Monday, January 23, 2012

I have an eating disorder.

February is Eating Disorder Awareness Month.  Nearly half of all Americans know someone with an eating disorder.  And if you’re reading this, you’re in that group.

I have an eating disorder.

And I'm completely OK with you knowing it.

February 17, 2011 is the day I made the scariest phone call in my life.  I called to start the process of treatment for my eating disorder.  I had no idea just how intense the first few weeks would be and I won't lie, it got worse before it got better.  There have been miserable days and there have been elated days.  There have been days where just a bowl of oatmeal is enough to send me into a tirade and still others in which baking muffins for breakfast feels like I've conquered the world.

Why am I telling you this? 

Because after 25+ years, I can. 

Through the years, I have become pretty amazing at concealing ED.  Some of you knew, some may have suspected and some will be completely blindsided by this whole thing.  You see, eating disorders thrive on secrecy.  They want to be the only voice in your head and want to filter everything coming in to support their own propaganda.  They’re energized by fear and can turn anything into a cause for defeat.  In speaking up, I’m taking that energy source away from my eating disorder and challenging what it tries to tell me about myself and the people around me. 

It’s important for me to throw wide the curtains and expose this eating disorder so that I can get on with living an authentic and honest life.  Completely selfish but completely necessary. 

In therapy, we have referred to the treatment process in terms of a dance.  Especially fitting as dance was one of the last things I was able to wrestle away from my eating disorder as well as it being one of the first things it reclaimed.

Dance isn't always pretty and smooth and graceful.  Sometimes it's in your face, raw, methodical, gritty, gut-wrenching, sweaty, off beat, whirling dervish.  Sometimes it inhabits your body in an uncomfortable way and you need to work and work and work to make it feel comfortable in your skin.  Sometimes it jumps in right away, takes control and leaves you breathless with that feeling of success and inspiration.

What dance always is - or at least should be - is passionate and personal.  Much like this journey I'm on.  I need to keep reminding myself that, like dance, this journey takes determination, practice and commitment.  Sometimes I'll fall trying to get it just right.  Sometimes I'll soar on the first try.  But neither is more important than each other until the whole dance is learned and complete.

At this point in my dance, I'm still in rehearsal mode.  I may be for my whole life.  I've accepted that challenge with open arms and an open spirit.

It's OK if you know I have an eating disorder because I've decided to claim it as mere part of who I am instead of all of who I am.  And I'm not afraid.

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