I have struggled with a variety of eating disorders over the years. In fact, I think my earliest memories are of the comforting feeling McDonald’s gave me when my mom woke me up in the middle of the night with the smell of French fries and the scratchy sounds of napkins being pulled from paper bags. (She worked late nights, and I had an obsessive, irrational fear that she would die in a car wreck.) When I smelled late night fast food: I knew she was home safe, and that it was finally time for me to eat.
I won’t begin to touch on the pains of being an obese kid or teenager, but at least you can see a small part of where it all began. I decided to have weight-loss surgery at age 20, and had it reversed (against my wishes) within a year because it became abundantly clear that I had gamed my surgery for bulimia, and lost too much weight, too quickly. I learned the mindset required to starve myself, and continued to shrink without the surgery. I thought I’d be happy when I got to
120 110 98 lbs., but believe me: it’s never enough.
In a weird twist of fate, I won a stack of wine books in a drawing. I wasn’t into wine, but I’m the type that has to read every book in my house, and so I did. I learned that a glass of wine could contain endless flavors and aromas; things that I once ate, which were now a distant memory, were now accessible in a glass that contained far fewer calories than the dishes themselves. Some reds could smell of gamey meats, blueberry cobbler, or even cherry pie. Champagne contained lemon zest and yeasty bread, and Chardonnays were (some would argue unfortunately so) full of butter.
My obsession with wine grew, and I attended every class and tasting I could find. Given that wine is almost always served with food, I think you can see where the story goes. I was slowly reintroduced to eating, and eating well at that; I became less and less afraid of nibbling the bits of cheese that accompanied my Pinot. Over the years I became healthy, then slightly overweight, and then healthy again. My life became a balancing act: I did not want to miss out on the things that gave me pleasure, but I did not want to overindulge and face feeling extremely uncomfortable in my plump, loose skin. These days I try to eat a low-carb diet, and work out every day at lunch. I try not to starve myself. I never throw up on purpose. I wear short shorts because I feel good about my body.
And yes, sometimes I still see myself as incredibly fat. I love food, and I hate that I wasted so much time fearing it. I remember visiting France and only allowing myself a croissant and an Orangina most days, crying and trying to purge it somehow if I allowed myself anything else. My days are spent tottering on a mental tight rope: I never want to be obese again, and I never want to let that obsession with being skinny take hold.
This is a very personal post, and I hope you will all respond with sensitivity. I have been working on an autobiography off and on for many years now, and I felt that sharing this might help inspire me to finish it, and to quit fearing what others might think if they knew this about me.