The empowerment of a body positive partner, an unexpected joy and ache of eating disorder recovery

**Content warning for discussions of eating disorders

 

I’ve had an eating disorder for 7 years. At the height of my ED, I was running to and from school and appointments because I couldn’t bare the thought of being sedentary for a 15 minute bus ride. Full sodium vegetable broth could bring me to tears. The treatment centre where I ended up saved my life, and gave me insight into myself and the world that I know I’ll hold onto forever. I learned about the value of my own and others bodies, about media, the fitness industry, colonialism, patriarchy, and our cultural obsession with thinness and punishment. I left harmful friends behind, I left harmful partners behind, I found semblance of self-worth, I found will to recover. Slowly, it happened. My mind and body got healthier.

One unexpected challenge though: our culture, my friends and family, potential partners, they didn’t recover with me. The world stayed fatphobic, toxic, and judgemental. Healthcare stayed biased. The general public didn’t suddenly understand what I now did, and it became harder to find friends and partners who I felt safe with. Old me could let comments about bodies, dieting, and the obesity ‘epidemic’ slide, new me doesn’t have that option. New me spent a long time thinking that I would never find somebody who I could trust with intimacy, sex, and access to my body; that my new found empowerment would ultimately lead to an aching loneliness. I found myself, at times, wishing that I had never sought recovery and health. Had I inadvertently ruined my sex life?

(No, the answer to that was no). While it’s been more difficult to find people to be close with, the relationships that I have feel even more intimate and worthwhile. I still remember the first partner who really loved me, and my ever-changing body, with all of their heart. It was more powerful and healing than I ever could have imagined. Our intimate moments felt so wholesome and honest. I was being seen, as myself, in my body, for the first time. Encounters with that person have left me feeling more worthwhile, beautiful, and connected with myself, even to this day, and even when single. I know that the universe loves me, that my experiences with them will always care for me, and that I’ll be cared for like that again in the future. Those moments made me stronger in my convictions of body positivity, made me want to share the same sight and freedom that I had felt with others. Sex isn’t necessary, isn’t end all be all, but was a healing force for me; and can be for so many, as long as we hold honest, respectful, and compassionate space with ourselves and our partners.

 

Author: Lane, 18 | they/them

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