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Dancing With Anorexia Essay, Research Paper

Natalie Moon


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 mom?s 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 weight 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.

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