I have over 20 years of recovery from an eating disorder which informed my way of living and being from the time I was 7 years old. During that pivotal time of my childhood I had a teacher weigh the class and then post our weights on the board for everyone to see. I was in 3rd grade, was taller than my peers, and weighed ____ pounds. This moment of recognizing that my weight exceeded most of my class, both the boys and the girls, imprinted my way of moving through the world. I became obsessed with my weight, hating my budding body, and vowed to myself that I would conquer this heaviness no matter what it took. I could not have imagined I would ever receive gifts from my eating disorder.
As I Grew Up, So Did My Disorder
As I navigated my childhood, teenage years, and into young adulthood I gradually became sicker and sicker. As a dancer, my young body was shoved into spandex and put on a stage regularly. I was on the dance team in high school and paraded around in short mini-skirts and go-go boots for the world to see. There was no hiding.
So, I started hiding my eating No one could know that I ate. Ever. To me, not eating was admirable.
Having an appetite for anything was despicable. I’d sneak down to the kitchen in the middle of the night and gorge on cereal. Once able to drive, I would hit the drive thru’s. Any opportunity to shove food down my throat and try and numb the incredible discomfort I had in my body and in my heart.
A Secretive Path to Destruction
Simultaneously, in my teen years I began my exploration of disrespectful and abusive sexual encounters with the boys. As well as abusing alcohol and drugs. I was on a secretive path to destruction as somehow I presented myself in a very different light than the lack of light that was in me. I was dark, in a deep hole which got deeper and deeper as I got older. There was no interruption. No pause. And no one to talk to. I was in relationship with my addictions and the overriding hatred I had with my body and that was all that I could manage.
This pattern eventually led me to check myself into an inpatient residential treatment center for eating disorder recovery. This program was holistic and gifted me with a new possibility of living and being in my body and with myself.
Over the many years of recovery, I’ve navigated tumultuous terrain which has put my process to the test. What I know for sure is that recovery is possible. What I also know and believe with every cell of my being is that it takes diligence, consistent work, and an unwavering belief in oneself.
The 6 gifts I have received from my eating disorder and recovery process:
Strong inner compass:
I know when I am off in myself and have built the capacity to adjust as needed. So attuned to my body, myself, my heart, my nervous system, I am able to recognize when something feels off. And I can respond accordingly. My connection to my inner workings and my intuition has been built over my many years of personal work in recovery and serves me in meeting whatever life has presented to me.
Embrace my humanness:
Recovery from an eating disorder is an incredibly humbling path. It truly has opened me up to the beauty in the messy, uncomfortable, painful, joyful, vulnerable, and incredibly beautiful human experience. It has gifted me with the opportunity to embrace who I truly am and all of my perfectly imperfect human qualities and experiences.
After suffering for so many years, missing out on the joys of being alive, and struggling with my body and relationship to my source of nourishment – I have gained such deep perspective and appreciation for myself and the health of my body. For me, emerging from what felt like the depths of hell, has gifted me with a zest for what it feels like to actually live.
Resource in Self:
The deep work I’ve done to heal my eating disorder through my embodiment practices including yoga/movement, meditation, time in nature, holistic nutrition, and other natural healing modalities have gifted me with the opportunity in each moment of my days to resource myself. I know myself intimately and with such an inner wisdom that remaining resourced throughout my days has become second nature.
Deep connection to the whole:
My devotion to the healing of my eating disorder and on embodiment has provided me with an unwavering connection to the breath of life. When I am in contact with that my connection to the whole is magnified and life feels rich and alive.
My innate goodness:
The countless hours of work I’ve done on behalf of my recovery, the consistency of my practices, and the commitment that I have to my process keeps me in check when things feel more challenging. My eating disorder and recovery process are a constant reminder of my innate goodness when, at times, I may have forgotten.