Meet ED. He’s a complicated guy. A friend. But kind of not. He’s brought some things into my life that I really love. And some fairly dark, hard things too. In some ways, he’s been extremely helpful. I have welcomed his arrival. But he has also (possibly) attempted to destroy me. Maybe. That’s ED. That’s the kind of guy he is. It’s a complex association. Fairly dysfunctional. We’ve had two very intense relationships during my lifetime. The first time I met him, I was in my mid-twenties. Young, but still older than most who meet him for the first time. Guess you can call me a late bloomer. I had just learned that my new husband didn’t love me and I was totally crushed. That’s when ED stepped in to fill the gap. He introduced me to his friend, Restricting. And to their mutual friend, Excessive Exercise. Next thing I knew, I was running 13 to 15 miles every morning, walking for an hour every night, doing another hour of general exercises and counting the number of croutons I allowed myself to have on my salad. I had a 30 minute window in which to eat each meal. If I couldn’t eat within the window I had set for each meal, I didn’t eat. The last time I weighed myself during that first relationship, I was down to 84 lbs., but I lost more after I stopped weighing. And I felt so powerful! If I hadn’t broken my hip running when I was in my mid-30’s, who knows what would have happened. But that injury effectively ended my ability to fraternize with Excessive Exercise and when we parted company, it became extremely difficult to keep the weight off, even though Restricting was still in my life. I was eating 500 calories every other day and still gaining weight. Sadly, Restricting’s friendship alone wasn’t enough for me any more. The pounds accumulated, I hated myself again, lost all my power. Then Restricting pushed me away, though I longed for renewed closeness with every passing day. I gained more. Spiraled out of control. And longed for my old friends. I finally leveled off, stayed at a “normal” weight and managed to maintain for quite some time. I averaged about a size 8. Hated it. Hated myself. Hated being “normal,” though it was better than being fat. And when the weight started creeping up again with age, I became more and more unhappy with myself. I always watched what I ate. My calorie intake, thanks to Restricting’s distant association, was still low. But the pounds continued to grow and I was no longer able to run or do much more than walk briskly due to the nerve damage I sustained from the hip injury that occurred while I was best friends with Excessive Exercise. I was in complete despair by the time I had to start buying size 16 clothing. And then size 18. And then size 20. I thoroughly loathed myself, but nothing I did seemed to make a difference. My relationship with ED was in shambles. I wanted him back, but didn’t know how to reach him. Then, after 22 years of marriage, my (now ex) husband told me he had fallen in love with another woman. He waffled back and forth for several months, trying to decide if he wanted to leave me or attempt to save our marriage through marriage counseling. I wanted us to try. I thought perhaps this crisis would do what I hadn’t been able to do before, which was to bring us closer together. But eventually he decided I wasn’t worth the effort. He just wanted out. And so, on 9/11/2003, we were divorced. Two weeks after he made the decision to abandon ship, my church, where I had attended for 14 years and sang on the worship team for 13 years, was yanked out from under me when the pastor announced the team was no longer relevant and we were too old. Oh, and we were insincere, or so he said. He determined the youth could not relate to us, even though we sang all the popular worship songs you heard on the radio. He decided we would have to find another outlet, another place to serve. I was crushed, especially considering what was going on in my life, and left the church, feeling unwanted and abandoned, my heart in shambles. Then about a year later I lost my job because I refused to do something that was illegal. The division president of the company I worked for let me know I would be terminated for insubordination if I didn’t comply with his demand to withhold pay from a person he was angry with. I was in anguish, trying to decide what to do, but integrity is something you either have or you don’t. I kept mine. Still, it took me over 1-1/2 years to find another job and I almost lost everything in the process. Then my dog died. At that point, I had nothing to live for. No job, no money and no little furry friend to love, who loved me. So I tried to kill myself. Failed. Couldn’t even succeed at getting myself off the planet. That’s when ED came back into my life. And I got back in close contact with Restricting. I also met a new friend of theirs…Purging. With Restricting and Purging on my team, the pounds fell off. I was ecstatic! Something good was finally happening in my life! I went down, down, down…said goodbye to 20, then 18, then 16, then 14, then 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2…finally reaching size 0. Relief. Overwhelming relief flooded my heart. The tiny person I had always felt hiding inside of me was back! ED likes me thin; skinnier the better. And I like myself that way too, so we get along famously. But by the time I hit 90 lbs., I was encountering some physical difficulties I didn’t experience when I was younger. This time, probably because of Purging, I would suddenly be unable to stand up or remain standing. My muscles simply didn’t respond. I had a new Miniature Schnauzer, Zoe, purchased for me by a very special friend. A couple of times, when I let her outside to do her business, I drunkenly stumbled to the yard and fell unceremoniously to the ground because I was too weak to stay upright and my muscles weren’t working. And I wasn’t drunk! Each time, I eventually managed to crawl back inside the house. But I didn’t yet understand all the dynamics of what was happening to me (I later learned about low potassium and sodium). I thought I was dehydrated, so drank water, which pretty much made things worse. But I did let myself have some food. Made it through. It was scary stuff. And that’s when I met Binging. With Binging, Purging and alternatively, Restricting working with me, by taking supplements, I was able to get stronger, yet still stay fairly thin (105 lbs.). I’m not totally happy with the weight; in fact, it scares the crap out of me to weigh this much. But ED and I are working on a plan to get me back to 90 lbs. This time, I need to do it in such a way that I won’t find myself flat on my back in my back yard unable to stand up. Or find myself having to go to the emergency room by ambulance. I just need to distance myself from Binging and embrace Restricting a bit more and I think I can do it! Yeah, I’m in counseling. I’m told I need to leave ED behind, but he has been one of my only close friends, he has helped me greatly, and I really don’t know if I can part with him. I do want to find Balance. Balance is good. But I want to be balanced and weigh less than 100 lbs. So ED and I are trying to find a way to get what I want, what he wants and still have enough strength to get through the day. Keeping my job is important. The one thing I know with great certainty is this: I must not gain any more weight! I must lose! I can tolerate myself if I’m 104 lbs. But not 108. Not 110. And certainly not anything greater than that! I need to be as far away from overweight as I can get. ED’s going to help me with that. I pray he doesn’t let me down…I need his help to get there. And to stay there. To stay there, where it’s safe. Where I’m almost invisible. ED doesn’t make my problems go away, but he does make me able to face the next day. So even though ED likes me really teeny, close to the edge of death, he is actually the only reason I’m able to tolerate being alive. And honestly, what more can you ask for from a guy?