As a young child I was quiet, sensitive and introverted. For example, I would “forget” to bring something for Show and Tell hoping I wouldn’t have to talk. As I approached my teen years I started to emerge from my shell. People started to notice me. They started to notice my body. As a result I become a target for judgment, disdain, or admiration. Girls hated me, and boys liked me. It wasn’t my choice to be given the body I was in. As a self proclaimed introvert the last thing I would have wished upon myself was center stage. I didn't want people to notice me for my body, I wanted people to like me for who I was, a kind, quiet, vulnerable girl just trying to figure life out.
Like most teenagers I loved magazines. I admired the beautiful women, and loved to learn about food and body. I went from a normal girl who ate pretty much anything, to a young woman who was a vegetarian and ate virtually no fat. At first I wasn't trying to lose weight, or look a particular way, I was just trying to do the “right” thing and eat healthy. By being so rigid with what I ate I became more rigid and controlling in other aspects of my life. My world became smaller and my mental space became obsessive. The number of fat grams on a package was my gatekeeper and the number on the scale my addiction. Everyday I would run, stretch, and lift weights. I did this because that is what I thought I needed to do to be healthy. And to me healthy meant loved and accepted.
As the number on the scale diminished, so did my self worth. My original desire for health evolved into a greater state of dis-ease. I had stopped menstruating (as my hormone levels were pre-menopausal at the age of 18). I couldn’t run without getting a side ache, and I couldn’t even give blood during the school blood drive because I was underweight. Some how the number I had been obsessing about didn’t seem important any longer. I found a hole within myself. My heart was empty and I was lost.
I went to college in that state of utter confusion. I joined a sorority, which made absolutely no sense. Knowing my track record with the female gender this was like walking into hell and setting up camp. I didn’t know how to be friends with women, let alone myself. Within a matter of weeks my old habits started to fall away, but not by choice. I no longer had control over the food that I would eat. What the cooks served is was I got. Counting fat grams was no longer an option. Eating foods that I had written off years ago, deeming them bad, left me feeling bad, full of “unhealthy” food and full of shame.
Lacking the ability to have compassion for myself, and offer forgiveness I instead found myself in a new whirlwind of self punishment. For the next two decades I would live in the painful world of bulimia.
When life got tough, I would turn to food to comfort, to numb, and to create a sense of control. Not knowing that was the choice I was making consciously, but the choice I was making out of familiarity. Those behaviors that stemmed from a desire of health, love and acceptance became just the opposite. My behaviors became a place of pain, punishment and dis-ease.
In college I found myself in pharmacy school. I was drawn to sciences and heath, and on paper, pharmacy sounded like the answer. Within my first year of the program I knew I was not where my heart desired me to be. Treating preventable disease went against everything I believed in. I felt stuck. Committed by time and money, I forged on the path I had started, not knowing what an appropriate exit option was.