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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

“Don’t let anything become a habit where you emerge feeling worse.” I read that recently in an advice column. Habits, bad ones, in my experience are complicated and insanely difficult break.

As the glowiness of married life started to fade a bit, Marc and I settled into a comfortable, I’m wearing sweats at night, kind of routine. We sold my little house in the city and purchased a house in the burbs of Portland where I grew up. A big backyard for the dog and a great school district for our future kids. Marc worked long hours building his insurance clientele and hosting his late night radio show while I was busy trying to satisfy two hundred overworked, underpaid employees which felt like nailing Jell-O to a wall. After work, we liked to relax with take out, a cocktail, and political news shows. Mexican food and martinis with Hannity and Colmes, or Chinese and chardonnay with Chris Matthews (or Bill O Reilly depending on our mood). Friday nights were spent at our favorite pub enjoying cheesy enchiladas and strong, icy lemon drops. I pretty much ate what I wanted, but surprisingly, I was also drinking what I wanted. Not a good combo for a woman with body image issues.

I’d been known to enjoy a drink or two throughout my adult life (ok maybe a little before), but keeping my consumption in check was never difficult for me for one big reason. I was raised in an alcoholic home. I saw firsthand the chaos my mom’s drinking created in our family and I knew there was a genetic component, the risks. So, I was careful. But drinking was something Marc and I enjoyed doing together. Wine tasting on crisp fall days while overlooking the lush Willamette Valley, grabbing a drink at a crowed bar while listening to live music, enjoying flame lit Spanish coffees after a romantic meal on the coast. If our relationship was a jazz band, alcohol was the saxophone, without it, something was missing.

By this time, I had long been out of the habit of weighing myself, and quite frankly I was afraid to get back on the scale for fear of what it might read. I did however have an unspoken rule that I would never wear a size larger than an X. (When it comes to specific sizes and weight I will speak in generalities,triggers.) The weight was creeping on and this time I was noticing. I didn’t like the way my clothes were fitting, the waistband digging into my midsection. I hated the second chin that seemed to emerge when I smiled, and my stomach, ugh, the pooch was back. Our consumption habits, while fun in the moment left me feeling worse in the long run heavy, lacking energy and frustrated I couldn't control myself when it came to the amount of food and drink I was consuming. And yet, I wasn’t ready to give up Mexican martini Mondays, I felt stuck. Again. But wait, I had been in this conundrum before, and I knew exactly how to control this.

A break in the nightly take out routine for sunset sushi.(2000).

  • 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.



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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