My experience with anorexia and bulimia was me running away from and trying to control my emotional pain by punishing my body and creating physical pain.
The only thing that enables me and others to be physically on this earth is our body and I punished mine. The older I get the more I could have potentially felt and had to live with the impacts of my punishment.
I wish I had known when I ventured down this path, the answers to – why I was doing this, how I could deal with the emotional pain differently and as importantly the impacts that anorexia and bulimia have on the physical body.
If I had, then I potentially would not have done it.
I remember when I was about nine or ten (and then also in my teens) feeling energy off older men that left me feeling really uncomfortable. I didn’t understand it at the time but the impact of it on me was that I became a Tom Boy to combat the energy.
Becoming a Tom Boy was downplaying how I looked, wearing trousers not dresses and skirts, being competitive and boisterous. The focus then would be on who I was not how I looked.
The impact of this left me feeling not good enough and jealous when I was around girls who were pretty and feminine. Add to that I was sent to an all-girls high school so it was emphasised even more.
The pretty girls got the great guys, or so I believed. They got the good looking guys. Then add to that during a hockey game I was playing one weekend, my father yells out “go thunder thighs”.
Every time I looked in the mirror I saw a person who had fat thighs, someone who was not feminine and someone who was not pretty or attractive.
I had also become tough, fiercely independent and competitive. This was due to becoming a tomboy and also other experiences that had emotional impacts on me. In fact people used to call me “tough chick, should have been a brick”.
Internally I was screaming. I was so so lonely, so vulnerable, feeling rejected, unseen, shameful, so so unworthy, not good enough and most importantly UNLOVEABLE.
Who I had become was not who I truly was, and this me I was, was also not acceptable to others. I had changed so much that my desire for people to focus on who I was rather than how I looked had even got distorted. Add to that I was also not acceptable externally.
The person who was rejecting me the most was me.
Later on in highschool. I was required to live with family friends for a period. My mother was away and I was not allowed to live at home with my father, due to the dynamics in our relationship. The family was wonderful, however, I felt isolated. I had isolated myself. And I didn’t talk to anyone about what was happening inside of me. I didn’t think to do so or know how to do so. So my isolation was compounded, along with the emotions I experienced internally. I started throwing up each time I ate.
I believed if I could control how I looked then things would feel and be different. So I started to punish my body to escape the emotions I was feeling. I got to control the emotions by controlling what was happening to my body. Why because I fixated on my external process which distracted me from my internal process. How wrong I was.
This stage went on for a number of months. In amongst this, my parents separated. I met a wonderful man and I travelled overseas, escaping the environment I was in and believing I was escaping the turmoil in me, which was not what happened.
Our relationship lasted for about eight months and suddenly I was alone in a country where the only people I knew were the people I worked with.
I had a tumultuous number of months of instability in my living environment. And I also experienced physical abuse which resulted in me turning to pot and being stoned all my waking hours. I was falling apart emotionally and internally so the way to control all of this was to put a lid on it – by smoking dope.
In amongst this, I had a beautiful man take a liking to me. He was gorgeous inside and out and had lots of models and ladies interested in him. We worked together and I remember sitting on the back steps of the café bar we worked in and asking him “why are you interested in me” and his words were “because of who you are”.
Ummm my immediate reaction internally was “not because of how I look”.
Crazy what I had always wanted was for someone to see me and he saw me. He saw me for who I was not what I looked like.
I wouldn’t let him close, because of the physical abuse I had gone through and the absolute loathing I had for myself. Why would anyone love or want to be with me?
The pot did not help this process, as I got the munchies and would then eat so I also put on weight. Wow, I was spiralling out of emotional control.
Friends of mine from home grabbed me, moved me out of where I was living, kicked me up the bum and essentially told me to sort my sh.t out. I stopped smoking dope.
I allowed this beautiful man into my life, with all the fear, trepidation and lack of self-worth I had attached to it.
He reported to me as I was his supervisor at the café bar. We would work shifts together and models would flirt with him. He was not the issue, I was. How scared I was of losing him. I totally could not accept he loved me and wanted to be with me. And I felt so big, ugly and unworthy.
I started throwing up again and the bulimia came back. And I would also not eat for periods of time, so the anorexia process was now a part of what I was doing, as well.
I believed I had to be skinny for him to be with me, for him to love me, for me to be worthy. Most importantly my fixation on my physical body meant I was distracted from and controlling the emotional turbulence and insanity going on inside of me.
The more I focused on how I looked the less the people in my life could manage who I had become. Who I was, was different and lost.
I then started using laxatives. So I would not eat and if I did have something very small I would throw it up and take laxatives to flush it out.
The more I did this the more the control came off my emotions. I was raw; I was reactionary to so many little things. The stories going on in my head were so suspicious, paranoid and blown out of all proportion.
All the pain, all the emotional hurt and wounds from my past were surfacing. I was clinging like crazy to keep them at bay.
Then our relationship ended.
I returned home and started dealing with a bit of what I was experiencing, but it was at a surface level. So I started meditating to find some peace, however, it was not me dealing with the real issues that were going on internally.
I still continued with my anorexia and bulimia journey. Until the day that I started getting involved in sport again.
At school, most sports came naturally to me and I was pretty good at them. And I never fulfilled my potential with them. During this time I achieved becoming a member of a national sports team. This meant I had to eat to be competitive. So I changed my control mechanism over my emotions from anorexia and bulimia to obsessive sport.
The focus was still on the physical rather than emotional.
IMPACTS OF THE ANOREXIA AND BULIMIA
Not eating, or eating and throwing up and using laxatives was me punishing, wounding and hurting my body.
Little did I really stop and ponder on, what is going to be the impacts of me doing this to my body? What will be the impacts on me later in life?
My one saving grace is that my journey of this experience did not go on for an extremely long period of time. In some ways, the obsession with sport replacing the anorexia and bulimia prevented the potential physical damage.
- My hair started falling out. I have a reasonable amount of it but it is fine. It was limp, it broke easily and became thin. The nutrients just were not there for it.
- Oh, my nails broke easily, took longer to grow and were covered in white spots – lack of Zinc.
- Also my skin became blotchy and dry.
- The impact of throwing up was that the acid kept coming into my mouth. This causes the enamel to be impacted, resulting in tooth decay and potentially lots of fillings, if not worse.
- I could feel the burning of the acid as it travelled back from my stomach to my mouth. Wow, what was I doing to me? I had some indigestion and heartburn. I understand it can become extreme and do more damage to people.
- This was the area that has had a long-term impact on me. For years my bowels would not naturally function. How could they, I conditioned them to be reliant on laxatives and other processes. So for years, I suffered constipation. Even still today, they are erratic.
- I know of a lady who as a result of bulimia and laxatives had three-quarters of her bowel cut out and she ended up with a colostomy bag at age 35. She also was not able to have children.
- My perception of my body and how I look is still distorted at times. It has been the area of healing that has taken the longest time. It is still something I am very conscious of, even after all the healing I have done internally with my mental, emotional and energy processing. It is the area that is most visible.
I remember the story of British twins who had anorexia. One of them died as a result of it as all her organs shut down. The other who sort help was asked to draw her physical outline on butchers paper. This was to see how she perceived herself and what size she believed she was. She was then asked to lie on the paper in her drawing. They drew the outline of her actual physical size. The difference between what she perceived herself to be and what she was, was significant. She perceived herself to be double her size.
Many times over the years I have had my bouts of feeling fat, ugly and not good enough physically. And I have wanted to go back to not eating and or throwing up.
As I woke up to the fact that my body is so important. I live with it until I leave this earth, so do I want to have a physically enjoyable process or a physically painful one.
I choose a physically enjoyable and joyful process.
In punishing and rejecting my body I am punishing and rejecting my emotions and me and visa versa. This only means I will experience more rejection because that is what I will look for in my interactions with others.
I am now really healthy. Just had my bi yearly bloods and check-up – all good. My teeth are in the best state they have been in with no decay (excluding all the fillings I already had). And my hair is the thickest, longest and healthiest it has been. My hair and nails grow quickly.
I value my body.
- Once I gave up the anorexia and bulimia and once I gave up the obsessive competitive sport, all the emotions I was running away from came to the surface – triggered by an external situation.
People we cannot run away from our emotions. We only suppress them and make our lives worse and prolong the agony when we turn to pot, anorexia and bulimia and or sport to control our emotions.
WE CAN HEAL OUR EMOTIONS – WE CAN HEAL SOME WOUNDS AND PAIN IN OUR BODY, BUT THERE IS A LOT THAT WON’T HEAL.
I am thankful I grew my ability, by studying me, to heal my emotions (and still do today) so I know it is possible. And I am also thankful that I woke up to caring about my physical body. I want to spend the rest of my years feeling and being physically healthy because I deserve that.
ENCOURAGEMENT TO EVERYONE
People, please be aware when you judge another person’s body or looks, you are actually judging yourself. Also, the impact on that other person can result in not only emotional pain, hurt and wounds but also physical pain, hurt and wounds.
People are beautiful not only internally, but externally – take time to see the beauty in everyone and especially yourself.
Value and care for you.
Value and care for your body and your emotions.
You live with your body your whole life, look after it the best you can.
I am thankful I grew my ability to care about all of me.
I encourage you to do the same.
Note: reach out and ask for help, if you require it. These days there is no shame in Anorexia and Bulimia and there is so much help out there now – google your local support for Anorexia and Bulimia