"The Best Thing That Can Happen To Me Is Happening Right Now" – Deepak Chopra

I'm about to get really fucking real with you. About seven months ago, I started the most painful, lifelong journey I've ever chosen to go on and it's opened my eyes, mind, and my heart in epic ways. This post isn't sexy, or hot, or about how to get a big round ass and a tiny waist, and because of that, I believe many people will pass it by without a thought, because our worlds are often run by what we choose to see, ignoring the vulnerability and pain of ourselves and others; ignoring what makes us terribly uncomfortable, and what we consider to be unattractively real. What we've been ingrained since childhood to pay attention to, the easy stuff, the advertising and media lies we swallow, often removes us from connecting to the utmost strikingly beautiful, magical, energetically bountiful, and sometimes aching layers of our existence. It also hinders us from connecting to each other on a deeper level and I'm so over that kind of an existence.

This is about my experience with eating disorders and how they have been running the show since I can remember, and how it took me 30 years to recognize that I was paralyzed with the fear of being rejected for my body since I was just a little pumpkin (my Dad's childhood pet name for me!). I was a VERY obese kid. I was constantly harassed for my weight and treated like an outsider. Once, when I was in elementary school, I was invited to a birthday slumber party as a cruel joke and was instead locked inside a closet overnight by my peers (what the fuck, right?) I've never felt comfortable in my skin and I've almost always hated my body. I've always hidden this part of my inner brain workings from public view, but now, I want to be honest about how my entire life has revolved around losing weight and how, in so many ways, it kept me from really living. 

Last summer, I decided to stop eating. My father had just died, my aunt had died a week prior to that, I'd broken up with my partner of 5 years, and this is going to sound crazy, but I was happier than I'd been in too long to remember. These events actually uplifted me, freed me in some way, gave me the mental and literal physical space, the freedom to recreate my life's desires. I'd never felt so broken open and I'd never craved emotional growth so intensely.

With all this time, I started to dream big and get productive as all hell. I also lost my hunger. Within just a few weeks of my dad's death I had dropped weight and looked different. This small physical shift turned on some kind of body obsession that had been dormant in me. Without thinking anything of it, I slowly started putting restrictions on what I ate. First, it was protein smoothies for breakfast, then, it was just vegetables, and before I knew it, I was just eating cucumber for dinner. Then I was skipping meals. Then I was only eating egg whites. Then I was just drinking coffee. I stopped eating fats, carbohydrates, and pretty much only consumed green vegetables and protein in extremely limited quantities everyday. This felt so normal for me and I honestly didn't think anything of it rather than, wow, I feel so damn good and I finally look how I've wanted to look my whole life! I am finally worthy. I am enough! I am experiencing perfection! ( PS these are thoughts of the illness and are not healthy in any way). It was so easy to restrict like this and it felt like I was finally in control of my body. I felt like I looked awesome. I got compliments. I felt confident. I felt full of love. I felt seen. But the kicker is that this was all solely based on what I weighed that day and how well I could see my ribs... I honestly STILL didn't feel small enough.This my friends, is what makes an eating disorder. Oh, hello my new friend, Anorexia.

When I lost my period, ( I've never used birth control and never even been late more than a few days) I thought nothing of it, but was gently urged by my ridiculously incredible boyfriend of the time to seek out medical advice. After 3 PCP visits over 3 months with no actual advice, I decided to see my OBGYN. I will never forget her words, “Darling, you aren't going to like this, but you may need to put on some weight.” I'm now embarrassed to admit that I broke down crying and continued to cry in my car, and in bathrooms, and on the kitchen floor everyday up until, well, now. Just kidding. What's important to understand is that this way of life was an obsession. It was an addiction to looking a specific way and feeling like my world would be over if I didn't meet these made up body criteria that CONTROLLED ME. I was weighing myself everyday and would actually dive into deep depression if the number shifted up even 2lbs. Now, writing that makes me cringe.

I went to MEDA ( Multi-service Eating Disorder Association), had an interview with an eating disorder specialist, and balled my eyes out as I seemed to answer yes to each question. Yes, I drink water to stave off hunger, yes, I chew gum so I won't eat. No, I don't want to tell you what I've eaten today because I'm embarrassed and know it wasn't enough...which would lead me to...the most painful journey I've ever chosen to go on. Recovery.

Hello uncomfortable feelings, hello refeeding, hello balance. 

Choosing to develop emotionally is a fucking bitch. It hurts like a mofo and leaves you feeling like a crazy person who's escaped the insane asylum. It feels like taking a knife and stabbing yourself over and over and over until all you are is blood and guts lying in a nasty puddle in the middle of your kitchen floor. It's also so confusing. You can talk yourself into or out of something and then three minutes later realize what you've done and choose the right thing, but three more minutes later re-question yourself and then choose again, and so on and so forth. I am in no way finished with my journey. Every single time I eat and every single time I see myself in the mirror is an interesting new adventure and a test of where I am emotionally. 

I have so far to go, BUT I have also come so far. Thank god for the support of my friends, thank thank thank god for yoga, and thank god for zumba. It's been a very private battle, but if you have ever taken any kind of class with me or taught class to me, you have helped immensely just by being in the same room as me. The love, the practice, the teachers, the people in the room, these things have kept me going more times than I could ever count. 

The purpose of my sharing is just to get some conversation going about "health and fitness" out there. In the beginning of my recovery, I felt SO ALONE. If nothing else comes of this other than one single person realizing that they are NOT ALONE, I will be so freaking joyous. So many of us compare our bodies to images that are not real and to people who we are not. We don't know what these people's lives are like or what they are going through. We secretly speak cruelly to ourselves and punish ourselves for not looking as thin or "fit" as someone else. Guess what. You are you. We can't be someone else and why would we want to be. We are unique, incredible beings because of every single microscopic experience that we have had that no one else has! Comparison is the thief of joy and I for one will not stand for it. I want to make this shameful experience less shameful. It's time to support one another. If you are reading this, I think you are a fucking GORGEOUS soul. You heard it here and I'm not kidding around. 

If you connect to this post in any way. It is. Worth. Every. Single. Second Of working past your fears.

The other side is more freeing, more beautiful, more authentic, and more love soaked then anything I could have ever imagined.




Shira BrennerComment