*Please be advised, this post contains potential triggers and open language about eating disorders.
My body is not my enemy.
I can trust my body when it tells me it is hungry.
I can trust my body, and feed it what it is telling me to eat.
My body wants to be healthy, thriving, healthy.
I can trust that my body knows what is best for itself, to achieve a thriving vitality.
All food is good food.
When I first developed and suffered from disordered eating, in my early twenties, it was pretty bad. I had no set parameters, but I limited what I ate severely. I exercised compulsively, most times twice a day, at least once a day, and never took a day off. Never. I stumbled upon cleanses, and detoxes, and other natural things that could rid my faulty body of this evil called the toxic food I ate. I was actually addicted to those stupid natural cleanse pills until right around the time I married my husband. He was the one that encouraged me to no longer buy them, and it is because of him that I first walked away from my disordered eating behaviors. But sadly, I didn't realize how important treatment was, how crucially important it is to seek help and to talk about it in a safe environment. I stopped the physical behaviors, but had no idea that what was going on was rooted in my mind. That's why it came back - not because I did anything wrong, per se, I just didn't know. We didn't know how truly severe and dangerous this thing was. I had no idea that it was so ingenious and nuanced. No clue.
And if I hadn't slowly gotten sicker and sicker, thinking I had fructose malabsorption, then adrenal fatigue, and researched those things in-depth... If I hadn't read this book, this article, this website... I probably would still be there, in its clutches.
There is the assumption that an eating disorder means you are throwing up all your food, or never eating, binge-cycling, are a too-skinny teenage girl. These are stereotypes. An anorexic is just as likely to be overweight as underweight. I never made myself vomit, so that's not necessarily true, either. Eating disorders are no respecters of gender, or age. The most basic of definitions is that an eating disorder is any range of psychological disorders characterized by abnormal or disturbed eating habits.
There is a social stigma surrounding eating disorders, surrounding mental illness and disorders, and they literally drip with shame. We still want to lock ourselves away in the attic, like Mr Rochester's wife. I've lived with that, waded and swam in it for years. Ashamed that I wasn't a good example, ashamed that I had these behaviors. These behaviors must prove I am a messed up human being. Must prove it, because we definitely don't talk about any of it. Ironically, those are the thoughts that helped put me there, in the first place. I am not good enough, and must change. I must make myself change. (It is very nuanced, though... there's that word again.) I must make myself healthy...on and on, yada yada.
What's happened? Why am I talking about it now? I think it's because I had a daughter. That, and I finally moved beyond denial and shame and admitted, acknowledged, named the Truth. I believe that it has to be talked about. The lifetime risk of developing a restrictive eating disorder is about 33%. That's higher than the risk of developing breast cancer, 13%, for what it's worth. (World Health Organization) For the sake of one more person beginning their journey toward freedom and not losing their life, I will talk about it.
How is it that I am not ashamed? That has taken time. Corrie Ten Boom wrote about forgiveness, and I am grossly paraphrasing here, but the gist is that it is a daily practice. Sometimes it is more frequent, or less frequent, but basically every time that shame rears its head, I push it away. It comes back, I push it away again. I say, No, I've already dealt with you. (This is what she practiced with forgiveness.) It isn't that I've had to forgive myself, I didn't do anything wrong, I didn't do anything to bring this on myself - I'm accepting this reality, and pushing away the shame.
Shit happens. We're broken people, sure, but that doesn't mean we can't be mended. It doesn't mean life isn't glorious anyways. It doesn't mean we aren't glorious.
The truth is we all have a monkey on our back, whether you are in denial about it or not is another story. ;) And this is mine is this life. The amazing, astounding, astonishing truth is that the presence of flaws doesn't diminish our value, our worth, our beauty. We are still glorious creations. We are glorious creations because of all these things.
So I will talk about disordered eating, and body image, and all that as I continue on this journey through the maze of recovery. Learning what total health is for me. I want to help others on their journey, by talking about mine.
What is the destination? There is no destination. When will you arrive? There is no finish line. How can you succeed? It is not measured in those terms.
How very frustrating.
How very freeing.
-Gwyneth Olwyn, Your Eatopia