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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 the heck, I thought to myself, why not?

Marc and I were at a resort in the Florida Keys, at one of those spoil you rotten reward trips that insurance companies put on for their big producers, and Marc had produced big so he, meaning we, had been invited to attend. The premiere event on this trip was a big Super Bowl party, complete with huge TV screens, endless food buffets, and free-flowing alcohol. It was like an adult version of a celebrity kid's birthday party complete with a portrait artist, face painter, and a psychic.

I loved the portrait artist, too.

"Wanna check out the psychic?" Marc asked.

"Nah, I'm not into that woo woo stuff," I replied. I had been to a psychic once before and was left unimpressed by the experience. So, one set up at a insurance party reading the aura's of drunk exec's was not all that appealing.

"Oh, come on, what else are you going to do?" Marc asked convincingly. And he was right. I was not at all interested in participating in the food and drink fest. I was very uncomfortable around the abundance of decadent food at these events. I found my self-control kick into overdrive, leaving me to watch in envious judgment as people balanced their frosty cocktails in one hand while loading plates with fare from pasta bars, burrito stations, and "make your own sundae" carts. God, these people have no self-control. Disgusting. I needed something to occupy my time during the game until the commercials came on. So, psychic it was.

"What's wrong?" Marc asked as I walked towards him fifteen minutes later, a dazed look on my face. "What did she say?"

"That was…..amazing," I said, trying to maintain my composure, “ I didn’t even say three words!” I proceeded to tell Marc about the session, well, part of it anyway.

"She said that Dylan is pushing my buttons, and it is making me crazy. I need to maintain boundaries when he pushes limits" I relayed to Marc, who was nodding along in agreement. "She also said that you and I need to be on the same page because he is running the household instead of us."

"She's whacked," Marc replied and headed back to the festivities inside.

She wasn't whacked. She was right. Dylan, who was twelve at the time, was constantly testing us, and his mouthy, disrespectful, and increasingly volatile behavior was stressing me out. Where I was overcompensating by cracking down hard with consequences, Marc was more lenient, and sensing the divide, Dylan was taking advantage.

A rare lounge chair moment. I wasn’t one to spend vacations sitting still. ( Key West, 2013)

Needless to say, I was sold. The woman knew her stuff, which made the rest of my session, the part I didn't share with Marc, hard for me to ignore. Although I tried. I spent the rest of the evening, making mindless small talk while sipping my one self- permitted glass of wine, avoiding the ravioli, and counting the minutes until I could go back to our room. But once in the quiet of my own space, her words began spinning in my head like letters in a Bingo cage and spilling out onto the pages of the journal in my lap.

Saw a psychic today. She told me:

I isolate too much. It's essential not to do that even if it means I must push myself to be social.

I need to learn how to go with the flow more. I have too many rules and have created too much structure in my life.

I'm not in the right business, but should stay for now as it keeps me from isolating.

I am really meant to be creative. I must find an outlet.

I am a person who always needs to be in control.

It accurately described the person I knew I had become but, sadly, not the person I knew I really was.

  • sherrisacconaghi

Inflexible, rule-bound, and black and white thinking, I’ve written a lot about some of the more challenging aspects of my character. But, when well managed, there is an upside to having an over controlled personality. I get things done!

I make decisions the same way I shop for clothes. I try on ideas, see how they fit, check them out from different angles. But when I make a decision, boom. It’s done. Like, when I decided it was time for Marc and I to get married, I threw down a quasi ultimatum, and eight months later we were walking down the aisle. Or when I;

· Was ready to have a baby. Two glasses of chardonnay and nine months later, hello Dylan.

· Wanted a more kid-friendly house. Up went the for sale sign, maybe while Marc was on a business trip.

· Needed to get serious about losing weight. Out came the food journal and jogging shoes, and I made that happen.

· Wanted to become a health coach and then a personal trainer. Done and done.

And most notoriously, I’d try and fix anything myself, rather than wait for someone else. There’s not a dishwasher, garbage disposal, or washing machine in my house that I haven’t taken apart and, for the most part, successfully fixed.

I was a rare sighting at B’s early morning soccer matches as they often interfered with my workouts. I am still working through regret over the stuff I missed. (2013)

By 2013, the thought of gaining a little weight had been simmering in the back of my self conscious for a while, but it was beginning heat up and boil over, spilling into the forefront of my mind. The ICU trip in Bend, the coffee convo with Ronni, and the recent photographs that I was not particularly eager to look at were all signs that were getting harder to ignore. I always figured when I was ready to gain weight; I would easily be able to do so. When I made that promise to my grandma, the one to get healthy, I meant it. My decision made, I was confident I would make it happen.

With my health coaching/personal training background, I was very well aware of what needed to be done to gain weight. Five hundred extra calories a day=one pound a week. That’s a little less exercise and a little more food a day. It was akin to the work I did with some of my clients, just in reverse.

Every day I woke up with the resolve that “ today would be the day.”

I would go to the gym with the plan to leave after an hour, but, as usual, end up staying for two. I planned to add more olive oil into my lunch, but could not bring myself to add an extra tablespoon and instead promised myself I would add more to dinner. And the cartons of Tillamook cookies and cream ice cream I purchased for a nightly treat sat untouched (by me anyway) in the freezer night after night while I nibbled on a small square of chocolate instead. I’ll start tomorrow. I promise.

I loved healthy food, but meals like this ( at my favorite True Food Kitchen) were not exactly moving me towards my weight gain goal. ( Phoenix, AZ, 2013).

In my heart, I meant it. I didn’t want to be so thin. But my desire to gain weight , was overshadowed by the fear that, perhaps I was facing something much harder to fix than a Maytag.

  • sherrisacconaghi

“I wish I had THAT problem.”

If I had a spa day for every time I heard that when I mentioned I lose my appetite under stress. I get it, if you're going through a hard time, losing a few pounds is kind of like a….. consolation prize. Unless, like I, you weighed about as much as a fourth grader.

With my family after laying my grandma to rest with my grandfather in their hometown of San Mateo, CA (2012)

Eight years ago that is where I found myself. I was in the throws of losing my maternal grandma, Dorothy, although she was more than my grandma. We had a connection like I have never had with another person . She was my safe place, my cheerleader, my counselor, my friend, and my defender (like when when my sister bit me, and in my defense, she bit her back). The thought of losing her was something I could not wrap my head around. In September of 2012, she had just turned one hundred years old, and we knew time was drawing near the end. She was in an assisted living home a half a mile from my house and I was determined to spend as much time with her as I could, along with my mom who spent almost every waking hour with gram. I had to remember this was hard on her too.

During those months, my food intake severely decreased. It wasn’t my usual control thing, I just didn’t feel like eating. It was like all the emotions I felt, the anxiousness that each day might be our last together, the sadness of watching my fiery Scottish grandma become a shadow of the vibrant woman she once was, and the melancholy of remembering the happy times we had together, all jumbled together in one big ball of.... Ugh. I didn’t want to feel the hurt and sadness, so I didn’t. I allowed those feelings to sit in the pit of my stomach, festering like like an open wound , leaving an apple and a few rice crackers to sustain me through hours of tennis, cardio blast, running, boot camp, motherhood. Life.

Oh, I knew I needed to eat more. By that time in my life I had become aware enough that I had no reserves, no cushion, to allow for crisis calorie reduction. I even contemplated lowering my activity level during that time in efforts of practicing some semblance of self care. Give myself some grace while I was grieving. Contemplation was as far as it got.

My grandma passed away eight years ago Tuesday. Over the years I don’t know if she noticed my shrinking frame, my tired eyes, or my mini meals. If she did, she would never say. But thanks to a picture (I have since destroyed) taken not long before she passed, I noticed. I looked at that picture, trying to find ways to explain away my appearance, the hollow eyes, jutting collarbone, and brittle hair. For the first time I allowed the possibility to creep in that perhaps the years of extreme exercise, food restriction and the inability to regulate my emotions had taken a toll. I promise gram, I will take care of myself. Don’t worry, I will get healthy.

I wanted nothing more than to keep that promise.

She hated to have her picture taken, and it was rare to get her to look into a camera and smile.

Top Left: In 2005 with GG ( as Dylan called her, and the name stuck).

Bottom Left: With my mom and sister in 1971

Top middle: Gram and I in 1969

Bottom middle: Mother's Day 2009

Right: A family Favorite. 2005



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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