Reflections During Eating Disorders Awareness Week:
When I was young, I loved a boy very much. I want to say young man, but looking back in time, we were children. I was really just a girl. Trying so hard to grow up, to craft a grown-up world, I fumbled many times. I had not yet learned about hard work. I had not yet learned about boundaries. I had not really suffered any substantial losses.
In the process of transitioning to early adulthood, it began to dawn on me that I could not create a lasting magical world with this boy, because there were other factors. Things I had truthfully not considered before, like working to earn a living. Or really putting anyone besides myself first.
So, misstep and misstep again. And things fell apart, as they do. And as things fell apart, my insides clenched, lurched rapidly and halted. And I decided to starve myself.
Fast forward in time a year, some months, and I'm sitting long-legged and flat-chested on the beach in North Carolina, declaring to my mother a life of celibacy. I believed it at the time. Anorexia saved me from something. It relieved me of intimacy, vulnerability, and much of my humanity. Truthfully, it was a dreamy respite from the things I could not control. I felt invincible, protected, and focused.
I can safely say I'm past my eating disorder now, age 38, married to a gentleman who I really met as a man, when I was really a woman. But I cannot say that I am free from the desire to flee my body. This is very difficult to admit. I have made my life's work embodiment, I have turned my eating disorder recovery into my passions, my pursuits, and my paycheck. The study of yoga, which I was pursuing before I had anorexia, deepened and fortified for me in recovery and post recovery as a pathway to better know how my heart and body could live side by side. Yet the work is work, and my urge is often still to flee.
I am seventeen years recovered from anorexia. I am proud of that commitment. But the recovery of the heart is an ongoing project. And my MO is still to guard -- to protect, to distance, to disengage, to run. When the going gets tough, or really, when things get too soft, when life gets too tender, when there is just too much to lose, I still know how to cut myself off from my humanness, from my heart, from my husband's heart and his dear humanness. This no longer looks like calorie restriction, but it looks like burying myself in work, taking on more projects, two jobs, three jobs, build a new website, start a new business, buy a house at the same time, plan trips, don't ask for help.
Last weekend I was in New York celebrating my baby sister and the baby she's about to have. At the baby shower, with wine glasses clinking and food plates moving around the room, my dad sidelined me with a comment: "Those teenage years are hard. We were close with you, Peach. We almost lost you, Peach. I mean, we didn't, but we did, didn't we?"
Last night, I woke up in the middle of the night to check on Peter, who is sick with a fever and cough. And then I could not fall back to sleep. I was picturing my sister, her baby still in utero, thinking of my babies breathing in the next room, wondering if I should go climb in bed with them, and then I turned to my husband and lifted his heavy, sleeping hand onto my waist. His hand is so big. It's so scary. So terrifying for me to love. There is so much to lose.