There isn’t a topic that generates more interest than running the Bay to Breakers naked. ‘Weren’t you cold?’ ‘Didn’t your boobs hurt?’ ‘Did you do it alone?’ Mind you, the Bay to Breakers isn’t a regular race. Thousands of people run it. It’s zany. People run in costumes. There are floats like the Michael Jackson Daycare Center. The streets are lined with throngs of cheering onlookers and bands. Runners also happen to strut in the buff.
My parents, aunts and uncles, even my friends’ parents flipped out. ‘What?!’ ‘No you didn’t!’ ‘What did your mother say?’ ‘Naked?? Naked??’
I’m sure most people think I ran the B2B for shock value. But this time, there was a personal issue I had come to terms with. I finally, finally stopped detesting my body.
I’m a recovering anorexic. In January, I said good-bye to my wonderful therapist, thanked her profusely for what she had done, and started my own road to recovery. It was the first time in years, I went without professional help.
I’m a junk food addict. I hate fruit, love chocolate. As a kid, I came home from school and helped myself to bowls–multiple bowls–of ice-cream. As a teenager, I had the body of a boy: flat-chested and thin. 75 pounds thin.
You’ve heard of the freshman 15. I gained the freshman 50. Put a voracious junk food addict (who never learned the concept of moderation) in an all-you-can-eat buffet-style dorm environment and watch her grow. I finished my first year in college weighing in at an obese 130 pounds. I’m five feet tall! I easily lost the weight, but the fear of being fat again stuck in the back of my head.
When I felt like I was gaining weight, I stopped eating. Sometimes, I’d go for a day. Other times, I’d go for a week. People find it hard to believe, but it’s true. I’d take calories in through liquids, but for days and days I would not eat a single thing. It wasn’t just about not eating. I abused diet pills, drank laxative teas. I stepped on a scale 20, 30, 40 times a day. I exercised to exhaustion. I constantly calculated calories, keeping a running total in my head at all times.
They say I’m a textbook anorexic–a perfectionist with extreme behavior patterns with an all or nothing attitude towards life. Very true. Therapy used to be such a struggle and a test of my patience. During sessions, I would scream “What is wrong with wanting to be 80 pounds? What’s so crazy about struggling to reach your goals? If I starve, I starve. No pain, no gain, right?”
All I can say is that having an eating disorder was exhausting and frustrating and unbearable. To a certain extent, I think I’ll always be anorexic, meaning that fear will never leave my head. I still step on a scale every morning. Without fail. But I no longer count calories. I don’t deprive myself. I eat when I’m hungry and even when I’m full, I still make room for dessert.
A damper of a posting, but I’m not looking for sympathy. In fact, it’s not something I like to talk about at all. If someone brought it up, I would probably turn bright red and try to change the topic. So this one isn’t a vignette. It’s more like Vixen’s Truth. Or her skeleton in the closet…literally a skeleton.
But if there’s one thing that could have really helped me–besides my last therapist who I respected and trusted–it would have been finding someone else who had struggled with an eating disorder and prevailed. This posting is really dedicated to anyone out there who has an unhealthy relationship with food or their body. I’ve been there, I know what it’s like. You can contact me anytime. And I know this great therapist who would probably be shocked…and proud to know that I ran a race in the buff.