Please note Dear ED is not Dear Erica Diamond. It is a letter written by Marci Warharf-Nadler to her eating disorder. In writing this letter seven years ago, Marci was finally closing a chapter in her life– letting go of a destructive past. Marci was kind enough to share this candid letter with us, in hopes of shedding light on the destruction of eating disorders. In sharing this letter, she also shows us the raw process of letting go of belief systems that no longer serve us, and how writing can be a cathartic process to overcome suffering.
In Marci’s words (to clarify below): Billy was my older brother who died when he was 21 and I was 17. (My father left when I was 10 years old, so Billy became the male role model in my life and I adored him). My mother died from breast cancer when she was 56. My mom and I were insanely close and she died while I was pregnant with my first born. I got sick in 2000 with an illness that confused my doctors and nearly killed me. I had one son at home (Dylan, 16 months old) and I was 5 1/2 months pregnant with my second son (Jackson), who couldn’t handle what was going on in my body and didn’t survive. (FYI, I did get pregnant again and had my youngest son Logan, a year later. Both my boys know about the brother they had but lost).
A Letter To My Eating Disorder by Marci Warhaft-Nadler
Thank you for showing up when Billy was dying. When the pain was so deep and so strong I thought I might die too. Thank you for giving me something else to focus on besides his empty room and my empty heart. Thank you for staying with me for years afterwards when life seemed so cruel and unfair and facing it was just too hard. You gave me somewhere to hide.
Thank you for tricking me into thinking that you were gone when I met Rob so I could meet this amazing man without you getting in the way, and for hiding when I was pregnant so I could enjoy my children, and so my mom could die with a sense of peace, believing that I’d be ok.
And thanks for coming back when life got tough again; when the traumas hit fast and hard and I needed to escape. Thanks for taking the blame when I lost myself and did things I will forever regret at your urging.
But now you need to go.
I know it’s hard to take me seriously since I’ve tried to break up with you before, only to reach out to you each and every time things got tough. I don’t blame you for wanting to stay because life was never boring when we were together, but you saw how much pain you were causing me and refused to leave. If you loved me, you’d have let me go years ago.
It’s taken me 20 years to see that with all you’ve given me, you’ve taken away so much more. I can’t begin to imagine how many people you pushed out of my life and how many experiences I missed out on just because you wanted me all to yourself. You systematically knocked down my dreams like bowling pins, leaving me feeling scared and alone. No matter how many people told me they loved me, yours was the only voice I heard telling me I wasn’t thin enough, pretty enough or smart enough and that I wasn’t a good enough person to merit a place in this world, especially after mom and Billy died. I didn’t deserve to be here taking up a spot that should have belonged to one of them.
I thought we were done when I spent 2 months in the hospital fighting for my life from an illness that my doctors thought I wouldn’t recover from. I was pregnant and ended up losing the baby in my belly and feared I’d never get to see or hold Dylan, the 16 month old little boy I had waiting for me at home. When I survived, I swore I’d never waste another second of my life on you, but at the first sign of weakness you were back.
Well, I’m not weak anymore. I am strong and getting stronger by the minute. I don’t need you anymore. I’m ready to face my life and begin healing. I have the tools I need to block you out forever. I thought you took my pain away, but you were just burying it deep down where it could cause the most damage. I’m ready now to live without you. I’m hoping that you will let me go without too much of a fight. You served your purpose and now it’s time to set me free.
This time, it really is goodbye.
About Marci Warhaft-Nadler…
Marci Warhaft-Nadler is a body image advocate, founder of the Fit vs Fiction workshops and author of The Body Image Survival Guide for Parents: Helping Toddlers, Tweens and Teens Thrive. After overcoming her own severe body image and eating disorder issues, Marci created her Fit vs Fiction school workshops to tear down the dangerous myths related to beauty and fitness and empower kids with the self-esteem they need to tune out negative messages and be proud of who they are instead of judge themselves for who they think they’re not. Marci believes that we need to spend less time telling kids how to be skinny and more time teaching them how to be healthy.
If you have any comments, thoughts or questions for Marci, she will be reading. I hope this letter perhaps makes you introspective about your own life. If you are sitting on a secret, if you are suffering in silence, I hope this post shows you another way. Help and support are all around, if you just seek it out. Life is about taking that first, no matter how small.