A Letter of Closure

“Wow, she’s gained so much weight.”

“She really looks terrible.”

“I can’t believe how big she is.”

This is what I imagine people say about me when I walk out of a room.

When I get up from the table to go to the bathroom. When I go to get my car from the valet. When I walk to the bar to grab another round of drinks. Even when I am still sitting right there in front of them, the words run in a scroll through my mind, a news ticker only I can see that broadcasts what I am so certain everyone must be thinking.

I stopped into my New York office before leaving for a two week trip to Italy. I obsessed for weeks in advance about how I would face colleagues I hadn’t seen in six months, and what they would surely think of me once they saw me now.  I anticipated conversations where I could plead with them, “Remember, I didn’t always look this way?! Remember, I used to be thin?!? Please, remember???”

The lingering rational part of my mind reasons that most likely no one is talking about me. And if they are, it’s probably not about the pounds I have gained.  But still the thoughts cut through rhyme and reason and stick there, adhered to my brain and seared into my heart.

I arrived in Tuscany last week for my second yoga retreat, this time with my extra literal and figurative baggage. Set amongst rolling hills, with a view of the Monteriggioni castle, Ebbio is an 800-year old farmhouse complete with roosters who function as alarm clocks, wild horses who nuzzle your hand looking for food, and a tree-covered trellis that is suspended above the communal table where all food is served. It is, in a word, picturesque. It is, in a feeling, home.

It is also, as I settled in, the place where I would fully face the demons that have become my daily companions of late.

The fears from New York remained; multiplied perhaps. This group would see beyond even what those in my office saw.

I couldn’t hide a fuller stomach under a blousy dress, just as I couldn’t hide my shame with self-deprecating jokes. Here, it all shows. Amidst the yoga pants and the bikinis, the massages and the acupuncture, the tears and the laughter, everything here demands to be seen and felt. Here, you wear your heart on the outside.

It took me until the last day on my first retreat to say the words: I have an eating disorder. They came out on the first day at Ebbio. I surrendered. I can’t trust that what I see in myself is real. It is time to let others show me the truth.

When we wrote our 5 Most Beautiful Things about each other, none of the letters from my friends mentioned weight or pants size. When we were asked to describe ourselves as others see us, the words “fat” and “gross” were not among those used. It is time to remove those words from my vocabulary. It is time to end this book, finally, and begin another. It is time to say goodbye.

On our second class, on a Sunday evening in the middle of asanas and flowing and opening up and crying and sharing came the directive, “Write a letter of closure.”

And so it follows, the beginning of the end.  

Dear Eating Disorder,

This is a Dear John letter. The time has come for us to say goodbye. You have been a loyal companion since my teenage years. We were high school sweethearts I guess. Though at times I made attempts as finding love elsewhere, I could never forget you. I always returned. You worked your way into my heart and my soul back when they were still discovering what should actually be there, and you convinced me that I could not live without you. And naively, I believed you. You tricked me. You lied to me. You made me hate me. Sometimes I even hated you. But I was never ready to close the proverbial door on you.

It is time. It was time. It was never time. How did you ever even get here in the first place? It doesn’t really matter now.

You will be moving out soon. You can take the flat screen tv and the fancy chandelier and even the complicated wine opener. You can take it all. You don’t deserve any of it, of course, but I will give them to you in order to ensure your leaving.

I don’t wish you well. I don’t hope you will find a soulmate in someone else one day. I don’t pray for your future happiness. I’m sure you understand. Or maybe not. That’s fine too. It doesn’t matter anymore, as long as you are gone.

Please leave the keys when you go. I am still going to change the locks, because I don’t trust that you didn’t make copies, and I suspect you will show up and try to let yourself in again.  But it’s symbolic, so leave them behind on the counter with the garage door opener and my heart. 

It’s over. This is your eviction notice. Your contract will not be renewed. We are done. 

Do not call. Do not write.  Do not text me for a booty call at 1am on a lonely Saturday night. Don’t tweet me. Don’t tag me in your Instagram pictures, attempting to make me nostalgic. Just go, and stay gone.

It. Is. Over. É Finita in Italy.

PS—I know it’s customary to say, “It’s not you, it’s me.” But it IS you. It’s NOT ME. And that’s why this must end now.

xx,

Katie

Letting Go in a field of sunflowers in Tuscany.

Letting Go in a field of sunflowers in Tuscany. “May you always be this happy. May you always be this free.”

 

 

43 thoughts on “A Letter of Closure

  1. Dear Katie,

    I am so glad you wrote that letter. My eyes always see you with beauty, tall, lovely and always looking wonderful. I remember the night we went to the book signing in Pasadena you looked so good. I was thinking to myself….watching as you walked in front of me….wow…I wish I could look like Katie does in those jeans, with those great legs, as you strutted down the street holding that bright beautiful new handbag. Of all the people there you were the one I noticed:)

    • I agree with this! I remember seeing you at Jen’s GA workshop and I was instantly drawn to you, to the point of intimidation. You are prefect. Tall, blonde, but that confidence is what I noticed! You aren’t average Katie! You are not. And it’s about time you shine your light BRIGHT, so bright that there is absolutely no dark place for your demons to hide! Love yourself a little more, and when you feel you’re loving enough, love some more still, because you DESERVE it!

  2. Katie Devine!!! I have missed you, this is beautiful, I literally gripped at my heart and let out a sigh of relief. This, “PS—I know it’s customary to say, “It’s not you, it’s me.” But it IS you. It’s NOT ME. And that’s why this must end now.” absolutely deserves a bravado! You are a gorgeous, gorgeous human being, inside and out and I do not doubt your strength. I wish I was there in Italy with you guys it seemed like the best time. I wish I had more to say, but you said it all.

    “May you always be this happy, may you always be THIS free.”

    Love you, I can’t wait to see you at one of Jen’s retreats and actually strike up a conversation.

  3. Reblogged this on The Manifest-Station and commented:
    Here in Positano. My retreat has ended and I miss you all terribly. Katie Devine, whom you all know by now, was with me in Tuscany and wrote this gorgeous piece. Please read it when you have a moment. I bow to anyone who can be so vulnerable. Ciao xo jen

  4. Katie, luckily I got to see you when you were in New York. And I thought were luminous and beautiful. My wish for you is that you know this about yourself. Enjoy the rest of your Italian journey…xo, Dena

  5. I love you, Katie. You are physically beautiful. This is obvious. But your honesty and vulnerability and your heart are what makes you so special…and even more beautiful. I’m so impressed by you. xo

  6. beautiful Katie. i am blown away by this and you and how brave you are. I am sending you hugs all the way from Northern California ❤ I never understood how hard it would be to share such a thing with others (until I did it myself and it set me free!) I was rereading one of my old blogs a couple days ago and when I got to the part where I actually say I had an eating disorder- i saw it in print and STILL, I wanted to erase it. like I didn't want to admit it although i long ago did. like i almost forgot about it until i read it again for myself. I cried for joy for you, Katie, for this letter, for this part of your life of self-loathing and doubting your exquisite beauty for even one moment is over. I know that ticker tape reel running through your head because I had the same one running in mine (and sometimes still do). Take that effing ticker tape—- rip it out and rip it up! i know we have never met, Katie Devine, (well only via FB- LOL) so I can't say I "know" you but I do- because I am you and you are me.
    Its when we feel alone that we forget that we all struggle with the same things. The same self-loathing, the same doubt. Thank you for sharing yours as it sets others free to do the same and that is a huge gift.
    Your beauty is overwhelming, Katie.. with your face upturned into the sun soaking up the warm and brilliant light among the crowd of sunny yellow faces that follow it across the sky. And here you are, having followed the light to where it has led- free to stand and sway in the sun whenever it shines on your face.
    xxoo

  7. Katie, I loved this post.
    And as someone who battles the same demons, I just wanted to share that when I saw you in the Conde Nast cafeteria that day in NYC I only noticed how absolutely happy you were and was so glad to have had a second to say hi.
    xo, Kerri

  8. Katie, Thank you for being vulnerable in both real life and on the page. It takes practice and courage to be vulnerable and we need one another around to cheer us on. I’m grateful for your willingness to share your journey. I am sure I’m speaking for others when I say it’s really encouraging and helpful to those of us who “aren’t there yet.” You’re a beautiful person and have been such a beautiful friend. That’s all I see. Plus, I see a radiant, fashionista with a smile that lights up all of your gorgeous pictures. I also love the beauty in the messy things when you’re willing to uncover it. That’s where the good stuff is. I’m learning. Thank you, thank you, friend! And brava. Wishing you much FREEDOM. 🙂

  9. Katie,

    What an amazing, brave and soulful letter! Good riddance to the damn ED! This comes from a fellow New Yorker with 1 1/2 years of recovery under my belt. The hardest thing I ever did, the very best thing I ever did. Live your life, live it fully, without the eating disorder. No matter what happens, do not let that demon back into your life ever. I hope to meet you the next time Jen is in town, or sooner. xoxox Amy

  10. Go you!! I can relate. I am so proud of your bravery! You keep your head up and so happy you enjoyed Italy. Xox

  11. Your post is beautiful and your expression of freedom and lightness in the sunflower field is heartwarming. It brought tears to my eyes. Your courage and vulnerability is awesome! Keep it up, beautiful soul.

  12. Katie, this is really, really beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing this! You are an inspiration to so many. I LOVE the picture of you! I love your honesty, your willingness to share, your willingness to be real. Love, Lisa

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