SKINNY

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.

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  • sherrisacconaghi

"My mom needs to go to the ER again," M said to me recently. I was enjoying a leisurely breakfast while reading the newspaper, when I saw his name pop up on my phone and answered.


"Wow, we just took her last week," I said, putting down my tea mug and feeling my muscles start to clench in anticipation, "I am so sorry."


"So," M paused before continuing, "I'll guess I'll just Uber up to the hospital and meet her there?"


"Okay," I said, taking a deep breath disappointed, as I thought we were done with this bullshit game, "keep me posted." I hung up the phone and closed my eyes, allowing the anticipated wave of guilt to wash over me. I tossed my phone across the room for fear, I would pick it up, and call back to alleviate my emotional discomfort.


M, a close relative of mine, does not drive. When he first stopped driving many years ago, I found myself chauffeuring him around. A lot. To his office downtown, to the cleaners, to the grocery store, and to McDonald's for his favorite ice cream treat. At first, I didn't mind. Part of me felt terrible for M as I couldn't imagine not having the ability to hop in my car to get ice cream if I wanted. And I felt guilty. Although I was a stay a stay-at-home mom of two pre-teens at the time, I felt selfish not taking the time to drive him around in between my kid's activities and my own.


I'm exhausted," I remember lamenting to Kirin, my therapist at the time" I feel so overwhelmed."


'Sherri, it is within your right to say no," Kirin reminded me, "it is not your job to drive him."


"THAT is the thing," I said to Kirin, flinging my arms in the air in exasperation. Her statement highlighting the crux of my problem," I can't say no."


"Why is that?" Kirin asked inquisitively.


"Because he never asks. "I screeched flopping back in the chair, defeated.


For years I stood at the ready for M to mention his daily activities. How he was thinking of going to grab a coffee, or that he forgot some needed documents at the office. The familiar silence after each statement allowing just enough time for the helping/enabling/guilty part of me to pipe in with "I can take you." He never had to ask, he just had to hint, and I would flutter, skip and fuss all around to meet his request. All the while, resentment was growing and festering inside of me and slowly eroding our relationship.



It’s okay to say”No" sometimes. Even if it is just to stay home and do this. (2021)

With Kirin's help, my work in Al-anon, and the continued support of my treatment team I learned about boundaries. Although I love rules, the ones I relied on for years were punishing and detrimental to my mind and body. On the other hand, boundaries, I came to understand are a form of self-care. They are not meant to control my life but rather allow me to BE in control of my life. So, after much rehearsing, I set my boundary with M. With a quiver in my voice and forcing myself to maintain direct eye contact, I stated the following;


"M, if you would like a ride from me, I need you to to ask me directly and allow me the opportunity to say yes or no."


He didn't love it. Why would he? The old way worked a hell of a lot better for M than it did for me. Imagine getting a ride without ever having to ask someone willing to drop anything to accommodate.


I added one rule for myself (of course I did). If he did ask, I could only answer yes if I could do so without the eye-rolling, door slamming, monosyllabic, passive-aggressive words of resentment.

Over time, M adjusted, as did I. M, not one who is comfortable asking for help, learned to utilize Uber, and discovered a love of walking and I, someone who is uncomfortable holding a boundary, learned saying no doesn't make me a selfish bitch. I discovered I love helping people when I can.


Just gotta ask.



  • sherrisacconaghi

"You will never have to worry about having that issue, "I said to my friend Cathi last week. We were on the phone discussing the health issue of a mutual friend. “Because,” I continued, "you are as fat as a doublewide."


The phone went silent on her end. However, I paid no never mind and continued on discussing our friend's issue, one that has everything to do with her hereditary and nothing to do with weight.


I have known Cathi for over twenty years, and in that time, she has repeatedly expressed her insecurity about her weight and body. I can't believe I called her fat as a doublewide.


Oh wait…..I didn't.


Here is the actual conversation.


"You will never have to worry about having that issue, "my friend Cathi said to me. We were on the phone discussing the health issue of a mutual friend. “Because,” she continued, "you are as skinny as a rail."


I went silent on my end of the phone, stunned. However, Cathi paid no mind and continued discussing our friend's health issue, which has everything to do with heredity and nothing to do with weight.


Cathi has known me for over twenty years and in that time, has seen me struggle with my weight and body. She championed me as I went into treatment, and she has followed my journey through reading my blog. I can't believe she called me "skinny as a rail."


But she did.


I already know. (2021)


When I first wrote this post, I intended to point out that skinny shaming is a thing. It made me shiver when I wrote about calling Cathi "fat as a doublewide" even though it was a fictional conversation. But "skinny as a rail?" It barely gave me pause. As I started writing though, I realized it goes deeper than just weight.


Cathi's comment did not bring forth feelings of hurt or shame as they would have in the past. Instead, I got pissed as hell. Not just for me but for, for….everyone.


I am fucking over it.


I will admit there would have been a time when I would have let this interaction slide. I would have found compassion and justified Cathi's statement by chalking it up to her body insecurity, reminding myself it has "nothing to do with me." I would have locked it away in my journal, letting it get buried in the pages that came afterward. But right now, I don't feel like tiptoeing around this issue and would rather be straightforward.


Stop commenting on other people's bodies.


Up until now, I would have been afraid to write about this for fear I might seem overactive. Fearful people might think I have not dealt with my “issues.” Ha, I'll be dealing with my body stuff for the rest of my life. But it's not just about me. It's about every person who is insecure about their body. Here's the thing. We already know how we look. We see if we fit into our fat or skinny jeans. We are well aware if we are shorter than average, or if we have a receding hairline. We know if our nose is too large or our feet are too small. If we have a zit on our chin or less than perfect posture. For people like us, even an intended compliment only serves to highlight the areas of our body that constantly weigh on the forefront of our minds.


And as my friend Anastasia lamented after a significant weight loss years ago, "God, everyone tells me how great I look, which makes me wonder how bad I must have looked before."



Want to comment on someone? Tell them you admire their strength and courage. Let them know how you appreciate their wicked sense of humor or that you wish you had their topspin lob. Give them a boost by sharing how polite their kids are when you see them in public or that you would love the recipe to their quinoa salad.


Best yet, tell them they are one of the best people you know.


As for me, unless something caught in my teeth, I kindly ask you to keep your thoughts about my body yourself.



  • sherrisacconaghi

"It hurts so bad," I screamed, throwing back the sweat soaked covers and bolting upright in bed. My heart sank when I glanced at the clock, and it read 1:21 AM. The night seemed endless.


"Still your tooth? "Marc mumbled, half asleep but trying to be supportive.


"Yes, I can't take this anymore," I moaned as I got up and headed toward the med cabinet for yet another handful of Advil that was already ripping at my stomach lining. "This is hell."


For the past three weeks, I have been struggling with tooth pain. A recently filled cavity, turned into a root canal that needed a crown, ultimately morphing into a sinus infection. I've been subsisting on a diet of Advil and antibiotics while my dentists and endodontist have drilled, poked and scraped away. Even as I write, there is still a dull ache that makes me nervous to chew on the left side of my mouth. I do not trust that the pain will not return.


I take meticulous care of my teeth. Dental checkups every six months, flossing nightly, brushing with the timed beeps of my electric toothbrush. Recently, I even gave up Tootsie Rolls because they were not helping my anti-cavity cause. I have spent tens of thousands of dollars trying to repair damage that years of starving myself has created, but, as my dentist has gently explained, some damage cannot be undone.

Part of my recovery process was learning to value myself enough to repair my teeth, but the irony of having to eat more while my mouth was under construction was not lost on me. (Coincidence? A random conference in our hotel, and yes I had just had two teeth pulled. Vegas 2017).

There have been moments these past few weeks when my head has ached from pain and my stomach rolled from all the medication that I let myself wander down the well-worn path of regret—replaying the "if only's" that threaten to muck up my positive mojo and toy with my recovery. If only I had not allowed myself to starve my body for so many years. If only I didn't ignore the warnings of doctors that I was forcing my body to use itself as fuel, my bones, my muscles, and yes, my teeth. If only I focused more on taking care of my insides and cared less about my outside appearance. If only I had the balls to have stopped the anorexic behaviors every time I promised myself I would.


But the reality is, I didn't. And there are consequences to that. Sometimes I forget about adverse outcomes because despite what I put my body through, right now, I am healthy. My body is strong. I have regained muscle and have been able to arrest further bone loss with proper diet and strength training. My hormones are online, my relationship with my husband is solid. I have a fulfilling career and friends whom I adore. And man, my boys, there are no words to express how grateful I am for the fun, loving (although at times, exasperating) relationship we have now. Every year I maintain recovery, the despair of living with anorexia becomes dimmer, and more distant.

This latest tooth incident put a damper on our beach trip, but, if i’m going to be in pain, this is the place to do it. (Cannon Beach, OR, 2021).


But this past month has served as a reminder that I did not come through the disease unscathed. There are residual effects of anorexia that will leave an imprint on my life forever. Maybe the recovery Gods know something I don't. Perhaps they sent this difficult tooth issue to remind me to stay on the right path, to take care of myself, and to take nothing for granted. Because the reality is, the consequences of my anorexia could have been much, much worse.

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