Day 47 – Anne’s Story
I was on a school outing in the woods and the weather was really bad. We had to go into a cabin to eat our lunch. When I got in and sat down, the boy shifted and moved away. He said I don’t want to sit next to you fat girl.
The feeling was intense. It’s enough, I don’t want this anymore. I can’t take this anymore, I want to disappear. I felt anger and grief about not fitting in; I was not accepted, not welcome in the group.
At the same time it was also somehow empowering. Instead of being a victim and staying in the situation, I removed myself.
It was a decision to not be me anymore, to not be fat anymore. I started walking away; my teacher drove after me and asked if she could drive me home. I said no, I don’t need anybody… I can take care of myself.
So I took control of my body and outer image, I stopped eating.
I have memories of this mindset driving everything I did. All the decisions were based on what I could eat and how much I could exercise. I would go down to the store to pick up the groceries. Then I would ‘forget’ items so I could go down again and do more exercise.
I started hiding food where I thought people couldn’t see it, thought I think my mom knew. I would shovel the food into my napkin and then throw it way. Later she said that she knew that there was something wrong but she didn’t know what to do.
I have a clear memory of coming to school and that same boy said, oh my god you look like a skeleton. I had this feeling that it’s never enough, I can’t do anything right. But it wasn’t a place where I felt a victim that I said this; I was kind of sarcastic in my mind. You don’t matter to me; I can’t ever fit into what you want me to be. I will just be here be in total control over myself.
That’s what’s strange, a kind of double mindedness; you think you are in control but I was never in control of this. The moment I started running back and forth to the store and hiding food, the eating disorder took over.
My Mom sat by my bed to check that I was breathing; she couldn’t handle it any more. She went to a doctor and got me hospitalized. I was angry her but I was also dependent her. She would come to visit and I would want to sit on her lap and be very close to her. The whole time I was at the hospital I just wanted to work out how to get out.
I wanted to just gain weight so I could go home. In terms of being anorexic, I really learnt there what different ways it could go. I was in a pediatric ward; there was a girl with brain tumors and I thought I don’t have any right to be here, get me out of here I’m not sick. My friend was sent to a psychiatric ward and she never got well.
So I found a different way to manage my image, but I wasn’t cured.
I was back to school at a normal weight but I still used it as an escape when I was frustrated. In the tough moments, overeating would be my way out.
I couldn’t control it, it disgusted me and it made me live this double life again, just in a different way. It was much less empowering for me than when I starved myself and felt in control.
I still felt different and unaccepted but because I had reached a behavior and a look of what people expected no one noticed. I knew I was the same on the inside.
It really hit home when I travelled to the US as an au-pair. This was something I had wanted for years, it was a life dream. When I got over there I realized that I had brought the eating disorder with me. It was hidden, no one knew about it but it stopped me connecting with people. It stopped me going out because I was caught in the fear that I wouldn’t fit in just because of who I am. I could never believe that when people reached out to me that they were sincere. I couldn’t believe that they wanted anything to do with me.
I saw that I hadn’t succeeded with my life’s dream. I had had this opportunity and not taken it. I decided to stop it. I didn’t want food to control me anymore; I didn’t want the eating disorder to define me. It was a conscious decision to simply stop it.
I had decided to start it when I was 10, now I decided to stop it.
It hasn’t controlled me since. That is, except that I hid it. Until I found the courage to tell my story and to tell it in a way that said I had the eating disorder but it’s not me.
I know that it’s controversial to say that everybody can make this decision and simply stop. But I wonder if maybe we all can, the mind is so powerful.
I want give people hope that they can do it. It is possible, they have a choice.
It’s a double sided mindset that I’m trying to bring into this. I respect where people are right now but have a fundamental belief that they have so many resources and the ability to shape the way they want to live.
I let go of my eating disorder but I’m still learning and evolving and putting on new layers and perspectives. Now I do it from a place of empowerment, integrating all the parts of me. I’m clearer than ever about not being a victim anymore but being completely and authentically in control.
– Anne Lindhard is founder of StoryMind http://www.Storymind.dk