Rex Emerson Jackson
Nov. 5, 2015, 9:02 p.m.
Dear 2005 Me,
I have been fighting anorexia for more than 10 years. It was getting to the point where I thought anorexia was going to be present for the rest of my life. If you are where I was, fighting and falling and wanting to give up, have hope. Recovery is possible.
There are moments that still feel strange for me; moments when the memory of the eating disorder quails in the bottom of my gut, like running into an old friend and getting that up and down look. Or when I take a piece of regular calorie bread out of the bag and marvel at its substance. This includes that strange renegotiating that some of my friendships needed now that I’ve changed. I’ve changed- and the dynamic between myself and the world has also changed. It’s a little scary.
But there are also moments that feel amazing; like going to the store and actually buying myself new jeans instead of sticking to thrift store finds, because this time I can rely on myself to stay one size instead of continually shrinking out of my clothes. There are also moments when I feel passion in my belly and I realize that I have interests now. There are things that stir me into action that are more fulfilling than pursuing empty numbers. I also enjoy evenings when I go out for dinner with friends, which is something that I would avoid in the past and make excuses. Now, there are weeks when I am so social that at the end of it, I sink into my couch and wonder who this extroverted person is that seems to have taken over my body. I can do things on the spur of the moment; see an event on Facebook and think, “hey, I’d really like to go to that” and actually follow through. I have always liked being around people, but the eating disorder changed me into a nervous wreck who couldn’t stop worrying about what other people might think of him.
I have grown into someone who is confident, unapologetic, and alive. I look back on years of treatment and some of the lessons I tried to learn years ago are taking root. For the first time, I see recovery as something I can maintain. It’s a place I want to be. And the most important lesson I learned was that when I thought I was making myself better – a better person, a better son, a better actor – I was really robbing myself of the chance to truly be me. I’ve learned that my failures don’t define me as a person. I’d rather fail out loud, than hold it inside and never let it out.
This may sound very rosy, I know. It’s hard to believe that after dealing with an eating disorder for so long, things can be so good. I’m not saying that I don’t struggle. Every day I still make that choice to stay in recovery. I can’t foresee the future, and I’m sure I will experience ups and downs; but I’ve surrounded myself with good people, and what’s even better is that I know I am a good person as well.
You hear that, me? You are a good person. You may not know it yet, but trust me on this. It gets better. There are cats, and tea, and friends, and music. You want those.
Rex Emerson Jackson has a BA in Theatre and Film and is currently finishing a BA in Music. He lives in Hamilton with his cat, and enjoys poetry, singing showtunes, and making tea. He enjoys advocating for mental health and has published poetry and released an album along these themes. You can see more at rexemersonjackson.ca