Traci's Story

I have always been in a relationship with someone. My life seemed fine until, all at once, it became very dark, like a solar eclipse. I lost my brother in a fire and my relationship ended. My relationship wasn’t a healthy one so my family came and got me out of there and moved me closer to them. I have a very loving family, but I still felt alone. Every day I felt alone, I didn’t know where my life was going; I was in a dark, dark place.|

I think, in retrospect, that my anorexia was a form of self-punishment. I didn’t think I was important to anybody, I wasn’t good enough. I didn’t matter. I wanted to disappear.

I didn’t recognize what was going on when it first started. I had stopped smoking and started eating. People commented that I looked bigger and that hurt. I was very sensitive to what other people thought about me and I let their outer selves squash my inner self.

It began slowly. I started walking with a friend at work, then I started to run, and I was getting healthy. Exercising and getting healthy is a good thing, but the social standard of “you can’t be too rich or too thin” was ringing in my ears. I began to cut out certain foods; then I cut out more.

I began having health issues. I went to my doctor who told me I wasn’t getting enough fat in my body. I was going by all the diet books that tell you not to eat fat, and as I cut out more and more, it became a mental issue. I could not bring myself to eat fat. To this day I have a hard time. I have to ease myself into it.

I found myself being proud of how much I could take away from my diet and still survive. My caloric intake got so low that I started to lose it mentally and couldn’t even function right. My thoughts were really screwed up at that point but, mercifully, I had enough wherewithall to know that something was not right. Something was seriously not right.

I wasn’t committing suicide, per se, but I was very definitely not valuing myself.

I began to search on the Internet about eating disorders. I found a girl on Craig’s List who was just looking for a friend who was going through eating disorders too. I talked to her and she turned me on to a woman in the city who was a nutritionist-counselor. She was the first person who ever said to me, “Look, you are anorexic.” Wow. She assisted me to get to a place where I was ready to accept help.
I researched facilities and finally found a place I thought might be right. I didn’t want to go to Kaiser and be on a floor with a bunch of mental patients who were going through different issues; I wanted help for my specific issue. I finally found a place that would allow me to continue my yoga, which I love, and still have a little piece of control.

I knew I had to do this. I was going to have to give up my job, my life as I knew it, my house and everything I had created in this “perfect little way” to go into a treatment center. I was scared shitless, but I knew I had to do it.

The first thing I did was tell my boss. I was not expecting his reaction at all. He told me he was so sorry and that he had known something wasn’t right with me. He told me he was going to pay me 60% of my salary for however long it took me to get better. I was shocked! Between him and a couple people at my yoga studio that reached out to me, I went from a place where I thought no one cared about me, aside from my family, to a place where I saw that people care. They really, really care. It took me saying, “Hey, I’m at the darkest of my dark” for me to see that.

I went into treatment. I stayed in for 60 days. One of the things they did was take us to meetings. Lots and lots of meetings. From AA to Over Eater’s Anonymous. I realized from that that it didn’t matter what the specific issue really was, it all came from the same place – people not feeling worthy of love and feeling alone. I came out of there the best I’ve ever been in my life. In the year following, I went to a lot of meetings; I had a lot of support. I was so in touch with me and I finally was able to reach out and give of myself again. That was the biggest gift I got.

Continuing different support groups is important for me. I see how people can need these support groups for the rest of their lives. It is a community, a place where you are comfortable and where you can share yourself with other people. I think this is what we all seek in one shape or form, a community where we know we will be loved and not feel judged. I can’t do it by myself. I need the support.
We are not islands. Our issues are not unique; we just think that they are. It is easy to believe that everyone else is lovable. It is very hard to believe that you are loveable. People tend to judge one another without even having knowledge of the other person. That is the part that hurts – when you feel you are being judged (but then you are comparing yourself to other people that you don’t know either). We need to speak, speak, speak up! That way we can know each other.

There is a big difference between self-deprivation and taking care of yourself. It took me a long time to learn that difference. But I think I have it now. Intimacy is still tricky for me. I’m learning to let people see me. I’m getting there, but I do believe I am lovable.
I am lovable and I don’t want to be invisible any longer.

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