It took me a long time to get the courage to start writing this. Part of me was afraid of what other people would think and another part was afraid of diving back into the “crazy.” Eventually I got up the nerve to read through my old journals and start writing. I figure if I have a difficult time talking about the way I tried to deal with my life a few years ago, imagine how hard it is for someone dealing with it right now. My relationship with food has always been emotional emotional but it was never really an issue until I was 15 years old.
My parents got divorced when I was one. My dad wasn’t around much after that. He was always late to pick me up and he would bring me over shortly after so he could drink. My mom told me I didn’t speak much the first six years of my life. I didn’t really know what was going on around me. I would sit alone in my room and eat chocolate. My dad left for Florida when I was six years old, shortly after my mom remarried. It would be years until I heard from him again.
I have three cousins on my dads side. They were adopted when I was a baby. My oldest cousin ran away from home to live with her birth mother when I was 8 years old. The only person she told was my mom because my mom ran away from home when she was 17. The adopted mother was so angry that she took my other cousins and went to Florida to find her oldest daughter. She told my mom not to contact them anymore. I was very close with them and I couldn’t understand why they were leaving.
I was in 8th grade when I heard from my youngest cousin again. She is only two years older than me and we have a lot in common. I was so excited to hear from her. She told me she found my father and we began talking everyday for a while. My father started saying bad things about my mom and my mom and stepdad overheard a conversation I was having with him and my cousin. We changed our phone number and once again they were out of my life. At this point I was eating 8 twix bars a day to make myself feel better. I was still really skinny until I hit puberty later that year.
The added weight didn’t really bother me at first. I was just happy I finally had boobs. It wasn’t until the following year when someone in school told me I should go on a diet that I really looked at my body and thought I was fat. The same year I told some girl that I had a crush on one of our girl classmates and she threw me against the wall and started calling me names. I didn’t tell my mom why the girl was mean to me or what I said to her. I just told her I wanted to switch schools.
I went to Italy with my grandmother the summer before 10th grade. This was my third time. I love Italy but there was nothing about this trip. I stayed for a month. Most people would be ecstatic to see the culture and the architecture but I was miserable. Everyday my grandmother told me I was a failure and told me I ruined my mothers life. She would yell at me for not eating when she told me to but then she fat. She would tell me not to eat nutella and gelato even though I was in the country with the best kind. I never worried about my weight that much until then. I have a 3rd cousin that lives in Italy. She is seven years older than me. I would run to house everyday and cry. At night I would sneak nutella and cookies and then do some crunches. It wasn’t until the last day of my trip that I made myself throw up on purpose. I stood in the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror with disgust. How did I let it so far? Why did it let the sadness control me? I thought about everything I consumed the past four weeks. The crepes, gelato, pasta, and nutella. I thought every negative thing my grandma has said to me. I don’t even know where I got the idea that throwing up on purpose would help me lose weight but I do know that it changed my life.
I came home right around sixteenth birthday. I went to the city with my friends to see The Blue Man group. Everyone could see that I was depressed. I didn’t eat anything at dinner. I started Catholic school shortly after. I would skip lunch and just drink coffee. It was hard to make friends at first because everyone thought I was strange for not eating. My parents got really concerned because I wouldn’t want to eat dinner and I was constantly worrying about my weight. Whenever I was sad I would eat chocolate in my room just like I had done my whole life. Only now I would purge when I was done. Everyone would tell me I was going to die. I wasn’t really losing weight so I thought they were just being crazy.
A few months in, I started losing weight and I realized I hadn’t gotten my period since Italy. My hair started to look greasy and my nails looked weak. I didn’t care. I just wanted to lose weight. I didn’t care that everyone was angry with me. I was angry with myself. I couldn’t deal with everyone yelling at me. I stayed at my friends house about an hour away for a few days. My parents weren’t around to watch me so all I ate for three days was an orange and coffee. I passed out the train ride home.
It wasn’t until my mom found diet pills in my room that she finally decided I needed help. I started day treatment at a hospital during christmas break. Everyone else was having fun on break from school and I was stuck inside a hospital. I felt so excluded from the world. I hated being there. All the other girls were skinnier than me. I remember thinking this wasn’t going to help me get “better”. I knew I was going to learn from these girls. I listened to their tricks and wrote them down. I didn’t care that they looked near death. They had accomplished something. I felt like a failure. The family therapy sessions were so hard. I just kept yelling at my mom for making my dad leave.
A month later I left treatment and started seeing a nutritionist. I didn’t mind going. I liked having a food plan. I would just make sure to cut it in half. My best friend was going through the same thing and his parents also sent him to a nutritionist. We would help each other out and share tips after our sessions. My parents noticed that I started losing more weight and we continued to fight. They locked the bathroom doors so I wouldn’t purge. One morning my stepdad shoved pancakes in my face. I still cant eat them. The fighting continued for years. Everything hurt. My bones, my throat and my head.
The following year I went to see my dad and my youngest cousin in Florida. He asked me if I wanted to smoke with him. I declined. I wasn’t like him. I was better than him. He started telling me horrible things about my mom. He blamed everything on her. My cousin took me back to her house and we stayed there for the rest of my trip. She had an eating disorder too but she was in recovery so she would yell at me when I threw up.
I came home so angry on the inside but I still seemed so positive on the outside. That is one thing I used to be good at. Pretending to be happy. I didn’t eat for the first week that I got home. I just had diet pills and coffee. I remember my stepdad coming into my room and yelling at me. I got really sick. I threw up and blacked out. I went back to treatment. I met really good people there. Friends I still talk to from time to time. When I started my senior year I wanted to be normal so I ate more than I was but I would cut back if I felt fat. I really wanted to start college and start over. My parents didn’t let me go away to college. They thought I was still too sick to be far away.
The summer before I started community college I had my first drink. I never wanted to drink before that. I didn’t want to be like my father. I drank with friends any chance I got. I started eating everything I didn’t allow myself to eat in high school. I gained weight but if it bothered me I would drink. I met my first girlfriend around christmas time. She went to school with my best friend. She also had an eating disorder. The three of us were a bad influence on each other. We drank a lot and gave each other tips on how to lose weight. I was so in love with her that I didn’t care. I was struggling with the fact that I was in love with a girl and my body didn’t look like it did the year before.
I didn’t do well in college. I was too focused on other things. I took a semester off to work and be with my friends. I was twenty years old when I started smoking. Something I never thought I would do. I couldn’t believe I was doing things I was angry at my father for doing. A week after mothers day that year, something happened that forever changed my life. I was raped. My two best friends and I went to party a week earlier and met this guy who seemed really nice. He invited us to his party a week later. It wasn’t really a party. It was just him and his friend in a tiny apartment. We should have left the second we got inside. I think we stayed for the alcohol. We began drinking and the next thing I knew, he picked me up off the floor and brought me to his room. I don’t remember too much of what happened but I know I kept saying I wanted to go back to my friends. I told him I had a girlfriend. I told him I didn’t do this. One of my friends tried to come in but he was pushed away. When I was finally able to leave I told my friends we have to leave. We have to go home. He told my friend nothing happened and to not believe anything I said.
After that I became a different person. My bulimia got worse, I drank a lot more and I tried things I never wanted to before. I was angry all the time. I couldn’t focus in school. I was sick all the time. My glands were always swollen. My had hurt everyday. I threw up when I didn’t want to. My mom sent me back to treatment when I was 21. I don’t think anyone really understood how bad I felt. Once I left treatment I started going to therapy once a week.
There was at time I was afraid to answer the house phone. Anytime a family member or a family friend called, they asked me how I was doing and if I was still sick. There was one phone call that sticks out in my mind. One was with my my moms best friend. She also had an eating disorder and tried to cope with alcohol. We spoke not long after I left the hospital. She asked me if I was still throwing up and drinking a lot. I was so angry. I didn’t like that my my mom was telling people. I always got along with Lisa. I didn’t want her to be angry with me. I lied and told her I stopped. She told me its OK to be angry and to take the time I need. She started telling me about my childhood. She told me I went for years without smiling and I didn’t really talk until my mom remarried when I was seven. She told me about my fathers alcoholism and how it made him selfish. She said he couldn’t make the connection between his sickness and losing everyone. My mom always kept me busy so I couldn’t see what was happening around me. She told me I had a hard life but I cant deal with the pain the same way my dad did. I told her I was nothing like him but thank you for the talk. I couldn’t believe that someone would even compare me to the man I swore would never become.
I didn’t really change until I was 22 years old. That was the worst year of my life. My parents wanted me out of house. They caught me smoking in my room with my friends on my birthday. My aunt died in November from a brain aneurism. I had no idea what that was until then. I didn’t understand. She was perfectly healthy just days before. I started spending more time with my family after that. I realized how short life is. I realized how important family is. I was being selfish. In February my girlfriend broke up with me and one my friends died. Bulimia started again for a little while but I was afraid to be sick again so I stopped. I moved out a few months later and tried to figure out what to do with my life. I saved up money to see my dad again. My best friend was working in disney at the time so I got to spend time with him as well. I felt a lot better after seeing him. I was more comfortable than the last time I saw him.
When I got home I decided to go to school for dental assisting. I hated it but I knew it would give me some money so I could eventually go back to school for what I wanted. I moved back in with my family and threw myself into school and trying to stay happy. It took a long time for me to get to a good place. I have had a few relapses with my eating issues in the past few years but I know I will never go back to the way I was. I never really go out now. Drinking until six am doesn’t sound exciting to me anymore. There are still days where I hate how I look or how my life is going but I try to remember to breathe. If I am feeling stressed I will do yoga or go to the park and write.
If I were to give advice to anyone on how to deal with or anything difficult at all I would say, do not run away, do not let it control you, talk to someone, do not be ashamed to ask for help. You are more than what you are gong through. Do not get lost in the tragedy.