Good lord the rumors that swirled around me like a tornado were the most acutely painful part of it. I couldn’t deal with the pain of losing my partner… let alone the pain of failing so profoundly… but the rumors and the way people talked and whispered behind my back took me down to my knees. This is the scariest thing I have ever done, writing what you are about to read… but I am doing this for all the people out there who have ever felt the same but also felt alone. You are not alone.
I talked to my therapist about this. I am sorry if this triggers you. But this is my truth.
- I stopped eating. Not because I was diagnosable, but because I was experiencing trauma. This is what I am told is a normal reaction from a professional. I stopped eating because I was living alone. I moved to Indianapolis for six months to be close to work… It was supposed to be longer but it was dangerous. I was alone, there was no reason to buy groceries for just myself because I would be traveling and they would just go bad. It was a circle that crippled me. I wanted food. I would think about walking the 4 blocks through my neighborhood to the healthy grocery store. I would be tired because I was starving. I would eventually go to the store by 5:00 pm. I would get there and not crave anything healthy, but afraid of eating something unhealthy because I knew it was unsustainable. I would panic about how large the packages of meat were and how I would cook it but there would be leftovers that would go bad in the fridge. I would go to the salad bar and eat half of what I purchased crying alone on my couch and drag myself up to my bed alone. The next day I would repeat. It was awful.
- I stopped eating because food has been a celebration and a reward for me for so long. I eat when I feel like I deserve it, when I have worked for it. I did not feel like I deserved food, because I felt like a bad person who ruined others. This is my demon. What I believe I deserve. I would only eat if I was with others. I would only eat if someone else made the decision I deserved it. I trusted myself so little I would take another person’s word for it over mine. Sometimes I would order food with a group and stare at it. Thinking to myself “I don’t deserve this. I did not work out today I should not eat this. YOU HAVE TO EAT THIS… this is your only chance.” And the panic and anxiety made my shoulders shake. I would drink the wine I had ordered, staring at my food. If someone pointed it out, I would immediately try to dive my fork in to take a bite… it would never hit my lips… the more people brought attention to it the worse it got.
- I stopped eating because of the panic and the desire to be perfect. I was losing my life, my image and myself… the only thing I could keep was the body I thought I should have. I had a full-on panic attack in a Whole Foods in Tampa, Florida. I will never forget it. I worked out in the morning, and drove there to find something anything to eat before I started speaking that night at 5:30 pm. I wanted… of all things, chia seed pudding with mango puree on top… I walked into the store focusing on how I only wanted that… by the time I was 10 feet past the automatic doors, I knew I would never find what I was looking for in a sea of options. I immediately thought that is ok, you will find something else. And for some reason that was it, that fear of eating healthy to maintain a body that society deemed acceptable, only being able to stomach certain foods, and the pressure to make a decision when I did not trust my worth or ability to make a decision was it. I started sobbing. I walked to my rental car under crippling tears that made me want to crumple into a ball in the parking lot. I called Helen and I called Jennifer. They listened to me and loved me through it. I walked back into the store and ended up purchasing, bone broth, a Kombucha and collagen powder for coffee. For the next three days I only drank meals, Kombucha and collagen coffee. It is gross and shameful and I deserve better… so do you. That was a Wednesday. Friday night I flew home from my crazy august … and when I say home I mean to Seattle to work at the University of Washington for the week after Labor Day. My mom is not a typical mom, she does not stock the fridge when her babies come home… she is too busy and she raised self-sufficient daughters who can handle themselves. But she stocked the fridge. That is when I knew it was bad. That is when I knew I had to move home. That is when I knew I should be afraid. I ate, with my family, the food they had prepared for me.
I eat now. I am surrounded by people who love me. They know when life is paralyzing me, they take over. I was never diagnosable. I was struggling. Food is still an issue for me. Maybe one day I will be carefree in eating a giant meal with dessert, but that does not feel possible right now. When I am with people I love, I eat. So, sorry if I ask you to break bread with me or grab a quick lunch or go for dinner after a long day… it is me protecting myself from my own demons.
Enjoy your weekend! I will see you all on Monday!