Updated: Feb 10, 2022
I was eight years old when I was first made aware of my “problem”. I was about 12 years old when I was put on my first “diet”. I was 22 years old when I first began binging and purging and now at 39 years old, I’m finally ready to own my story in hopes of helping other women heal from the adolescent traumas that initially shaped them. Enough. Is. Enough.
Overall I had a great childhood, filled with many laughs and lots of fun. My parents provided much but like many others of their generation, they were, limited, in fulfilling what we needed emotionally.
My mom was always concerned about appearances and I was expected to follow suit. She herself was judged harshly by her parents, never fully embracing who she was. Most who knew her believed that she was comfortable in her skin and exuded confidence, yet privately, she was afraid of not being accepted.
My father, the last of four boys, was given much more freedom to explore his world. Having had an alcoholic and abusive father, he kept himself busy with his own interests. While he says he didn’t directly suffer from his father’s actions, as they had subsided quite a bit by the time my dad was born, growing up in that type of environment does affect you.
By the age of eight, I began gaining weight. Around that time period, I remember stepping on the bathroom scale and berating myself for being 78 pounds. Even at that age, I was influenced to think something was wrong with me.
According to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the healthy weight range for an eight-year-old female is 44-80 pounds. Not knowing what was actually “average”, I felt like a big, FAT, failure.
My body was changing and it was apparent, that my parents, were not pleased, so they encouraged more movement.
While I dabbled in many activities, competitive swimming and cheerleading were the ones that stuck and that I excelled in. I began thinning out and enjoyed the fun I was having with my friends. But as puberty approached, the issue began to reappear. My weight was above where it should be, not by much, but enough for my parents to be concerned. At that point, their “gentle” pressure to lose weight had intensified.
My pediatrician advised my parents to put me on a low-fat diet. I was given canned red beets, fat-free cottage cheese and dry toast to eat for meals, while the rest of my family ate whatever they wished. Some days my parents would push me to eat according to the doctors’ orders, other times they would offer me “midnight snacks” before bedtime, contradicting their viewpoints.
The only constant? The feeling that something was wrong with me and that I was a disappointment because I wasn’t built like many of my other friends.
Around the age of 10 or 11, a group of us were playing a game where one person would act out a scene and the others would have to guess who they were pretending to be. As my friend took a bowl of popcorn and shoved fistfuls of it into her mouth, she laughed at the fact she was mimicking me. I was horrified and very embarrassed.
I learned early on about good foods and bad foods. Foods I was allowed to have and foods I wasn’t. And unfortunately, the result of those rules is that I developed habits where I would binge eat when the “bad foods” were made available to me. The day my friends laughed at me for it, unbeknownst to me at the time, was the start of my very private battle with food addiction and binge eating.
Throughout my teenage years, my parents kept encouraging weight loss. While my mom was passive aggressive, my father was more straightforward in his approach.
Bribery to buy me a new wardrobe if I dropped 20 pounds, telling me he’d quit smoking if I got into shape. These “rewards” only made the pressure worse—was I responsible for my father’s health now too?
Then one day, in an effort to inspire me to become smaller, he said,
“I love you, but I’d like to love a little less of you.”
This recollection was buried until the beginning of 2021. While doing some shadow work, the repressed memory came flooding back. Upon that realization, I looked back on my life and am saddened at just how much weight—no pun intended—I had subconsciously placed onto that sentiment.
While my parents made this issue a big one, overall, they loved the hell out of me and only wanted the best for me. I’m not excusing their behavior but it was a different time and they just simply didn’t know how to handle this situation appropriately. But what a shitty and traumatic situation for me to be in and what a lesson on manifestation—more on that below.
My father's comment didn’t derail me in any obvious way as I continued getting older. I almost always had a smile on my face, I had a ton of friends, boyfriends, did well in school and generally loved who I was. And despite the insecurities about my body type, I do believe I am a truly beautiful person, inside and out.
However, I could never shake the excess weight and more importantly, I could not shake the thought that I was never truly, 100% lovable the way I was.
In college, booze, Panda Express and pokey stix sustained me. There were no rules I had to follow so I became free to gorge and try new and exciting cuisines.
After college I moved to D.C. and the pressure to be thin started up again and one night, after too many drinks and way too much greasy bar food, I forced myself to throw up.
Boy did I feel relief! Physical relief of not having that food baby pushing my insides in all directions, but an emotional relief that the calories I had consumed were no longer a factor. I was able to indulge without worrying about the scale the next day.
At a basic level, we eat to sustain ourselves and to survive. But what happens when we are told something is wrong with us for carrying out a human necessity?
In my case, I became obsessed with the power and control of it all.
This "thing" was one area of my life that was solely mine and I kept it to myself. No one knew anything and I found myself getting a high from the fact I hid my binging and purging so well.
I was being praised for losing weight, despite me basically killing myself to achieve it. Mind you, I never exhibited the physical representation with someone with this eating disorder so I was never questioned. However, I'm still dealing with the side affects of this chronic disease—the damage is lifelong.
This pattern went on for years, subsiding for a time and occasionally gearing up when I felt pressure to look “my best”, coming to head when I was shopping for a wedding dress.
I had gotten engaged and moved back to Pennsylvania and with wedding planning and living with my parents, I had decided to start taking anti-anxiety and depression medication—a method that I still continue to use periodically when life gets to be too much. While not right for all, medication has helped even out my emotions and it was a lifesaver during this particular period.
The downside was that my weight kept increasing until a 40lb weight gain had occurred, which, I have never been able to fully get rid of despite my efforts. More on this topic in a future post.
My parents, who had been relatively quiet on this front for a bit, confronted me and got angry because they felt I had given up on getting back into shape and told me how embarrassed I was going to be on my big day.
Kind, huh? While I ended up looking amazing, it came at a cost, as the binge and purge cycle restarted.
What was missing when I was younger and what was missing from the wedding conversation was real emotional support—an understanding, a desire to help fix what they helped break. They took the stance of “this is your problem, you fix it” and I was honestly lost.
This was the body I was born with and they never accepted it as it was and as a result, I didn’t either, despite trying out every diet and exercise program available to me.
The kicker? I sat them both down shortly after the dress fiasco to open up and tell them about my disorder and how it was getting worse. Ultimately, they thought I was seeking attention and just being lazy.
I was shut down. And that was the last it was ever discussed, despite me still dealing with these issues today.
While food is important for sustaining your physical body, it also connects us to our ancestors, with those close to us and is a celebration of our cultures. Moreover, the tastes, the textures, everything about it makes my entire body FEEL, and in moments where something was/is missing, food was/is always there.
It’s ingrained into our society as a central pillar to connect others together. And since life is about living and enjoying the present, how do you strike that balance of enjoying the food centric moments but not feeling guilty about them?
And how the fuck did I, and others like me, end up looking at food like a forbidden and evil temptation? How, as an eight-year-old girl, did I think it was my responsibility alone to keep my weight in check? The internal dialogue I had with myself as I stood on that scale was simply heartbreaking.
I can have compassion for my parents’ misdoings, I can think they were wonderful in other areas, but it doesn’t change the fact that with regards to this particular situation, they failed me, big time.
I’m not a doctor, a therapist or nutritionist. I do my own research and consult experts. I do the work, making sure to get regular exercise and eat as well-balanced as possible. If I do indulge, I'll feel shame and guilt and still feel like I’m that unloved, unaccepted little girl and just like that, I'll slide back into my old patterns. And while I feel educated in much, I’m still fumbling to find my exact footing in this arena and it seems others are in the same boat.
According to PR Newswire, the global market for weight loss products and services should grow from $254.9 billion in 2021 to reach $377.3 billion by 2026. That means that people all over the world are struggling to find answers to losing weight and are spending a fortune trying one method and/or product over another. What gives?
Is it our laziness? Our genetics? Chemicals and lack of nutrients in our food supply? A more sedentary lifestyle? All YES!
But what many still fail to realize is that there are emotional and spiritual components as to why our bodies store excess weight or have any other physical ailment. If those emotions and traumas aren’t dealt with, then reaching your physical goal is going to be virtually impossible.
I took all my past trauma and shoved it so deep down, I am only now uncovering it 30 years later. I suffer from intestinal issues, lower back issues and chronic sleep issues and if you look into energy work and the chakras, my main issues occur in the root, sacral and solar plexus centers—the areas responsible for stability, safety, physical identity, pleasure, self-esteem and confidence. Holy shiz, Batman.
You can’t deny the connections and while I have been embarrassed and ashamed about making my struggles known, it’s is time I make peace with the past and make peace with my body. In essence, it’s time I dealt with my emotional shit, no matter what others may think.
I want to be happy and healthy—physically, emotionally and spiritually—and whatever physical representation of that appears is a blessing. The judgment and conditional love I adopted from my parents is only going to hinder reaching this goal.
If someone comments on your physical body, it’s THEIR own insecurities and projections coming through and that is not your responsibility to explore their words or intentions. What is your responsibility is taking care of your physical and energetic body the best way you possibly can.
I AM lovable at any size and in any shape and you are too, no matter what core trauma has affected you. I’m done suffering in silence and as I approach my 40th year on this planet, I’m ready to release what no longer serves me.
I have had the privilege of facing some pretty private and heart wrenching battles, including my mother's passing in 2018, but this particular struggle with self-worth, self-love and self-acceptance has been an underlying current through everything I've gone through. And while my mom's thoughts and actions were sometimes flawed, she never had me questioning her love and I thank her for all she did for our family.
With regards to my father, I know his heart is filled with love for me as well but we have different needs at this juncture and that’s ok. However, I find it interesting that his statement years ago about “loving me less” had manifested the way it did. While the actual love did not diminish, his presence in my life is virtually nonexistent. And losing both of my parents simultaneously has been devastating.
I do take responsibility for my actions but the emotional trauma I went through was real, it grossly affected me and as a result, my weight still fluctuates often. At this juncture, I'm done obsessing about it.
I thank this experience for the lesson and it’s time to make room for a new one to follow. Regardless of the image I see staring back in the mirror, I know I’m more than what I see.
For those of you struggling with body image issues, disordered eating or other unhealthy habits, I urge you to find someone to help you through it. Being a spiritual mentor and advisor, I need to be transparent by owning and fixing my own struggles and trauma so that I can help others do the same. Judgement is a glass ceiling that I am now shattering and while it's scary to be this raw and vulnerable, it also feels really effing good.
I will continue healing the emotional and spiritual aspects of myself, keeping my subtle energies strong and clear with reiki, yoga, guided meditation and chiropractic care. This holistic approach, combined with more traditional methods, will get me to my desired goal—feeling happy, healthy and worthy.
We are enough. We are universal love and light and are perfectly imperfect. Our struggles do not define us, they just allow us to better sculpt who we wish to be.
Reach out any time to chat. I am here to listen and if my story can help give you courage to heal the unloved parts of yourself, then being this honest will be worth it.
Dig deep, and with love, compassion and grace, you too can do the physical, emotional and spiritual work to reach your goals.
And most importantly, don’t let anybody love you less, but rather, BE the love you seek.
Thank you so much for allowing me to share my journey with you.
Blessings my lovelies~