Now don’t get your hopes up. This isn’t going to be a post revealing the ins and outs of every relationship, fling or sexual encounter I’ve ever had but rather a post explaining how having an eating disorder has completely altered my perception of dating – yeah, not so saucy right? Sorry.
I’ve always been a flirt (a skilled one at that if I do say so myself) and ever since the age of 14 I’ve been involved with boys. Nothing illegal. Promise.
I never imagined the day would come however when the idea of a date filled me not with bubbling anticipation but rather unpleasant, conflicting emotions. That’s what an eating disorder does to you. It strips you of your identity, confidence and lust for life and love.
I recently got contacted by a boy I used to know, returning from being abroad and wanting to ‘catch up.’ A few months ago I would have jumped at this opportunity (bearing in mind he’s drop-dead-bloody-gorgeous and I did always harbour a soft spot for him) but then it dawned on me…he hasn’t seen me in over a year…and I’ve changed, right? For the worse.
Living with anorexia on a daily basis brings obvious challenges, however one thing I have found to be surprising is the need to constantly remind myself that I do not look as I should. Luckily I don’t suffer from body dysmorphia but, having said that, living with a body with protruding bones for months on end has become my ‘normal.’ You would think that feeling that ever-present ache of limbs against hard surfaces would remind you that your body isn’t exactly looking particularly sexy right now, but nevertheless, I was shocked and saddened to have to consider this from a (potential) date’s point of view.
Yet alongside my acknowledgement that perhaps I really should turn down this tempting invitation (I am technically ill after all,) arose the question that if I do refuse, am I not denying myself an evening of excitement and buzz? Something I haven’t experienced in far too long I assure you.
You can probably tell that I am still conflicted over what to do writing this post, and despite my best efforts, any sense of clarity has not yet surfaced. I don’t know anyone personally suffering with an eating disorder, let alone a sufferer who is willing to talk all things dating, and so I find I honestly feel quite isolated in where to turn. A few months ago my most trusted girl friends would have been right there next to me as we discussed what to wear (combining practicality with style), what makeup would suit me best and our current preferred conversation starter. As I stand now however, I’m not sure they would relate so much to the anxious anorexic who yearns for a date but is all too aware of the fact that her bum has disappeared and will no longer fill out her favourite and most trusted pair of jeans…
Meanwhile, my friends are off clubbing around Europe…no doubt surrounded by handsome suitors at every turn, living their love lives (as free adolescents with zero responsibilities) to the full.
All this leaves me with a question: Does having anorexia really mean that not only can I not go interrailing, but I have to turn down a date too? Surely not…or maybe I need to come to terms with the reality of my situation.
*Sighs* That’s enough rambling for now.
Yours sincerely, the (very conflicted) flightless bird, looking for answers.