The horror movie, The Ring, premiered when I was in high school. Now, I love horror movies but when that girl came out of the TV screen I screamed for my mommy. The following story will not be nearly as graphic but can be just as scary for some of us.
Wedding rings are the ultimate symbol of love. When my husband, Matt, popped the question his shaky hands held a box with the largest ring I’ve ever seen. No, not a large diamond or anything like that. This ring was about 5 sizes too big from my long, boney fingers. I waited too damn long for that ring so rather than keep it in a box for the remainder of our trip, we hunted down a Claire’s Store in Prague to get a plastic ring spacer. We still laugh about the expedition as I clutched onto that oversized token of unending love.
Once we returned home, I picked out a better fitting engagement ring that hugged my finger just enough. I knew my boney knuckle would keep that sucker in place. As I started to lose weight during the lead up to the wedding, the gap between my ring and finger widened but never reached code red limits. I knew it would say on my hand just like Matt would stay in my life.
We exchanged new rings at the wedding. Standing in the middle of that beautiful Arlington
Park paddock with the decades-old trees and rustic saddling stalls shielding us from the cool autumn mist, Matt slipped the beautiful black band on my left hand. The tears poured down my ugly crying face. Yeah, I was not a pretty crier that day lol! We committed our lives to each other and reaffirmed our unwavering love in front of our hundred close friends and family members.
I often caught myself staring at that ring often in the days and weeks that followed. It sat secure beneath that large knuckle just like I felt safe with Matt by my side. The ring symbolized much more than just our love. For me, it represented the full circle. From the loneliness after my parent’s deaths to the new, exciting life I had to share with Matt. The ring reminded me of the magical wedding day and the intense love and emotion I felt.
But orthorexia wanted nothing to do with. It wanted me all to itself. There was no room for love for me, for Matt or for anything else other than what I ate, how much I exercised and what my body looked like. As the illness took full hold during the first part of 2020, my bitterness towards the world increased. The pandemic ripped the rug out from me as I fell into the dark, cold dungeon of orthorexia. I sought control over the situation and could only see the worst in people.
While my love for the world and myself shrunk so did my fingers. My wedding ring loosened. It seemed to know I was losing love. Our harmless bickering episodes morphed into emotional fights. My actions and behaviors hurt myself and those around me, including Matt. I had lost touch with the man he had married just several months before. I was angry and couldn’t explain why. Food and exercise consumed me, I had no room for anything else because it seemed these were the only two items I could control. And I needed control for fear of history repeating itself!
I watched my ring grow more wobbly by the day. A sign that my body and soul were evaporating. Matt saw it too. When he eventually approached me about my unhealthy relationship with food and unresolved pain from younger days, I didn’t put up a fight. There was no fight because I did need help. I wanted help because I missed me, too.
As I continue to repair my body from years of abuse, I’ve noticed how snug my ring has become. When I take it off to shower, I actually have to twist and give a tiny yank. This is a far cry from the insecure grip it had just months ago. As my body rebounds so does my mind, soul and love for Matt. I Iove him more today than I did the day I said, “I do.” Our love was tested by my mental illness and eating disorder but we came out stronger. We now understand what it means to love through sickness and in health.
My eating disorder loosened my grip on life and love. The ring symbolizes this. As I grew more unattached, it did as well. There is still a small gap between my finger and that cherished black band but that just represents an opportunity for growth. The love and life I share with Matt grows more each day. We have an entire lifetime together. Orthorexia tried to take that from us but it lost. I look forward to a year from now when that ring fits a little bit more snug and my love for Matt is even stronger than it is today.