I am not really sure how I even got to this point. I mean, looking back on the situation, I do not understand it myself. It feels as if I am telling a fictitious story rather than a personal account of my own life. As if the person I used to be is not even myself anymore, but  in the best way possible.

I can look down at my pink fingers typing away on my laptop and remember the purplish, boney limbs of the fingers that once took their place. I can look down at my thighs, much healthier than the sticks of skin and bone that used to barely touch when I sat down. I can pinch the excess skin around my midsection.

Four months ago that would not have been possible. I can look in the mirror and see healthy skin on a healthy body and finally smile. I cannot say that I love every inch of myself yet, but I think that’s the beauty of it: recognizing your flaws and still loving yourself anyway. At least I’m getting there.

Perhaps I should explain things before I get too ahead of myself. I am not exactly sure when I developed such a negative self-image.

I can remember points in my childhood when I watched my mother weigh herself. She was flawless-so I did not understand the concept of a number defining someone.

I can recall waking up at sunrise to power walk the neighborhood circle with my best friend and her mother. I simply wanted to put on my Mary-Kate and Ashley sports bra and flaunt in front of the boys my age. It took me a while to realize that we did not walk for fun. We walked to “shed the pounds.”

Even from a young age, I never heard my mother — or any woman for that matter — say, “I love my body.” I always watched people pick themselves apart. I grew up learning that there were always parts of us that could be “perfected.”

I remember my 15-year-old self, crying as my father chose my stepmother’s lies and deceit over his own child. I walked away from my father’s house that day, after many years of rejection, for the final time.

I imagine this situation has a great deal to do with poor self-image as well. I mean, if I cannot even be good enough for my father, my own bloodline, whom could I ever be good enough for?

Seventeen was a good year for me. New friends brought a whole new crowd and a new lifestyle I had never been around before. I went to my first parties and drank my first beer. I fell in love, and not just the middle school ‘I love you’ after 3 days kind of love. I fell in love with my best friend that year.

I found myself sneaking out to see him and getting in trouble for PDA in the hallways. He was the stereotypical bad boy who stole my heart in just a matter of days.

The closer we got, the more I wanted to perfect myself for him. The only single moment when I reflect on my whole life, that I wish I could go back and change some things.

As I fell more in love, my self-image went the opposite direction. I will never blame him, for he only showered me in compliments every single day. However, I never could picture myself as good enough to date the boy that “every girl wanted.” It was at the age of 17 that I first dabbled with an eating disorder.

What makes surviving so hard is an eating disorder is not simply a choice like  many people think it is. It is a mental disorder. For me, it was a buildup of years and years of memories.

It did not make me happy; it made me numb. An eating disorder was not glamorous. It was a life shattering, life altering, life changing event in my lifetime, and I can imagine that only the really lucky people break free from it.

In the beginning the control was easy, and the high from it was incredible. The compliments I received from a tiny body only fueled me further.

My whole life fell in shambles and honestly, I believed losing more weight would only help. I would wake up with thoughts of food and it only became stronger as the day progressed. It became all that mattered.

Looking back I think the worst part of such an addictive habit was how close I became to it. The results were not worth it. Losing twenty-five pounds on a 5’3 frame was not worth losing my whole self.

When I lost the weight I also lost my sparkle, my personality, my desire for social life and my motivation in school.

Learning how to live without an eating disorder was so hard because it truly became my whole life. Having to leave it behind felt like killing a part of myself. As strange as it may seem, I did not know how to not hurt myself.

I lost complete control of my life except for my weight. My weight became the one aspect left of my existence that I could still have control over, and relinquishing that control was easily the hardest thing I have ever had to do.

I could not tell you the last time I weighed myself. It seems so silly now that I ever let a number define who I was. It was not even that long ago, but like I said it also seems like a fictitious story of a person I do not even know.

I still grieve over the time I spend obsessing over food and numbers, when I could have been reading, hiking, painting, dancing … loving life.