isolation and very few family and friends were allowed in. Ed made sure everyone knew the boundaries and if they did not comply he’d push them away until I was all alone. I woke up in tears and I went to bed in tears, I hated life and myself. I wanted no one, yet was the loneliest person on the face of the planet. My destiny was to whither away in my small one bedroom apartment. No one would care what happened to me, no one would miss me if I were gone. It was things like this that were beaten into my head everyday Ed and I were together. It was what I deserved, he told me! I beat myself up daily inside and out. Food became the enemy and I followed Ed’s meal plan which was nothing for about four years. If forced to eat my motto was “what goes in must come out” and “I’ll fix it later”. I was energized by the low-low numbers on the scale and the tiny numbers on the labels of my clothes. I was happy about the newly protruding bones on my body and was proud of what I’d become. I was thin, childlike and Ed would take care of me. He promised me this and I believed him with all of my heart. I was happy to have someone taking care of me, looking out for me. I awoke to find I was good at something, making Ed happy. I aspired to be nothing more, to do nothing more. Cutting, burning, and scraping away my outer self – just so he could shine through even brighter. Who was I to disagree; I was just his puppet, an outer shell of the life he’d taken from me.
Yet something was missing, not just the weight either. I had read many books throughout my time with Ed. Tried many things to get rid of him and none of them worked. I kept buying the books and trying to do as they recommended. But, until you are ready to accept what is being asked of you and are ready to change none of this really matters. I did not realize I was ready for anything, until my purchase of “Life without Ed” How One Woman Declared Independence from her Eating Disorder and How You Can Too. It was written by Jenni Schaeffer http://www.jennischaefer.com/ with Thom Rutledge http://www.thomrutledge.com/books/default.asp?page=ed, published by McGraw-Hill Copyright 2004. I can’t explain why, but it made sense, all of it. Everything she said, how she felt about her relationship with Ed and how she came into recovery was inspirational to me. I somehow felt that if I tried as hard as she had that I too could “Declare Independence” from Ed. I tried other avenues of researching recovery and went online. I discovered that Jenni and Thom were having a workshop in Nashville, “The Divorcing Ed Workshop”. Hell, I’d been though divorce once and somehow survived that, maybe I should go for number two. I talked to my mom and she was happy to go with for support and to help keep Ed off the plane. We, Ed and I, battled about me going on this trip for months. He thought I should sit this one out, you know after all he’d done for me. But in the end, I won and was ready to start yet fearful to begin this journey. The venture was a three day workshop, full of group talks, art therapy classes and best of all Ed free days. It was A LOT of hard work, but worth every dollar and emotion I put into it. It was also the turning point in my relationship with Ed – I was ready for a divorce. Not any easy thing for sure, but I was ready for the fight.
It is now three years later and I’m actively working on recovery. I have some really good lawyers (friends and family) and as a team we were able to kick Ed to the curb. I work hard everyday to make the right choices, ones that keep me healthy and safe. It is not easy, but I do it anyway. I know he’ll most likely be lurking around my neighborhood, peering in my windows, knocking at the door and calling me all the time. But, I’ve learned I can ignore him and I’m happy to listen to myself instead. Today I am hopeful for the future and glad to be alive. I love my family and am thrilled to have such wonderful friendships. I adore my two cats, which have been with me every step of this journey and love me anyway. I am proud to be the very best aunt to the most precious niece and nephews in the world. I’m thrilled to have an opportunity to be a volunteer Big Sister, three years and counting. I am thankful to my roommate and all be has and does to help me kick Ed’s butt everyday. I am and will forever be grateful for the life I’ve been give. I know that I am loved and have much love to give. I am strong and know that I will fight ED for the custody of MY LIFE for many years to come.