There once was a time where my life where it was barely a life at all. I struggled through each day, worrying about each calorie that entered my body and if I had overeaten. “ Would I gain weight from this cracker?” Was a question that I asked myself all too often. I had developed anorexia nervosa.
My story began at an early age. I was too young to be worrying about my weight, food, and calories. I should have been worried about my Barbie, playing hide and seek and running around with my friends. Anorexia had stolen that away from me, for I wasn’t a child as I should have been. I was a young girl trapped in a prison within her mind. My worse enemy had also been my best friend, and “she” nearly killed me.
I felt like no one would understand why I didn’t want to gain weight, and why I felt so out of control all of time. I could barely understand it myself. I felt alone, very alone. My world began to become very small, and I didn’t care. All I did care about was feeling safe within my anorexia. This safety was actually not safe at all. I was disappearing …physically and emotionally.
“ What is it you want me to do?” Nothing, I replied. If only I could answer her questions just in the way I needed to. Where would I even begin to start to tell her I am starving myself to death? If only she could see how I comfort myself when I am frightened and scared of gaining weight. If only…
As I lie in bed and reflect on the last words she had said to me, I tried to fight back the tears. Mom will never understand. Shaking quietly with the covers over my head, the teddy bear’s arm secured around my neck, I slip away from my world, to a place where I cannot feel any pain, silently, as tears fall onto my teddy bears face. Now Teddy is the one crying and not I, for good girls never cry. “` Journal entry
I had no smile left, no glim in my eyes or felt any emotions. What I did experience was numbness. I was paralyzed with fear and walking through my life with anorexia at my side. Well it really wasn’t a life, it was a painful existence that I felt like I needed to be in.
The one light in my life, and one that anorexia took away was my connection with horses. I had felt as a young girl, even before the anorexia, that I was meant to be around horses. When I was near them, I felt joy, comfort and unconditional love, even before I understood what that meant. When anorexia came into my life, I did not allow myself to feel these things. My anorexia told me that I didn’t deserve to feel good, and at that time, I believed it.
It wasn’t until I had struggled for sometime, that I finally sought treatment. I didn’t see that I was sick and I certainly couldn’t see that I was too thin. I couldn’t see what others saw. What I saw was what my anorexia told me I was “ out of control”” fat” “ugly” and “disgusting”. It wasn’t until I began treatment that the voice of anorexia began to silence itself, and the voice of who I really am could be heard, which was not what the anorexia told me. Anorexia had almost taken my life, more than once, and it was time to let it go.
During my treatment journey, I finally allowed myself to reconnect to the bond I felt with horses. They had served as my strength when I was felt like giving up. On those nights, where anorexia had beaten me up, I would dream about running on the beach with a horse, and feeling only joy and happiness. This “dream” had become a lifeline for me, a line that I held onto tightly.
It became so clear to me that my connection to horses was what saved my life (along with treatments, it took many hospitalizations before I would loosen the anorexic grip). My journey through anorexia and my love for horses became a way for me to help others that are exactly where I once was. I wanted to give people the chance to connect with a horse while on their journey toward recovery. Horses are wonderful teachers for us, mirroring our emotions, showing us things about who we REALLY are, and not what the anorexia is telling us. Horses are indeed healers, just by being themselves. Loving unconditionally and accepting us wherever we are at.
Through developing my equine program, “Raise Your Wings’, I have learned a great deal more about myself. Though the reasons for my struggle are complex, my purpose isn’t, which simply is to help others that are struggling. I have landed into a place of health, happiness and the ability to make a difference with the horses. Isn’t this what life is about? I certainly believe it is.
Today, I live completely free from anorexia. I rarely think back to the time where I once was, but when I do, it is always to share my story. Always hoping that my journey will help someone see that there is a life beyond anorexia. My life is no longer as it once was.