Natalie Moon Boles English 101-06 September 5, 2000 Writing from Recall (final draft) Dancing with Anorexia As a young girl, nothing made me feel more grown-up than getting ready for holidays with my mom and her sisters. The women on my moms side of the family gathered in a spare bedroom of my grandparents home and prepared themselves for the festivities. The excitement was exhilarating and I felt special to be included in this sacred ritual at such a tender age. Make-up cluttered the vanity, countless articles of clothing, pairs of pantyhose, socks, and shoes littered the bedroom floor, and the noise from the constant conversations was deafening. As much fun as we had during those times, the core of these memories for me is the focus that was placed on our bodies. I remember all three of my aunts, with my mom alongside, pinching their thighs, abdomens, and buttocks, and cursing every inch of flesh they had.

Though I will always cherish the times we spent together, I cannot discount how these occasions helped contribute to the painful feelings I was already developing about my body. These feelings eventually evolved into a lifelong, dangerous dance with the eating disorder anorexia nervosa. The summer before my freshman year in high school, my obsession with my body spun out of control. I began to restrict my caloric intake and increase the intensity and frequency of my exercising. During this summer, I also began to induce vomiting when I did eat. As I had hoped, my weight plummeted twenty pounds before school started that year.

Friends and family noticed the drastic weight loss and I was frequently complimented on my appearance. I was careful not to let my secret out and continued my destructive lifestyle. High school was a roller coaster of weigh gains and losses that seemed to never end. Several teachers began to voice concerns, especially during those times that my weight loss was more severe, and friends were threatening to disclose my habits to my parents. Still, I refused to admit I had an actual eating disorder. I was hospitalized the first time in April of 1997 at Rock Creek Center in Lemont, Illinois.

I spent three long months on the eating disorders unit as a less than cooperative patient. While in the hospital, I was told that in order to recover, I must face the issues underlying the anorexia. I learned that the anorexia was not the actual problem, but the symptom of a much deeper disturbance. Slowly I began to look into the reasons I became anorexic so many years before.

At first, the self-discovery process was intriguing but feelings and issues arose that made me crawl back into the arms of my eating disorder. I regressed severely the last month of my stay and was released in almost the same condition I had been admitted with. As time passed, the feelings buried deep inside of me fueled the anorexia. I refused to deal with the events and ideas from my life that made anorexia seem to be my only refuge. Fear, shame, guilt, depression, and an overall feeling of being innately bad, weighed on my mind constantly. My only escape and comfort was starving myself and purging.

Losing weight had become my goal and the only thing in my life I felt I was successful at. If I continued to center my attention on issues of dieting, the unbearable feelings would disappear, or so I thought. Reluctance to deal with my past only took me as far as the next hospital and evoked frustration and fright in my family and friends. Chronic health problems, countless hospitalizations, and losing custody of my daughter did not stop me from deepening my intimate relationship with anorexia. I was constantly making promises to recover, gain weight, and make peace with myself both inside and out.

I had sporadic stints of recovery but always fell back into my old, familiar patterns. September of 1999 was the last time I was near healthy. Exhausted and over eighty pounds lighter, I still struggle with anorexia. The past eleven years have been long, difficult, and tiring. Facing my past and working towards recovery continue to intimidate me. As scared as I am to recover, the thought of living in this manner, or dying in this manner, is daunting also.

I love my children, family, and friends with all that I have; however, my recovery cannot solely be based on my love for others. I harbor the hope that someday I will find in myself what others see in me. In the end, I must decide that I deserve to eat and to live despite the feelings that my battle with anorexia nervosa evolved from.