When my oldest son Dylan was in fifth grade, he begged me for a cell phone. BEGGED me.
D: I’ve got to have one.
Me: You don’t “got” to have anything but food and water.
D: Everyone else has one.
Me: Everyone? Really?
D: You don’t understand!
Me: Oh, I understand perfectly, you are too young.
D: Why are you being so mean?
Me: I’m your mother, that’s why.
D: I won’t ask for anything else ever again.
Me: Really? No Nike’s, no later curfew, no car?
D: My life will be over if I don’t get one. OVER!
Me: That too bad because I’ve really grown fond of you over the past decade.
Every day, round and round for a year. And, by the beginning of sixth grade, Dylan got his way. He wore me down, and despite my steadfast resolve on the issue, regrettably, I caved. I’ve seen the top of his head more than the whites of his eyes ever since.
Anorexia can be like a persistent teen. Relentless. And by the beginning of 2015, almost ten years into my eating disorder, I was getting weary of fighting it. My healthy Sherri brain was tirelessly trying to find my way back to a healthy mind and body. Still, my undernourished anorexic brain was a fierce competitor. And when the disease felt threatened, it wasn’t afraid to play dirty.
You will get fat.
You will become lazy.
You will not be as athletic.
You will fail as a health coach.
People will think you are a fraud.
You will lose control. Of everything.
Look, you can’t even gain ten pounds.
It wore me down and, regrettably, I caved. And instead of calling in backup, I gave up.
I surrendered to who I had become, instead of fighting for who I wanted to be.
I’m thin, it’s just the way my body is. I weigh my food, but at least I’m eating. I spend hours a day working out, and I’m in better shape than most women my age. So I’m not being social, I’m an introvert anyway.
I put my energy back into proving to myself and those around me that I was perfectly fine and I did what any compulsive, underweight, irrational, undernourished person should do.
I joined a gym. A third one to be precise.
This was not just any gym, it was one geared towards sports performance. Well known around town amongst high school athletes, it emphasized individualized coaching that pushed clients to their edge with sprints, hurdles, tire slams, and power cleans. After months of watching my son Dylan train; his strength improving, and his speed increasing, I knew I wanted that too. A stronger body, the adrenaline rush of an intense workout, the challenge. I signed up for the adult program. I told myself it would help me gain muscle. I was confident it would make me a better tennis player and, as a bonus, I convinced myself I wasn’t just doing mindless exercise, I was doing something to improve my body. Which, had I been able to adequately feed myself, may have been true.
But I wasn’t feeding my body I was feeding the disease, making it stronger, and harder than ever to fight.