Monday, August 25, 2008

Conquering My Fear

I once heard someone say that they envied the will power of the anorexic. I wish someone would have told them that it is not will power that motivates the anorexic. It is fear.

It is the fear of a lot of things. Fear of being overweight, sure, but also fear of being lonely, fear of being judged, fear of never feeling the happiness you see in others.

It started as just a little thought. I wonder if I would feel better if I were thinner? Then it became a nagging thought. We have all felt it at some point of another. I started to feel it at seventeen. My world was slowly deteriorating around me. I had no control over the horrible things that were happening in my family, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, I need something to control. I thought, if I can just lose five pounds, then I’ll be happy. But after the high of the five pound loss comes, the nagging thoughts return.

Hmm … maybe five more pounds, then I’ll be happy! But once again, the happiness faded. The only thing I can think to compare it to is the high shoppers get from a big purchase. A new television, that new purse, those expensive shoes. At first you gush about how much you love them, you feel thrilled to look at them, but soon you are flipping through catalogs and window shopping.

It is an addiction. If you have felt what I have felt then you know that. It is an addiction motivated by fear.

The pounds came off, but the happiness was still just out of reach. The harder I tried the less I was satisfied with what I felt and what I saw. I used to read books about overcoming eating disorders, not to overcome mine, but to glean from them how they lost weight. How sick is that?

For months and years I felt like I was falling just short of the happiness that I so craved. What I didn’t see was the damage I was doing. Not just to my body, which was deteriorating rapidly, but also to my spirit.

Who was this sad girl who refused to do anything outside of her set schedule? What happened to the carefree girl who used to change her mind at the drop of a hat? I could not break from my routine or something bad might happen. If I wasn’t home at 7:00p.m. to eat my bowl of grapes(i.e. dinner), then I might accidentally slip and eat something else and then where would I be? What would happen if I exceeded my limit of 500 calories a day? Who would love me then? Who could love me then?

The breaking point came almost two years later, my joints and stomach were wracked with pain. Every move hurt. I remember exercising while crying from the pain it caused, but there was no way I could stop. Bad things would happen to me if I stopped. My mother finally took it upon herself to set up an appointment with my doctor. I guess I could have said no (I was over 18 by this point), but I hurt so bad. And I hated so much about myself. I still refused to admit that I was anorexic.

I told the doctor that I was just fine, she told me that I was not. Not getting your period because your body refuses to let anything go isn’t healthy, she said. I told her I was just an athlete. Some athlete’s don’t get their periods I said. I cannot believe I actually argued this with my doctor. Ninety-eight pounds is not a healthy weight for a woman that is 5’8” so she said. I still denied that there was anything wrong, because I was afraid of what would happen. Anyone could have looked at my gaunt face and known something was very wrong inside of me.

It has taken me almost five years to get to the point where I can look back on that day and feel grateful. Thank God my mother had the courage to confront me. Thank God my doctor had the knowledge to help me. Thank God he gave me the strength to get through it, because there were a lot of times I didn’t want to try anymore.

I can't say that I am "cured." I think that this is something that I will be susceptible to for the rest of my life. I know that when things start to slip out of my control, the first thing I will try to seize control of will be my eating habits. I think half the battle is won with that knowledge though. I don't know any mystical secret to happiness or fulfillment, but I know that it does not lie in the things we are afraid of.

I have gained over 30 lbs. of my former weight back, and I've kept it on for three years. I'm happier than I ever was at 98 lbs. I still struggle with my reflection, but I can say, without reservation, my body does not define my soul.

Don’t succumb to your fear, whatever it may be. Before you know it, your fear can take over your life. It can drive you to the brink of disaster, and if you are lucky someone will be there to pull you back. I got lucky. I am not proud of the decisions I made, or the horrible things I did to my body, but if telling my story helps keep someone else from succumbing to the fear that way I did, I will tell it gladly.

It is so scary to look at the "publish" button, I have had this in my saved drafts since July. But since this is all about conquering my goes.


  1. well guys, this was supposed to be TOMORROWS post, but blogger had other plans apparently. Oh well, so its out there.

    Sorry for the post overload today. I would like to tell you that will be the last one, but who knows, maybe blogger will publish another one of my drafts.

    Haha I guess blogger knew I was scared to publish, so it did it for me. Thanks blogger!

  2. I think you are very courageous for publishing that. I believe it shows off your strength not your fear!

  3. Bravo!

    This was a wonderful courageous post - thank you for sharing it.

  4. I can only imagine how hard it was to push publish. This was a great post. I'm glad your mom stepped in when she did!

  5. Bekah, Thank you for over coming your fear and sharing this. It gave me chills and almost brought me to tears. You should be very proud of let people help you, even when you didnt think you wanted it.

  6. Bekah, We all have fears. some of us have worse fears, or let them control us more than others. The key in this is overcoming what ever they are and moving on. Life is hard, you never know what is next, we have to just dig deep and find it in ourselves to move thru what ever it is.

    Sounds easy right....about 7 years ago, I would have never believed that possible.

    Pushing publish was a great leap of faith, I doubt I would have had the courage. I am sure your post will touch many readers in some form.

    You were very brave to share something so personal.

  7. As I read this I cried - it reads like my story at that age of not understanding what life had in store for me.
    My dad came to my dorm room and pulled me out from under my bed after my professors had not seen me for a week. He described me as "feral" at that stage.
    I had to draw what I felt I looked like on a sheet of art paper and then lie down in it - that was pretty damning right there.
    I had a child and gained 55 pounds - I ate EVERYTHING I could. However, I was back to a size 0 in 3 weeks after he was born. I thought it was cool - look at all of this attention I'm getting! People didn't care about me otherwise so I thought. And my mom didn't help by perpetuating it by almost smiling when people would comment on how thin I was.
    Breaking point? Child was born 5 weeks early and was almost 9 pounds at 4 weeks and I still remember not being able to pick him up. I had to get on the floor and put him on the sofa then sit on the sofa to pick him up from a sitting position.
    It took years to get past the addiction on my own. If you saw me now you would not believe that I ever was that way. People see pictures of me and just fall out if they didn't know me then.
    I'm 5'6" and weigh myself daily (bad bad bad) and weigh anywhere between 128 and 132. I am NOT happy with the way that I look, but I swear I could not go back to anorexia and expect to be happy in my marriage and with my 13 year old.
    Thank you for posting this - how refreshing to see that I was not the only one.... I read the books for the same reason.
    Take care and know that you were not alone and will not ever be alone in battling this disease.

  8. I am so very proud to call you my daughter, Beautiful Rebekah!
    You are a Masterpiece (remember that song?)!!
    "My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."
    Thank you for sharing your story and always remember what a beautiful and treasured creation you are!

  9. Do you have any idea how many people think the same way you did? I had the opposite problem, I was bulimic--and 96 pounds at
    5'7" in high school, and an athlete. I was disgusting, but I sure did not know it.

    When it finally stopped and I gained too much weight, I swore I did not care as it was better than I had been....

    Now I am in the exact same spot again, trying to hold off doing anything about it.

    It is a daily struggle.

    You hang in there!

  10. Bekah, thanks for writing that amazing post. You are very courageous, it must have taken a lot of "guts" to face it. I really hope that someone gets to read it, and find hope for their situation.
    Big blogging hugs!

  11. You are so courageous! I can understand, the thoughts of sadness, and if I do this it will get better! And it doesn't. The denial,the inability to see what others see so clearly? Idropped to 100 llbs, about 8 yrs ago, at 5'7 it isn't healthy. I could not see it at the time? It is only now that I am truly happy, that I see what others saw! It is a hard thing to get through and is a haunting thought in the back of my mind. It does help to share and let others help you. It is a comforting thought that I am not crazy! There are others going through very similar situations! You are not alone! Look how many people you touched right here!
    You are a brave beautiful woman!

  12. "I used to read books about overcoming eating disorders, not to overcome mine, but to glean from them how they lost weight. "

    That broke my heart to read. I don't know exactly what you went thru, but I feel your pain. Fear is really a debilitating thing.

    You are so brave and inspiring publishing this post, even if blogger had to help you. ;)

  13. Thanks for sharing such a personal story with us, Bekah. You know that your post will be helpful, or at least comforting to others who have been there/are there, right? You are brave and smart and BEAUTIFUL!

  14. I'm proud to be yours sweetheart.

  15. Well-written and very courageous! As you say, people who feel that life is getting out of their control can teeter on the verge of anorexia ... because even if you can't control anything else, you can control your own body by denying it food (or giving it too much)...

    I wasn't ever anorexic, but losing weight and feeling the temptation of going down that road, when someone pointed out that I was taking control of my body because I couldn't control anything else.

    That insight changed my life. I took control of events in my life, and by doing so, let go of the temptations not to eat.

    Courage to you all out there - and especially to you, little mouse!

  16. Wow, Bekah, this post is amazing. HUGE kudos (and a big hug) to you for putting this out there - just think of all the girls you are helping through publishing this. Good for you. Cheers!

  17. I think that was brave for you to write. Everyone no matter who you are...worries about their weight. Skinny or big. I know I do. I have always been "plus size". From 7th grade until my freshman year of college I was an size 11. I thought it was fine. I mean thats a long time. But my mom always poked at me for "eating" bad food. I did put on some weight after freshman year. So I will admit it. I am a size 14. But you know what, I am happy with that. My husband has been with me the whole time and doesnt care what size I am. He loves me fat or skinny. He likes me when I am "pleasantly plump" as he says.

  18. I know your family and freinds thank God that you "Conquered your fear"! Thank you for posting this. How we (I) feel about ourselves can ruin us. It's a powerful thing.


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