Its time to cut the act, stop the performance, and strip my face of the mask I’ve put on for social media. Everyone does it. We all want our peers to like our posts, comment on our photographs, and manipulate social media to paint a perfect story that represents our lives. We want ex-boyfriends to miss us, people in high school to think we’ve made it big on Broadway, have a white picket fence, two children and a dog named Lassie. However, I’m done performing. I’m removing my makeup and taking down the pretend story I’ve crafted on social media. I’m not condemning anyone, I’m just coming clean because you deserve my honesty, and I need my honesty. In honesty comes freedom.
Although my pictures and posts may at times tell you otherwise, I’m not as far in my recovery as I had hoped. I didn’t think that returning to facebook after getting out of treatment would harm me, but recently, I’ve discovered how wrong I was. I’m not writing this to win over your heart or sympathy, I’m writing it for my soul, and perhaps to challenge you next time you post something.
Part of the reason I went to treatment for Anorexia, or a major part of it, can be contributed to the pressures and expectations of beauty I was bombarded with while auditioning for Broadway. I’m not blaming Broadway, I’m saying that the way girls appear in the media made me feel so insecure compared to the supermodels appearing on billboards all around me in Times Square or on the cover of Vogue that I internalized everything. I no longer wanted to be pretty. I wanted to be skinny. Skinny soon became looking like a closet hanger, and I almost lost my life as a result.
After treatment, although my body is for the most part, restored to a “healthy weight”, my mind and my heart are far from that. Photographs of me smiling and posts of country music videos can lead you to believe otherwise, but I’m coming clean.
Every time a post pops up in my newsfeed about “eating right, “going to the gym”, or “loosing weight”, I feel run over by a bus. Truth is, I’m still pretty broken, disappointed that I cant go to the gym because I’m on exercise restriction, and I liked the way I looked when I was anorexic, more than the way I look like now. Although I’m “healthy”, I still look in the mirror and see “fat” and “imperfection”. I get all sentimental and go through my old pictures on Facebook and fantasize, telling myself “Hanna, you were prettier when you were anorexic, if only you still looked like that”…How quick I am to forget that when those photos were taken I wasn’t sleeping, I was on the verge of passing out all the time, and I was slowly dying.
My latest journal entry speaks to how difficult recovery is, and I’m posting it in case you can relate and to come clean about how I’m really doing, with no editing. Real, Raw, Honest, Hanna.
“Who would I be without Anorexia? Who would I be without the compulsion to over exercise and desire to burn off everything I eat, suffocating from shame and fear of gaining weight and striving to look like a Barbie or Disney princess? Who would I be if I didn’t just eat foods I have deemed “Safe” and “Healthy”, if I ate what I wanted, with no guilt? Who would I be if I could eat pizza, make cookies with my dad and steal cookie dough when he’s not looking? Who would I be if I could eat candy from my Christmas stocking, without giving it all to my brothers? Who would I be if I went on a date to a hockey game and let myself have a beer without wanting to run five miles after? Who would I be if I didn’t have to measure out exchanges with measuring cups and report everything I ate to my dietitian and record it in my meal log? Who would I be if I could look in the mirror and like what I saw, instead of grabbing the skin on my body and convincing myself that fat has replaced my anorexic bones. Who would I be if I actually dressed up, put on makeup and brushed my hair, instead of wearing oversize sweatpants and sweatshirts to hide my frame? Who would I be if I believed that I was worthy of love and recovery regardless of what the number on the scale said? Who would I be if I didn’t give a damn what others thought? Who would I be if I didn’t cry when I step on the scale backwards at the doctors office to be weighed because I’m not allowed to know my weight? Who would I be if I didn’t have to drink pediasure because my metabolism is still messed up? Who would I be if I was free from the chains and false expectations of beauty modeled by the entertainment industry? Who would I be if food was simply food, and not my enemy? Who would I be if I made it out of Anorexia and crossed the finish line into full recovery?
As a result, I have decided to temporarily go off of Facebook, until I am further along in my recovery. The temptation to recycle pictures taken when I was sick and use them as my profile picture is too great, and I need to come to terms with my new “healthy” body. Obviously its going to take more than an intermission from social media to do that, but I think this is a helpful step.
I am so thankful for your love, grace and hope during this time. You all have proved to me that beauty is found in someone’s heart, and character, and goes beyond what someone’s face or body looks like even if its still hard for me to believe it. I hope that someday, I do believe it. Thank you for loving me, all of me, imperfections and strengths, and cheering me on. If you want to get a hold of me, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will still have my phone.
Farewell to Facebook for now,