The Post I Never Thought I’d Write

I can’t believe I’m writing this post. Five Years Ago Anna wouldn’t have written it. TWO Years Ago Anna wouldn’t have, either. But here I am, Today Anna, and I’m ready to share.

A few years ago, Kevin asked me if I’d ever consider sharing the story of my eating disorder with people. At the time, I shuddered at the thought. I could barely even “talk” about it with MYSELF, much less share it with others.

What would they think of me if they knew?

But now here I am, typing away about my experience. I guess that’s called progress? Or maybe time? (You know, the whole “time heals all wounds” mantra?) Probably both. Oh, and I’ve gotten much more comfortable with vulnerability — and aware of its importance — in the process, too. So that’s part of it as well.

Here’s the short story: I used to struggle with bulimia, and now I don’t.

Here’s the slightly less short short story: I became bulimic during my junior year of high school, and it wasn’t long before it took over my life. It was a compulsion I took with me to college, to teach abroad in Malaysia, to grad school, to my first job, into my marriage…it was this insidious thing that was always with me, every day. Regardless of how much else was going right, I had this ever-present secret tucked away that I was so very ashamed of. I eventually hit a point, a few years ago, where I just got tired of having this secret. I was exhausted by the habit I’d developed, and so ready to be done with it and get back to living my life fully. So I started seeing a counselor and things were looking up for a while…and then I fell off the wagon. A few months later, I started seeing a different counselor and this time I was truly ready to dig in and put it behind me. I now consider myself recovered, and it’s such a liberating feeling to not be beholden to that disease anymore. Now I get to call the shots.

So why am I sharing this now? I don’t want sympathy or praise. I’m really hoping opinions of me don’t change (at least, not dramatically). I guess it’s twofold:

  1. I believe in the power of transparency and vulnerability (shout out to Brené Brown!), and I really, really want my life and my actions to convey those traits. But how can I say I truly believe in those things if I keep quiet about this forever?
  2. I know other people out there are experiencing something similar right now, and it was helpful for me to read other people’s stories about overcoming an eating disorder when I was in the middle of mine. I by no means have everything figured out, but I do have my story to share, and I’m happy to be a resource or support system to anyone who needs it.

This post could get long and ramble-y quickly if I let it, so to avoid that here are few things I want to point out in particular regarding the steps to and through my recovery:

  • Kevin was so incredibly supportive throughout this process. He didn’t know about my eating disorder before we got married, which was SO unfair to him, but he took it in stride when he found out and was so loving and helpful and patient as I navigated what recovery looked like for me.
  • I wanted to get better before I had kids. Kevin and I didn’t want to even start trying for a baby until I had recovered from my eating disorder. Knowing that I wanted to start a family was a hugely motivating factor in wanting to be done with the whole thing.
  • Raising a girl scares me — but I’m less afraid now. I always used to joke with Kevin that we’d have all boys, and part of that came from the fear I had surrounding raising a daughter. After all, what kind of female role model could I be with my life in such an unhealthy place? Now, though, I feel better about my ability to raise a girl. (Good thing, because that’s what I have!) I’m SO much more comfortable with myself and with my feelings, and I want to raise Maggie in a house that embraces vulnerability and failure and imperfection. I’m much more equipped to do that now.
  • Pure Barre was a critical part to me getting better. I write about Pure Barre often here, and spend a big chunk of my time at the studio, between teaching and taking classes. I’ve talked about Pure Barre being life changing for me, and that’s not hyperbole. For me, finding this workout — one that I actually loved, that I saw great results from, and that left me feeling strong and motivated — was key to my recovery. Knowing that I had a way to keep my body healthy and in shape helped enormously as I was navigating into new territory regarding the way I looked at food.
  • I’m in awe of the human body. How in the world is it possible for me to be as healthy as I am after I put my body through so much torture for more than a decade? I feel good (great, even) most days. My body once again knows what to do with food when it comes to using it to nourish and strengthen me. I had a remarkably healthy pregnancy, followed by an intervention-free birth and seamless postpartum recovery. I don’t know how all this is possible, but I sure am grateful it’s the case. I’m thankful for my body — and its resilience and ability to forgive me — daily.
  • It’s worth it to get better. This seems obvious, but I’m including it because there was a time — for several years — where I wasn’t convinced this was true. I wasn’t sure that getting better would be worth it. Getting better felt scary. It meant losing control (or so I thought). It meant leaving this coping mechanism that was my safety net for EVERYTHING for years by the wayside. It often didn’t seem worth it, but it is. It SO IS. I feel a freedom and lightness I didn’t know was possible. The other side is incredible. Come join me here.

If I can help or you’d like to connect with me on this, just let me know.

3 Comments

  1. Lauren

    Hey girl!
    I love seeing photos of how you are doing and your beautiful family.
    Thank you for being so vulnerable and sharing your struggles. I always say while you don’t “owe” your story to anyone, it’s so healthy to “own” it and learn from it- but I am thankful you chose to free yourself of this secret.
    You are talented and beautiful !

    Lauren (Albany)

  2. Lorna Jansen

    Thanks for being willing to share and be vulnerable, Anna. I’m so glad that God helped you conquer this battle, as he has helped me with a myriad of my own issues. Love to you and your family. – Lorna

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