Practicing Self-Compassion After an Eating Disorder

WARNING: This post may contain triggers for and about eating disorders. I had intended to write about yoga, but this post molded into something completely different.
1000Voices
Today, 1000 voices around the world are speaking and writing about compassion. This movement isn’t intended to change the world, but maybe…just maybe..it might. You can follow the movement by checking out the hashtag #1000Speak or by reading posts on the 1000 Voices for Compassion Link Up.

Compassion. What a beautiful and complicated word. Want to complicate it even more? Direct it at yourself.

Compassion. What a beautiful andI’ve had a love-hate relationship with my body since I was a little girl. I was the chubby girl. Bullied for my weight. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with my body since I was a little girl. I was the chubby girl. Bullied for my weight. Awkward. Quiet around my peers, but social around adults. Bigger than everyone else my age, but told I was beautiful by adults. Constantly informed that “I had a woman’s body.”

Chubby middle school pic

When I was in high school, I thought I was fat. I went on Weight Watchers for the first of MANY times. I lost between five and ten pounds. I would kill to weigh that much now.

Pink Princess

In college, I went back on Weight Watchers with my best friend. I lost about thirty pounds. I would kill to weigh that much now.

College party shirts

Over the years, my weight fluctuated as much as Oprah’s. Since I was 14 years old, my range has extended nearly 100 pounds. And sometimes, it was because of healthy things I did…and sometimes, it was not.

I guess it started in college when I was binge drinking. In college, I drank a lot. And I almost always threw up after drinking. When I felt sick, I’d preemptively puke. It seemed okay because everyone puked when they drank. And a lot of times, it wasn’t even preemptive…it just happened. I would drink to excess nearly every weekend.

And then it transitioned into something more.

At the end of and after college, I threw up. A lot. And it was no longer just because I was drinking. I purged daily for long periods of time. Some days it was more than once. Sometimes, after every meal. And after every snack. Between meals. Between dinner and dessert. I could go weeks or months without doing it. I didn’t believe I had a problem. And then one day, I would eat too much or not fit into a shirt the way I wanted to…and start again. I didn’t consider myself a bulimic. Because I was still fat. And I could stop whenever I wanted to.

Business suit

I would be eating something. And thinking about how full I was getting or how my stomach hurt just a little…and then I would think, well…just go throw up. And then I would. I started eating things that would be easier to un-digest. I preferred to eat out where I could purge in a public restroom rather than at home.  I would pull my hair back and take my shirt off before crouching over the porcelain god. I blamed itchy contacts for my red eyes after going to the bathroom. I carried gum and breath mints everywhere. I was strategic. But I still didn’t think I had a problem.

When my mom asked me about it, a couple years after it started…she was very blunt. “Are you bulimic?” She had seen remnants in the bathroom on a regular basis. The evidence was pretty stacked against me.

Chrissy at a wedding rehearsal

By then, I knew I had a problem. I had even admitted it to one of my friends. A friend I knew wouldn’t judge me…and a friend I knew wouldn’t take action. And she didn’t. But she would talk to me about it. And try to support me as best as she could. I responded to my mom in the only way I thought could be more evasive than point-blank lying. I told her I was just drinking too much. I wasn’t lying. I definitely drank A LOT. But I was still lying. To her…and probably to myself.

Self-Compassion After an Eating Disorder

I didn’t have compassion for myself. I didn’t respect my body. One of the clearest memories through all of this was the control that I felt. It wasn’t feeling skinny or the satisfaction of eating whatever I wanted. It was control. I would stand in front of the mirror, suck in my stomach and think, I can control this. But I didn’t love my body. Not with everything I was putting it through.

Feeling skinny

I remember telling another very good friend. Another friend who I knew wouldn’t judge me…but he would try in his own way to help me. And he definitely did. At dinner, he’d ask me why I was going to the bathroom at a restaurant. And eventually, just knowing that he had his eyes on me and could confront me held me back. When I was out with that group of friends, I would only go to the bathroom when I needed to pee, and I’d be fast about it. I puked less and less.

Somewhere along the way I stopped for good.

I wish I could tell you what made me stop. I wish I could tell you the moment that I took control of my urges and changed the control from puking to not puking. But I can’t. And it’s not just because I decided to stop one day and magically did. I know I could have benefited from professional help.

The funny thing is…as I was trying to find old pictures for this post…I couldn’t find one where I thought I was REALLY fat. But at the time…I thought I was huge. I know that I’m bigger now than I have ever been. And while I will continue to try healthy routes of diet and exercise, I’m becoming more comfortable with myself. I’m respecting and loving my body. Even when trolls on the internet think I’m fat. Or ugly. Or stupid. Or worthless. I am none of those. I am beautiful. And by respecting myself and my body, I can better show compassion toward others.

When we have compassion for someone, we sympathize. We empathize. We express concern. We show love. We sometimes pity. We worry. We care. We think. We share in the experiences of others. Compassion is difficult.

When we have compassion for ourselves, we have to dig deep to truly understand our minds and our bodies. We learn to respect what we can and cannot do. We strive to achieve. We exist.

curvy yoga
I recently started practicing yoga again. And I can’t tell you how much the support on Instagram and Facebook has meant to me. I’ve been participating in yoga challenges, and posting yoga pictures daily. Not only is it keeping me accountable, but I’m able to channel that same control I once had over my body into a new venture. Instead of controlling what goes in and out of my body, I can control how I move my body. And I can challenge myself while respecting my limitations and understanding that I am beautiful. Regardless of my size. Or whether society thinks I should take a picture of myself in a sports bra.

curvy yogaHow do you practice self-compassion? Have you suffered from an eating disorder? How have you handled body issues for yourself?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Some Things are Actually More Difficult for Chubby Girls

So, I know most of us have body issues…and if you don’t, more power to you. Fat, skinny, chubby, thin…big ass, no ass, huge boobs, flat chest…there are reasons that anyone could feel a little down about their bods. And with the way humans are, other people don’t really help with our body image issues.

So this is not to say that my problems as a chubby/fat/overweight girl outweigh yours or anyone else’s…

But there are DEFINITELY some things that are genuinely more time-consuming, more difficult and more painful because of the way my body is.

There may also be things that are more difficult for smaller girls (or guys), but not living on that side of the scale…I can’t speak for them.

Shaving your legs

We all know how I feel about shaving and how it’s one of those painful grooming activities that fills me with regret and grumpiness…I’m sure that even the skinniest girl needs to be a flippin’ contortionist to do all the shaving that someone decided was necessary for ladies to be pretty and sexy and delicious…

I FEAR someone walking in on me while I’m in the bathtub, ankle raised above my head or hanging out over the tub while I try to make my pale white legs “pretty” so I can wear a dress…because most pants don’t fit me well enough to wear. Let’s not even go into the chub rub that comes from freshly shaved thighs, but seems to disappear when I haven’t shaved in a while.

Instead, let’s talk about the sheer volume of my legs (and arms). As I was shaving the other day, I thought to myself, you know, Chrissy…you should shave more. It wouldn’t kill you. And then I thought about the process…and how it wasn’t as if it added just 5-10 minutes to my beauty regime…it added 30-35 minutes…at least. And then I asked myself, how the hell do other girls do this EVERY DAY?

And I realized that this size of my legs and arms is genuinely bigger than those of other girls. With the areas that requires shaving—the circumference of my thighs, the distance between the from of my leg and the back of my leg—it’s more time consuming.

Life’s a process for me. I think you knew that. Shaving is one of those processes.  The contortion. The amount of time. The wondering why the hell we do this. It’s a process.

shaved legs

I think I do it so I can walk around (the beach or other place) in a skirt…so I don’t have to wear pants. Because pants=the devil.

Working out

I recently lost a few pounds. I’m still pretty proud of myself even though the stress of my current life has slowed that process. What I realized, though, after losing about 10 pounds, was holy shit! That’s 10 pounds I’m not carrying around anymore.

This one’s harder to explain, so I’ll try a demonstration. Do 10 jumping jacks or some other quick cardio activity. Feels ok, right? Now, pick up a 25 pound weight or a pair of weights or whatever. Repeat the exact same cardio activity while holding the weights. Not as easy, right?

If you weigh 130 pounds, that added 25 pounds is on someone else every. Single. Day. That 155 pound? That’s the weight my driver’s license said 15 years ago, when I first got my license. That’s the weight my driver’s license says now.

It was a lie then, and it’s a lie now. It’s just a bigger lie.

For the record, I am well aware of the fact that I, too, can do this exercise, and I know that there is someone 25 pounds more than me who has a more difficult time working out simply because of the added weight.

Riding rollercoasters

I LOVE me some thrill rides. Flying down a steep wooden or steel mountain at warp speeds while safely strapped in a harness makes me feel invincible. But sometimes, I don’t actually FIT in the coaster. Older rides are definitely more difficult for me. The newer rides tend to be designed with bigger hips in mind.

I’ll stop there.

I want to know if there are things that are genuinely more difficult for you because of your size?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!