I was trying to find an old photo for this post. A picture worth more than its face value.
I was looking for a photo from my senior year in high school. It was the year I had a boyfriend who made sure I understood — to my core — that I was "FAT"; it was the year I became anorexic. I couldn't find that photo of me at my lowest weight, but I remember clearly... you could see: my clothes hung on my frame, my eyes looked vacant, and my skin-tone was grey. What you couldn't see: my hair was falling out, I was cold all day every day, my racing heart fought its disappearing muscle, and my period had stopped. I was at war with my body, and had never felt so unattractive and unworthy in my 17 years.
I broke up with that boyfriend, and my family got me help that year — and for a while I was better. Then I left everything I knew and everyone I loved and went off to college... I planned to share a photo, now, from my first day there, but I couldn't find that pic either. But I'll tell you: I was thin, scared and alone. While I excelled in college academically, throughout those next 4 years I wrote my family letters I never mailed, keeping them under my mattress, saying goodbye in case I didn't make it. Telling them I loved them, and how sorry I was to put them through this. Feeling guilty and disgusted by myself, and very alone even in caring company.
As the seasons changed anorexia turned to bulimia which turned to overeating which went back to anorexia and then to bulimia and obsessive exercise and disordered eating. This went on and on for way too many years. Beyond the overarching damage I've done internally, there are a few times I nearly died. There but by the grace of a power mightier than me, I was nearly a percentage — my family's loved one who didn't survive.
In our culture, when self-care is comprised of GAINING weight, our society fights it. At my thinnest and least healthy I received adoring well-intended compliments regularly about how great I looked and "all that weight" I'd lost. At my heaviest and most healthy I received shameful stares and snide remarks. What does that tell our children who are always watching, listening, absorbing?
So I came across this photo from 15 years ago... In it, my smile betrays my truth. I am ready to share — though it’s one that I never would have shared with anyone before this moment, much less all of you. This picture is from what should have been one of my happiest times. I wonder what you see? A young couple in love on vacation, maybe. But from my current midlife perspective — overall health and well being (and appreciation that my body, despite self-harm, has created two precious lives) — I see my past: rib cage, goosebumps, and collar bones. But mostly, I see my left arm COVERING ME. I vividly remember posing for that particular photo and feeling so gross — embarrassed by my body — ashamed by my inadequacies, trying to block my belly from the camera’s view. NOT because of the man, pictured here, who loves and supports me no matter what I look like — then and today — but because of that female-detesting ex-boyfriend way back in high school who broke me when it mattered.
I don't want to cover my body anymore. I don't want to stay covered on the side of the pool when my kids beg me to swim with them. I don’t want to shudder and retreat when my husband touches and compliments me. How many women and men try to hide in plain sight? How many cover up their bodies, their feelings, their useless shame? How many are sincerely trying to disappear? I know I'm not alone. And because it's so widespread, and I'm mostly on the other side of it, I want to try to help others. I have decided to become a team captain for the National Eating Disorders Association's fundraising walk in Newark, DE this September. If sharing my story can help someone else before they cover their loving body in shame, some good will have come from the time and energy I've spent fighting myself.
I hope you will join me in walking and fundraising to increase awareness for this condition that impacts individuals, families, and whole communities — past, present and future. Thank you for your support... especially to my loving husband, parents and sister, and mom-tribe. I'm so glad I'm here, and I'm ready to help #UncoverUsAll
Thank you for visiting my personal fundraising page!
Did you know that 30 million men and women will suffer from an eating disorder in their lifetimes? This is one of the many reasons that I am participating in a NEDA Walk to benefit the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA)!
NEDA is a nonprofit organization that provides lifesaving programs and services to individuals and families affected by eating disorders. NEDA is dedicated to erasing the stigma surrounding eating disorders, promoting positive body image and discouraging dangerous diet behaviors.
I am asking for your support to help me reach my fundraising goal. Donating to my fundraising page is a way for you to not only show your support for me, but also to show your support for the millions of individuals and families affected by eating disorders.
Since 2009, NEDA Walks have been bringing communities together nationwide in the fight against eating disorders. NEDA Walks raise funds for NEDA’s lifesaving programs that help thousands of people every day!
Your contribution will help fund NEDA’s national Helpline, National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, NEDA Navigators and countless other lifesaving programs.
Any amount you can contribute will make a difference in the fight against eating disorders. With your help, I am one step closer to my fundraising goal.
Thank you so much for your support! You can also help by forwarding my page to anyone you think might want to support the cause with us!
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