I have been on the verge of major personal breakthroughs in the past year, yet I’ve felt as though there was just something missing. Something I wasn’t doing “right”. I was ready to jump but felt like I just couldn’t take the leap I needed to. And I couldn’t figure out why…
I had created a business that didn’t fail and made a profit- not a huge one, but it was something. Tangible success.
I was beginning to communicate better with my partner…more open discussions, more questions, more honesty. This was dire and it felt so good to not be afraid to ask anything.
We traveled more. I rediscovered my love for nature and understood why I needed to take time for myself, especially via the outdoors.
I was starting to form a great community around me. Genuine people who shared similar passions and wanted to give and receive support the same way I wanted and needed.
I have been so grateful and literally jaw droppingly-amazed how everything has fallen together. Even if scary at times, it always has been okay.
But I still suffered this extreme disconnect, like a giant lump in my throat that I’ve known I’ve needed to let out but never knew how. I didn’t feel like I could connect to those with whom I wanted to help, and I also felt like I was holding myself back on purpose.
I am passionate about what I do because I know how good it feels to feel genuinely well, only because most of my life I lived genuinely sick.
However, all the outreach I was doing seemed so surface level because I never really allowed myself to be vulnerable, honest and share my WHY. The biggest part of the path I am on.
Spoken word never came to me as easily as written words. I speak so much more eloquently and detailed in my mind than through spoken word. But I realize that if I want to excel, expand and shatter all boundaries holding me back, I first need to be honest with myself and actually speak. Yes, I spoke truths in my head, but I had never verbalized them out in the open.
As odd as this sounds, this realization hit me while sitting watching “My 600-pound life” on TV, as I realized I felt exactly how these people felt, feeling a lump in my throat as they spoke about feeling so helpless and a prisoner of food. These people that are 500, 600 pounds, trapped in a body that they’ve created. And me, nothing near that size, feeling the same. exact. way. I never knew why I was so drawn to the show until I realized that I was living the same life as them, just in a different body.
I’m writing this to share my WHY. My raw, vulnerable story and why I really am so passionate about helping others through food. To tell you that when I say I understand your struggles I mean it. And when I say I want to help, I really really mean it. From the depths of my heart. Because I’ve been at those low points. I’ve felt defeated, ugly and worthless. I’ve numbed, avoided, ran and lied to myself.
I’ve been bulimic almost half my life.
I’ve never known true body freedom. Total body acceptance. Unwavering self-love. I don’t remember any meal without thinking if it would be a “regular” meal I would eat normally, or go into a tuned out, full on binge. I can count on one hand the times I’ve looked in the mirror and genuinely felt physically confident and secure. I’ve never been able to simply throw on clothes and walk out into public. I over analyze to the point of insanity.
I still remember my first purge. It was on my birthday. I must have been between 13 and 15. I remember thinking I could eat as much cake and treats as I wanted to and feel totally fine afterwards. And it was so rewarding and empowering. And so dangerous. I knew some other girls who had started to act upon disordered eating habits, so I was curious, and maybe somewhat envious of their ability to shrink.
Growing up and going though puberty, I was always a little on the bigger side. Not obese, but not “average.” My mom would just always say that her side of the family didn’t have small women. We were “big boned.” It was just the way it was.
Food was an essential part of our family. We never bought ready made foods, and my family was proud of their heritage and the recipes passed down from one generation to the next. We ate to celebrate. We enjoyed what we made, and it brought us together. We rewarded with treats, cookies, cakes, and sweets. Food was a part of everything. Not necessarily in a negative way, but not in a neutral way either. Family cooking was also one of the only reasons I chose to get into the culinary field, so I don’t wish to portray it as a negative thing that pushed me towards disorder. It merely made it easier to hide what I was doing and created a food reward system that so many of us struggle with.
Before I was constantly purging, I was restricting. Late middle school and into high school, I started to realize I got more compliments as I lost more and more weight. I was never “deathly skinny” as you may think when you think of anorexia or eating disorders. In fact, most people with bulimia are very average sized. I was never ever as fat as I thought I was. Especially when I look back now at photos. But people notice you when you change or lose weight. And when you’re desperately searching for a place to belong, that attention can be lighter fluid on a fire.
self-hate + insecurity +positive attention from weight loss and the control or emotional release it provides equals a slippery slope towards an eating disorder.
I never felt comfortable in my own skin. I still to this day sometimes feel like I’m looking out of someone else’s eyeballs. I don’t really know how to explain it. Like I’m hiding in someone else’s skin because it all feels so disconnected. So disconnected from years of avoidance, numbing and misuse of the very vessel that stuck beside me this whole time; my body.
The release of food through purging acted as a mental release whenever I felt sad, mad, upset, ashamed, anything at all. Purging released that. It made me feel something physically that I couldn’t feel emotionally. All I wanted to do was eat and purge. Over and over. It was all I thought about. Stressed at work? Purge. Get in an argument with someone? Purge. It became the physical reaction to an emotional response. I truly believe all addictions are coping mechanisms and protective behaviors we form in our subconscious. I didn’t feel safe to express my emotions and feel them, so this was how I “survived.”
Eventually my parents found out and sought help. It was temporary and was a short fix to be honest. Mentally, I was not in a mindset to get better, or to even understand how to pinpoint why I was needing to do these destructive things. I learned I was good at hiding and could pretty much hide anything I was going through from anyone.
Years passed by and I grew through high school and into college, and into creating my own independent life. I thought I had for the most part pushed the eating disorders away for the most part.
But then came the ability to drink and party which I discovered actually fostered an eating disorder even more. You see, when you’re drunk and partying, you forget about being hungry. You can stay up for days and forget to eat and nobody notices. You can distract and be distracted. I struggled with alcohol a lot, as many people know, and I honestly believe the drinking and eating disorder were connected and due from one another. Just another coping mechanism.
The funny thing about eating disorders is that they can lay dormant for as long as they need to and re appear at your most vulnerable moments. They know your triggers. They know how to speak to you and tell you what you want to hear. They can distort, lie and twist your thoughts and images and make you see nothing that’s real, but convince you that everything is real. They can wait, let you feel empowered, but really have the upper hand the whole time.
I went back to therapy within the past 2 years because I was really struggling emotionally after getting sober. Sobriety was a whole new ballpark with an eating disorder. I had to feel e v e r y t h I n g . I could no longer numb with a drink or a party. Which also was extremely triggering for an eating disorder. I found myself back in the same insanity filled cycles that seemed to run and run on repeat, as I tried to change patterns only to get sucked back in. I knew it was time to do some deep inner work if I ever wanted to move past this. I started having gut issues, food sensitivities, things that I am now positive stemmed from the continuous bingeing and purging over the years.
I am in a very good place now. I don’t think I’ll ever be “cured,” even though I don’t really know what that truly means. Disordered thoughts and desires will always be there if I am not careful of my thoughts and emotions. I now try very consciously to be deliberate about what I think, say and eat. For my own health. Not to look good for others, not to receive a compliment, or not because I want to seem “better than” by eating foods different from others. I do it because it’s vital to my healing. Sometimes that healing looks like ice cream, or cookies. More often than not it looks like feeling uncomfortably full and sitting with it. Recently, healing has looked like consuming animal meat again. I now set boundaries with others that I never thought to form before. With friends and family. Your healing cannot occur at the cost of not wanting to upset others. Sometimes, there needs to be that uncomfortable yet honest conversation.
I tell you all this because I know I am not alone. I know there are so many people who suffer silently, not knowing where to turn or how to get out of a destructive loop.
I speak passionately about whole body acceptance and abundance because it is a necessary key to my very own healing. I must speak these truths because if I do not, the lies from a disordered past will seep in and infiltrate again. We must speak to others what we need to speak to ourselves. We must speak kindly, softly and with love to our bodies. We must nourish instead of starve, fuel instead of fill.
If you have found yourself in a similar situation, please reach out. Your secrets will only keep you sick. I really believe that. I want you to know you can overcome your struggles and you can feel good. Physically, mentally and emotionally. But you need to f e e l. Wholeheartedly feel. Move through your emotions and navigate them without distraction or numbing. Feed yourself as if you were feeding a loved one. Kindly and with love. Find abundance in your food and celebrate your body’s capabilities and its resilience and know that although you have put it through much turmoil, it has stayed by your side the whole time. Your body has not failed you and you have not failed your body. You can heal.
I acknowledge my past, yet I do not live in it. I will not stay in the shadows of a dark time. I accept, I love, and I move forward, knowing that my struggle has brought me to such a beautiful place that I am in now. And it only gets better from here.