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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

"What's up with you only going to the grocery store once a week?" My son D asked me recently. Home from college for the summer, he was in the kitchen whipping up some delicious concoction, and apparently, I had the wrong kind of salt in the spice drawer.

"I don't like grocery shopping…." I started to explain before he cut me off.

"Well, I hate parts of my job too," D said, growing increasingly agitated, "but I can't just NOT do them."

"I do it, "I said, starting to get defensive, my body tensing for a fight, "but only once a week."

"Come on, mom, I don't want to be a dick, but what else do you……." I didn't need to hear the rest. D wasn't asking me a question. Instead, as the tension began to leave my body, I realized that he was trying to pick a fight.

When the boys were little, there were times I couldn't even find a moment to pee. I was the keeper of an essential job, raising humans and holding down the fort so my husband could build the business. But as they got older, busier with their friends and activities, I found myself with more time on my hands. Time, increasingly, I spent at the gym and in the kitchen making my meticulously measured and portioned meals. On several occasions during those years, exciting job opportunities came my way, opening the door to the possibility I could get back into the workforce and be more than just a shuttle driver/lunch maker/ laundry do-er. And although we didn't need the money, the thought of contributing financially to the household, I felt was a sure-fire way to quell the guilt that, like an idling engine, constantly hummed inside my body. But in reality, by that time, my anorexia had such a hold on my life, taking a job was impossible. Required work hours would interfere with my morning workouts and rigid meal schedule, not to mention all the sitting.

My mind and body trapped me. I didn't feel good about my role in my family, more importantly, in my life. So to make up for it, I would try and justify my position. I was bustling around running mindless errands, trying to feel useful—; Grocery runs, forgotten lunch drop-offs, last-minute school pick-ups, and pantry cleanouts. I was advertising the hours I spent doing things for my family while hiding the hours spent taking care of my illness.

It didn't make me feel important or valuable. On the contrary, it made me feel like a fraud, and my ever-perceptive son could see right through it. During his angsty teen years, D and I would argue, especially when he was struggling with his stuff. But after a round or two of verbal attack-counter attack, he would go in for the kill, "What do you do all day, Mom?"


An essential part of my treatment for anorexia, was experimenting. My team encouraged me to take risks and find the things that filled my emotional tank while slowly unwinding the narrative that so deeply became ingrained in my brain over the years. The one that said to be worthy, I had to do more and try harder because I was not enough.

D's recent little grocery jab, I quickly identified, had nothing to do with me (or the salt). I guess something was bothering him, and like old times, he was trying to distract himself by baiting me. But I didn't bite. I didn't feel the need because I am more than enough.

OMG son, obviously I am waaaay to busy to go the the grocery store.(2021)

  • sherrisacconaghi

"Where are you going?" I asked my husband Marc, as he walked past me. I was sitting on the front porch enjoying the peaceful coolness of the evening, eating a bowl of Cookies and Cream. I assumed he was coming out to join me.

"I'm walking to the path and back," he said, referring to the neighborhood trail entrance that is ⅛ of a mile down our street.

"Um, why?" I asked, genuinely confused as we had recently returned from our nightly after dinner walk.

"I am almost at 20,000 steps, Marc said, holding up his wrist adorned with a new Fitbit. "It would be my all-time high."

"Wow, great, "I said, feigning enthusiasm, trying to ignore that familiar feeling that was slowly beginning to invade my gut.

The Fitbit was a gift to Marc a couple weeks earlier for Father's Day. Although he had begun to walk for exercise more and more the past couple of years, it wasn't until a team building activity at work that I had the idea. Some of the employees were participating in a virtual walk to Disneyland. Each week we would report our milage to the HR Manager and she would compile and track our progress. I, of course, used this as an excuse to dust off my old Apple watch and start racking up the miles. Unfortunately, Marc relied on the fitness app on his phone that he carried around throughout the day and as a result fell far short of my increasingly impressive numbers.

"You know you are walking more miles than you think you are, "I said to him knowingly one night after our walk.

"What do you mean?" He asked. Never one to be caught up in exercise, Marc was utterly unaware of the workings of a fitness tracker.

I on the other hand had been a servant to my Apple watch for years, obsessively watching the numbers throughout the day and pushing myself to beat the previous day's goal. My morning workout could not be complete until I reached X amount of calories burned. If I fell short by my three pm marker, I would take a vigorous hike up to the top of our hill, and I loved the days I played tennis because a good singles match was a fantastic workout, pushing my caloric burn to a spectacularly high number. More steps, more calories burned, more movement fueled me to push harder, go faster, try harder….until.

With our walk to Disneyland now complete, I have once again tucked away my Apple watch. But, unfortunately, pulling it out for the walking challenge was like giving a sip of vodka to an alcoholic. When I popped in on my wrist, I told myself that it was only so I could accurately report the numbers for the Disneyland challenge, but I quickly recognized it had the potential to become much more than that if I didn’t get myself back on course.

Marc and I on one of our evening walks. And yes those are mouse ears because we were walking to Disneyland after all. ( May, 2021).

After years of secretly (okay, sometimes not so secretly), wishing my husband would take better care of his health, I am thrilled he has a physical outlet to relieve stress and boost his mood. In reality, it is not the quantity of his walking that has me all twittered up. I do not feel like we are in a competition. Instead, it is watching him discover it all for the first time—the high from beating yesterday's record. The exhilaration of watching the calories burn out of your body, the thrill of achieving numbers he never assumed attainable. I know that feeling. And I understand his desire to joyfully share with me each time he reaches a step marker, 10,00 then 20,000, then 25, 000. It is getting easier. I am getting better at wiggling around in my envious discomfort, compelling myself to encourage him in his healthy habit instead of succumbing to my desire to tell him to shut the fuck up. It is not his responsibility to change his behavior to make me feel comfortable. It is his responsibility to keep himself healthy, just as I am responsible for doing the same.

  • sherrisacconaghi

I recently went through a low-energy phase. My body felt sore, and I had trouble finding the motivation to complete simple tasks, like shopping Amazon or washing the scrambled egg pan that had been sitting on my stove for days—the constant drain forcing me to take a long look at my self care.

Is nutrition adequate? Check

Sleeping well. Check

Exercise within reasonable limits. Check

Dealing with uncomfortable emotions. Che…..shit.

For the past year, my mother in law has been declining, succumbing to the symptoms of aging that so many older adults face. As a family, we have stepped in to make adjustments to ensure her safety and well being. But, stubborn and independent, she has not been thrilled about the changes.

She has given so much to our family, like these illuminating squirrels for our yard. You want them, I know you do. (2017)

Our family circumstances have found me in a position to be very involved in her care, especially these past six months. It has required my MIL and I to spend a lot of time together. Time that I did not relish at first. And neither did she. It's not that I don't love my MIL. I got pretty lucky, (unsolicited advice and differing home decor aside) as far as MIL's go.

But I have been resentful. Pissy that I have spent a significant amount of time taking care of a woman who is not my mom, bringing to the forefront the fact my mom died so suddenly I never had the chance. I have carried a chip on my shoulder, believing my husband and sister in law were taking advantage, relying on me to handle some of the more sensitive, personal and imperative aspects of her care. Care, I thought, should be the responsibility of her kids, not me. And MIL, in no uncertain terms, was resisting my help believing she could take care of her needs without me. We’ve had words. For months I have stood firmly upon my pedestal, making sure my husband, my sister-in-law, my friends, medical professionals, and the checker at New Seasons knew the sacrifices I have made to keep my MIL safe and healthy in her home.

St. Sherri.

I have been grasping onto my bitterness with both fists, refusing to let it go. It bothered me enough to become the topic of a lot of journaling and self inquiry lately. No doubt my indignant , passive aggressiveness has served me in some way. Perhaps it has been a mechanism, in the absence of setting healthy boundaries, to protect myself from taking on too much. Maybe I am needing validation and acknowledgement in other areas of my life and it is manifesting itself in this way. Or maybe I’m just standing on some principle just because..

She is something else this one. (2019).

As her needs have increased recently, we have spent even more time together, MIL and I. In the car running errands, in her living room after a grocery drop off, and in medical offices waiting for specialists to help alleviate her pain. And in this time, something shifted in me and our relationship. The chip on my shoulder began to feel heavy and burdensome, wearing on my mind and body causing me to feel worn out and tired. Instead of serving me, the resentment started to choke the energy right out of me. The truth is she needs me, and she has slowly started to acknowledge that. I need her too. Righteous bullshit aside, helping my MIL makes me feel good. To offer comfort and compassion to a woman who is doing the best she can to face down the changes that lie ahead for her bravely. Caring for her has re-energized me, and filled my tank and has allowed me to give back to a woman who has given so much to our family.



Thanks for your interest in Skinny: The Truth Behind The Lies OF An Anorexic Mom. I'd love to connect with you so feel free to get in touch and I will get back to you soon!

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