I’m Whitney. I became bulimic at age 11 and finally stopped at age 35. I’ve been overweight for the majority of my life. Sometimes by a lot, sometimes by a little, but always in a way that made me feel like my body was “too much.”
I like to say I was in a “relationship” with bulimia because I don’t want to have “suffered from it” or “battled with it.” I’m not interested in “fighting it” or “beating it.” I simply want to be at peace with it. For me, this means acknowledging it for what it was and always will be, a relationship.
I also like to say I’m in “recovery” because for me, it’s a lifelong commitment. When people say they’re recovered, it feels like there’s an end-point or a finish line. I can’t go back into the mindset that there is a BEFORE and AFTER moment because that kind of thinking in the past has set me up to fail.
I’ve never had in-patient treatment or an official diagnosis, but I did meet with a therapist for a year and half. I decided I wanted to practice the tools I learned from those sessions on my own. This is when I resigned from my career, set up this website and started writing my memoir. In many ways, I’ve felt like an eating disorder outlier- one of many, one of the “majority”, one who stays trapped in silence because of shame.
Eating disorders are complicated and private. Sure I tried asking for help over the years, but I stayed in my secret. It was the only way I knew how to cope. And, worst of all, I liked it. It was all mine. It took me a long time to find my own way because I was too ashamed to ask for help. I didn’t know how to ask for what I needed because I didn’t know what I needed. I want to give hope to people who are still holding onto their own food secrets and self-hatred.
I want people to know that it’s okay to talk about anything. This is the only way it gets better.
You’ll relate to my journey if you’ve ever caught yourself thinking that your self-worth is determined by how much you exercise and how much you weigh on the scale stark-naked. I spent years living in the Not-Enough-World; not skinny enough, not pretty enough, and not smart enough. Life wasn’t much fun when my mind was keeping track of my “good behavior” and agonizing over my “bad behavior”.
I was the fat kid in gym class who couldn’t climb the rope, the college girl who broke a chair in a backyard full of strangers, and the lady who has been incorrectly asked, on 7 separate occasions, “When are you due?” Now I’m the woman who finally learned to love herself enough to heal her mind and see all of these moments as gifts. I’m writing the stories I’ve kept secret for a lifetime.
I write because it heals me more than anything I’ve ever tried.
Someday I would write about my experiences. Someday I could, when I had years of recovery under my belt, an English degree, was thin and was the perfect-in-the-near-future-me-if-only-I was ________ (fill in the blank). Now I know that healing is a lifelong process. I had to start telling the truth so I could live my dream of helping others who have their own body shames, inner-voice wars and food compulsions. I had to out myself in order to finally be free from it. My Someday has arrived.
I write the truth but like most memoirists, my memory of a situation could easily be different than your memory of the same moment. Some details have been changed in order to protect the privacy of those involved in my stories (names, professions, dates, places, etc.).
I live near Denver. I’m into dancing, stretching, biking, hiking, traveling, using movement as medicine and wholehearted conversations. I’m a volunteer with Denver’s Eating Disorder Foundation, a Temple Keeper for Rhythm Sanctuary and a student at Lighthouse Writers Workshop.