aka How to spot disordered runners.
aka How to pick-up an ex-bulimic.
aka One thing NOT to ask an ex-bulimic.
If I were a TV show producer, I’d make a show of all the funny things that can happen to you because of your ‘disorder’. There’s been a few memorable moments I look back on that make me smile. Some are funnier than others.
Note to my 25-year-old self: When you can find humour, you are healing.
How to spot disordered runners.
One evening when I was still living in Manhattan, I had planned to get a quick 5 or 6 mile run in before going out to eat with friends later that night. Sure enough 6pm rolls around and it is pouring buckets, no – sheets, of rain, as a typical hot and humid summer’s thunderstorm will do.
This didn’t stop me. I plowed on. Not the smartest thing to do since the nearby claps of thunder were so loud you couldn’t hear yourself think, and they were shooting out bolts of lightning.
But I had to get my run in.
This was when I wasn’t purging anymore, but still very much dependant on running and exercise for weight management, and the fact that I was going out to eat later that night meant I had to ‘make some room’.
So I’m running through the park, which resembled a ghost town, the usual posse of runners using better judgement and staying indoors this evening, and I come across one of the only other runners in Manhattan crazy enough to be running in this storm.
It’s a gym friend of mine. A girl I would go for 5:30am runs with occasionally; who was more dedicated to getting her runs in than I was.
I hadn’t seen her in a couple of months and as we’re running, both sloshing through puddles and soaked to the bone, in between thunder claps she proceeds to tell me that she just got accepted into an inpatient program for anorexia.
And I proceed to tell her that I am/was bulimic/am recovering.
I had known her for a good 18 months or so at this point. Go figure, it took an act of God to draw us out of our closets, to share our most vulnerable selves with each other, and to form a deeper level of connection.
When your disorder drives you to go for a run in life-threatening situations, you bond.
How to pick-up an ex-bulimic.
The first night my husband and I met, we were at a party and he asked me if I wanted to go outside and have a cigarette with him.
I tell him, ‘I don’t smoke but I’ll come and talk with you while you smoke.’
So we go outside and we’re chatting away, probably for like an hour or so and he goes…
‘So, you don’t have any problems that begin with ‘B’ that I should know about, do you? Because my last girlfriend was bi-polar and the one before that was bulimic.’
Best. Pick-up. Line. Ever.
He’d hit the bullseye!
How did he know!!!!?
Am I wearing a huge ex-bulimic sticker on my forehead? Or did I get one stuck to my foot along with some toilet paper when I walked out of the loo?
Considering this was in the ex-bulimic days, I wasn’t technically lying when I said, ‘Nope, not that I know of.’
Although the sideways glance, head tilt to the concrete, and quick change of topic should’ve given my secret away 🙂
And of course I’m thinking, what kind of guy keeps attracting these B-for-broken women?
But of course, we’re all B-for-broken aren’t we? We all have our mud.
So, anyway, a few dates later it somehow came up again and I told him my deepest darkest. I had been bulimic. Not anymore though, so he doesn’t have to worry if I head for the toilet at some point in the night after we’ve had burgers and fries (sorry chips).
But just for the record, yeah, you caught another B-girl.
One thing NOT to ask an ex-bulimic.
We were out for drinks and my brother-in-law was training for his first marathon. He leans over and goes, ‘Oy Kendra, you’ve run marathons, what was your nutrition like when you were training?’
I literally laughed out loud.
You’re asking me, the ex-bulimic, for training tips?
Me? The girl who had her head over the toilet bowl as part of her training regiment? And whose secret purpose for running them was to lose weight?
My nutrition was non-existent. Nada.
I tell him this and we’re laughing so hard tears start rolling down. Whatever you do bro, DO NOT do what I did. 🙂
A lot of times we try to bury our mud. We’re embarrassed, ashamed of it. We fear what others might think of us if they knew. It feels too vulnerable to come clean.
I share these stories because they make me smile and laugh, and they illustrate the progression of healing that is possible.
Ten years ago I wouldn’t have been able to laugh at my brother-in-law’s question. I probably would’ve regurgitated some nutrition info I read in a magazine or heard fellow marathoners talk about.
But today I can laugh about it because the wound has healed. The laughter itself is healing.
When my husband was unknowingly using the most appropriate pick-up line with me, I had healed enough that I could recognize his vulnerability in asking, and eventually be vulnerable in return; as opposed to fearing his rejection or judgement if I said, ‘Yeah, I’m a pro.’
Know that anything is possible. Your story, no matter how muddy, can open up doors. It can lead to connection. More love.
It’s starts with you embracing it. Knowing that you are enough as you are, even with the mud.
Something to think about: What shame do you carry about your story? How can you embrace your story instead? How are you able to find the humour, have a taste of the best medicine out there?
Your story matters. As part of ‘Bulimia Uncovered: 29 days to being your Quintessential Self’ we want to hear from you. How can you relate to what you’ve just read? Leave a comment below and share your related stories and pictures however you do best. If using social media use hashtag #bu29days and tag me so we can follow. We’re also inviting stories to feature on The True You Project. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like yours shared there.
Feb Food Fun giveaway! Want more tools to overcome judgement and shame, and be your quintessential self? Join the True You Project community and you’ll receive Your True You Journey, an 8 week self-coaching e-guide that will give you the tools to navigate through the mud and peel back the layers covering up your True You.