The Truth Behind the Lies Of An Anorexic Mom

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Note:  This blog contains descriptions of eating disorder behaviors.  Although I have tried to be mindful in writing about specific behaviors, there are parts of  that may be difficult to read for those actively struggling with an eating disorder.  For support please see the "resources"page on this site.

  • sherrisacconaghi

“Don’t you want to be with someone who loves you?” J asked, the day he told me he wanted a divorce. I was sitting in the family room of our newly built suburban tract house, while J paced the floor.

“Are you saying you don’t love me?” I asked incredulously. I knew the answer but had been stuffing down the obvious for months.

Well, do YOU love ME?” J retorted. Damn. He had me there.

And just like that, J moved out, taking half the furniture, the lawnmower and his car. I got the dog. Come hell or high water I was getting the dog. We agreed to sell the house. Despite how it ended, I was sad, grieving not only the loss of my partner of seven years, but the future we had planned. I had planned.

“Aren’t you glad you didn’t have kids together?” My mom asked, trying to look at the bright side. Yes, but watching my friends having babies sucked. Attending showers, buying onesies, ranking baby names, all while trying to keep the envy that was bubbling beneath my skin from festering and bursting open, infecting the relationships with people I loved.

Sadness, envy, fear were emotions I didn’t want to deal with so instead, I didn’t eat.

The "core four" as we are still known, Polly Lori, me, and Megan. At yep, Lori's baby shower.

Wait….What? Yep, somewhere along with losing a husband I had lost my appetite. I had no desire to eat a cookie let alone binge on a whole pie. I wanted to want food, to lean on Papa Murphy and Sara Lee to get me through this difficult time but I didn’t have the desire. After days of nibbling on Cheerios while I packed up the house I realized, my body felt good. I felt empty. Light. My brain unencumbered by the obsessive internal chatter about food. I liked it.

Things got busy. A month after the split, I received a big a promotion at work. I was tasked in creating a Human Resources department for our rapidly expanding company, a job for which I was completely unqualified (this fact, coupled with the timing of my divorce, had the whole place buzzing about my suspected affair with the Executive Director). In truth, I was just a good ass kisser, figuratively speaking. The house sold in the burbs and I purchased a 1940’s bungalow in a bustling part of Southwest Portland. I enjoyed girlfriend getaways to the Oregon coast, I joined a gym, and went on dates with an array of men, some of whom I even allowed to touch my stomach. I was fulfilled at work, I was financially independent, and I was reconnecting with my friends. And I had dropped some weight. I was happy. My appetite had since returned but the desire to binge had not. Hmmmmmm?

I chalked my binging up to a phase, like my obsession with Hello Kitty or dressing like Madonna. As far as I was concerned my disgusting habit was gone. I was normal.

  • sherrisacconaghi

Have you had times in your life that were stressful? Confusing? Unfulfilling? Have you tried to alleviate the stress or fill the void? Maybe numb out or reward yourself after a hard day? I started using food that way. My binges became less frantic and my restriction less compulsive. Food became more of a steady emotional crutch. Something I could lean on as I stepped from college into the real world and onto the path I had planned. Work, marriage, kids.

I got a job. Working with emotionally disturbed kids in a residential treatment facility, spending ten hours a day being cussed out, spit at, and cleaning feces off of bathroom walls. (Yes, a college degree was required for this although I never learned the art of fecal removal in any of my college classes). I often went out with my coworkers to “decompress” at the local pub after our shift ended at 11pm, drinking cocktails and munching on jumbo nachos until two in the morning. I’d sleep until noon, wake up and watch trashy talk shows. Repeat. I loved my coworkers (still do!)) but the job itself did not fulfill me. My weight climbed due to my late night antics preference of Sally Jesse Raphael over of exercise. My clothes got tighter, my body image sank.

Perfect time to get married. So I did, to J, my college boyfriend of four years. J was aware of my struggles with food and my body (I never let him touch my stomach), but having had a previous relationship with a woman who had an actual diagnosed eating disorder, Types of eating disorders, J's stories of her struggles left me convinced I just suffered from a lack of self-control. It didn’t help that the man could eat ANYTHING and not gain a pound. J was constantly making cakes and cookies, leaving half sitting on the counter, calling to me as only a warm, gooey brownie could. I’d have just one bite, and then another and then another until the pan was empty, only to be disgusted with myself for not being able to resist. Although a great guy, J was not THE ONE. (Yes, Polly you were right). Our interests were different, J craved challenge and adventure, I wanted stability and routine. That, coupled with our opposite work schedules, found us drifting apart. He began spending more time with his buddies from the National Guard, and I found comfort and connection with my girlfriends. And food.

But I was still on my scheduled path.

· Graduate. Check

· Get a job. Check

· Get married. Check

· Get a dog. Check

· Buy a house. Check

· Kids. Discussing. At least I was.

But it didn’t keep me from standing at the kitchen counter on more than one occasion, a box of Costco muffins, or a Quart of Cookies and Cream at the ready thinking, I want more than this life.

Getting Zoey ( see checklist) was the best decision J and I made. This dog lovingly hung with me for fifteen crazy years.

  • sherrisacconaghi

Soon after my junior year library chat with Katie, I started experimenting with what I now understand was a binge/ restrict cycle. (signs and symptoms). i had no idea I was toying with an eating disorder.

My brilliant plan looked like this. All the foods I usually felt guilty about eating I could now eat all in one day, often all in an hour. I looked forward to Friday and Saturday nights consuming slices of large doughy pizza , family size bags of M and M’s, half a dozen blueberry

muffins, and boxes Chips Ahoy cookies. I would go to an all you can eat Chinese buffet with

my friends only to sneak away later for a Big Mac and a hot fudge sundae. This with the promise to myself that Sunday I would, “be good.” I would start five days of food restriction coupled with early morning workouts at the local gym. Vomiting was not my thing. I physically could not get my body to do it. In retrospect, I think I believed that if I didn’t force myself throw up, then I didn’t really have a problem. So, I restricted food intake, meticulously counting calories in every tomato slice, and sprinkle of cheese. Even mustard would get a calorie count assigned to it. As it was 1990, the internet was not an easily referenced resource yet so I relied on a book called “Every Calorie Counts”. It was my Bible. ( I’m confident if I put half the effort into my school work as I did in counting calories I would have graduated top of my class). My weight ebbed and flowed but remained, in what is considered by the medical field, as a “healthy weight” for my height. What wasn’t healthy was the fact I was learning to ignore my body’s signals. I shoved my hunger cues aside like an annoying little sister, pretending they didn’t exist. What I ate and when I ate had nothing at all to do with physical hunger. When I binged, I felt happy. Euphoric. I didn’t stress about my C minus in Poly Sci, whether or not I should break up with the new boyfriend, or the fact I was twenty one years old and had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Food became my drug.

My best friend Polly on the night I turned 21. She was beside me then and she is still by my side to this day.


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