one girl's thoughts on life, mental illness, eating disorder recovery, and hope.

When ED stays at your house May 15, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — rheasofhope @ 1:11 pm
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In an effort for me to understand and simplify for myself how my eating disorder got me to where I am, I started writing…and writing…and when I had written so many words my head started to spin, it spun into this: my eating disorder is like an unwanted house guest who ended up taking my house. Hear me out on this one…


I live in the house of Rhea. It’s a cozy little house with a room for everything that makes me, me. There’s a library, a room for learning, a photography studio, a writing room, and countless other rooms. There is also a turret…because who doesn’t want a house with a turret? Then, one day, when my house was feeling kind of run down and shabby, ED showed up on my doorstep like an unwanted fourth cousin staying for the weekend. I did not really want to let her in, but, because she is distant family and I am a people pleaser, I felt guilted into it. Because she had so much baggage with her (literally and figuratively), I allowed her to put it all in one of the rooms that makes me, me. In a sense, I gave a piece of me to ED so she could come live with me. The ungrateful house guest that she is, ED snatched the Rhea room, took out all semblance of me, replaced it with all the stuff from her baggage, turned out the lights, shut the door, locked it, and hid the key. Suddenly realizing she had nowhere else to go, ED came to me and demanded another room in which to put all her baggage. Being the people pleaser that I am, I obliged and gave ED another room in my house; another piece of me. She repeated the same process of Rhea removal and ED installation in each room I had given her, and demanded she be given a new room. Typical reasons for needing a new room usually revolved around me being fat, stupid, unloveable or unworthy for her to stay in a given room…not that the bed was too comfortable, the reading room was full of too many good book, or the turret was just too awesome. No, her reasons for moving and remodeling rooms were based on her hatred of me. And yet, I still permitted her to stay with me.


Before too long, ED had destroyed, shut off, locked and abandoned every room in the Rhea house. However, she still wanted more. And me, being desperate for any sense of love and belonging, wanted to give ED what she wanted, despite there simply not being anything else I could possibly give her. Instead of giving up when I told ED there was nothing else to give, she tried to convince me I hadn’t ever given her any rooms in which to stay in the first place. In fact, she worked tirelessly to convince me she had never even been in my house before; this was the time in which I denied the existence of the disease in my life. Each time I challenged ED’s thoughts/ beliefs/behaviors or talked about recovery, ED labored arduously to persuade me into believing she had never visited my house; let alone that she even knew me. However, in the moments in which I agreed with ED, followed her commands, engaged in her behaviors, she was suddenly the long lost fourth cousin and best friend again…looking at me like I was crazy for not knowing who she was. There was no grey area with ED; only black and white. ED either ruled my life and my house, or denied ever knowing me or visiting my house.


But now, now I know she is in my life, in my house. I choose to work on recovery. It is like I am walking around the abandoned house of Rhea that was once controlled and destroyed by ED. I am searching for the hidden keys, unlocking doors, turning on the lights and discovering things once hidden, ignored, forgotten or demolished by ED. With each room I reopen and reclaim, revelations are made, questions are raised and I move closer to recovery. It is not just a recovery from my eating disorder (kicking that bitch out of my house and reclaiming it for me), but also a reclamation and recovery of the once forgotten Rhea that ED had kept in the abandoned house. For better or worse, I am willing to face the Rhea that I uncover as I move through the rooms of my house. I am ready to see myself without ED’s influence and behaviors, without self-harm, without shame and without self-hatred.


Are you ready to recover your life from ED? What are you most excited about finding or discovering about yourself?



1 Samuel 16:7

 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height… The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”


11 Responses to “When ED stays at your house”

  1. Kaity Says:

    I love this. And I love you ❤

  2. What a good metaphor! I wrote once that EDs are jealous creatures who don’t want to share us with anything. Discovering myself without bulimia was a terrifying but beautiful process. It was hard to learn to accept the flaws and weaknesses, but I eventually realized they are ok. They makes us human and connect us…but I discovered good things about myself too and learned to accept and believe in them as well. I know it will be tough at times, but I’m excited for you to begin discovering “you”. XOXO!

    • rheasofhope Says:

      That’s exactly what they are…jealous creatures who don’t want to share us with anything. I love that description (but not ED, just to be clear).

      I am so glad you were able to see all the uniquely wonderful and imperfect sides of yourself hiding under the surface of ED. You’re right, it is scary to think about a life without ED, but what you find in yourself without an ED clouding the picture is remarkable.

      I’m excited to discover me too; it’s been a VERY long time since I’ve looked at the Rhea under the ED…the real me.

      Thanks for sharing your story and I am SO glad you have found your real self. Take care!

  3. robertlfs Says:

    Here is one of my favorite poems on the house guest – not certain if it works completely with ED, but . . .


    This being human is a guest house.
    Every morning a new arrival.

    A joy, a depression, a meanness,
    some momentary awareness comes
    as an unexpected visitor.

    Welcome and entertain them all!
    Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
    who violently sweep your house
    empty of its furniture,
    still, treat each guest honorably.
    He may be clearing you out
    for some new delight.

    The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
    meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

    Be grateful for whatever comes.
    because each has been sent
    as a guide from beyond.

    — Jelaluddin Rumi,

    • rheasofhope Says:

      Thanks for sharing Robert. I think it does apply…the poem suggests that anything passing through our lives, or good or bad, serves a purpose towards making us the person we are meant to be. Without ED having wreaked havoc on my life, I wouldn’t know how to be as strong as I am or how to use my stubborness for a good purpose or convinced me to start writing again. I love this poem!
      Take care!

  4. Allison Forsythe Says:

    I saw a beautiful quote today that I’d like to share: “A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms.” I love reading your posts, Rhea, and seeing you bloom. 🙂

    • rheasofhope Says:

      Thanks Allison! That is a wonderful quote. I would love to live my life like that; to just bloom without regard to how others are blooming or how they’re judging me for my blooming. Take care!

  5. modernmaiko Says:

    This was really lovely. The part about finding things hidden by ED, forgotten, demolished — really impacted me! That’s exactly how I felt too. Thanks for writing so beautifully. 🙂

    • rheasofhope Says:

      Thank you for the kind words. Psychotherapist/author Thom Rutledge has always told me “Recovery is not just about recovering from an illness; it is recovering who I really am”. And that is what I’ve been focusing on during my recovery journey; uncovering the me that was stolen by the eating disorder when I was just a kid. It is my hope that you, too, find the you underneath the eating disorder.
      Take care of yourself.

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