Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?Posted: March 7, 2011
The other day, I passed along my blog URL to a coworker who was interested in my recipe for my fruit salsa. (Hi, Rachel!)
At first, I began to type out the recipe by hand. The thought of sharing my blog with people that I know in real life is quite intimidating. I can count on one hand the number of readers who I actually see on a routine basis. Why? Because of the detail in which I describe my struggles with an eating disorder.
I never once had a second thought about sharing that message on the blog. I feel incredibly blessed to have beaten the anorexic and bulimic habits, and every day I am thankful every day that I made the decision to fight for myself.
Because I feel a deep connection to the countless other women who are dealing with the same issues of self-loathing, deprivation and insecurity, I published my own experiences in the hope that even one person could be inspired to find their own “healthy place”. The comments and emails I’ve received from readers who could identify in some way, shape or form absolutely brighten my day. I understand firsthand the hell that an eating disorder can be, and if my story can help another woman feel less alone and less powerless as she fights the same tendencies, then it served its purpose.
That said, few people in my “real” life know about my disordered past. After a few months of dating, I opened up to The Coach about it, yet outside of two or three other friends, it’s a sealed secret. Although I’m proud to stand up and write about breaking free from disordered thinking, a stigma still surrounds the anorexia and bulimia that I faced several years ago.
Eating disorders are surrounded with specific connotations. Those who have never experienced them have a hard time understanding the complex mental aspects. As a result, it’s easy to view someone who has struggled with such issues as “weak” or “crazy.”
I refuse, however, to live by those labels. The things that I have had to deal with make me who I am today – a strong, independent, confident woman who knows how to balance salads with ice cream sundaes. Where I’ve been is not something I should be ashamed of. It was not a choice, it was not a lifestyle – it was a series of insecurities that overtook my life. Finding the strength to let go of those disordered habits was by far one of the hardest – yet most worthwhile – things I’ve ever done.
Every morning when I look in the mirror and see my curves, I’m proud of them. I know that this body is a healthy one, fueled by wonderful foods and capable of amazing things. This body is going to take me to some amazing places. Where I’m going is not limited or hindered by where I’ve been. I’m not broken – I was never broken – and the same applies for every single man or woman who has ever dealt with an eating disorder.
We are capable of happy, healthy lives. We are not defined by the things we’ve been through. They certainly shape who we are, but rather than making us a fragile, “messed-up” individual, they make us stronger and wiser in the long run. They make us appreciate each cookie that doesn’t end up in a food journal. They make us enjoy a workout because it allows us to be athletic and alive – not because it burned off the calories in the four carrot sticks we ate for dinner. They make us savor every authentic smile that wasn’t covering up a secret struggle.
I refuse to feel ashamed of struggling with an eating disorder. Countless people across the world deal with the same issues on a daily basis. It’s a scary place to be, but the beauty of moving beyond it is being able to look back and appreciate the strength it took to get to where we are now. I’m confident in who I am right this very moment…yet I’m excited to see who I will become in the years to come.