Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Talking to, hearing from & forgiving ED - the empty chair experience.

I just left the class in which I had a chance to speak to her. I spoke about this proposed conversation during my previous blog entry, Talking to ED via the empty chair. [I never do this, but I would prefer for the readers to read that blog entry before this one]. As you have hopefully read in Talking to ED via the empty chair, I told you I was going to talk to her. I was going to tell ED that, although I appreciate her for all of the incomparable things she has done for me, I hate her.

In case you didn't know, I refer to my eating disorder in the third person - I explain this more in another blog that I will quote from below [Blogging in the 3rd person]:

"It is easier for me to speak of her as someone separate from myself because I feel she is truly another person. Her obsessive tendencies compared to my go with the flow attitude; her depressive outlook compared to my positive, self-actualizing outlook; her fake smile compared to mine aglow; her timid voice compared to mine in confidence ...its all so different. Like a she compared to a ME."

I still have so much anger towards my eating disorder, towards her. I desperately want to let that anger go so I can truly let her go. I want to be ME, I no longer want to even know her. I need to tell her that I hate her and I need to forgive her. I need to do this so I can allow myself to completely let go of her. She no longer serves me and I no longer want to serve her.

Well, today was the day I spoke to her using the empty chair technique I mentioned in Talking to ED via the empty chair. Although I did speak to her openly and truly, I have more to say. I have more to say and more to let out; I want to involve my readers.

Before I get into what I have to say to her, I have to first thank my readers. After the exercise I will summarize and expand on below, I immediately felt a need to write about it. I immediately felt a need to write about it so you could experience it with me. I feel connected to my readers and I feel that my best therapy comes from opening up to you - whoever you are. And for that, I could never thank you enough.

A preface to the Empty Chair:

Before I began to speak to my eating disorder, my group members and I sat in a circle. My faux-therapist brought up that he felt I may have some unresolved issues with my eating disorder and invited me to speak to her, to tell her how I feel. He asked me to speak to the chair he moved in front of me as if it were her. He invited me to tell her exactly how I feel, right now, today, in this moment... to tell her.

Maybe you won't be surprised, but it is easier for me to get my complete thoughts out in writing rather than aloud. The following is what I told them, and then some. The following is what I have been wanting to tell her for quite some time...

Empty Chair - commence:

It's been a long time since you completely consumed me. I have been clean from you for well over a year now. When I talk about you, I almost always praise you. I praise you for all you have done for me. I praise you for the first hand knowledge I have because of you. Because of my experience with you, I know the inner workings of and the inner struggles caused by being consumed by you.
I know the reality of you and I know the realness of the pain and torment and guilt and shame and exhaustion that comes with you. I know what its like to have to hide you from the world; I know what it's like to be deathly afraid of your reveal; it is terrifying to know that someone might catch on to you.

Because of this, I know what it is like to live in a complete and elusive facade. 
Because of you, I am able to truly understand and relate to those who suffer or have suffered from a disorder like you. This experience and my ability to truly understand is something money cannot buy and textbooks cannot teach. I have an advantage now because of you. And for that, I endlessly appreciate you. I appreciate having known you and I believe you were in my life for an indisputable and divine purpose, reason and cause...

I am so humbled by the knowledge and purpose you have brought to my life. I am truly so thankful for that.

I hate you.
As much as I appreciate you, I still hate you... 
I hate you for the standards you put on me.
I hate you for the pressures you put on me to be perfect - whatever that means.
I hate you for setting me up for failure with those standards and with that pressure. You set me up, every time.
I hate you for the shame and the guilt, the sadness and the anger and all the cyclical bullshit you put me through.

I hate you for trapping me in your vicious cycle for so long. I hate that when I wanted to escape, you drowned me with your bullshit. You drowned me with your wicked thoughts and your horrible feelings of unworthiness. I hate that I was never good enough for you and your standards.

I hate you for my sophomore year of college in which you encouraged me to starve in preparation for your binging and purging. I was happier barely eating, by the way.

I hate you even more for the day I will never, ever forget - the day I snapped.
I hate you for this day in which you ate and I didn't. I remember what you ate. I remember what you were wearing. I remember looking at you from what seemed to be outside of my own body. 
I snapped and I lost control. I snapped and I lost myself to you. I lost control; you took it from me. I hate you for the first time YOU ate - binged - and I suffered. I hate you for this first time in which I purged. I hate you for the temporary euphoria and incomparable control you provided me with during this first purge. 

I hate you even more for abandoning me afterwards. You took your euphoria and my control with you; you left me there, on the floor of my bathroom. You left me in shame and disgusted. You left me completely confused and totally devastated, feeling paralyzed, exhausted and broken. I hate you for leaving me there alone with my tears. I hate you even more for coming back - I hate you for your continuation of this brutal cycle for a period of 8 whole years.
I hate you for all the precious time and times I lost because of you.
I hate you for the friends I lost. I hate you for all the moments I lost out on with the friends who stayed.
I hate you for the relationship you helped ruin with my then loved-one and boyfriend. I hate that you kept me from my ability to be intimate with him. I hate that I felt so unattractive that I couldn't possibly allow him to be close to me, to touch me, to love me, nothing. Because of you, I was incapable of loving or being loved. I hate that I hated myself because of you.
I hate you for making me lose so many moments, days, experiences with my sorority sisters. I hate you for making me lose relationships with my sisters, particularly with my little sisters, in my sorority. I hate that I wasn't there when I should have been - you were the culprit of my sell outs. I hate you for making me not want to leave the confines of my house because I was exhasuted or felt disgusting because I had binged and/or purged or because I felt the obsessive need and the urge to do so. I hate that I neglected my sisters and my responsibilities of my sorority because of you. I hate that I was incapable of true or lasting connections and bonds with my sisters because I was consumed by you.

[*To my sorority little sisters, Hillary and Shannon, whom I am no longer close with but will always adore - I am so sorry. I am sorry I didn't keep up with you and keep a close relationship with you... I regret it. I wish I could have remained more apart of your lives, especially your recent weddings. You are both wonderful, and I love you. AOT Love.*]

I hate you for the way you made me feel. I hate that I didn't want to get dressed or socialize because of the exhaustion and disgust in which you made me feel. I hate you for the weight I gained and lost, gained and lost, gained and lost... I hate you for not allowing me to feel comfortable in my own clothes or in my own body - ever.

I hate you for the alcohol I drank and the pot I smoked in attempt to cope with you. I hate that even when I decided that I wanted to avoid or get rid of you and be strong, I allowed alcohol and pot to enable you to easily walk right back into my life. I hate all the times I smoked to feel better about your binge. I hate all the times I drank to feel better about your purge and the depression, hopelessness and loneliness your binge-purge came with.
I hate you for the unhealthy relationships and the one night stands I have had because of you. I hate that I lived to seek approval - I hate you for all of my approval seeking behaviors and all the consequences and the guilt and shame that came with them.

I hate you for encouraging me to steal [Bulimia and petit thievery]. I hate you for encouraging me to lie about it just to keep you a secret and remain living in the facade you forced me to create.

I hate that I was never-ever-ever good enough for you. I hate that I still, at times, do not feel good enough because of my history with you.

I hate you for the continuous body checking behaviors I participate in because of the fear you have instilled in me. I hate that I fear what the mirror will reflect back at me. I hate that, every morning, the first thing I do is look in the mirror. It's as if I am scared that overnight, I may turn into some grotesque kind of alien. I fear that no matter how 'good' or 'bad' I was the day before, I might look in and see something completely ugly and unworthy.

I hate you for the fear I have that when someone looks at me, I wonder what might be wrong with me. I hate that you made it so hard for me to ever take in and believe a compliment.

I hate you the most for making me believe that I am unworthy. I hate you the most for teaching me and demanding that I base my worth on my weight and on my appearance. And I fucking hate that I still do that... I still base part of my value and my worth on those things.
For all of these things, I hate you.

Deep Inhale...

                        Slow Exhale...


I told her...
Wow - as overwhelming as all of the above is to say and think and read - what a relief.
Finally, I told her...

-So, here is where my therapist stepped back in:
"Why don't you switch chairs with your eating disorder... Would you be willing to sit in her chair and tell yourself what you would want your eating disorder to tell you?"

From ED to ME:

(I imagine ED would speak to me in the familiar, sweet voice that belongs to one of the sweetest women who I have ever known - Mrs. Vicki Wasson. She calls me Sweet Jessica, and so shall ED.)

Sweet Jessica, I am sorry.

Sweet Jessica, you are good enough; in fact, you are better than that. The good things you do and the caring, thoughtful person that you are is better than good.

Sweet Jessica, you no longer have to listen to me or get trapped in my viscious cycles. I release you.
 Sweet Jessica, I'd like for you to forgive me. I want you to forgive me not because I deserve it, but because you do.

Sweet Jessica, I will never bother you or control you again; only remember me for the passionate purpose in which I have served you.

 Sweet Jessica, I want you to forgive me. Please forgive me.

Goodbye, sweet Jessica.

My reaction to her words:
I wasn't sure what my reaction was at the end of this empty chair experience. I wasn't sure at the time and I wasn't ready to figure it out yet. I wanted to reflect on it and I wanted to get more out - I did that here, with my readers.
When I told my group my reactions, I simply said it felt good to hear her say I didn't have to listen to her anymore. My words from her to me were different in class today. After reflecting and getting out all of my feelings of hatred that I have or have had towards her, I feel as though her reply would be genuine as reflected above. I feel as though she would be empathetic and release me.
I prefer the feedback I got from her above. I believe the feedback; I believe her. I believe that I no longer have to be afraid of her or of my past with her. I feel as though she would release me from the bondage in which I was tied under for so long. I feel as though she would know that I am worthy and that I do not deserve her or her sufferings.


I forgive you, ED.
I forgive you not because I think highly of you, but because I think highly of ME.
I forgive you not because you deserve it, I forgive you because I deserve it.
I forgive you...

*Special Shout Out to my love and future husband, Galo - my number 1 fan. I know, in your eyes, my beauty is unfading and true. I love you.*


  1. Wow it is difficult to find words to respond...if you were standing in front of me i would only have hugs!!! Not pitty hugs just the kind of hugs that reach your soul because words dont always sound right!!! I hope that you can find the peace you are looking for with her...and are a beautiful woman and I know your number 1 fan will keep her in check! <3

  2. Jessica - you are one of the bravest people I have ever known. Thank you for sharing EVERYTHING with our class and with the world :-) - Lori G

  3. This is so inspiring; you are so strong, Jessica. Thank you for sharing in class and also on your blog!

  4. Thank you all SO much! Your feedback and support is priceless :)

  5. Jessica,

    Your words are so powerful and I wanted you to know that I had tears about two lines in. It is incredible the amount of courage it took for you to get all of this out in writing. I am amazed at how completely consumed you once were, and how liberated you are now. It must feel so good to know that you have won the war and you are on your way to helping young girls and guys everywhere with the very same struggle you once had. Congratulations on speaking out! "She" is dead to you- and your words are so touching for anyone who has ever had to struggle...Thank you for being so brave and honest! Keep up the excellent work!!

    1. Thank you so much. It feels good that I am winning the war, although I don't know if I will ever "win" - I don't know that the war will ever totally end. But, I do know I am willing to fight the fight to keep her in check and in remission. I have a lot of great support - for that I am truly blessed.

      Thank you for your support and feedback!