Eating disorders.

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.

Poetry…trigger warning

Shall I remove my locks?

Cutting away your desire of my flesh

Wasn’t it the flick of my hair

Or did you win me in a bet.

And what if I remove my breasts

No,

When you first touched me

I did not have any

Yet

(Hard words for you to read, imagine them in my head

Imagine me as a child in his bed)

Shall I gain 40 pounds of fat

No,

They should have told me

Weight won’t stop

Them,

From

That.

What can I do to remove you!

You’ve taken so much for yourself,

I am

Without myself,

A shell.

Residues of you

Come in scents and smells.

I am sentenced to a…you-hell.

Shh keep quiet,

I fight the years of grooming,

“Don’t tell. Don’t tell.”

Whether deemed saint

Or deemed whore

You take what is not yours…

Society does not care what is behind closed doors.

Neither do the molesters.

If not me,

Just another girl.

And the blame lies on my skin

Paper thin

From all the men.

So many men.

Yet it is their sin

Which they will repeat

Again and again and again

(No one will ever step in

To save the children from

The predator’s den. I know this,

It’s where I’ve been)

Word of me spread

As just a young child

” She will never speak of it,”

Like fire in the wind for miles.

The demand for youth is high.

But there would have been no demand,

I kept thinking as a girl,

If not for the multitude of detestable man.

You could never understand.

You will never understand.

Which is why I am alone here where I stand

(Or rather sitting in a wheelchair with a pen in my hand)

We call others barbarians!

Other countries

Other religions

But WE are the land of the great

Where little girls,

it is accepted, get raped.

Rich or poor,

We don’t escape

Behind the golden gates.

I watched

As protestors held their banners “Love. Not hate.”

It did not create change

Only action

Not bumper stickers

Could have unsealed my fate.

You say, ” NO! We do not accept rape.”

Then you turn back to your ham and your pie on your dinner plate.

(My story of your lack of action is not up for debate)

“I’ll kill him and they will never find his body,” I’ve heard a man claim, “If anyone were to touch my daughter,” he says in vain.

Words are more easily spoken

And rarely cause a stain.

A man will not risk being detained

But he will shout from the rooftops his empty distain.

And women…the wives…the same.

The cannot even whisper my name.

No one in the town.

No one on the lake

Where everything took place

I tried to tell the truth

But they covered my words in paint.

It would have taken only one.

No violence.

No words.

To give me self worth.

To make me safe.

No one chose me

TO THIS VERY DAY.

“Take her, she won’t complain, we have manipulated her brain.”

“She has nothing more to lose and we have everything to gain.”

The underworld is right in your face

As is the next little girl’s fate.

Your mere faith

Will not help her to be safe.

You cannot pray this away.

” If I only knew.”

You know.

The pain of my youth.

Everyone knows this truth.

It has nothing to do with me

It has everything to do

With you.

It has never been about me

But always you

And you

And you

And you.

So place your napkin in your lap

And devour your next piece of fruit.

Quietly

Pridefully

Chew.

It’s all you’ve ever done.

It’s all you’ll ever do.

I am the proof.

Poetry

*photo taken by my daughter

The mirror betrays

Look at that hair out of place

Those wrinkles on an aging face

That body, such a disgrace

The mirror lies

Look at those cellulite thighs

Those boring, common eyes

Put on blush and make those cheek bones high

The mirror is not a true reflection

The mirror is not a true introspection

The mirror is a misguided perception

Where wounds are exposed with no protection

The mirror does not teach

It only misleads

Down a path

Of a self deprecating speech

The mirror cannot see

The real me

Just a distorted

Version

Of imprinted

Realities

*photo taken of me by me

Parenting: eating disorders

Healthy food was always available to us growing up. If we were hungry, we ate. If it was an hour before dinner and we were hungry, we ate. If we were not hungry we were not forced to eat. If it was 2 hours after dinner and we were hungry, we ate. We were never forced to eat or deprived of eating. If we were full, our plate did not have to be “clean”. No guilt trips of “starving children” were ever used to make us eat beyond what our own bodies told us were full. We were never told we were “wasteful” by not finishing what we put on our plate, nor made to sit there for 2 hours until what we DID put on our plate was eaten. What we didn’t eat was put in a Tupperware and eaten later, or given to the dogs. Our parents never held food over our heads, never used food as leverage “if you eat this then I will give you that,” or punished us for not eating what they made if we didn’t like it. Food was meant for nourishment and if we did not like what we were given we had the option to make ourselves something else. We did not have little debbies as options because my mother did not buy that food. We had no sugar cereals either. On the weekends she made brownies or cinnamon rolls and we put syrup on our pancakes and french toast. Otherwise, if we wanted a snack it was applesauce, or raisins, or a sandwich or a granola bar, etc. 

Then I would go to a friend’s house. They put too much food on their plate and had to eat it. So our sleep over consisted of me sitting there at that table for 2 hours until it was time to go to bed until my friend ate all of her food. I mean she was only 8 so she should have known exactly how much food her stomach could handle when putting the food on her plate right? WRONG! I wish these parents had degrees in child development or just common sense. But they did not. So the power control began and the parents seemed to get some sort of joy out of this embarrassing behavior, this “sit there until it is all eaten” power trip. It seemed mean to me as a child. Even as a very young girl I could see the sadness and emotional scarring that that parental behavior was causing. 

Then I would go to another friend’s house. No snacks before dinner. Then the kid would be over hungry and nauseous and not want to eat dinner at all or not able to eat much and then be hungry and hour later but be deprived of food. WHY!?? 

Then another friend’s house where they spent all afternoon eating snickers bars and the parents legitimately seemed confused as to why the child did not want to eat a steak!

It blows my mind thinking back on it now. 

Why?

There was no: 1. Listen to your own body. 

I heard every excuse a parent could give on why they controlled food. If the child ate, it would “ruin their dinner.” The only thing that ruined dinner was the fact that the child was then overly hungry and the parent made asparagus which the child hated and then was forced to eat cold 2 hours later because they didn’t clean their plate. 

I watched as EACH of these kids had obesity issues, control over their food issues, bulemia, anorexia, and everything in between. Is that such a shocking outcome? The child was never given the ability to eat based on their own hunger. It is pretty simple. If you put leverage and controls and rules on everything food…your child is going to develop a food issue which will result in a body image issue that they will battle for many years to come. 

I will never forget my friend reaching over the table to get a roll from the basket and her parent sticking her in the hand with her fork because “MANNERS!” We do NOT reach across the table. We ask for the food to be passed. Because we are raising endentured servants and we are part of the Royal family and we are on camera being video taped right now and others watching may think our children are impolite! I mean who was this, fork stabbing, and lecture benefitting? All it did was scare the shit out of me and I never wanted to eat there again. I can tell you that it instilled fear. I can tell you that eating at that house made me nervous of what the consequences of me eating or not eating would be. 

This is not healthy!

I chose to raise my daughter eating food just like my parents raised me. When she is hungry she eats! If she is full, we put the food in a container and she finishes it when she wants. If she is hungry an hour before dinner, she has a banana. 

These choices parents make are only a part of what can potentially cause eating disorders. My eating disorder came about NOT because of food. It came about because of control. I needed to control something. I needed to control my body and by doing that I could control my food. This happened as a direct result of sexual abuse. 

So there are many potential contributors to eating disorders. As a parent we are blessed with the ability to NOT contribute to any of them. 

Arguments with myself 

Me: It’s 1am my stomach is rumbling. I think I need to eat.

Me: You don’t need to eat at 1am. Ignore it and go to bed.

Me: But I’m pit of my stomach starving.

Me: Be strong. Don’t go eat. You don’t need it. Be strong.

Me: But I’m nauseous I’m so hungry.

Me: You’re weak if you go in there. “Tighten up that ass. Stop eating so much.”

Me: Wait! That voice in my head is not me! It doesn’t make me weak to eat! It doesn’t make me strong to starve myself! That is that asshole at Seaworld who said I was fat at 105lbs. That asshole is in my head still!!! So many assholes in my life made me hyperfocus on my body by bullying. Oh my gosh!!!! I hate that they did that to me! I hate that their words are still in my mind!

Me: Yep, you are listening to the enemy who has set up camp in your brain with memories and chains and control. You are no longer 18. You are in control. You are strong. You can go get food and listen to your body’s needs. You are 45 years old. Go get some fucking food. You have a muscle disease. Your body needs constant nourishment. Love that body. Feed that body. 
I promptly go to the kitchen and eat an entire meal and feel satisfied. I will not let the past control me. I will not let the words from someone from my past control me. I AM 45 years old and I will overcome ALL of them!!!
*Photo taken while in kitchen of the black spider that tried to bite me last week that I could not manage to catch. Another spider finally caught him and killed him. Seemed appropriate for this current subject matter. 

Overcoming anorexia 

I was only a little over 4lbs when I was born full term. My brother was over 6lbs. Back then they didnt have ultrasound and my mom didn’t even know she was pregnant with twins. They never would have let twins go to 40 weeks with one only weighing 4 lbs now. I was always a tiny thing. I was thin, never built much muscle. Even during my peak waterskiing years when I was working at Seaworld skiing, I was only 105lbs with barely any muscle. Part of that could have been my underlying, not yet discovered muscle disease, but there were other contributions to that weight that ran much deeper.

Being a waterskiing I had to maintain a certain weight. I was always very vigilant on weighing myself. Lower weight meant more opportunities. If you weighed less, you could be on the top of the pyramid, and the more acts you were in, the more money you got. Even years before when I was on a ski team on my lake, doing doubles, meant I needed to be light. This is an example of doubles: That is me on top. My favorite part of waterskiing I wasn’t even wearing skis…


I was 17 in this picture and less than 100 lbs. Men on the teams ALWAYS commented on our bodies, if we had gained weight or lost weight and how we needed to maintain what they considered the perfect weight. One of the girls I skied with that year ate only popcorn. I would look at her and think to myself how beautiful and perfect she looked and wonder why on earth she was starving herself. I have always been able to look at a woman and not notice or focus on her weight at all. Someone can tell me they have gained 24 lbs and I can’t tell. I don’t look at people that way. I looked at myself differently.

I paid no attention to the food I put into my body. When there was food, I ate it. I may only have eaten 2 pieces of pizza one day or a bowl of cereal the next. I was broke and off in other states skiing with zero budget. I was often slapped on the butt at Seaworld and told to “tighten it up”. I wasn’t aware of what I was putting into my body but it wasn’t much. After my waterskiing career ended and I started college I started to become very aware of my body and what I was putting into it. At first I blamed lack of money. But that excuse was short lived. I knew, even then, that after an entire childhood of abuse, that my body was an object. My body was all that was supposed to matter right? So at 100 lbs I started to drink slim fast shakes for breakfast and lunch. I started drinking drinks from a local juicer. I drank so much carrot/celery juice, my friend told me I started looking orange. I started taking laxatives. I had to keep my body rid of everything. I had to keep it clean. Salads, colonics, slimfast, and occasional noodles. I binge worked out at the gym. I spent hours there.  I relished in the, you are so thin, comments…YES I was winning I thought. I looked at other women that were anorexic and thought, geez how awful they must feel being that thin starving themselves, with absolute no ability to admit I was doing the same. I knew what I was doing but in my mind it ,my body, was just being cleaned out on the inside. Abuse victims know how it feels to need to be clean, scrubbed clean, clean on the inside and out, clean away that dirty residue left by the men. I would look at myself and feel I just needed to work out harder. I HAD to control my body the way everyone else had controlled it. By me controlling it, then it took the control back from the men I felt. I felt this must be true.

I moved in with my boyfriend when I was 18 and shortly after became very ill. Doctors still speculate if this was the beginning of my muscle disease or if this was when I contracted Lyme disease. I was bedridden for a long period of time though. I was also diagnosed with vestibular adenosis(you’ll have to google that, this isn’t the place to go into detail but it was most likely a result of abuse) an inflammation of the tissue on the vagina. The doctor treating me for this put me on a specialized diet. I gained 10 lbs and felt better than I had felt in years. It was a low oxalate no sugar diet that was supposed to help the vaginal tissue. Since it was something I could control then I loved it even more. 

Four years later, When I first met my husband I think I was was 110 lbs. I worked out, cycled, ran, every day. When I got pregnant, my weight gain was very devastating to me. Here I am at almost 9 months pregnant. I remember this day. I remember looking at myself and thinking oh my gosh I am disgusting. I am so fat and disgusting. I stopped looking at the scale after it got over 130 lbs because I knew it meant I was unlovable at that weight. That is how i felt. 


I can look at this picture now and see absolute beauty. I looked at it then and felt disgust. 

Immediately after giving birth I was told,to nurse, I needed to maintain a certain number of calories. I think I barely kept up with that calorie intake. The minute I could start running and working out again I did. I became insanely thin during nursing and loved the power I felt in that. I felt power in thin.


I was tiny again. I loved being tiny. I loved the control of depriving myself of food. It felt powerful. It felt like I was regaining what was taken from me. 

Things changed when my daughter was 3 and our family decided to eat organic food. I just started eating again. But I never enjoyed food. I was choosing better choices though. I would soon after be diagnosed with a muscle disease and was told I needed more protein. 

Fast forward….

My family left me 2 years ago after I broke the silence of the abuse I endured. I ate a cupcake. I ate that cupcake and it was the greatest thing I had ever eaten. I ate food for an entire year that I had never eaten before. I savored every bite. I fed my pain. I gained 20 lbs. I hated my weight gain. I hated my body. The more I hated my body the more I ate. I ate things I deprived myself of my entire teen/young adult years. I ate Doritos, cakes, pies, french fries. I gorged on the foods that I never allowed myself. It was very very freeing. But after I hated myself for it because I hated my body. Food and control were just not manageable. How could I win this battle? I felt like I was failing the control process but I was enjoying food so much. 

Ive written many posts on body image on my blog. Ive never written the history of how my body image has transformed. I’ve never spoken of the journey to get me where I am right now. My body was used. My body was abused and objectified. Control of my body was taken from me.. I believed by controlling my food, lack of, or over indulgence, would be my road to recovering control again. My entire life I looked at my body and either obsessed over it, was disgusted by it, or was proud of the way I had controlled it. My body went through deprivation, self inflicted starvation, which basically meant I abused myself like others had, just in another way. 

I learned that I had osteoporosis at the age of 34. There are many doctor hypothesis to this. One is that my illlness when I was 17 only allowed my bones to reach their 80percent potential. The next is chronic vitamin d deficiency. Both of these are facts. What they didn’t  know is that during the critical years of bone building in the ages of 15-20 I was starving myself. I just went to the Mayo clinic again and got another bone density scan. Anything less than -2.5 is considered osteoporosis although since I am only 44 it was called low bone mineral density by my most recent doctor.


What these scores mean is my bones are thin. Worse than -2.5 for both hips. I look at these scores and I try not to play the blame game. I try not to beat myself up. I did in fact have vitamin D deficiency that has continued regardless of supplement for 10 years, and I did have that bout of illness during critical bone development time. But there is a third contributor and that was anorexia. 

Ive never admitted I was anorexic until now. Tears roll down my face at the realization I treated my body in such an abusive way after I had been so abused by others for so long. But the affects of abuse are tremendous. More life altering than most can ever imagine. I didn’t love my body. I didn’t love myself. 

Raising my daughter I obsessed over NOT obsessing over anything that had to do with her physical body. I never wanted her to focus on her body, doubt the power her body held in its perfect form regardless of weight. I knew I didnt want her to do what I had done. I made sure she had perfect balanced organic meals while I was busy starving. 

After my Mayo clinic trip 4 months ago when I needed an iron infusion, my husband and I went to the beach. I posted this picture. 


And all I saw was fat. 

In these last 4 months I have become accutely aware of my body image and how unhealthy it has been. I hated my body. In these last 4 months I have stopped hating. I have stopped using food as a tool to abuse myself. I have daily,looked at myself and my body as an incredibly strong force that has made it through some awful experiences. When I recently put this picture up, I dont think many knew the victory I felt in doing so. 


For me this picture meant: I love myself. I love my body. I embrace all parts of me. I nolonger need to think of my body as something to control. I will see it as a body that inspite of having thin bones and a muscle disease, still allows me to walk on a beach. What a miracle. This picture represents victory over everyone that ever tried to break me by touching my body against my will. It is victory over every person who told me I wasn’t pretty enough without make up, I wasn’t thin enough, i wasn’t perfect enough, that I wasn’t enough just as I am. This picture is me saying I am proud of me. Even as I hear comments now about my weight gain, I don’t let it affect me. No one knows my path. No one knows this is the first time in my entire life that I am proud of me and my weight has no bearing on my self love.

If you have suffered from anorexia,bulemia, eating disorders, body dsysmorphia, I understand the struggle. I have been through it and made it to the other side. The truth is, my body deserves better. It deserves to be loved and cherished. It deserves to be nurtured. I hope you can find your way to nurture yourself. It is a way to be victorious over abusers. 

To my abusers: 

I won abusers. I won. I regained control by chooosing to love what you chose to try and destroy. You can rot in your own disturbed and monsterous minds. You will always be the disgusting one. You will always be just a sex offender, criminal, worthless human being. But am still the same sweet, honorable, kind, loving, person I was before you touched me. I am still the beautiful person that you thought you could conquer but didn’t. My body is mine. I have reclaimed it and declared victory. I won. I won. I won. I won.