Sunday, April 11, 2010


Robin (2010)

“Sometimes the people who mean to do the best for you end up doing the worst, not realizing the constant stream of conflicting comments only create a bigger and more complex monster. Ever since I could remember, my mother chirps in with the weight comments, good and bad. I honestly don't think she was consciously trying to hurt me, just one of those thoughtless off-the-cuff remarks.

I remember, growing up, my mother making comments about my short chubby little legs or my butt, especially around puberty (which is a bitch in my family) I, like most girls, added some chubbiness on top of my already growing 'awkward preteen' resume. I remember playing by the pool with one of my best girl friends (who happened to be a string bean all through school) and doing a split, "Your fat’s hanging out of the side."

When all my girlfriends took up ballet in JR high school, I wanted to go too. "You can't do that, you're too fat". I wasn't ballet material for numerous reasons, and I'm sure that the required leotard would've been less than flattering, but I was by no means a living breathing weeble wobble. Once the summer before my freshman year of high school rolled around I figured out the magic of calorie restricting. I was never good at math, but I knew that if I kept my daily caloric intake around 500 and did that same amount of crunches, I no longer was the proud owner of the awkward preteen chub.

Robin (2010)
Robin (2010)

Throughout my freshman year I did not crack 100 lbs, hitting my lowest point at 86 lbs. It sounds horrifying, but given that I'm very petite I was able to hide it easier. Throughout high school my weight yo-yo'd going from my lowest of 86 lbs to 125 lbs when I graduated, which is considered healthy for 5'4".

The boyfriend I had in high school was not particularly helpful to my weight obsession. I suppose when you take on unhealthy habits or lifestyles, you, in turn, attract unhealthy people. I had dated him for many years. When we started dating, I was still in my very thin stage, and once I became within a 'normal' weight range the comments from him would start. I have a lot of food allergies (which probably only exacerbates my anxiety with food) and had a very limited menu that I could eat from at the lunch room at school, which mainly consisted of chips and a drink. We would be sitting with my friends and when I went to open my bag of chips, he'd snatch them away from me and say, “You don't need to eat those.” Eventually we ended up sitting by ourselves during lunch ... gee I wonder why .... After high school we broke up. My relationships with men that were less than healthy seemed to be a running theme.

"Me right before my wedding in April 2008, very stressed = a sick Robin"

After high school we broke up. My relationships with men that were less than healthy seemed to be a running theme. It wasn't until I met my now husband that I can honestly say that I'm in a healthy, loving and supportive relationship with someone who is my best friend.

Robin on her wedding day

My poor husband knows that I'm sick, but I don't think that he knows what to do with it. I don't know what to do with it. I don't think that I look particularly sick, but my anxiety around food and eating is overwhelming. Combined with various life-threatening food allergies, and now a choking episode every other time I try to eat (going back and forth to Boston trying to figure out if its eosinophilic esophagitis or very aggressive acid reflux), trying to eat is torture. I eat whatever I want, but I torture myself mentally over it and go to the gym every day that is physically possible, and when I don',t I get physically ill. I obsess over what size clothes I am, which every woman knows is a losing battle because most companies have different ways of cutting clothes, so you might be one size in one store, then 4 sizes bigger in another. How good I feel on any particular day depends on how fat I feel.

Robin & her husband
Robin & her husband

I don't think that I fit any one particular eating-disorder category. I'm in eating disorder purgatory. I don't binge, I don't puke, I eat very little, but I don't consciously restrict, and I'm obsessed with the gym. I just absolutely adore the feeling of being tiny. I think a part of it is a control issue, I've had so many (non-related) health issues, and an anxiety disorder, that being able to control my size is one thing that brings me comfort, and getting any type of therapy or treatment to me means taking away my security blanket.

Robin during her pregnancy
Robin during her pregnancy

I have two beautiful children: my son is four and my daughter is 10 months. I gained 50 lbs each time, and for anyone with an eating disorder the comments of "OH.MY.GOD.YOU HAVE HOW MUCH LONGER LEFT?!" "ARE YOU HAVING TWINS??" isn't exactly reassuring. When you lose all the baby weight and then the back-handed compliments start coming in ... "You look great, just don't lose any more weight" .... nice. I was able to stop my weight obsession cold turkey when I was pregnant both times. I think I felt safe because I had carte blanche to gain weight without too much self-hatred and guilt, because, after all, I was growing a human. It's always been one or the other, either I look a little chubby or "Are you eating?" "What is it you’re eating?" When people start harassing me about my diet I just shut down, it’s kind of like a double- edged sword. I always want to be the littlest one, yet I don't want the comments that go with it.

"It's never too early to tell her she's beautiful, just the way she is"

I know how harmful my mother’s comments were to me, and I consciously don't pick at myself or make negative comments around my children, and I tell both my children that they're gorgeous every day. My daughter is very very tall; she's 10 months’ old and has been wearing size 18 months since she was 8 months’ old. I've gotten after people, particularly my mother, about comments like "beast" and "giant" .... no, she's a 'supermodel' or just plain old 'beautiful girl' will do. I know that I will never ever ever make comments about my daughter’s body, and will not stand for anyone doing it either. My mother and grandmother are always very critical of their own bodies, and when someone you love and look up to says bad things about their own bodies, as a child, you think they are perfect, and you came from them ... so you think ...”'if they think they're fat and ugly, I must be too.”

So what’s the moral of the story here? I'm not sure exactly. I know that I'm floating around in eating disorder purgatory with my 'security blanket' of body image obsession, yet it can make me so miserable. I know I'm going to fight like hell to make sure my daughter knows how gorgeous she is, and to make sure my son treats every woman with dignity and respect, and love her for who she is. Now I'm at my pre-baby weight, but my old clothes aren't quite fitting the same and my body has changed ... let’s just say that losing a total of 100 baby lbs can cause some sagging ... and drooping ... *I feel pretty**oh so pretty* now besides the numbers on the scale, I have a whole new area to obsess about, and unfortunately the only way to fix those particular problems I'd have to visit Dr.Nip/Tuck because no amount of exercise can get rid of extra skin.

I go through highs and lows of my own self image. If I make a conscious effort to compliment myself and try to feel good, then I do feel better, but it is a lot of work after almost 20 years of self loathing, and sometimes my efforts get lost between working a full time job, doing laundry, cleaning the house and changing diapers.”

~ Robin

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Anonymous said...

God that kid is cute..............

Catherine said...

Such a sad story, but look at what a beautiful daughter she has.

jadedchalice said...

Robin I hope that you are able to find healing through blogging your feelings. I know it helps for me. I can relate to you in many ways as Im sure alot of us can. I do hope that you are able to find recovery and peace because you deserve it.

Be Well

Anonymous said...

ROBIN! You are infinitely beautiful! Your daughter definitely follows in your footsteps with looks, my God is she gorgeous! I understand the way that you feel about food right now! I felt the exact same way the first time I went through a recovery process, perhaps you are trying to start over and recover from your old life yourself! I hope that you can get better! Remember, you will still be beautiful, and those around you will still love you for you, no matter how much or how little you way!-JAc :)

Anonymous said...

I feel for you. The comments of my aunt were the same as your mother's. When I was just a chubby child, she gave me "tips": you don't have to butter your toast, there's no need to take another plate of food etc. When I lost weight, she told me that I shouldn't lose anymore or I'd be ugly.

Anonymous said...

I'm 32, a single mother of 3 beautiful children, and the only time I ever feel good about my body is when I'm pregnant. I dont think I fit into any exact eating disorder, the same as you. But when I control what I eat, when and how much, I somehow feel in control of my life. Is that such a bad thing?

Anonymous said...

Robin: Very inspiring. I'm in tears at this moment. I relate heavily to your story. I'm a 24 year old mother of a 3 year old daughter. I know EDNOS and I know what it feels like to loose almost 100lbs after birthing a child (the sagging skin, the unfortunately motivating comments on your weight loss). And you are absolutely right, no child should ever be subject to negative comments on their weight. I fear that my daughter will follow in my footsteps and I will do whatever it takes to stop that from happening. Please be strong for your own daughter. Stay on the right path, you can do it. If you give in to society's idea of thinness, your daughter may be tempted also. And if you have the willpower to restrict, then adversely, you have the willpower to live healthily.

dolly1 said...

hi, just to say I am also in that purgatory. my bulimia has been with me for 25 years now, its soooo frustrating cos just when I think Im getting better I have huge relapses that last for weeks. Im also trying to beat laxitive abuse but my alter ego wont let me, its permanent torture in my head 24/7. Im glad Ive found medusa and can relate to others who suffer the same as me,I dont feel like Im alone with this madness!

Anonymous said...

Oh she is so cute, I just wanted to give her a great big bear hug! Beautiful momma too!! I can relate to the sagging and unfortunate stretching that happened through pregnancy. I have 2 kids 15 months apart. Ya definetely took a toll on mt body- my legs and tummy will never be the same- but then again pregnancy isn't a walk in the park, so why wouldn't you come out with some battle scars!?
Stay strong! you can you can!