I am thankful to have this outlet to share my experience with anorexia, shame, loneliness, and recovery. I started writing this blog in 2018, one month after I completed treatment. I promised myself if I outed myself into the virtual world, I would do so with honesty and authenticity. I vowed I would talk openly with people about my past struggles with the disease and the challenges I've faced in recovery and I would listen, dialogue, and support those who reached out to me. It was a risk. Although I wanted to share my story in hopes of helping other people who may be living with the shame of a fiercely held secret, I was very well aware that if I relapsed, I would have to be honest about that too. To be frank, the fear of relapsing in front of all of you who have supported me the past two years has kept me on the rails at times, especially the past nine months as we all try and navigate this strange, anxiety-ridden, pandemic laced world.
My intention in writing sharing my story was, and continues to be, an intentional invitation for others to join me on my journey.
When I decided to go into treatment, I was not exactly anxious to shout it from the rooftop. In fact, I wasn’t anxious to whisper it from the basement either. I didn’t know how to tell my tennis teammates I could no longer play tennis because I was grappling with anorexia. Just the thought of uttering those words made me want to crawl back under my blanket of shame. So I kept playing, secretly wishing I would twist my ankle or break my arm. Something tangible that would allow me to step aside with some dignity. When my workout buddies at the gym asked me why I was no longer in boot camp, I lied and said I was bored with the class. And when my absence was noted at my son’s Tuesday night lacrosse games, I claimed I had Board of Directors meetings rather than admitting I was in my RO-DBT group. I realize now I owed an explanation to no one, nor would one be requested in many cases. But back then I still put too much weight on what people thought of me, and at the time, I saw my reach out for help to be an admission of failure. I made “excuses” in an attempt to thwart being “found out.”
However, I didn’t go into treatment wholly shrouded in secrecy. I shared my plan with my immediate family and a few close, long-time friends. Part of me felt like I owed them some relief from the years of worry I knew I had caused them. I figured if I told them, they could step back and stop worrying about me. It was my way of saying I got this so you don’t have to. But it didn’t turn out that way. By sharing my plan, I realized that, in some ways, I was inviting them on my journey, and that caught me off guard.
Because that was not yet my intention.