Skinny Love: The Skinny Truth.

Via on Jun 6, 2013

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Deception is at the heart of my life story thus far. To some, a showcase of sublime elegance, but in reality, a world of ultimate discipline, extreme pain and absolutely gruelingly hard work.

 

Dear Body,

As you know I have been explaining to the world what I have put you through.

I am writing to you in the hope that one day I can reconcile our broken relationship. After all, you’ve done nothing to me, and therefore I am confused as to why I have decided to do so much damage to you.

I feel like you deserve an explanation, as well as an apology.

I want to apologize for the pain, misery, anguish and heartache I caused you for so many years. By posting this, I hope that perhaps someone, somewhere will recognize this within themselves or in significant others, and be brave enough to start their own journey of self-healing.

Just over five years ago, I was—to put it plainly—starving you. You lost a couple of kilograms and suddenly boys started to notice us, girls wanted to be our friend. The problem was, I had no idea it would lead us down a path of self-destruction, betrayal and compounding isolation.

It started with the offhand comment of a boyfriend at the time. I remember once, I had gone for 48 hours without food, and he found me collapsed in the shower. But it did not matter because suddenly I could see my ribcage. It made it all worthwhile. My collarbones protruded. They needed to protrude.

This gave me a buzz.

The torment I put you through meant I could get high, just like a junkie who just scored their next hit. At first, it was simple. Skipping a meal. Then another. And then maybe one more. You were hostage to my thoughts. The days gripped by darkness. It felt like the edge of the world.

The highs were maddening. Oh my god, incredible. The feeling this gave me was intoxicating and elevating. To feel light and weightless, it was like I was floating in the ether. Bony and waif-like. I felt detached  and delirious, and that was sickeningly gratifying.

As with any high, however, there comes, inevitably, the crash. I was intensely lonely. But my actions, or rather inactions were numbing, almost to the point of total indifference. I am sure it wreaked havoc on my brains neurology—but that did not come until later, when you, my body, were on the brink of meltdown.

It was during those months that I found yoga; it proved to be an effective means of fulfilling what felt lost within. It would provide a certain sense of accomplishment. It provided no judgement, nor did it criticize.

It enabled me to get you through the seemingly difficult days, without becoming completely lost, lonely, and self-loathing.

I was immediately intrigued. What had this done? What had happened to us? Over time, I discovered safety. I felt cocooned by a sea of people who radiated health, happiness and enviable physiques. There was a whole ceremony behind the yoga that inspired a sense of belonging, of community. So inevitably, I applied for a scholarship to learn to teach this yoga and I was sure this was my foot into the door.

It is my belief that this yoga training saved us. Through humiliation, mediation and a shit load of blood, sweat and tears, transformation began.

In retrospect, the trepidation and terror I felt forced me to face my demons head on. It initiated the healing that was necessary for my health. It saved my life and it made my life.

When I returned from the training, I felt seemingly normal. Physically, I was accepted as healthy. I appeared fuller and curvier, but the love—that was still fractured. I can only describe it as if I were peering through a soundproof room, where love could not be heard nor felt.

I didn’t feel worthy. I felt somewhat obsolete, but like a carefully meticulous addict, I hid it well.

Of course I was eating! A lot actually, for my petite frame. In comparison, it was quite a difference from my past delusional state, that was convinced that I would gain fatness overnight from eating even a modest meal. Back then, I was obsessed with counting calories, punishing you with insane rules. Starving you even more, I would then institute a whole new set of rules, ones that were even stricter than the previous set of rules.

The demon once again resurfaced, rearing its ugly head. Stronger than ever before. I knew I must appease or suffer the consequences. Except this time, I felt more in control, hearing that little voice within that is knowing and self-deprecating in exactly the right measure.

The rules had changed. I used health and ethical concerns as a clever cover for my disordered eating. Fascinated by the fashionable ‘New Age’ food intolerance crowd. Starting with no meat, then moving on to no sugar, no dairy, no additives, no processed foods, no yeast, no wheat. Acting in a persecutory way, but adamant it was a conscious decision wanting to look after my greatest asset: you.

I had finally awakened to the fact I was using this to cover up your many screams for help, as I am sure many out there are, but may not even know it yet.

For the past six months or so, I have been experiencing the most debilitating tiredness I had thought humanly possible. But my days fell into a welcome routine. I spent seven days a week dragging you in a semi-conscious state, allowing about four hours a night of sleep. My limbs had no muscle, all that was left was bone. I stumbled to the bathroom and saw my reflection in the mirror.

I barely recognized us.

My eyes were glazed over, my cheeks were sunken, my face pale. But still, the collarbones protruded. Yes, they needed to protrude.

I was often in tears just contemplating how weary I felt—the weakness was suffocating. The most upsetting thing was that I was doing this to myself. Working harder than I had ever before—being in the yoga room up to 24 classes a week, studying and barely making it in time to my final masters exams.

Beset by stress and anxiety, I cancelled appointments, extended deadlines and left my friends wondering why I was freezing them out.

This intense preoccupation with food was another uncomfortable jolt back into the past. Why was it happening again? Well, that was difficult to answer. But I know I yearned to escape you, yearning to feel transparency, that familiar light, hollow feeling I knew so well.

So I put on a brave face, and I suffered in silence. I internalized it all and attempted to act nonchalant. But over time, as the comments came, thick and fast, so did my need for validation.

Skinny…Sickly…Unhealthy…Fragile…Bony…Bulimic.

Every word felt like a stab deeper and deeper—and any attempt of refusal or inability to agree seemed hopeless. When you are considered self-destructive by others, any means of restraint confirms your perceived condition. I knew this well. Guilty until proven innocent. Surrender is the only way forward, goddamit, insanity was simply a matter of dropping the act.

And so I did, in an attempt to silence their voices. Not giving up, just giving in to their cutting words. In retrospect, I am sure they were not intended to be malicious. But I found myself standing on the edge, staring down into an immeasurably deep chasm, a vast abyss. Self-esteem shot to shit, confidence blown to smithereens, their words pushed me off a cliff.

I fell. Falling helplessly; emotionless, thoughtless, senseless, tangled and confused. My body, heart and mind, ripped apart, overwhelmed by a searing pain of hopelessness and then nothingness.

But I would not stop—because stopping meant failing and failure was no option. The reason, only now I have come to understand, was that I needed to escape.

Escape what exactly? The crippling feelings of inadequacy. Surrounded by people whose lives I considered unblemished and lucky, their self-worth wholesome and untarnished.

My fears came from being concerned about what people thought of me. But what I came to realize is that I do not believe people thought of me even a minuscule of the amount I imagined they did. Quite ironic, really—here I was worrying and fearing something that I believed was not even possibly happening.

I often had been asked how I did what I did—the truth be told this question troubled me. The skillful navigation of hiding my disorder was failing abysmally. I discovered this when unexpectedly, I burst into tears in front of another. No longer could I fake it.

I was profoundly sad—in fact, grief-stricken—and I held my head down and sobbed for days.

I felt like nothing. And all I wanted, desperately was to feel the closeness, the caring, the intimacy, within myself. To love you—my body—all of us. To put me first, to embrace compliments as the truth and not a lie, and to not allow any relapse tempt me to that realm of feeling profound emptiness and subsequent loneliness.

The injustice, betrayal and disillusionment, this time, do not get to win. Admittedly I chose their voices, over mine and allowed their explanation and consequential validation to become my own. My identity.

And so I am asking for forgiveness.

For what I have done to you, body, as well as those close to me.

Now, as I disclose my deepest, darkest secrets to the world I realize no one will let me off the hook. There is now no escape, nowhere left to go. Any little piece of you that is still hiding, any small fragment of control you are so desperately clinging onto, I would now have to let go of.

 

 

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Ed: Bryonie Wise

 

{Photo: via Pinterest}

 

 

 

About Ash Constance

Ash is an international yoga teacher, Doctor of Chiropractic, and writer. Through her struggles, she is inspiring tens of thousands across the globe. FInd her on Facebook and Instagram: @ash_constance.

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5 Responses to “Skinny Love: The Skinny Truth.”

  1. Kate says:

    Thank you! I really empathised with this. Wow.

  2. Kate says:

    Your story is helping me better understand a friend who is far beyond my reach in the throes of her own eating disorder. Thank you!

  3. Holly says:

    This is an awesome read. Very helpful to another Eating Disorder afflicted woman. Thank you :)
    I believe in surrendering.

  4. Jodi says:

    Sounds like me only I can't unlock myself and be free…I'm so happy for you, Ash. Your story is my life, except my story is still that of defeat. Thank you for your words…..Where there is life, there is hope.

  5. Ash Constance Skinny Love - Ash says:

    Thank you SO much for sharing. The journey continues, and may always continue, but the support is remarkable – and you all are a massive part of that. I truly hope you are amazing and living the dream.
    Ash xx

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