No one likes to open up about about their eating disorders. It’s vulnerable. It’s a secret. And maybe we aren’t ready to let it go.
I had an eating disorder for the better part of a decade. It started in high school when I was a dancer and I wanted to make sure my dance partners could easily lift me. I had the bright idea to just throw up once in awhile after a big meal. I didn’t know how to eat right and as an impulsive careless teen I wasn’t all that interested in learning more. It slowly became a go-to way for me to “diet”. It was gross and I often felt physically weak and cold but it seemed to be serving me.
At 19 I was attacked in my home and just about everything I thought I knew about the world, my life path, and trust was shattered. I changed. I never felt safe again. I turned inward. I got quiet. I relied on the stack of prescriptions I was suddenly given to fix me. Unfortunately they just became my first drug addiction. I relied on food to numb me. I hated talking about how I felt. I didn’t know what I was feeling. I didn’t know how to get well. I didn’t have words for the pain I was in so, I threw up. Over and over again. It was the only way I knew how to expel my anger and sorrow. It was my physical manifestation of releasing my deep disgust and heartbreak. It was so repulsive and I didn’t dare tell a soul. It was my secret. My best friend. My only way out. Eventually it was obvious to those I spent a lot of time with and I would see the helplessness in their eyes. They were right, they couldn’t help me because I wasn’t ready to let go of one of my only coping skills. That paired with my other coping skill…addiction…was slowly killing me. After time, I couldn’t look myself in the eyes when I passed a mirror. I loathed myself. I couldn’t trust myself. I couldn’t believe who I’d become. I was lost somewhere inside myself.
Finally, I was ready. When I got sober I was still fully intending to cling to my eating disorder. I wasn’t skinny so I figured, “how bad can it be”? (It can be bad!) Very quickly, I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to heal if I continued to hold onto this. A few months after getting sober I released my bulimia. I grieved as I said goodbye to it.
It’s been about 5 years since I’ve thrown up. I’ve experienced trauma, sexual assault, loss, bulimia, and incredible TRANSFORMATION. Last year I enrolled in nutrition school to become a certified health coach. I didn’t even know exactly what a health coach was but I knew what pain related to food was and I knew I needed to help others heal, starting with myself. It’s extremely common for people who have been abused as children or sexually assaulted to turn to food not only to numb out but to also build a protective layer of fat around them to keep unwanted advances away. There are so many of us that have really unhealthy relationships with food. Now when I coach people 1-on-1 to educate about nutrition, it’s always with the knowing that our food issues have a deeper root and I have an incredible gigantic magical box of healing tools to shift those root issues that so desperately want to be healed. When I lead group cleanses, it’s so that I can facilitate a loving supportive space where we can motivate one another and get vulnerable. I ask myself, “Why am I a health coach? Why do I share products from a superfood company? Why do I speak to groups about overcoming trauma? Why do I sing? Why do I dance? Why do I get share this shit with strangers? Why do I take responsibility for my part every time things around me get messed up? Why do I read and put into practice so many self improvement books? Why?” The answer is simple. TO HEAL. To heal myself. To heal my ancestors. To heal my children. To heal my friends. To heal the world by showing up as an authentic loving being who screws up and tries again the next day. Most importantly, by never ever giving up on myself. I can look in the mirror today and smile. I can treat my body with respect today. And I am so grateful. Thank you for your part in my recovery.