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I distinctly remember the first day I decided to throw up my lunch. I was fifteen years old, and I desperately wanted to be perceived as beautiful. Looking back, I recognize now why I felt so out of control. I was a new girl in a very small school and I was severely bullied. My father and I stopped talking—he had started a new family with my stepmother, and my mom was suing him for child support. He asked me to choose a side, and when I chose my mother's, he stopped speaking to me. I was dating a boy I was hysterically in love with, and would continue to be in love with for the next eight years even though he was adamant about cheating on me. I had my first panic attack, and I was sick of not having any control over my environment and my body.

I somehow came to the conclusion that a thigh gap and a sharp collarbone would solve all of my problems. The first meal I ever threw up was penne a la vodka. I lost 25 pounds within the next few months. You could see my ribs, pick out every bone in my knees, and count my vertebrae. I loved it. I loved the attention and feeling like I was cheating the "eating game." I was not only bulimic, but also obsessively exercising (sometimes three times a day) and taking laxatives regularly.

I did self "checks" frequently: pinching my stomach and analyzing the fat, double-triple-quadruple checking my thigh size. I drank 2-3 gallons of water a day. This is where my obsession with perfectionism really began. I had to be the funniest, thinnest, smartest, most accomplished, and most disciplined out of all of my friends. I was bulimic for the next eight years. I never spoke to my father again, but I forgave and befriended some of my bullies in college. I continued to see the boy until I was 23 years old. It was extremely toxic, but I needed to feel loved. I needed a man to tell me he loved me and that I was worthy of love.
I am so much more than numbers on a scale or a pant size, I am so much more than "perfect." I'm my mother's daughter, I'm a great friend and sister. I'm me, and today I really really like me. And carbs.
On New Year’s Eve in 2012, this boy and I got very, very drunk and he hit me very, very hard outside one of my best friends' house. He hit me more than a few times, choked me, and slammed me on the ground. I ended the relationship immediately without pressing charges. Afterwards, I self-medicated through partying. I was drunk or hungover for the next 4 months or so. I failed all of my classes, quit being an assistant to a well known celebrity stylist, and befriended people I now realize felt satisfaction in my misery. I gained about 20 pounds. I was promiscuous. I would sleep with strangers and pretend they loved me. I was sleeping every three days or so, but mostly survived on naps. I was binging and purging about twice a day, but I couldn't keep the weight off. I was losing control and losing my identity as a result. I felt like my body was betraying me and the deal we made when I was fifteen.

When I told my mom I wanted to kill myself, she was packing for a business trip to Bogota. My mother has always traveled to Colombia every six weeks to visit clients, for as long as I can remember. I had woken up from another night of drinking, sex, and eating, and I was sure that my family and my friends would be better off if I hung myself in my garage. She had recently found a journal entry I left in our TV room. It read "I am worthless" over and over and over. She escorted me to Bogota and placed me in a rehab center for girls with eating disorders. I was in Bogota for 3 months. I met 12 different girls. The oldest was 27 and the youngest was 8. Although we've lost touch, these girls taught me so much, and I think of them every day. I love them every day.

That was 2 years ago. I moved to New York City after living in Bogota, and I immediately started dating a nice, funny, well-educated douchebag. We broke up last winter and I felt some heavy triggers, but I worked through them with the support of my mother and my best friend. I have never felt more beautiful.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, I want to let you know that one day you're going to look in your mirror and you will not be able to believe how beautiful you are. Recovery is tough and it's uncomfortable. Letting go of your rituals and not counting calories is terrifying, but it's so worth it. I cannot fully express how worth it, but know you have a friend in me. I thought my body was betraying me, but I was really betraying my body, my self-esteem, and my true identity as an badass that can overcome anything. I still struggle with body issues daily, but I have never been happier. I will never be a model or a size zero, and that's okay. My thighs touch, and that's okay. I am so much more than numbers on a scale or a pant size, I am so much more than "perfect." I'm my mother's daughter, I'm a great friend and sister. I'm me, and today I really really like me. And carbs.