A few years ago, I read someone’s book about their eating disorder, and saw myself in the pages. I’m forever grateful for that person’s honesty and openness about their experience, because it helped me to finally begin a journey to health and freedom.
It’s now part of my mission to promote positive body image in this world, and face the issue of disordered eating head on. I don’t want anyone to spend one more second hating the body they are living in.
I believe this is a discussion worth having, and that it begins with bravely speaking our own truth. To that end, I would like to share with you a post from a previous blog, about the moment I finally accepted I had a problem and resolved to do something about it.
I’m very proud to share that since this post, more than two years ago, I’ve come a long way. It gets a little easier every day, and, most importantly, for the first time in my life, I really, truly love my body. I’m grateful for it. I’m kind to it. I’ve stopped punishing it, and punishing myself, for “lack of perfection.” I’m finding real happiness and true peace. I had no idea what that felt like before.
Also? I’m enjoying food so much!
If any of this speaks to you, please never hesitate to reach out, to me or to someone you trust, and to get help! I promise, it will be worth it!
“Ohhhhh my god. This is ME.”
The big moment, the moment that would change my life and rock my world, happened very simply. I was curled up on my couch in my North Hollywood apartment, reading a book, with a cup of tea beside me (filled with fiber powder, of course) and a blanket over my lap. I had discovered a book I couldn’t put down- “Unbearable Lightness” by Portia de Rossi- a personal account of her struggle with an eating disorder that almost killed her, and how she found love, life, and recovery after.
I can’t explain why THIS book did it, THIS time, at THIS moment. I have theories. I was older and wiser than I had ever been before that moment, that much is true (…and obvious.) I had finally come to a place of peace and healing regarding my father’s alcoholism and several other issues I had spent many years working through and focusing on. Perhaps most significantly, I was in the healthiest relationship of my life with a man who made me feel completely, totally safe in every way. With my defenses down, and my “survival instinct” mechanisms slowly fading, maybe I felt for the first time I could truly face myself.
Whatever the reasons, it happened. As I read further into Portia’s story, bits and pieces began to feel eerily familiar. I dismissed the feeling as “every young actress or model struggles with these things.” I saw myself in her and her in me, but it didn’t mean much. As the story went on, however, and she began to lose herself in the disorder, the feeling was more unsettling. I recognized the horrifying way she spoke to herself in the depths of her sickness as the exact way I spoke to myself. Almost daily. I read about the secrecy she lived in and the lies she told her loved ones, and realized I had made some of the exact same excuses and spoke the exact same lies. I knew all too well the feeling that, no matter how much you do, no matter how much weight you lose, there is always a new goal to reach, and you are always, always failing.
No two eating disorders are the same. Mine didn’t look exactly like Portia’s. I never reached 82 pounds (my adult low was around 105). I wasn’t living, and therefore scrutinized, in the public eye the way she was. My health wasn’t impacted as dramatically as her’s was, nor was I ever “called out” in the ways Portia had been. For a moment, I considered that perhaps I was reading into the similarities a little too much.
However, there was one feeling I couldn’t deny, one ugly, disgusting thing the “voice” told me, at that moment, that made me realize how sick I actually was.
“You just aren’t as disciplined as she is. If you were stronger, you could have been skinnier too. If you weren’t such a fat, lazy cow, you could have finally reached your goal weight. In this town, you have to sacrifice for what you want. She’s amazing and motivated, you’ll never amount to anything because you couldn’t do it.”
I began to cry, because I knew. I knew that wasn’t the way a healthy person speaks to themselves. I knew I was supposed to be inspired by her recovery, not by her extreme weight loss. I know I didn’t want my life to be a series of shame spirals and binging and hating myself and fasting and dieting and, most of all, never, ever, ever reaching the finish line.
That night, for the first time since I could remember, the “voice” didn’t talk me to sleep.