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

“Did I have any signs of an eating disorder when we started dating?” I recently asked my husband, Marc.

“Nope, none,” he said confidently.

“I didn’t think so but sometimes I can’t remember life without it, you know? I said sadly, my eyes filling with tears.

“Yes, I know,” he replied reaching out to hug me. This disease hasn’t been easy on him either.

When Marc and I first met, I was happily settling in to my new life as a single woman. After buying my new house, I was in need of home insurance and called Marc, a referral from Polly. Marc pulled up to our initial meeting at a Starbucks driving a sensible Plymouth Acclaim, sporting a white dress shirt and red tie. Typical, boring insurance dude,

I thought to myself. I thought wrong. We spent the next hour talking less about insurance and more about his experience as the manager of a band, his gig as a local music radio show host, and our shared passion for working with kids. He was sweet and funny but I didn’t buy insurance from him (long story). Despite that, he proceeded to ask me out on a date.

“I think I’m just going to work on my house and hang with my dog,” I told him in response to his invitation to dinner. It’s not that I wasn’t attracted to Marc, it’s that I was. He was far more interesting than the men I had been going on dates with, and he was so nice. Too nice to be the rebound guy. Our connection was immediate but I wasn’t ready for another relationship yet, and Marc, I could tell was relationship material.

“I’ll call you when I’m ready to date,” I continued, as his eyes rolled and he gave me a yeah, right look. But I meant it. I would call when I was ready.

And a year later, I did.

This year Marc and I celebrate our twentieth anniversary. Wow, what a ride it's been.

After he got the wag of approval from my dog, Marc and I began spending a lot of time together. We enjoyed romantic meals of homemade pasta at a small Italian place in town. We took weekend getaways to the Oregon coast indulging long naps by the fire and warm berry turnovers from the local bakery. Marc introduced me to funky clubs with live music and I introduced him to the gym. Sure, I still wished for a flatter stomach or smaller hips but those thoughts were more like habitual whispers than obsessive screams. In reality I liked my curvy, strong, energetic body. Marc certainly wasn’t complaining either.

And three years from our fateful meeting at Starbucks, Marc and I married on a beautiful autumn day in a vineyard surrounded by our family and friends. I felt beautiful, happy, and loved.

I never dreamed a day would come when I would feel any other way.

  • 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.


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