Coping…


Partly to be numb, partly to remain a little girl, partly because people always complimented me on how skinny I was, partly to destroy myself, anorexia nervosa  was a big part of my life. I began exercising when I was 16 years old, spending countless hours at the gym.  There was one particular girl I looked up to.  She was thin, happy, beautiful.  I began wanting the thinness and happiness.  So, there I was every day, the room filled with sounds of pain, running, jumping,  to forget the image that stared back at me every day… I demanded perfection from my body, the perfection I couldn’t get in my mind.  I would spend almost the entire evening there, my eyes blank, my hands weak, muscles sore, every day became more and more intense.  After a while I had little time to even eat.  Work, gym, run, work, gym, run.  Where would I have the time.  I began losing more and more weight.  At 21 I weighed probably 100 pounds, which for me was very little, but in my mind it still wasn’t enough.  What I saw in the mirror and what people saw were two different people.  I was disgusting, obese, I literally saw a monster and part of me, a HUGE part of me, just wanted to DISAPPEAR.  What better way then to literally wither away.  At 27, a boyfriend broke up with me.  I had to stop the pain.  How?  I began running 14 miles every morning at 4:30 a.m.  While most people were in bed sleeping I was out in the cold, snow, rain, hail, heat ,running for almost 2 and a half hours.  I remember going to a therapy session on one of those days and this is the diary entry I wrote that day:

Dear Diary,

It’s amazing how a body can feel completly numb.  My legs are moving, my arms are moving, but it’s not me.  I feel I’m watching everything from overhead, this is another girl.  I caught a glimpse of myself in a train window as it zoomed through a dark tunnel.  My hair was different, what once was a cascading waterfall had turned into strands of hay, and the eyes hollow… I looked at my feet, sentenced to a lifetime of pounding on the pavement, to nowhere…I got out on my stop, there was a man dancing with a lifeless doll.  A subway performer, his partner was a doll with crimson lips, stilettos, legs as long as the sky, she wasn’t real but for a moment she had taken life in this man’s arms, he, this subway performer, had breathed life into this doll, together they became one, legs moving in unison, his soul, his essence sailing into her, bringing her to life.  She’s more alive than I am , I thought.

A short time after this I stopped running so much, my coping mechnism was failing, and I decided to use another coping mechanism.  Dance.  I have been dancing ever since.  I now am at a healthy weight and on those days that I feel like I’m watching someone else’s life I go live my own and dance 🙂

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5 Responses

  1. I love your reinvention of our distorted efforts…that’s healing !!!

    salsa baby!!! *if I could only let go of myself , my womanhood (for lack of a better word) enough to enjoy dance!!! i wish i could give in..

    a poetry quote of mine when i was younger was “give up to give in…” that’s the only understanding of “surrender” i can own……

  2. That’s awesome. Thanks for sharing that. It made me realize how fragile our feelings can be – even when we’re numbing things.
    I do feel so numb sometimes just to dull out the pain
    Yet there is such a strong desire for me to be wild carefree reckless free. I relish those moments, and I don’t allow myself to express them anymore.
    I do wish that I could…I want to. How did you start dancing? just at home alone? Or did you take classes?

  3. I dealt with anorexia at one point too – I didn’t realize it at the time, but it’s how I coped with all of the stress in my life. If I kept focused on calories, exercising, weight, etc. then I could keep my mind and emotions in “check” somehow.

    I love, love, love that you turned to dancing! I used to dance a lot, but the last few years I haven’t felt good enough about my body to let myself do so… You’ve inspired me to get back into it… I’m going to try.

    “.. on those days that I feel like I’m watching someone else’s life I go live my own and dance.” That’s going to stick with me. Thank you 🙂

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