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Emails With a Friend

March 10, 2011

About a week ago I stared emailing with a reader. (Hi Laura!!! :-)) Life had been so hectic that it took me almost a week to respond to her last email. In this email, I discussed a lot of my eating disorder – more about the start, not so much the whole story. When I finished and sent it, I realized it would be a really good topic to blog about. So here’s the email. I am leaving out parts of the email that include information that this beautiful girlie sent me, for her own privacy’s sake. I also edited a couple of things to make them a tad more cohesive. Otherwise, this is the email:

Thank you for sharing all of that. A lot of your story is very interesting to me. I can relate to the numbness the ED provided. I think I used it for that too. But I think I’ve mentioned a couple of times (on the blog at least) that I don’t know what the numbness was for. I am not sure what in my life was so bad that I was trying to block out. I really had – and still do have – a wonderful life. We’ve never been short on money for anything. In fact, we always had enough for my parents to buy me the things I wanted, not just needed. So it’s safe to say I wasn’t deprived. I wasn’t abused in any way either. I didn’t have any problems in school – such as bullying. In fact, I did very well in school. Maybe that had something to do with it? I usually got straight A’s without trying, so maybe when something was hard and I didn’t feel like I could get an A, I’d freak out and pressure myself. I had great friends and would be allowed to take them with me if I went to the beach or the amusement park or something like that. I’ve traveled to 13 countries outside of the U.S. Like I just said, I was never that abused and neglected child who rebelled by developing an eating disorder.

Croatia, 2008

 

I have discussed with my therapist (Whom I used to hate and now I am neutral towards. I still feel a little awkward talking to her sometimes though.) that though my parents gave me all they could and almost never said no to things I asked for, they were very, very over-protective. The therapist thinks that by having such cautious parents, I felt like I had no say in life…in a sense, that I had no control.

Let me see if I can explain this better. I have two friends on my street and they are about my age (they’re both 1 year older). When we were much younger, they would come over to my house in the morning, say at 9, and leave at 8 at night. They would be there after breakfast, stay for lunch and dinner, then leave. Sometimes, if I had to go somewhere, such as the library, they would hop in the car with us, without asking their parents, or even letting them know that they were leaving the street. Now, we were maybe 5-7 years old at the time. I would wonder in awe that they had such freedom. I constantly asked them, “Don’t you need to call your moms to tell them that you’re at my house/ that your coming with me to the store/ that you’re staying for dinner?” And the reply was always, “No, they know I’m over here, and as long as I’m home by (insert time here) they don’t really care what I do.” And that was absolutely amazing to me.

It was so amazing because I lived by a TOTALLY different set of rules. If I wanted to go over to one of their houses it would be a long process before I’d get a “yes.” It was, in a way, a game of twenty questions. First, I’d ask if I could go. For this example’s sake, let’s say it’s my friend, K, who has 3 brothers, whose house I wanted to go over to. Then, my parents (mostly my mom) would ask “Whose at home at her house?” “Are her parents home?” “How about her brothers?” “Which of her brothers?” “Her parents aren’t home? Then when will they be home?” “Ok, then you can go over when they get home from work.” “How long do you want to stay?” “No, come home at (insert time here) instead. It will be time for dinner by then.” “I don’t know if you can go back after dinner. I’ll think about it ok?”

Of course, when I knew I had to go through all of that just to get out of the house, I rarely even wanted to bother. There were some other examples of this too. I suppose you can say it was a good thing that my parents were so over-protective when I was that young, like 5-7/8. But by the time I was 9-13, I would have thought they’d ease up a bit. But nope.

“Mommy, can I go on a bike ride with K?” (I live in a very safe neighborhood with very little traffic on the streets) “Where are you planning on riding?” “When will you be back?” “Is anyone else going?” “I don’t know if I want you to go that way Bryana, let me think about it” *thinks about it* “Ok, you can go down that road, but be VEERRRRRRRY careful.” “Stay on the sidewalk at all times, ok?” “But K doesn’t have to stay on the sidewalk.” “Oh, well let me think about it” *thinks about it…again* “Alright, but if you go on the street, you need to be VEEERRRRY careful. Pay close attention to the cars” (What cars? There really were none) “Ok Mommy. Thank you”

So it’s not like she said no in the end, but it was too long a process and too much of a struggle to ask for simple things. I have one more example, but I’ll cut it short.

“Mom, can K, Sh, and I go to the movies?” “What movie? What time? Is anyone else going? Who? (K’s twin brother.) Oh, he’s going too? Ok. How are you getting there? What time is it over? Ok, ask your father, but it’s alright with me if you go.”

Honestly, all these questions shouldn’t be that much of a huge deal, but when you go through this every. single. time you want something, it makes you seriously feel like you have no voice, no opinion, no control. It makes you not even want to ask, not because of the answer at the end, but because of the 5-20 minutes (yup, sometimes that long) of interrogation. Apparently, thinks my therapist, I felt so controlled and so limited that I finally had enough. That’s where my doubts come in with this theory. I admit that I can see that it makes total sense. I had no say in so much of my life that I finally took control of the one thing I could: my physical self.

Making deviled eggs for my dad (I don’t like them) on the 4th of July

 

But, before my anorexia, I was the hugest foodie child ever. I loved food. I loved to buy it, cook it, bake it, smell it, eat it. And boy, did I eat it. I could eat soooo much, and was still very physically fit and beautiful. I loved sampling new cuisines in restaurants, and I loved stealing bites off of other people’s plates. That’s why it is so hard for me to understand; if I loved food so much, why the hell did I deprive myself of it? I could have started cutting or doing drugs or even overeating for that matter. Why starving? That’s the part I don’t get.

Stealing a bite of my mom’s chocolate crepe in Paris before digging in to my own crème brûlée.

 

I do remember when my “diet change to get healthy” started – the “Finding myself” page on my blog explains that. I also remember my conscious decision to lose weight. We were going on an 8th grade field trip to a place where there was a pool, among other things. I started specifically restricting to look “good” for the bathing suit, and it was all a downward spiral from there. For the longest time I believed my ED had no underlying issues. I though it was that I just really wanted to be thin. With some deeper digging I found out that I did have some issues, and the swim suit for the field trip was just the straw that broke camel Bryana’s back.

I now fully realize that it doesn’t really matter what I look like. I was very pretty before (inside and out), and I am eating my way back to that. I don’t know why or how, but one day in the middle of this past January, I woke up and decided I didn’t want this ED any more. I used to. It was my comfort, my support. I could always fall back on restriction for an immediate –and short term – problem solver. In the moment, ED is such a comfort. When you feel otherwise alone, with ED, it’s like you’ve got someone there who cares. That morning I realized that I didn’t want to live another day a slave to this disease. Today I am 3-4 pounds under my goal weight, and once I hit it, I will never lose another pound again. I am so over this sick and twisted game. I’m done wasting my days and wasting my life on something so pointless and poisonous.

Farewell dinner with my family in Hungary

 

Phew, that’s a long one. I hope I haven’t bored you with it all. Gosh, it sure felt good to get it out. Thank you for reading. Maybe some of this you can relate to?

Seriously, this is a long one. And I truly hope I haven’t bored any of you guys either. As you can tell, I still worry about not being perfect. This post is too long, this post is too short, this post is really boring, this post doesn’t have any pictures, it’s ok if you want to skip ahead and not read it all, my next post will be better. Excuse my constant apologizing for my posts. I need to get it into my head that I can blog about whatever the hell I want, because nobody has to read it.

One last quick thing, here’s my dinner from tonight!

Finally got around to eating my Trader Joe’s mac & cheese. This was how it looked frozen.

 

I also made a yummy salad. In the mix was red leaf lettuce, 1/2 a jalapeño (I love anything spicy!), and cucumber, red bell pepper, and purple onion slices. I topped it with my Trader Joe’s fat-free balsamic vinaigrette.

 

All heated and melty. Yum!

 

Qs~

Do you think you know what may have started your ED? (Unless you are a reader who doesn’t have one. In that case, good for you and disregard this question.)

Quick, tell me one thing you love about your blogging/writing style!

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. March 10, 2011 11:57 pm

    I loved hearing more about your story, Bryana! And honestly it wasn’t boring at all 🙂

    I always have a hard time trying to think of how my ED started. Looking back, I really don’t know why I was so driven to lose weight because I was a little skinnier then before my ED than I am now! I think it stemmed from me being teased throughout school for being small and young-looking so I set out to ‘improve’ my appearance even though I was already beautiful. I wanted to be accepted and I thought that was the only way to do it. Sad but true.

    Oh and I love that when I blog I just say what comes to me and I hope that it doesn’t sound too planned out or anything. And that I try to add pictures in but sometimes it’s hard haha 😉

  2. March 11, 2011 5:46 am

    Has anyone ever told you that you write so wonderfully? Because you do 🙂 It is really interesting to read more about your story. Thank you for sharing your email, Bryana!

    I am aware that my eating disorder came about due to change in my life at the time that i felt as though i couldn’t control. It was that lack of control of my surroundings that led me to want to control something else: My food. It was a coping mechanism that went wrong in every way possible. I have now learnt new ways to cope with my feelings and have also met some amazing people throughout my recovery journey. I never regret having an eating disorder as it has made me who I am. 5 years of an eating disorder is enough.

    I love that I am a positive blogger. If I’m writing about something negative, I can never end a post on a negative note.

    xxx

    • March 14, 2011 12:03 pm

      Haha, I love that about you too Katy. All of your posts leave me with a smile on my face!

  3. Laura permalink
    March 11, 2011 8:33 am

    Bryana,
    I am SO honored I got to be included in your blog 🙂 I don’t mind at all if you mention me. I loved reading your email.
    I also just caught up on the past few entries of your blog and wanted to add that I have an absolutely massive bruise on my arm from getting blood drawn too. I have to again today to get even more blood drawn.

  4. March 11, 2011 1:42 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing this, girly! I loved reading more about your background. I’ve experienced some of the same over protectiveness in my mom but then also simultaneous abuse from my Dad. It was very confusing. The over protectiveness can definitely feel suffocating! I remember often feeling like I was incapable of doing the things other kids did, because my mom seemed to feel that way. It left me fearful of much of the world and I think that’s why it’s so hard for me to get out and meet people and maintain friendships now.

    Love you, girl! I’m so proud of you…you’re almost to your goal! Keep on going!! : )
    xxx

    • March 14, 2011 12:04 pm

      Talk about mixed signals, huh? I’m proud of you for working so hard at figuring it all out!

  5. March 11, 2011 4:49 pm

    my ED kind of started the same way — i really wanted to be thin. Granted i always wanted to be thin, and in grade school/middle school, I WAS thin. I was extremely naturally SKINNY. However, my mom always placed a lot of emphasis on being thin. When i started growing and developing curves in 7-8th grade, i was extremely self conscious and unhappy. But it wasn’t enough for me to do anything about it. In Biology we learned about the difference between saturated/unsaturated/trans fats my freshmen year, and that sparked my interest in healthy eating. it all just went downhill from there. i still have ups and downs — i recently fell into a rut and am struggling to get out of it but i’m fighting! I know you are too, and i’m so proud of you Bryana. keep making progress girl!

    • March 14, 2011 12:06 pm

      Thanks Alexandra! You are such an insiration to me and your “I’m gonna beat this no matter what” attidude often get me to feel that way. I’m sorry about this rut, but stay strong, because this too shall pass!

  6. March 11, 2011 10:34 pm

    I really loved hearing your story. I can relate so perfectly to never have been deprieved, but feeling out of control because of protective parents. I feel this I was reading conversations I have had with my mom when I say what you had written about asking to go out. Now things are so much better with my parents because we have a mutual understanding of sharing control.
    It is so amazing that you have come so far, and it inspires me to continue pushing forward.
    Your dinner looks so good! I have to pick that up next time I’m at TJ’s.
    Keep pushing forward girl(:

    • March 14, 2011 12:08 pm

      Yup, that was a big one for me too, learning to share the control with my parents. Up until now, I think they still viewed me as their baby, and felt they had to make all the decisions. Now they are waaay more lenient about letting me make my own decisions. And it feels amazing, don’t you think?

  7. March 14, 2011 3:42 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story 🙂

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