I like this me now. Healthier brain and body.
This me is hard to look at from years in the past.
I was less than 100 lbs when I met my husband. Drinking slimfast for breakfast and lunch and who knows what for dinner. Biking, working out, running stadiums…and not eating.
It took me far into my marriage to understand that I had an eating disorder. It took even more years to grasp why I had it.
It did not start out as a conscious choice. I had to be under 110lbs to be on the top of the pyramid at my job at Seaworld. The more acts you were in the more you got paid. Top of the pyramid paid more money.
That morphed into control. My entire life, control had been taken from me and now I could control how I looked. What I saw in the mirror is not who I see in this photo. I thought I looked healthy. I look emaciated. I’ve found other photos where I look worse.
After the muscle disease diagnosis, and the inability to work out anymore, that need for control got even stronger. But, you cannot starve an already dying muscle. So I started to eat.
I see anorexic women. All the time. And men. I saw one at the park today. I saw one in my neighborhood a few days ago. And I KNOW. And it PAINS me. I want to scream YOU ARE KILLING YOURSELF STOP STARVING YOURSELF. But it would not matter. I want to yell I KNOW HOW MUCH PAIN YOU ARE IN AND WHY YOU ARE DOING THIS. But they would not believe me. Sometimes you just have to come to it on your own. When people would comment how thin I was I thought GOOD I will keep getting thinner then! They want me to gain weight, I will lose it because I can and they cannot control me! The thinking is very distorted.
Someone said to me once that they could not believe anorexic people choose not to eat when others around the world are starving. I promise you it is not that simple. It is deeply complex. My anorexia was rooted in the sole focus of my body. Men wanted my body. They wanted to use it and abuse it. Everything was about my body and how I had no control over it. So, I thought I gained control with food. That is how I would get my body back.
That is not how I got my body back. I had to separate what was done to me from who I was as a person. I had to take back what was stolen from my body by loving it and nourishing it. It was very very difficult.
I’ve had people say..oh that’s why you got the muscle disease. Sorry hon…faulty genes gave me the muscle disease. Never blame a person for something they cannot control. It just snowballs and makes everything worse.
Therapy diagnosed me but I decided to tackle the eating disorder on my own. I’ve known many women who did the opposite of what I did, and gained weight purposely for the same control reasons. You just don’t know us until you’ve walked in our shoes. Why we are too thin or considered overweight. You just don’t know why and should not assume. It is a battle! For me overcoming abuse has been the battle of my life! You’d think it would be this muscle disease. Overcoming THAT! No. It’s the abuse that has haunted me.
I’d say I overcame the eating disorder but that would not be fully true. I will be in bed at night knowing that I’ve eating many meals and thinking I’m hungry. I will then try to talk myself out of going and getting food. “You don’t need it! You’ve had enough! Just sleep.” But now I listen to my body that says, “but I’m hungry” and I get up and go get something to eat. There is an ongoing dialogue that I wish were not there but may always be. I look in the mirror and think I’m fat. Then I look at a photo and think UGH I’m so fat and I can’t work out and there is nothing I can do because of the muscle disease. Then I have to tell myself…you are doing the best you can at being your authentic self so lets not put a weight number on that. And then I step away from the mirror and don’t think about it anymore. At some point I got a scale and realized I weighed 135 lbs and I ALMOST slipped. Then I got rid of the scale. I was honest with my family and said take it away! I cannot focus on my body in THAT way. I can focus on it doing yoga, breathing, making sure I get enough protein for my muscles. I cannot look at a scale.
Acceptance has been a huge turning point in all of my biggest moments in life. Accepting the extent of the abuse. Accepting that I have PTSD. Accepting some of the choices I made because of the abuse. Accepting that some of those choices were not as much in my control as I thought. They were abuse choices.
My first meal after I decided to eat was after my decision to be mindful. Mindful of textures and aware of the sunlight on the leaves. I did not eat mindlessly. I ate mindfully and enjoyed and savored every single bite of food. I had never really enjoyed food. Now I LOVE food! And I love that I’m able to love food. Mindfulness has been an opening to healing for me in many ways. It brought me to photography which has truly saved my life!
Just like a smell will trigger PTSD, a comment about how I look will make me immediately make me want to control how I look. People think they are paying me a compliment when really they are bringing back my focus on my physical me. Innocent on their part but what a conflict in my head. “What makes me more abusable? Being thin? Gaining weight? What makes me safer?” Dialogue. Unhealthy dialogue. At least I am aware of it now.
Abuse has LONG lasting affects. I don’t use them as an excuse when I write this but more as an educational tool for someone going through it or someone who knows someone going through it. After abuse the wires get crossed in what survival mode really means. Our mind thinks to survive we must do…Fill in the blank, ,because at one time that served us and maybe saved us. Like freezing saved me during abuse but it does not save me when a smell triggers me and yet my brain doesn’t quite get that. In this country women are so sexualized from such an early age and bombarded with commercials and social pressure that it is a miracle not every female struggles with eating disorders even if they were not abused like I was. I’m thinking more women struggle with it than anyone knows because most of what I speak about has such a stigma attached that it is kept a secret.
That’s why I wrote about it in my original blog Not My Secret because only in speaking the truth can we free ourselves from the chains others and society and abuse have put on us. Stigmas and judgment about eating disorders, ptsd, anxiety, mental illnesses, sexual assault. I will keep talking about it because it needs to be talked about. My old blog was focused on releasing secrets. My new blog is more focused on how I am healing while keeping an honest transparent voice all along the way. In silence, we are trapped. Use your voice and you will find the chains will slip off easier than you think and you will nolonger be tied to the trauma as firmly as you were TAUGHT. You were taught to be silent. SPEAK and start the journey to freedom.