Eating Disorders: Choosing Self-Forgiveness

December 24, 2010 Angela E. Gambrel

It's time to forgive myself for so many failed attempts at recovery from anorexia. I'm going from self-hatred to self-forgiveness in eating disorder recovery.

When my husband, David, left in August, I was hurt and angry that he choose to walk out while I was struggling with anorexia nervosa. Many people thought I was too quick to forgive him when he returned a month later. But I thought about what anorexia had done to our marriage for the past three years. He also struggled as he watched the woman he fell in love with fifteen years ago whittle away to almost nothing. Our lives have become enmeshed in a cycle of repeated hospitalizations and failed attempts at recovery. Each time, I promise things will be better and I will gain the weight necessary to bring me back to health and recovery. Each time, I promise our marriage will return to some semblance of normalcy, and that we can be happy and fulfilled. And each time, I have failed and I have hated myself for failing.

Self-Forgiveness to Let Go of Self-Hate

Self-hatred is dark and ugly, and it fuels my anorexic symptoms. I want to leave behind that darkness and finally, after so many years, learn to forgive myself. For I believe only in forgiving myself will I truly enter the light of recovery I have sought for so many years.

This has been a week of emotional highs and lows for me as I have struggled with thoughts of what anorexia has done to my husband and our marriage. I recently wrote a post about regaining the trust of our loved ones.

But what about regaining the trust of ourselves? Today, I thought about the things I have done to my body because of anorexia. I have deprived it of essential nutrients. I have damaged it through laxative abuse and cutting behaviors. I have not taken care of my body as I should. I have been addicted to starving myself.

I have repeatedly hurt myself throughout the years. And yet I have never forgiven myself for developing anorexia.

Instead, I have blamed myself. I have hated myself for having an eating disorder. I find this odd, in part because on my personal blog, "Leaving ED," I have always stressed that eating disorders are real illnesses. I would never blame another person for having an eating disorder. I have always been a strong advocate for people with eating disorders, through both my writings, and presentations and discussions I have given.

Forgiving Myself For Struggling with Anorexia

But after this week's up and down emotional roller coaster, in which I repeatedly told my husband I was sorry for all the pain and trouble I caused him, it finally hit me that I owe myself an apology.

I am willing to bet that many other people with eating disorders deal with the same self-hatred. I want to encourage each one of you to take that self-hatred and get rid of it. Instead, realize that your eating disorder is not your fault and then forgive yourself. That is my Christmas wish for each one of you.

I truly believe we need to be kind not only to others, but to ourselves. Only then will true healing begin.

APA Reference
Gambrel, A. (2010, December 24). Eating Disorders: Choosing Self-Forgiveness, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 22 from

Author: Angela E. Gambrel

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