“I like that painting, I never noticed it before,” I said to my dietician Gretchen, as I walked into her office for my weekly session. It was a sizeable striking abstract of golds and dark reds that hung above the chair in which I had been sitting for the past year.
“Oh, sweetie, I’ve been waiting for you to say something like that,” Gretchen said, smiling widely and giving me a radiant look, “this is a great sign.”
I stared back at her, confused. Gretchen, a creative and confident woman, never struck me as one to seek compliments, but I figured she must be very proud of the painting.
It turns out Gretchen wasn’t proud of the artwork; she was proud of me.
A zoo animal. That is what living with anorexia felt like for me, pacing, and watching from my self imposed cage, as people milled about living their lives, seemingly carefree from the rigid rules and rituals in which I felt so burdened. Freedom that allowed them to do the things I could only dream about; enjoying happy hour cocktails with friends, eating pizza while watching college football or enjoying an ice cream sundae in the middle of a hot summer day. In turn, I felt these people staring back at me, the frantic woman in her skeletal frame, always moving as if in a rush, drinking soda water and eating carrot sticks while her family lounged by the pool, enjoyed homemade pasta, and ate pie for breakfast. That poor woman, those poor kids, such a shame.
I felt isolated, different, a freak.
I never paid much mind back then that others might be struggling, and that those seemingly happy carefree people, eating, lounging and laughing might be dealing with their own stuff. Perhaps struggling with health issues, financial worries, or personal secrets they too were trying to hide. And maybe they were so insecure about their own bodies, they didn’t notice mine at all.
I learned through recovery that anorexia is like that. An abusive partner, my eating disorder made sure it was my main focus taking all of my time and attention. Managing it, feeding it, and above all else, protecting it from being discovered as a genuinely manipulative force, left me with very little bandwidth to concern myself with anyone or anything else. So consumed with controlling my illness, I isolated myself and missing the essential things in the lives of the people I care about, their struggles, their milestones, their achievements, or even their favorite piece of artwork.
A big achievement that did not go unnoticed. In 2015, Marc was inducted into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame, and my amazing friends, (Victoria, Joyce and Mary) were by my side to celebrate. At the time of this photo, they were unaware of my struggle, they just accepted me, as me.