Originally posted June 10, 2011
My long time readers already know this story pretty well. But I thought it might be fun to have it all down in one concise place. Plus there are a lot of new readers that may be interested to know how it all began.
As a young girl I struggled with low self-esteem. As a teenager my obsession with perfection and my low self-esteem manifested itself as an unhealthy relationship with food. All of this was done behind the backs of people I cared about. I didn't want my parents and friends to realize just how much I was skipping meals. When I went away to college I became obsessed with losing weight. I would go for long stretches of time with only a bowl of cereal. I was so proud of what I saw as an ability to never eat. When I would eat with friends or roommates I would overeat to discomfort and then make myself to penance on the treadmill and go extra long before my next meal. (Read the whole story.)
I was always very concerned that I was too big. I felt like my slim figure was simply not slim enough. On the day of my wedding I was so upset that I wasn't smaller. In my mind my dress was two sizes too big for a new bride. So, shortly after my wedding I started experimenting with diet pills, laxatives, and purging (again). When my husband asked about my loss in appetite I confessed and vowed to work on it. Up until this point I hadn't really thought that I had a problem. In my mind everyone hated their bodies. I was just being proactive about changing it.
When I look back I realize how skewed my thinking was. Even when I had lost a lot of weight and was at my smallest I despised my body. I refused to get help. I told my husband we could do it together. The real truth was that I felt like I was too big to go get help (I was at a very healthy weight). I thought no one would take me seriously.
Fast forward a few years. During those few years I went on every fad diet I could. I developed chronic pain and fatigue. My binge eating and overeating started to become a problem. And I was always unhappy with my appearance.
Then one day this glorious thing happened. I found out I was pregnant. Which was a miracle (and a story unto itself). And that's when I decided things needed to change. It is common knowledge that children watch their parents and learn by example. Not in all areas. There is certainly a large amount of individuality among children. But parents do influence their children. Before I even met my son I knew he was wonderful and beautiful just as he was. I knew that he didn't need to change the precious body he'd be given. And I knew I could tell him, and my other children down the road, he didn't need to change. But I also knew that if I was obsessing about my own body my children would pick up on that much quicker than on the lip service.
Cormac was born and I quickly learned I was way in over my head. He was a very demanding baby. Which under ideal circumstances would have been fine. But you see, we moved when Cormac was only one week old. We moved into a fixer upper. Well, let's be honest, the place was awful. No one had lived in it for a while and the ones who had lived in it before were struggling to take care of it. It was scary.
Every surface needed scrubbed (4 boxes of S.O.S. pads just on the kitchen floor). All the walls needed patched, textured, and painted. The bathroom had to be ripped out all the way to the floor boards and started over. The kitchen was foul. We had to re-finish the cabinets in order to get rid of the grease. And of course we were trying to unpack as well. All with a baby who just wanted to be held every second of the day. There were times I'd strap him to my body and start painting just to get it done.
I was so overwhelmed by the demands on my time. I was so sleep deprived getting up every 2 hours to feed Cormac for the first few months. I was so stressed. And so I turned to food. Sugar, pasta, simple carbs, anything that was a quick pick-me-up and I ate too much of all of it. The weight I'd started to lose after Cormac was here started to come back on with a vengeance.
It was about this time that I started Looking in the Mirror. I wanted to chronicle my efforts to lose weight and figure out the root of my pain and fatigue; as well as a way to better cope or even eliminate those factors. But I also wanted to talk about learning to accept your body no matter the size. Positive change does not happen as a result of negative thinking. And I have changed. Over the span of just this last year I have dramtically changed my opinion on dieting, giving it up altogether. I finally realized (sometime at the end of last year although it took me until the beginning of this year to act on it), that my disordered eating had never gone away and I needed help. I have been learning to be at peace with food, my body, and my situation even when it isn't perfect.
And through it all I've written post after post. What started as my very personal journey has evolved into an effort to share this hope with others out there. I'm still on my journey. It's still personal, but it has grown into a group movement. And for that I'm eternally grateful to all of you.
P.S. Don't forget to enter the giveaway.