Tag Archives: anorexia

Take up as much space as you can

That was the direction from our yoga instructor this morning. “Take up as much space as you can.” She was guiding us into straight leg triangle – Utthita Trikonasana – and wanted us to expand, expand, expand our bodies. “Take up as much space as you can,” she offered.

I did. I eased, and eased further, into the pose, while I also thought back to a friend of mine from years ago, from my 12-step programs. She too was a recovering anorexic, and she used to explain her starving herself as a way to take up as little space as possible. She had felt too huge, too much (she was anything but) and wanted to shrink herself. To disappear, if possible.

That is our disease. It tells us to retreat. To get smaller. To diminish ourselves in any way possible. If we’re less, we won’t get noticed. If we ask for less, and need less, we won’t be disappointed, and we won’t get in trouble.

I like taking up as much space as I possibly can much, much more.

Extending myself in my yoga practice helps me claim my place in the world. Extending ourselves in the world helps us show up more…and show up more as ourselves.

Take up space. Breathe deep. Laugh loudly (and often). Call attention to yourself and affirm your spot in the universe. Confirm your being – and the essential nature of your being.

I think back to my friend who tried to shrink herself to oblivion, and I hear my yoga instructor’s invitation to expand ourselves, even past our so-called limits. I’m pretty certain that many, if not all, of us deserve to take up more space and live in more love and joy.

Take up as much space as you can.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

Categories: My Story, , , Tags:

I’m proud of myself for breaking the rules

As I’ve mentioned before, I was anorexic decades ago, and I still can have what I call anorexic thinking – where I get rigid and stringent, unrelentless with myself, and vigilant about doing everything “just so” and following every rule and guideline. It most likely stems from a need to control, to be perfect, and to make sure I f—k nothing up. It most likely comes from fear.

I may have mentioned that my oldest child used to be, at least in some ways, a rigid rule follower. We used to celebrate if they would ever color outside the lines in a coloring book, or act out in school. I wonder where they got it?

Rule following is helpful and productive at times. There are rules that make sense and guidelines that can help us. Rigid rule following, on the other hand, is at least a slippery slope, if not a dangerous decline no matter what. Especially for me.

A few years back I stumbled through a challenge. Well, crawled through it, I guess. What got me at least somewhat to the other side were rules – a bit of cognitive behavioral therapy with which I retrained myself around my challenge. So the rules were helpful, but my rigidity kicked in. I was swirling – and drowning – in my anorexic thinking and unyielding need to follow exactly (and I mean exactly) what I was told to do.

Which wasn’t a good place to be. It may have been better than the depth of the challenge, but I became so severe and inflexible that I was mostly, if not totally, driven by fear.

Until one day I stopped. Or, actually, bit-by-bit I dropped rule by rule. I breathed. I trusted. I took chances. I had faith. I eased into a new place.

My therapist asked me how I managed to break the rules and be less strict. She was shocked. I honestly don’t actually know.

Once again, maybe I’m lucky. Maybe I’m resilient. Maybe I have a steel rod for a spine (as my mother used to say) that kicks in and saves me EVERY time. Maybe I have guardian angels who won’t let me totally crash and burn. I don’t know.

But I’m damn proud of myself for breaking the rules. Even as I applauded any violation of rules by my oldest child, I applaud mine as well.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

Categories: Resilience, , Tags:

Why I stopped eating

I was talking with my son the other day about attitudes around food. “When I was anorexic in college…” I said.

“I didn’t know you were anorexic,” he answered.

Why would he? Anorexia is one of my many stories. But I don’t talk about it often, because it doesn’t define me anymore.

Years after my anorexia but years ago nonetheless, I was in group therapy. Many of the women in the group were overeaters, and they’d routinely tell me they were jealous of my anorexia. “If only I could just not eat,” they’d say.

Anorexia, or at least my anorexia, was not about not eating, even though it was all about not eating. It was about controlling something, when my life felt out of control. It was about punishing myself – slowly killing myself, in fact – for my choice to leave the Unification Church. It was about my guilt and shame and self-loathing.

I delighted in not eating back then. Each skipped meal, each hunger pang, each successful subjugation of my body and its needs was proof of my strength and power. Even as my body lost power as I deprived myself of fuel. I don’t think I realized that deep down I thought I deserved to die for choosing to walk away from the Messiah. I’m lucky that deeper down than that there was an inner strength and love that saved me from getting too sick with my sickness.

I was down to about 80 lbs. at my lightest – which might not be shocking for my small frame, but I’m about 30 lbs. heavier than that now, and I’m not fat. At all. And back then I knew I was fat, even though I wasn’t. I was scrawny and maybe somewhat scary. But I knew I was fat.

At least as debilitating, if not more debilitating, than my not eating was my obsession with food and eating. All I thought about, talked about, and wrote about was when I could eat, if I would eat, what I would eat, and what I wouldn’t eat. Incessantly.

I wasn’t fun to be with and I wasn’t fun to be.

I don’t know how I got better. As with so many near misses in my life, I skated close to disaster and by the grace of god, found my way out. I got help. I found a nurse who taught me to eat again, but the anorexia haunted me at least somewhat for a very long time.

I am really, really fine now, and really, really healed and whole. The anorexia scars stay with me, but I’m really, really fine. I have what I call my anorexic thinking – when I’m stuck in rigidity and there is no way out. I can still obsess in weird ways about food. But again, I’m really, really fine. Food is easy for me. Eating is easy for me. I can’t imagine it not being so.

I have been graced with losing my obsession with food and weight and body image. I have been graced with losing my need to punish myself and to make myself suffer and pay for what I’ve done. I have been graced with knowing that I did nothing punishable.

There but for the grace of god go I.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

Categories: My Story, , , Tags: