I was only a little over 4lbs when I was born full term. My brother was over 6lbs. Back then they didnt have ultrasound and my mom didn’t even know she was pregnant with twins. They never would have let twins go to 40 weeks with one only weighing 4 lbs now. I was always a tiny thing. I was thin, never built much muscle. Even during my peak waterskiing years when I was working at Seaworld skiing, I was only 105lbs with barely any muscle. Part of that could have been my underlying, not yet discovered muscle disease, but there were other contributions to that weight that ran much deeper.
Being a waterskiing I had to maintain a certain weight. I was always very vigilant on weighing myself. Lower weight meant more opportunities. If you weighed less, you could be on the top of the pyramid, and the more acts you were in, the more money you got. Even years before when I was on a ski team on my lake, doing doubles, meant I needed to be light. This is an example of doubles: That is me on top. My favorite part of waterskiing I wasn’t even wearing skis…
I was 17 in this picture and less than 100 lbs. Men on the teams ALWAYS commented on our bodies, if we had gained weight or lost weight and how we needed to maintain what they considered the perfect weight. One of the girls I skied with that year ate only popcorn. I would look at her and think to myself how beautiful and perfect she looked and wonder why on earth she was starving herself. I have always been able to look at a woman and not notice or focus on her weight at all. Someone can tell me they have gained 24 lbs and I can’t tell. I don’t look at people that way. I looked at myself differently.
I paid no attention to the food I put into my body. When there was food, I ate it. I may only have eaten 2 pieces of pizza one day or a bowl of cereal the next. I was broke and off in other states skiing with zero budget. I was often slapped on the butt at Seaworld and told to “tighten it up”. I wasn’t aware of what I was putting into my body but it wasn’t much. After my waterskiing career ended and I started college I started to become very aware of my body and what I was putting into it. At first I blamed lack of money. But that excuse was short lived. I knew, even then, that after an entire childhood of abuse, that my body was an object. My body was all that was supposed to matter right? So at 100 lbs I started to drink slim fast shakes for breakfast and lunch. I started drinking drinks from a local juicer. I drank so much carrot/celery juice, my friend told me I started looking orange. I started taking laxatives. I had to keep my body rid of everything. I had to keep it clean. Salads, colonics, slimfast, and occasional noodles. I binge worked out at the gym. I spent hours there. I relished in the, you are so thin, comments…YES I was winning I thought. I looked at other women that were anorexic and thought, geez how awful they must feel being that thin starving themselves, with absolute no ability to admit I was doing the same. I knew what I was doing but in my mind it ,my body, was just being cleaned out on the inside. Abuse victims know how it feels to need to be clean, scrubbed clean, clean on the inside and out, clean away that dirty residue left by the men. I would look at myself and feel I just needed to work out harder. I HAD to control my body the way everyone else had controlled it. By me controlling it, then it took the control back from the men I felt. I felt this must be true.
I moved in with my boyfriend when I was 18 and shortly after became very ill. Doctors still speculate if this was the beginning of my muscle disease or if this was when I contracted Lyme disease. I was bedridden for a long period of time though. I was also diagnosed with vestibular adenosis(you’ll have to google that, this isn’t the place to go into detail but it was most likely a result of abuse) an inflammation of the tissue on the vagina. The doctor treating me for this put me on a specialized diet. I gained 10 lbs and felt better than I had felt in years. It was a low oxalate no sugar diet that was supposed to help the vaginal tissue. Since it was something I could control then I loved it even more.
Four years later, When I first met my husband I think I was was 110 lbs. I worked out, cycled, ran, every day. When I got pregnant, my weight gain was very devastating to me. Here I am at almost 9 months pregnant. I remember this day. I remember looking at myself and thinking oh my gosh I am disgusting. I am so fat and disgusting. I stopped looking at the scale after it got over 130 lbs because I knew it meant I was unlovable at that weight. That is how i felt.
Immediately after giving birth I was told,to nurse, I needed to maintain a certain number of calories. I think I barely kept up with that calorie intake. The minute I could start running and working out again I did. I became insanely thin during nursing and loved the power I felt in that. I felt power in thin.
Things changed when my daughter was 3 and our family decided to eat organic food. I just started eating again. But I never enjoyed food. I was choosing better choices though. I would soon after be diagnosed with a muscle disease and was told I needed more protein.
My family left me 2 years ago after I broke the silence of the abuse I endured. I ate a cupcake. I ate that cupcake and it was the greatest thing I had ever eaten. I ate food for an entire year that I had never eaten before. I savored every bite. I fed my pain. I gained 20 lbs. I hated my weight gain. I hated my body. The more I hated my body the more I ate. I ate things I deprived myself of my entire teen/young adult years. I ate Doritos, cakes, pies, french fries. I gorged on the foods that I never allowed myself. It was very very freeing. But after I hated myself for it because I hated my body. Food and control were just not manageable. How could I win this battle? I felt like I was failing the control process but I was enjoying food so much.
Ive written many posts on body image on my blog. Ive never written the history of how my body image has transformed. I’ve never spoken of the journey to get me where I am right now. My body was used. My body was abused and objectified. Control of my body was taken from me.. I believed by controlling my food, lack of, or over indulgence, would be my road to recovering control again. My entire life I looked at my body and either obsessed over it, was disgusted by it, or was proud of the way I had controlled it. My body went through deprivation, self inflicted starvation, which basically meant I abused myself like others had, just in another way.
I learned that I had osteoporosis at the age of 34. There are many doctor hypothesis to this. One is that my illlness when I was 17 only allowed my bones to reach their 80percent potential. The next is chronic vitamin d deficiency. Both of these are facts. What they didn’t know is that during the critical years of bone building in the ages of 15-20 I was starving myself. I just went to the Mayo clinic again and got another bone density scan. Anything less than -2.5 is considered osteoporosis although since I am only 44 it was called low bone mineral density by my most recent doctor.
What these scores mean is my bones are thin. Worse than -2.5 for both hips. I look at these scores and I try not to play the blame game. I try not to beat myself up. I did in fact have vitamin D deficiency that has continued regardless of supplement for 10 years, and I did have that bout of illness during critical bone development time. But there is a third contributor and that was anorexia.
Ive never admitted I was anorexic until now. Tears roll down my face at the realization I treated my body in such an abusive way after I had been so abused by others for so long. But the affects of abuse are tremendous. More life altering than most can ever imagine. I didn’t love my body. I didn’t love myself.
Raising my daughter I obsessed over NOT obsessing over anything that had to do with her physical body. I never wanted her to focus on her body, doubt the power her body held in its perfect form regardless of weight. I knew I didnt want her to do what I had done. I made sure she had perfect balanced organic meals while I was busy starving.
After my Mayo clinic trip 4 months ago when I needed an iron infusion, my husband and I went to the beach. I posted this picture.
In these last 4 months I have become accutely aware of my body image and how unhealthy it has been. I hated my body. In these last 4 months I have stopped hating. I have stopped using food as a tool to abuse myself. I have daily,looked at myself and my body as an incredibly strong force that has made it through some awful experiences. When I recently put this picture up, I dont think many knew the victory I felt in doing so.
For me this picture meant: I love myself. I love my body. I embrace all parts of me. I nolonger need to think of my body as something to control. I will see it as a body that inspite of having thin bones and a muscle disease, still allows me to walk on a beach. What a miracle. This picture represents victory over everyone that ever tried to break me by touching my body against my will. It is victory over every person who told me I wasn’t pretty enough without make up, I wasn’t thin enough, i wasn’t perfect enough, that I wasn’t enough just as I am. This picture is me saying I am proud of me. Even as I hear comments now about my weight gain, I don’t let it affect me. No one knows my path. No one knows this is the first time in my entire life that I am proud of me and my weight has no bearing on my self love.
If you have suffered from anorexia,bulemia, eating disorders, body dsysmorphia, I understand the struggle. I have been through it and made it to the other side. The truth is, my body deserves better. It deserves to be loved and cherished. It deserves to be nurtured. I hope you can find your way to nurture yourself. It is a way to be victorious over abusers.
To my abusers:
I won abusers. I won. I regained control by chooosing to love what you chose to try and destroy. You can rot in your own disturbed and monsterous minds. You will always be the disgusting one. You will always be just a sex offender, criminal, worthless human being. But am still the same sweet, honorable, kind, loving, person I was before you touched me. I am still the beautiful person that you thought you could conquer but didn’t. My body is mine. I have reclaimed it and declared victory. I won. I won. I won. I won.