National Eating Disorders Association

Stories of Hope

Falling in Love...With Myself
By Brianna Haney

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This year I walked down the aisle and married the man of my dreams. The days leading up to my wedding were filled with excitement, love, happiness, and mostly, reflection. As I prepared to stand in front of my closest family and friends, I could not help but look back on my painful past and the haunting memories of my five years living with an eating disorder. My eyes filled with tears when I think of how in three short years, I have accomplished and beat my eating disorder and was now on the verge of becoming someone's wife. Throughout my five year battle with anorexia I was so time consumed with perfection that it led to compulsive and destructive behaviors. It changed me from Brianna, to a girl who was drifting through each day. I lost friends, isolated myself, spent days in and out of doctors' offices, and hurt my family deeply. I was so obsessed with my own anorexic behaviors that I had stopped really living life and in that desolation, stopped loving myself. After nine months in an eating disorder treatment center, I had gained some weight, but still hung on to my anorexic behaviors, thoughts, and will power. I felt hopeless and thought that I would live the rest of my life unhappy and alone. All the while telling my family and friends that I was "trying and getting better". Until my little sister, in anger and frustration, yelled "you are not getting better just because you gained weight. You still think like an anorexic." Her honesty, deep frustration and sadness hit me all at once. She was right... I kept saying I was trying but I really wasn't. So, with the support of my doctors and family, I began changing my life. I let go of the toxic people in my life that were causing me pain, I tried new things, went on a few dates, and began to say yes to things instead of saying no. After five months of this active recovery, my mother encouraged me one night to attend a party I had been invited to. I was reluctant. I still struggled with confidence and I barely knew anyone that would be there. That night, I met my now husband. After a few dates, I had fallen hard for this amazing man but I knew that I was still not fully in recovery. As he began introducing me to all of his friends, I was in awe of how beautiful his woman friends were. One night my now husband, myself, and a large group of friends went out to dinner at a pizza place. I hadn't eaten pizza in six years and to be honest, I felt panic and anxiety overcome me as we sat down. Quickly, trying to figure out how I could get out of eating that pizza, something happened. I saw my husband's friends' beautiful wives and friends sitting at the table with us, ordering beer and pizza, and laughing and enjoying every minute of the moment. They were not having the same anxious thoughts that I was. It was in that moment that I realized I wanted that. To enjoy the moment, live a little, and well, chug a beer and have pizza. And I did! After that, my concern for perfection died and my concern for having fun and enjoying life overtook me. The next few months became a blur... traveling, trying new restaurants, and discovering what it meant to let go and have fun. Every once in a while, my perfectionism creeps back in, but then I remember all the fun I am having right this moment and I would never want to go back to the sad, isolated girl that I was three years ago. Two months ago, as I walked down the aisle, I realized that I would never have fallen in love with this incredible man if I had not, first, fallen in love with myself. 

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