There it was, this horrible paralyzing fear. My husband had just informed me that he would be traveling to Nepal to do relief work. As the day drew closer for him to leave my anxiety and panic grew worse. I kept asking myself, "Am I going to be able to do this?" To understand my fear you would have to know my story. It is an ugly story of self hatred and abuse.
For most of my life I have suffered from some form of eating disorder, starting my sophomore year in high school. It was that year that I was hospitalized due to anorexia. I had passed out at school after running 6 miles during a gym class. For the previous 8 weeks I had been living on a 1/2 cup of grapefruit juice and 1 saltine cracker a day. I had hidden my fat (skeleton of a body) under thick clothes. Thanks to a well informed gym teacher and a school nurse they convinced my family that I needed help. When I was weighed at the hospital I was 81 pounds. I had lost 39 pounds in 8 weeks. I was hospitalized two more times before I graduated. Each time I got a little smarter at hiding my disease from my family and friends and could now add bulimia to my profile.
My freshman year in college was pretty good until I began my second semester. I had just started dating my husband and I stepped on a bathroom scale at his mother's house. I weighed 126 pounds, the heaviest I had ever been. It put me into a tailspin. I spent the next 12 weeks going to aerobics classes 3 times a day, running for two hours each night and again, surviving on a saltine and 1/2 cup of grapefruit juice. My husband (then boyfriend) and his mother found me one night in my dorm room completely unconscious. I was rushed to the hospital and this time I barely weighed 72 pounds. I spent the next several months in the hospital and the next few years in major counseling.
I got married during that time and I joke that the counseling was too effective because I then spent the next 30+ years of my life battling a food addiction and overeating. Friends and family didn't pay attention to this type of abuse and they certainly weren't about to say something that might send be back to starvation. They didn't realize that what I was doing now was just as deadly as the anorexia. I was being allowed to punish myself. My counseling had not taught me how to have a healthy relationship with food. This was the early 80s and eating disorders were just now being researched.
This year I peaked at 315 pounds. I knew I had to stop this war with food. My husband wanted me to be healthy, but he wasn't ready to lose me to anorexia and bulimia again. I have this perfectionist personality and that had sabotaged me in the past when I tried to lose weight. I would find myself reverting back to my anorexic ways of dieting, it was a terrifying existence for all of us.
This time has been different, but sadly, Doug has carried the burden of monitoring my diet and exercise. I have stayed on the healthy track and so when he told me he was going on this trip, I was immediately gripped with the fear of "What If". What if I stop eating? What if I start making myself throw up? What if I go crazy with exercise? On the other side, what if I have no willpower and can't control my eating? What if I stop exercising? What if I slip back into the nightmare of an eating disorder? What if I can't do this on my own?
I have been on my own for a week and I am happy to shout, "I can do this!" I have stuck with my planned meals and have limited myself to 2 hours of exercise a day, except for one day, I did do 160 minutes. I have spent most of my adult life abusing my body with food, whether it be starvation or gorging. For the first time, I am treating my body with the respect it deserves. It isn't easy, everyday is a battle, but I finally have the right tools and the self love I need.
Posted throughout my house is a motivational quote that helps me win the war each day, "Your soul is rooting for you." It reminds me that I don't want to live a painful existence anymore. I want to do this for me because I am worthy of love and I don't have to be afraid anymore!
Each day I get one step closer to defeating the demons within. I am setting myself free! I am giving my story a happy ending!
This was the beginning of my anorexic journey. I will lose 20 more pounds before my secret is discovered.