My name is Heather and I struggle
My name is Heather and I struggle with disordered eating.
My struggle began as a teenager when I caught friends trying on my jeans and mocking their larger size due to my curvy shape. I don't know what I weighed, but I know that I've seen pictures of those early high school years and I'd give anything to weigh that again. I almost have. It didn't occur to me to be concerned about my weight until I overheard my parents, a year or two earlier, arguing one night about having ice cream in the house. I heard my father call me a whale and say they were wasting their money on my summer school P.E. that I thought I was taking so I could free up an elective for art. That fall I turned 14 and he gave me a gym membership. That's when I learned my value was based on my body. That's also when I recognized it from boys at school.
My name is Heather and I am a survivor of sexual abuse. I learned between 8th & 12th grade that I could use my body for attention and compliments from boys. I also learned that attention wasn't always a good thing. I struggled with desperately wanting to feel loved and wanted and pretty and desirable, while also wanting to hide and protect myself from those boys who told me I "asked for it". I felt very confused because I wanted to feel loved and wanted, but not like this. This only made me feel sick, scared, dirty, and used. Saying no, pushing hands away, running away even... that wasn't asking for it was it?
My name is Heather and the voice in my head tells me lies, and sometimes I believe them. "If you're skinny, you'll feel attractive and then you'll invite abuse from others." "You're too fat to be worth anything." "People only respect people who are fit or thin." "Curves attract lust and inappropriate thoughts or actions." "It's your fault." "It doesn't matter if you dress modestly when you have curves because they show and look like you're dressing to show them off no matter what." "The only way to stay safe is to protect yourself with extra weight." "When you are thin, you feel sexy, and that's not okay." "Pretending everything is fine and not paying attention to your attitudes about food is easier and means you can just focus on having a good personality, which is more important anyway." "If people know about how you really feel, they won't accept you." "Your husband deserves someone better looking." "If you are thinner it will trigger your husband's pornography addiction." "Your husband turned to pornography because you weren't enough." "People only see your fat rolls or cellulite or double chin or fat face. They don't see YOU." "If you feel good about yourself then that will mean having more sex and then you'll have to work through the messy trust part of that now that you've committed to only having it in a healthy and intimate way." "Even though feeling good is good and empowering, that is also scary. Freedom is scary." "People are watching you and what you eat, making judgments of you based on that. Watch out." "You're not good enough (or sick enough) to count yourself with the others fighting eating disorders. You don't belong because you aren't skinny."
My name is Heather and sometimes I feel like I am on a pendulum. Sometimes eating is so difficult and unappealing that even eating healthy food makes me physically nauseous. Other times I can mindlessly eat so much that I don't care what physical discomfort I have. Sometimes that physical discomfort is better to me than the emotional or mental discomfort I feel. Sometimes I prefer the physical discomfort of not eating- or the way it makes me foggy because I'm hypoglycemic, because at least then I can have a valid reason not to think clearly or to feel emotionally out of control. Making decisions about food is stressful. I struggle sometimes to make good food choices and then I struggle even when I do make those good choices because I feel like it shouldn't be so hard. I have come to fear food. I fear 'unclean' food, and yet I can love it and have no control over it.
My name is Heather and I am learning. I am learning to lean into the feelings. I am learning to find balance and be accepting of all foods with a healthy attitude. To just eat food and focus on the mental stuff, trusting it will work out as I have a healthy mental state about it. I am learning to apply moderation in all areas. I am learning to make mistakes and to pick right back up and say "It's okay, I'll keep trying and in time I'll do better." I am learning to live just for today. I am learning to reach out for help, to be vulnerable and brave, to speak my truth because it is my truth (and not because I want to be a victim or have attention), that I am worthy of having a voice, to help others by helping myself. I am learning to feel comfortable in my skin. I am learning to catch the lies, challenge them, and change them. I am learning to be patient with the process. I am learning, over and over again, to let to and let God.
My name is Heather and I feel afraid. I sometimes fear myself and my ability to hurt myself or others. I don't always feel safe with myself. It has been just over five years since my most recent struggle with suicidal thoughts, but I know they are in there. I recently became very sick with my acid reflux flaring up severely. Even though I could hardly breathe at times and was throwing up several times a night, several days a week, I welcomed it. I thought that at least then I could maybe finally lose some weight, look decent, having something to show for the several years of serious hard work in exercising and eating right. I ate in a way that I knew would make me sick because I believed the lies in my head. I let it go on long enough and avoided seeking help long enough that I could have cause long-term, permanent damage. This makes me afraid of myself and what I am capable of.
My name is Heather and I am a strong, beautiful, and capable survivor. Although there are days when it is really very, very difficult for me to believe this, I am happy to say that they are fewer and less powerful. My body has done amazing things and I have done amazing things. I have given birth to four amazing children (in a five year timeframe) when I have a thyroid condition that should have made that impossible. I have completed multiple triathlons even though I weighed 200lbs or more when doing so. I can run. I have survived abuse. I have survived my mother's unexpected and early death when I was 17 years old. I graduated college in 3 years, even with taking a semester off to recover from mono. I am artistic and creative and my hands and heart together can do amazing things. I have been through hell and back with betrayal trauma and PTSD. I have supported my husband through his recovery from pornography addiction. I am still standing and I am still fighting. I have recovered from multiple concussions, brain injury, and other difficulties. I have loved and lost and I have shared hard things and gained beautiful ones. I have seen my Lord's hand in my life. I have felt His very real love and deep, abiding concern for me as an individual. I have been made humble by my experiences and stronger for them. I have been blessed beyond measure and enveloped in the loving arms of warrior sisters who are angels on earth.
My name is Heather and although I struggle with disordered eating, I will not just survive but I I will triumph.