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  • sherrisacconaghi


I am directionally impaired. When I pull off of my street, there is a good chance I will get lost before I reach my destination, even if I’ve been there many times before.

That is what it felt like the year before I went into treatment. I wanted to go to a place of health, with a body and mind strong and well-nourished, free from obsession, restriction, rituals, and rules. I had been there before. A place where I was flexible, spontaneous, and engaged with my family and friends. A life that was way more fun. But despite my many attempts to get back to that healthy place, I couldn’t find my way. I’d get lost.

About a week into the emotional regrets writing assignment from my therapist, I did indeed begin to feel much better. My body felt calmer and more relaxed. To my relief, the physical pressure I had lived with for months had deflated, and I again found comfort in the feel of my jutting hipbones as I ran my hand across my concave belly. But as relieved as I was, I was also in a bind. I knew too much. Unleashing my feelings in my journal, and finally talking about them honestly with Karen helped me realize that the place of guilt and shame I had been hiding in for so long did not need to be. I was not stuck; I could move.

Or not move. Literally. I had finally come face to face with what I already knew deep inside. I was anorexic. Well, to a point that is. I had been tentatively “looking into” anorexia for many months. Googling signs and symptoms, admitting some were relevant to me, but deciding most were not. Oh, and books. I read many books, mostly memoirs,(Obsessed, Love Fat,Elena Vanishing ) to see how I “compared.” I found it frightening and fascinating all at once. I was well aware that my weight fell smack dab in the underweight range, and from a purely clinical standpoint, my body was anorexic. But because I didn’t feel I had the body dysmorphia, the belief that I was fat, that went along with anorexia nervosa, I convinced myself it was mind over matter. I still saw anorexia as a simple weight thing, not yet connecting how my patterns of behaviors, rituals, and routines, were related. I believed it was something I could fix if I just tried hard enough.

I meant to shift into Reverse. The tree in from of me at the Albertsons parking lot survived. The bumper did not. (2015)

“What is one thing you could do that might help move you to your goal of a healthier body?” Karen asked during one of our sessions after I had declared, once again, I was ready to make a change.

“Hmmmmm, I’m not sure,” I said, chewing my lower lip. Crap, I know, and she knows I know.

“I’m thinking I need to give up running?” As if phrasing it as a question left it open for debate.

“I think that might be a good place to start,” Karen replied gently.

Honestly, I was ready to give it up. I had made several half-assed attempts to stop with no success, the draw of the runners high, and the relief of the ever-present anxiety that only running could alleviate was too strong. Just one more run, then I'll stop, just one more, one more, one more.

I needed a push to help me make a change, and I was about to get it.


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