My Story: Then and Now
This photo sits next to my bed, where it has stayed as a secret. I don't think I've shared it in the decade since it was taken. It has a shame hold on me. The lie tells me that my current state is more acceptable if people think I've always been this way, or that I've never tried & actually been successful. This photo was just before finding out I was pregnant with my 3rd child. I'd lost over 50lbs, my first real attempt at weight loss with a diet program was successful. It was a real one too as I was good about lifestyle & mental changes.
So what happened? Well, there were the 3 successive pregnancies. One miscarriage & 2 high-risk that resulted in equally difficult babies. I tried losing weight the same way again but it didn't work. I became desperate & began various very low calorie diets. I began abusing my body & mind this way. The economy tanked & with it our finances. If we didn't have enough money for groceries I'd skip eating for the benefit of my family & our pocketbook. That's still my biggest trigger & hardest habit to break--not eating when stressed about money for the same lies. Or then I'd gorge on it when we had it because it wasn't going to last & I needed to get it while I could. There was the brain injury that left me unable to do much for a year. Then there was the discovery of the years of lying & my husband's addiction. Had I caused that spiral by my looks? If I felt strong & sexy I might be more inclined to leave. When I felt weak and unattractive, I felt inclined to stay & fight for my forever family even if I felt trapped. Family is supposed to come first, so hurting myself to make myself feel like I had to stay seemed safest. I was doing the right thing in my mind. Plus, I still loved my husband & didn't want to leave him- I just didn't want addiction or betrayal in my life anymore (Disclaimer: I still believe staying was right & am glad I did- this thinking just became very apparent when I received a prompting that I had done my part & whatever I chose was okay) Just couldn't do it.
When I was at my lowest weight, in that photo, people treated me differently. With noticeably more respect. Loved ones whom it shouldn't have made a difference. That made me feel great & infuriated all at once. The feeling of being empowered also felt, at times, like feeling selfish. That scared me. I had been harmed by others being selfish and didn't want to do that. I learned about self care and was prioritizing that for my trauma recovery, but I believe that keeping myself protected by my fat became a way to ensure my self care didn't become selfish or that I didn't 'lose myself'. (What a joke of a lie that was!) Yet, I was conflicted because I didn't like feeling like a victim. I didn't like being reminded of that. I wanted to own my life and my body. I wanted to be treated with respect. I didn't realize then that I still wasn't fully loving or respecting myself. I do believe I was doing the best I could with what I knew at the time. I've always been a survivor. But sometimes you survive while damaging yourself simply because you don't know better or have tunnel vision. That's the value of others sharing their stories. It helps open your field of view.
I never saw it getting as bad as it did when I would intentionally trigger my GERD so that I'd be forced to throw up. I didn't think that healing my marriage would necessitate unearthing demons of past abuse: facing what had been buried and FEELING through all of it. I found this new way of living that involved a lot of feeling and forgiveness, but sometimes it all just was too much and it felt easier to have a stomachache from eating too much then a heartache from hurting so much.
I am SO grateful for healing. I am married to a wonderful man whose recovery has been instrumental in my own. Admitting my problem has meant acknowledging I need to reach out in humility. It was so scary when I first started turning to him for that. Because it meant I believed we were at a place where I could trust him to be safe for me again. It means believing God doesn't put me through trials to use me as a tool to help others. Or that I've failed because while I was busy fixing that I broke this. I have a ways to go in overcoming triggers, but I have a husband who 'gets it' in a profoundly personal way and is uniquely equipped to help me, just as I was when he needed me. I have a Heavenly Father who has been quick to rush to my side and make His presence known when I have acknowledged that I needed His help with this and been more willing to do things His way. I have a body that has coped with traumas beyond number and has held that for me until I was mentally strong enough to face it. I'm so grateful....and I'm finding that holding that gratitude, understanding the relationship between body & trauma, is creating a self love and positive body image that is healing the ED thoughts so long as I remember. Maybe I'll get to that size in that picture again. Maybe I won't. My worth and value won't be any different either way, and I owe it to my body and all it has held and done for me to be healthy about it- body, mind, and soul. I know there are others who will judge my story as well as my sharing of it. I also know that there are those who need to hear it. Because I was once that girl who needed to hear someone else's story in order to see mine more clearly.