aka What were some key turning points for you?
aka Where are your roots planted?
After that initial decision on the bathroom floor to stop purging and change my life, it was slow going.
I used a lot of willpower that first year. That was hard. It takes up a lot of energy. I think that’s why that year is so blurry to me.
I have vague memories of having plans to go out with friends, but as the day went on, and time got closer, I’d cancel my plans. Either because I felt fat, had eaten too much, or just plain and simply, because it was too much to be around others when I was dealing with myself.
One time I ate through a box of really nice muesli/granola type cereal from Whole Foods when I was at my parent’s house one weekend. I felt so guilty, I bought them a new box the next day. When I gave it to them, I told them why I had bought it and they graciously said I didn’t have to do that. But for me I did. I had to make up for what I had done.
Self-inflicted Retribution. There was a lot of that going on.
I remember going shopping for jeans. Now, this is a nightmare for any woman, let alone someone who is constantly battling with their body.
Remember when Joe’s Jeans and 7 for all Mankind were all the rage?
I really wanted a pair of 7’s. I went to Saks, Bloomie’s, and all the cool boutiques in the West Village, trying on every pair of 7’s there were. None of them fit right. Either they fit over my thighs and my bum but were too big at the waist, or I couldn’t get them over my thighs.
I finally ended up with a pair of Joe’s. They weren’t quite right… wrong color, not flared enough at the bottom… but they had to do since they fit my thighs, ass, AND waist.
Jeans shopping can be traumatizing. Shopping for those Joe’s did nothing for my self-esteem. Especially since, with the decision to stop purging, came inevitable weight gain since I was still binging on a regular basis.
I finally realized that this ‘food thing’ wasn’t just going to go away and I started to reach out for some additional help.
I talked to my doctor. He tried to hypnotise the fear of fat out of me. It was an interesting experience although didn’t quite work.
I went to see a shrink. She dug around in my past looking for some trauma to explain why I was bulimic, couldn’t really find anything (jeans shopping apparently doesn’t count), and her prescription was ‘You’ll grow out of it.’ While it was predictive, not so helpful at the time.
I turned to Barnes & Noble. I picked up the book, ‘Overcoming Binge Eating’ by Dr. Christopher Fairburn. I don’t remember the details of what it said, but I remember diving into it with gusto.
The most profound moment was when I was sitting at a sushi bar with a good friend of mine from college. I don’t know how the conversation got there, but I started telling her about my food issues.
She responded with, ‘Me Too.’
This blew my mind. I had known her since before my first purge! How did we just start talking about his now!? 5 years later!
She had been there all along yet we both struggled in silence. Which makes the struggle even worse.
That night, we didn’t have solutions for each other. We didn’t become accountability partners or anything like that. But in sharing a common pain, we bonded. We knew we’d be there for each other.
I suppose knowing that a friend of mine was in similar shoes, gave me the courage to start to open up with strangers. I went to a Body Image class that a church nearby was hosting. This was in hindsight, one of the best moves I made.
The instructor shared a story of how she had struggled with accepting her body the way it was, and had been talking with a counselor who had drawn the picture of a tree. She recalled the parable about how your fruit will reflect where your roots are planted. And she asked the question:
Where are your roots planted?
This question shook me.
One, I had no idea.
Two, I assumed no where good since my fruit consisted of dependency on exercise to feel good about myself, and indulging in food when I didn’t. And an internal battle to not make myself throw up afterwards. Maybe my roots are planted in a psychological war zone? The Gaza Strip of my mind; who’s going to own it today?
Three, it brought up a lot of guilt about my spiritual life. ‘I should be going to church. I haven’t read my Bible in years. Crap! This is God condemning me!’
At the end of the day though, I realized, that wherever I was planting my roots, wasn’t really serving me. It was too temporary, too focused on receiving the approval of others in the now.
I knew I had to stop worrying about what other people thought, and do what felt right for me.
If at the time I had asked my 35 year old self, where are my roots planted and where should I plant them instead?, this is the answer I would’ve got:
“Your roots aren’t planted anywhere. You look like a solid tree, but you can be easily moved by the wind. And, you use people and the environments around you to dictate what kind of tree you will be. You’re a Chameleon Tree. Whatever little buds of a root you start to sprout, is planted in the opinion of people around you.
So start planting real roots, and go plant them in Love. Planting them in Love and planting them in God may be the same thing, but not if you plant them with the God of your childhood that comes with harsh judgement and condemnation.
Stop judging and condemning yourself. Open yourself up to having a whole new understanding of Love, and God, and plant your roots in that.”
As I am writing this, it is a Sunday and it is February 14th, Valentine’s Day, a day to celebrate Love (and chocolate.)
I am reminded of that infamous verse about Love that is often recited at weddings. Love is patient, love is kind, etc.
I am going to take a crack at adding to that list, based on the things I have learned about love over the past 10 years. This is what I would tell my 25 year old self about Love.
Love is surrendering to the idea that you don’t have to have it all together.
Love is giving yourself what you want.
Love is receiving what you want.
Love is accepting your birthright to receive love.
Love is engaging with beauty.
Love is finding courage to face fears.
Love is being vulnerable.
Love is speaking your truth.
Love invites in. It creates connection.
Love does not judge.
Love does not condemn.
Love is gentle.
Love accepts what is in the moment.
Love forgives, even yourself.
Love says, come as you are.
Love says, you are worthy.
Love says it’s OK to let go of what you’re holding on to; I will catch you.
Love says you don’t have to have it all figured out today.
Love speaks to you like you would a friend.
Love doesn’t give up.
Love Never Fails.
Something to think about: Where are your roots planted? How can you start planting them in Love? What is love to you?
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