Identified Recovery

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Ethan Feinstein

June; when the earth’s axis begins to be more equal.  

Rushing to put our feet into the sand and finding the perfect location to catch the sun’s rays. I dreaded this time filled with endless barbecues, and events centered around foods that my eating disorder (ED) said were outside of his strict guidelines.

During the time of my life when getting certain types of food was an anxiety ridden, anticipatory dreaded experience, and when any activity was masked by my eating disorder’s scrutiny, I was struggling to find myself, and identifying my sexuality. My uneasy feelings of uncertainty were managed with restriction. To gain the slightest bit of control, the eating disorder is what I could lean on to form a sense of identity and purpose. I had the ultimate coping mechanism, which was digging me into a deeper hole of seclusion, and unhappiness with negative physical effects. To avoid my sexuality and what ramifications might come with being gay, addictive behaviors replaced coming to terms with reality.

I was a master at repressing my feelings (and hunger) in a multitude of ways, that made me feel special, that made me feel unique. I didn’t need a big coming out party because ED filled that void of self-discovery or self-love. I had something that set me apart from the pack- I was a male with an eating disorder. How rare and distinct my ED praised me to be.

Years went by as I tried to cope and get a hold of not only my behaviors that were led by ED, but finding out who I was. Once I was able to get to know myself, ED’s power and influence slowly started to diminish. Acceptance of myself into the LGBTQIA+ community led to a life less centered around ED. With time and hard work, different addictive behaviors did not define me and my purpose. Things slowly started to fall into place when I began to accept and celebrate my true self.

During Pride month, I take the time to notice that accepting and appreciating my sexuality ended up saving my life. My ED worked overtime to suppress my real individuality to give me an identity that was filled with shame. This isn’t just a time of the year where I can say that I am proud to be gay, but I can also say I am proud to be in recovery.

Ethan is proud to continue to share his experiences and journey navigating recovery with his eating disorder. He hopes that he can raise awareness and emphasize that eating disorders do not discriminate against sex, age, or background. Ethan resides in Brooklyn, NY, and works in the beauty industry.