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Posted on Sep 25, 2012 in Dear Diary | 57 comments

You’re Not Alone

All right, let me say right up front that I think the subject matter of this post may be potentially triggering for someone who might be struggling with body image, destructive thoughts, disordered eating, or self-hatred. However, I received such an amazing response from readers on my last why-so-serious post (“Ghost“) that I feel compelled to dive a little further into it.

I talk a lot about honesty. I am really pretty honest in this blog. Sure, it’s not a complete and totally unfiltered retelling of my life (I probably drop a lot more F-bombs in real life than I ever would on here, haha), but nothing really is. I don’t pretend like this is ALL of me, but I also don’t try to sugarcoat my life, or show you only the sunny side. Um, obviously. Hahaha.

In my post last week, wherein I described how I still sometimes struggle with the echoes of my eating disorder (and, more importantly, the disordered thoughts that informed it), there was one paragraph that seemed to resonate with some of you quite surprisingly:

…I remembered all of the times that I would go out to eat with my friends. Upon finishing my meal, which was a restaurant portion (read: huge) that I likely ate in its entirety, I remember the feeling of yearning I had toward any unfinished food on my friends’ plates. I always wanted to eat that too. Their leftover french fries, the last quarter of their burger, that last couple of chicken wings. My friends probably (hopefully) didn’t know this. I like to think they didn’t notice the longing in my eyes, the twitching of my fingers. Because it would never even occur to them. They had control of their eating. They didn’t feel the need to stuff themselves to the limit and beyond…

I had really only written it to paint an image of what my thought process used to be like. To illustrate the way my attitude toward and relationship with food was warped. But in the comments and emails that I received, so many people expressed how glad they were to know that there was someone else who had these kinds of thoughts. That there was somebody else out there like them. That they were not alone.

And upon receiving several messages with that same sentiment, the idea for this post began to formulate in my head. Not because it’s an easy post to write, but because I think it’s necessary. Because it is so much harder to face your demons by yourself. And because nobody really is alone. So to prove it, I’m willing to lay it all out there. The self-image issues and the irrationality and the dangerous amounts of self-loathing that I battled on a daily basis, back when I was at my highest weight and in the throes of my eating disorder.

Maybe all this post will do is illustrate just how far-gone I was back then. And maybe it will alienate my real-life friends, or embarrass my family, or who knows what. But you guys often call me brave, and even though I don’t really think that’s true, I want to be. And I want you — whoever you may be — to know that you weren’t then, and are not now, alone.

***

Imagine it is somewhere in the 2008 – 2009 time frame. I am 20 years old and a college senior. Forget trying to lose the Freshman 15. Unfettered access to campus dining halls and the multiple fast food drive-thrus that populate Harrisonburg, VA has helped me pack on a good 60 pounds over the past 3 years while at school. I am lonely, unfocused, and depressed. I am very overweight. And I feel, deeply, that the latter is the reason for all of the former.

I loathe the way I look, and yet I am obsessed with my body. I strive for the ideal (skinny) body that I have yearned for since I was a pre-teen, and want to get there as quickly as possible. Evidently, this means I am living in a constant cycle of trying to see how long I can go without eating anything at all, and then breaking into a binge when I “fail” at that. And due to my “failure” to starve myself into skinnyness, I hate myself even more.

Despite living in a house full of fun, vibrant women, I find myself retreating more and more into the solitude of my bedroom. This is where most of the damage is done. I come home with fast food in my purse, having already thrown away the extra sodas that came with my multiple value meals from Wendy’s. Because, sure, ordering value meals instead of individual items costs more. But at least this way, the woman in the drive-thru window might not think that all of this food is for me. She might not know to pity me.

I constantly fear judgement. From my housemates. My friends. My classmates. The svelte, denim mini-skirt wearing girls around campus in their Uggs and giant sunglasses who always have a boyfriend. (Of course, I know now that many of them probably weren’t any healthier than me, but it didn’t make it hurt any less that I didn’t look like them.) I can’t let anyone know about my secret food lifestyle. Even just being me, as obese as I am, I feel like I am constantly being judged. God forbid they really see what’s going on behind closed doors. So I try to hide it all.

I rarely use the kitchen, except when nobody else is home and I can make two boxes of macaroni and cheese in peace. No matter what I am eating, it is almost always alone in my room. I shovel down the food as quickly as possible, usually with the TV on so that I don’t have to pay attention to the thousands of calories I’m consuming. I also need to get it over quickly on the off chance that someone might walk in and catch me with my smorgasbord of crap. It sounds cliche, but that feeling — that bursting-to-the-max, uncomfortable, can’t-possibly-eat-another-bite-and-yet-I-do fullness — really is numbing. It helps distract me from myself. It depends on the day, but if I’m really feeling TOO full, then maybe I’ll try purging in one way or another. But probably not. I don’t weigh myself because I don’t want to know.

I’m not completely anti-social. I do have friends, and of course we sometimes go out to eat together. I do struggle with the menu, trying to balance what I want to eat (everything) with what is acceptable to eat. But then I just remind myself that Taco Bell is open until 2 AM and I can always add onto my caloric bill later if need be.

Sometimes, I stand in the shower and turn the water as hot as it will possibly go. I know it is completely illogical and irrational, but I stand there under the scalding stream and savor the pain of the heat, hoping that by some miracle of physics and biology that all my fat will simply melt off my body. I fantasize about getting plastic surgery: gastric bypass, liposuction. I research fad diets, crash diets, celebrity diets. I wonder whether Fen-Phen is still a thing, and if I could get some (it’s not and I couldn’t, thank goodness). Sometimes, on really dark days, when I’m staring into the mirror at the body that I inexplicably despise, I fantasize about just cutting the fat off of my body.

I don’t weigh myself because I don’t want to know. All I have is the size label on the inside of my jeans and the knowledge that I am too big, too heavy, too undesirable. And yet, never, not once, does it truly occur to me to change my lifestyle. To stop this destructive cycle, to reevaluate the way I see myself. To say to myself, “if I want to lose weight, I can just start eating healthier. I can start exercising. I can do it right.” I mean, sure, I KNOW that’s what it will take. Cognitively, logically, I know that works. But it seems like too much effort with too slow of a result. I want to be skinny, but I want it fast, and I want it now, and I want it easy. Anyone’s comments of concern or efforts to help just drive me further down. I don’t NEED their help. I don’t WANT their advice.

It will be another year and a half until I finally change. Change my thinking, change my lifestyle, and, between those two things, finally change my body. And I thank God every day that I did.

***

I obviously still have moments where I struggle, but it is nothing like it used to be. And while I do still want to lose weight, it no longer comes from a place of self-loathing. And that is a big step.

When I went to the Cirque du Soleil show last week, I told my friend Rachel that I was thinking about writing this post but was scared. I was scared of what it would mean to put all of this out there: my darkest thoughts, my secret shame, the truth behind why my relationship with food became so toxic in the first place. I’ve obviously put out snippets of my behavior before, but not quite like this. And she and I got into a really interesting discussion about shame.

I was ashamed of my body, and I was equally ashamed of my behavior. Even now, I remain ashamed of those thoughts. It is mortifying to put out there. To know that I was that desperate, that I hated myself that much. To think that this body, which can do some pretty awesome stuff, was such an embarrassment. If I’d had the resources back then, there is probably no limit to the unhealthy extremes I would have been willing to go in order to achieve my perfect body. But I also know that I can’t possibly be the only person who has ever had those kinds of thoughts.

As women in modern society, we are given so many conflicting messages. We are supposed to strive to look a certain way, to achieve a certain size, to hate ourselves if we don’t fit that mold. But not too much. Don’t hate yourself too much, like I did, because that’s just as shameful. You can’t possibly love yourself either, though, not while you’re so fat/ugly/awkward/plain. You have to hate yourself just enough to drive yourself to be beautiful, THEN it’s okay to love yourself. You want to talk about what’s a real shame? Let’s talk about THAT.

I think the real root of my personal shame when it comes to my disordered past stems from the idea that my thoughts were not okay to think. That they weren’t normal. I was the weird one, the strange one, the one with all these problems that needed fixing. It was isolating, and that estrangement manifested itself in some dangerous ways. I just wish that back then there had been someone to tell me that I wasn’t alone.

There’s a chance that some of you may not be able to relate to the content of this post at all. And that is seriously wonderful if that’s the case. But even if you never had to deal with the exact behavior I described, I would bet that anyone who has ever struggled with their body image or self-worth can relate at least a little bit. We are not alone.

57 Comments

  1. Gretchen, you’re honesty is truth – truth for me. I almost cried while reading your post because it lays out everything I’ve ever done and thought in secret. “I fantasize about just cutting the fat off of my body.” – I can remember having this thought many times because “if I could just get rid of the belly, everything in my life would be perfect” (of course I now know that my issues have an emotional and mental basis). Thank you. Thank you for putting out there what thousands of us have gone through!

  2. I admire your honesty. I find it very hard to open up like this about my struggles with weight. No one in my “real life” even knows about my blog for this exact reason. I can’t even work up the courage to speak about my weight with my live-in boyfriend of two years. He met me at my highest weight and has never judged me, but for some reason I’m scared to open up to him about my struggles and fears with weight loss.
    I’ve always been overweight so I know exactly how you feel. I’ve used the same technique in the drive-thru (and grocery store), I used to imagine just being able to cut the fat off and I always hide my binges. Thankfully, I’ve never tried any extreme diets and I’ve really changed my eating habits in the last few years, but it’s still very much a struggle! I will always strive to see a lower number on the scale, but I’m trying to remind myself that being a healthier me is what really matters.
    Thanks for sharing another great post!

  3. wonderful wonderful post, gretchen! i truly think you are not only very brave in posting this, but also very caring. you are willing to share your story so that others can realize they aren’t alone. i have struggled with the very same thoughts you have and often felt so extremely isolated that i thought i would never get out of it. your comments made me feel like i wasn’t the only one, but i also had hope for improvement. thank you for this!!!

  4. You are not alone – for sure. I totally understand since I felt this way, too. You are SO strong and brave and instead of shame you should feel pride. Pride for being strong enough to say the words so many of us aren’t ready to say ourselves – at least in such a public way. I am speechless to how good this post is and I am SO SO SO glad you are healthier now. And even though I know I still battle with my thoughts and eating habits I have to stop and remember who I used to be and how I used to act and how I used to be in denial about the real issues helps me remember how far I have come. And just from reading your blog I know you’ve come a long way, too. I don’t know if I’ll ever rid myself of negative thinking/unhealthy eating but I know now I will win more battles than I lose!

  5. Gretchen, I could relate to pretty much everything you wrote. Although I never went away to school (or even went to college) I had been on my own since I was 14 and never knew the binge cycle until I was about 18. I met a man when I was in HS, married him at 140#s by the time our 8 year anniversary rolled around I was 349#s. I hid food, drove to get food, woke in the middle of the night to repeat the cycle since he was gone at work.

    This continued and manifested into binge drinking which I was far better at!! Until I hit an all time low in 2004. I was 375#s, drunk and being the “happy fat girl” far too often.

    I joined a gym, I went to Weight Watchers and lost over 200#s.

    BUTTTTTTTT

    To this day I struggle with body image. I am fit, I run, I lift, I can work circles around a lot of my peers at the gym and do so daily. However my body and mind never caught up. I see loose skin, I see saggy this or that and read other blogs of good runners with firm bodies and think BUT I DO WHAT THEY DO! Still I hate my body.

    I can’t come to terms with what I have done, all of the good that came from it all I can see is the bad. It is a very slippery slope. So you are right you are not alone. There are so many women out there who need more posts like this to know we are “normal”.

    Keep up the great work.

  6. I think it’s so important to share these stories. I’m really not shy about telling people that I used to be over weight (+50 lbs from where I am today). It probably comes off as a “humble brag” from time to time, but I’m mostly open about it in an effort to communicate to people about how someone can seem “normal” (today me) and come from a very different past (old me).

    I need people to understand that this isn’t easy for me. Every year in May I celebrate my weight-loss anniversary because it literally represents another 365 days of struggle against binge eating and inactivity. I do get lot of pleasure and satisfaction out of eating better and working out, but there is a daily demon like the devil on the proverbial shoulder telling me to eat sweets and skip the gym.

    I still have those secret shame eating moments as “new me”, but they are less frequent and less drastic. Like you, I still wish to change my body (lose a bit more weight, tone up), but it doesn’t come from a place of complete body loathing anymore. It’s taken YEARS (still not complete) to see my body as something that actually represents me and something that I can be proud of, regardless of its present shape.

    Kudos for putting this out there. I think many women, regardless of their particular story, can relate to feeling not quite so wonderful about their bodies for whatever reason and it’s something that society needs to lay off on us about, for real.

  7. This is absolutely amazing. I’ve always assumed that everyone has something they feel is weird and shameful and unappealing about themselves. While our experiences weren’t exactly the same, they weren’t far off, either. Thank you for sharing your truth.

  8. Sometimes, on really dark days, when I’m staring into the mirror at the body that I inexplicably despise, I fantasize about just cutting the fat off of my body.

    Yup. I have a post about this all written and in the hopper waiting for the day I get the balls to publish it. You, my friend, are incredibly brave. And amazing. And I’ve got a feeling this post is going to help a lot of women not feel so alone.

    <3

    • I was absolutely, 100% petrified to publish this post. Moreso than any of my other similar posts in which I talk about this particular vulnerability of mine. But after seeing this response, I definitely know it was the right thing to do. If/when you do post your own, you better believe I will be waiting in the rafters. <3

  9. Oh honey…if only at that dark time you knew how many people absolutely felt this way.

    When I was 7 or 8 years old, I was a tad on the chubby side. My parents didn’t buy junk food, but when I was over at my friends’ house? I would eat LOTS of it there, and I’d have no stop button. Even at that age, I knew that I was unhealthy. I’d try to do exercises in my bed at night, but would eventually tell myself, “When I get to be an adult, I can do XYZ to have the fat removed!”

    It’s SAD when you know that culture and society are playing a huge role in this mindset. I joined weight watchers and lost 35 lb. last year. But my struggles didn’t get erased. I still relapse, still want to consume lots of things, still have bad thoughts and anxiety. But I do have equal amounts support and criticism. Some people just don’t understand.

    I actually got in an argument with a friend last week about the size of the kiddie fries in McDonald’s kid meals. She insisted they were the PERFECT size (for adults). I couldn’t fathom it, as the last time I went to McDonald’s I ordered a small from the dollar menu, AND a medium. The kiddie size now have four fries in them. She kept insisting, and I finally had to drop it and walk away. What works for her, doesn’t work for me. And she doesn’t have the same struggles I do–nor is she aware.

    All people are different. But some are awfullllly alike! Thank you for sharing <3

    • It really is so hard to know that there is that huge disconnect for some people. Especially in the healthy living blog community, you see all the time these fit, amazing-looking women who really don’t struggle with food issues (or at least they don’t seem like they do). They really are satisfied with a few fries, or a bite of a brownie, or 1/2 a cup of ice cream. And both from this side, where I cannot fathom being able to WANT to stop at that point (regardless of whether I *do* stop, I will always *want* to eat more), and from their side, where they cannot fathom having that longing, it’s just so hard. Which is why I understand that some people might not be able to relate, and said as much in my post. Because if someone truly don’t understand what this kind of relationship with food is like, that’s amazing, and they are SO lucky. But for the rest of us, it is at the very least comforting that we’re in it together. :)

  10. I think it’s crazy that they’re are so many of us out there who can relate so closely to what you’ve written here. My relationship with food may not have been as extreme but the hatred of my body and the shame I felt about it, that’s something I can very much relate to. In fact, even now, as a 28 year old, I still have some of those old thoughts. I’ve come to realize that chances are they probably won’t ever go completely away but I just have to find a healthy way to deal with them. Thanks for writing this.

  11. So proud of you Gretchen. And you are right. You are NOT alone. Thank you.

  12. Thanks for sharing your story. I have some body image issues but my main issue is that I’m an emotional eater. I think of food all the time. Food is my comfort and it’s really hard to not have it. I work out everyday but I’m still overweight. I just want to be happy.

    • That’s the boat that I’m in. What sucks, too, is that my environment *encourages* it. There’s a snack-bar right behind my desk at the office (a stressful environment) and a “food” conversation/thread in my online college course (a stressful environment).

      “Why, yes, cheetos, I would love to crunch on you to alleviate all of this pressure!! Yes, chocolate, you will make me feel better for a split second! I’ll take what I can get!!”

      I’ve had a personal trainer for about 10 weeks… and have yet to lose a pound.

  13. It was very sobbering to see someone put into words of sitting at a table and desiring other’s leftover foods. I’ve done that and wondered if anyone else every felt that way. Body hatred can consume all aspects of who we really are. We are so mean to ourselves.

    Thank you so much for your post.

  14. Gretchen, I appreciate you. Everything you do and say to help other people in their struggles is just amazing.

  15. “As women in modern society, we are given so many conflicting messages. We are supposed to strive to look a certain way, to achieve a certain size, to hate ourselves if we don’t fit that mold. But not too much. Don’t hate yourself too much, like I did, because that’s just as shameful. You can’t possibly love yourself either, though, not while you’re so fat/ugly/awkward/plain. You have to hate yourself just enough to drive yourself to be beautiful, THEN it’s okay to love yourself. You want to talk about what’s a real shame? Let’s talk about THAT.”

    Yes. Thank you, Gretchen, for putting your story out there. It IS brave and I know that someone will read this post and decide to make that change for themselves as a result. Well done.

  16. This is a beautiful post, very well written, and you’re so strong, I admire it! I someday would love to be able to share my relationship with food on my blog but as you mentioned in the beginning, I wonder what my family, friends, and those around me who don’t know my past would react… Keep going girl!!!

  17. Thank you so much for this post. I wish I’d be so brave like you.

  18. Gretchen-thank you so much-you are definitely not alone! Being overweight and struggling with disordered eating affects so many of it and it is so healthy to get it out there and talk about it! I, too, have hidden many of my food problems from my loved ones because I don’t want them to see me as weak or out of control.
    Thanks again-you are a powerful women and I really loved reading this!

  19. Goosebumps. I’ve done a lot of reading about eating disorders and body image, but I’ve never quite connected with them as well as this. Obviously my own issues weren’t identical to yours, but I can just understand that feeling so well. Thank god we’re not alone, even if sometimes it feels like it.

  20. My dear Gretchen, I’m so grateful that you were not only brave enough to write all of this down- but also to POST it on your blog. And I’m glad you know that your honesty helps so many people that are reading this- probably far more than you know or can imagine.
    I, too got emotional while reading this. I can relate to so much of it. I often wonder what would have happened if that “I want to change and get healthy” switch had never been turned on in my head. I could easily be 100, 200… lbs overweight by now- but thank GOD- SOMETHING made me want to change. Sure, I’m not 100% happy with my body- and probably never will be. I’ll always have the fat girl in the back of my mind- but I am seeking to find ways to hush her up. I’m so grateful for my health and fitness- and having a friend like YOU that really understands my struggles. Thanks so much for sharing yours. xoxo

  21. You rock girl! What a great post.

  22. Gretchen, I feel like I could’ve written this post – then, now. This is how I have always felt, how I feel now, exactly what I think about & imagine. I’m not yet in a place where it feels like it’s TIME…

  23. I completely appreciate your honestly and admire how brave you are. I, too, have often wondered what people would think that read my blog who don’t have weight issues. Then I realized that they love me and support me, so it doesn’t matter. A great amount of healing comes from just telling the truth. As I was reading your post, I wondered how many of us out there hung onto shame as we secretly wished to just cut off the excess weight, wake up skinny or any other thoughts we had about that. I had all of those thoughts, too. There’s such shame we held inside and, for some of us, still hold inside. Thank you for bringing it out of the dark.

  24. I’m crying. Because this is so true.

  25. I admire your strength and honesty. thank you so much for this post!

  26. Wow – what a powerful post, Gretchen!! I found myself nodding to basically every sentence you wrote. I’m not glad someone else went through the same dark times I did, but it is so comforting to know that, as you express so eloquently, we are not alone. And it makes me so happy that you are far enough removed from those times to reflect so maturely and profoundly. This kind of brave opening up is what gives us all hope for the progress that is possible!

  27. Thank you for your honesty. I have only just started reading your blog, but the posts I have come across are awesome!

  28. I’m actually sitting here with tears in my eyes, because everything you wrote here rings so true to me. It is how I lived my life from the time I was 14 until just a couple years ago. Even now, as I haven’t lost “enough” weight, I find my thoughts heading down that slippery slope into self-hatred and trying to fill some emotional void with food. Which seems to make the void feel bigger.

    It helped me to have a child, but I still struggle with balancing my motivation for living healthy for ME and not for other people. And still, that little whisper of “why do I have to look like this?” Never really goes away. But it is good to know others are fighting too, and others have fought and won, and that all together we don’t have to be alone.

  29. Gretchen, you’re such a talented writer and I absolutely love you for putting this post out there. I know it must have been hard.

  30. Thank you for writing this! I’ve sat at the table, many a time, craving what others left on their plates. And wondering if it was just me.

    It’s obvious your post really stuck with me because last night I woke up and my immediate thought was ‘I am in control of what I put in my mouth’. I haven’t thought that in a long time and it was very freeing. So, thank you again.

  31. So.. How did you fix it? What’s the cure? Because I was on the right track, but now it feels like I’m skittering on that slippery slope back to self-loathing and although I can see it happening, I don’t feel like I can stop it. I went to the store the other day, looking for that magic pill that would cure all of my problems and I looked at ally, and at dexotrim max, and at the one that Bob Harper endorsed… I picked up numerous bottles, but ended up backing away from them because I talked myself out of it.

    I don’t want to struggle any more.

    • Oh Meg, this is like reading my own thoughts. I am so right there with you.

      First of all, I’m so proud of you for talking yourself out of it. Because we all know that ish doesn’t actually work, no matter how much we want it too. Secondly, I’m afraid I don’t really have a real answer. I don’t really consider myself “fixed”, just, more aware. Which really is a HUGE step. Knowing really is half the battle.

      I guess you could call me an in-recovery self-loather. I’m not recovered, but I’m not actively hating myself anymore. And a lot of it has had to do with the progress I’ve made in my healthy weight loss and being less ashamed of my body. Focusing on the things I do like about myself sounds cliche, but it really does work. Eclipsing generic self-hatred (“I am so fat! I am so ugly! Blahblahblah!”) with specific self-love does help (“I have a pretty face. I have long legs. I have a giant rack (hahahahaa)”, etc).

      But a lot of it is still a daily struggle. Not to look in the mirror and be immediately upset. Not to grab the folds of flab on my stomach and wish I could somehow make it disappear. It’s so hard. We are on this journey for so long and sometimes it feels like we’re not making any difference. But we are. Just the fact that you DIDN’T sink money into that “magic pill” is an amazing sign of your progress. It does get easier, I promise. And at least you definitely know that you’re not the only one thinking these things. <3

      • I think that admitting it helps me to reign things in a bit, too. Your post was perfectly timed in that I was just ranting at my fiance the other day about how I’m so unhappy with myself in multiple aspects of my life and how food and fitness are the first things to fall off the wagon.

        I think, for a lot of us here, that depression may be a catalyst to our weight issues, and the weight makes the depression worse. One thing I remember from starting back on the right track were the five pillars of health. I gave them a shot and realized that when I get the right amount of sleep, the right amount of nutrients, and the right amount of exercise, things just seem brighter to me. Maybe it’s time I set an alarm to remind myself to go to sleep instead of one to wake up :) Baby steps.

    • I too, am in a place where I hate myself and cannot find a single redeeming quality in the mirror. It’s starting to effect my life and my relationship with my fiance. He just can’t understand it. He gets mad at me because he really does think I’m great and beautiful. I just cant see it. And, the 40+ miles I run a week, and the hours spent in the gym, and the choosing chicken breast over a burger never makes me feel pretty enough. I don’t know where to turn.

      • I am so sorry to hear that you’re in such a low place, Jocelyn. Obviously I know first-hand what that’s like and my heart breaks for you in hearing about it. Is there someone that you can talk to about this? This sounds like the type of thinking that might warrant seeing if there’s a therapist or something you might reach out to, if you’re comfortable with the idea of that. I know that if I’d had someone to talk to about my self-loathing and body image stuff when I was in that place, I probably would have healed a lot quicker (you know, instead of just waiting to start a blog and then telling the entire world about it, haha?)

        <3

      • Oh Jocelyn, I’m so sorry to hear that you feel so low. It sucks. I think that the reason the people in our lives who care about us get so mad is because they *don’t* understand what’s wrong but they see that *something* is wrong and they can’t fix it.

        Would you ever consider talking to a professional? I’m almost to that point myself because I’ve been doing this and fighting myself and the negative self-talk for years and some days are better than others but it feels like a ‘bad day’ is just right around the corner and food is still my greatest comfort.

        • Thank You both so much. Gretchen, for posting such a real-live post. About real-live issues, and both of you for your awesome words of support. I know that for me my greatest comfort is working out. And, I know that I push myself way harder than I should, and it’s likely going to start affecting me super negatively sooner rather than later. Thank you for your suggestions to talk to a professional. I think it’s the right next step for me. It makes me feel a little silly, because I know people have bigger problems than mine, that being said, if I want to have a meaningful relationship with the love of my life, it’s time to figure out what the root of this problem is. Thank you for helping me realize that I’m not alone. And that I really do need to talk to someone.

          • Yes, please talk to someone. Other people do have bigger problems, but that does not mean that your life and your needs are not important. Besides, think how much stronger you would be if you didn’t have this pain dragging at your heart, weighing you down? Then you would have more energy to help solve the larger problems of the world. Who knows knows what you might do? Develop a hugely successful micro loan agency that helps impoverished women start green businesses and lift themselves and their children out of poverty? Take care of a neighbor who needs kindness? Rescue a dog from abuse? Discover a cure for cancer? You have NO IDEA what your life might contain. But you can’t unlock it unless you make sure you yourself are cared for and free of paralyzing shame.

          • Heya.. I just wanted to pop back over and give a little bit of an update. I have my first appointment with a psychologist later this afternoon. This post, and our conversations on it really brought to light that if I am referring someone else to seek professional help who is having the same thoughts that I am–that I should seek professional help, too. It’s scary. And I’ve almost talked myself out of it a few times.. But it’s for my own good. I’m going to update my blog about it a bit later, but if I can encourage you to go, then I wanted to. We (anyone facing these dark thoughts day in and day out) can get through it together.

  32. New to your site. Thanks for posting this. I have recently (like the past 15 years) been going through some of the same stuff too. My friend (who also struggles, though we don’t talk about the details much) and I just started the Whole 30 program. We are on day 12 and are both crazy euphoric about it. I don’t work for them or anything, but I have been devouring their website and book (“It Starts With Food”) and it is COMPLETELY CHANGING MY RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD. Holy cow. I don’t even know where to begin, and since this is your blog, not mine, I will cut myself off there. Check it out. Thanks again for the post. There are so many of us.

    • That book is sitting on my nightstand, guess I’ll start reading it tonight!

  33. Another great one, Gretchen. So how did you finally change things?

    • Y’know, I really wish I had a tried-and-true bullet point list of the things I did to change things around, but to tell you the truth there isn’t one. One day, something just finally clicked where I didn’t want to keep living my life that way. I wish I could credit a moment or a picture or something that someone said, but there wasn’t an epiphany. It just kind of… happened. And I’m still working on making that change stick permanently.

  34. Gretchen, the best thing about the internet is that stuff sticks around. Sure, your post right now is probably helping quite a few people, but what really makes me happy is to think of young women (and men) who stumble upon this at some point of the future. That’s where the real power lies. May your words help countless others.

  35. Hugs! As you know from our conversations, I have also had to deal with my weight/body image issues, just in a different way from you. Keep on fighting the good fight! These posts really can make a difference in people’s lives, whether you know about it or not.

  36. Thanks for putting yourself out there and saying the things we all feel or have felt! That’s why I read your blog everyday. Thank you for sharing your story – it helps a lot.

  37. I’m usually more of a lurker on your blog, but this post is fantastic. It so captures what I was feeling, thinking and doing in my senior year of college (and into grad school). But all the comments as well, they are so inspiring and spot on. Even though I’ve lost over 100 lbs (and gained about 10 back), I constantly do battle with myself to love the body I have (well, the body I”ve made really, through hard work!) Thanks for posting!

  38. thanks. I still struggle. But your post reminded me just how much better I am. Lost in the daily struggle, I had forgotten how bad it was back then. Now I can see, even if there is still a long way to go, there is alsoa long way from where I come.

  39. You’ve written this remarkable post for ED survivors, but the I think the insights you offer apply to many situations. Chronic illness, PTSD — I bet there are a lot of people out there — people who don’t have particularly difficult relationships with food — who might find a great deal of comfort and inspiration from your thoughts.

  40. This is a beautifully written post and something that I can definitely relate you. You really are not alone.

  41. This is real life and you are definitely NOT alone. I love my body and can hate it all at the same time. I’m not perfect and sometimes I’m not even healthy. And that is upsetting sometimes. But you inspire me to find the root of self-loathing and embrace a path towards self-loving. And at the same time get my booty together because 1) it’ll help me acheive various goals I have for myself; 2) it’ll reap dividends in my health bank years from now; and 3) there’s no reason that I shouldn’t work hard for the body I want.

    Stay strong and smiling!

  42. Gretchen, as painful as I can only imagine it must have been to write this, I can also only imagine that it was also incredibly therapeutic. You mention something here that I have never heard anyone else say before, but is something that I thought (and for a little while tried) myself. You talked about the idea of cutting the fat off. When I was in junior high, I desperately wanted to be thinner and I thought I could shave a layer off of my stomach every day. It was a horribly stupid idea, but when you’re in junior high, you don’t know any better.
    Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you for sharing this. I hope you know you’re a beautiful person, inside and out, and a wonderful role model for women everywhere.

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