“If you put shame in a Petri dish, it needs three things to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence and judgment.”
- Brené Brown

 

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Letters from Body

Lauren,

Take me as I am… end of story. All of this disillusion, hatred, envy, comparisons, idolizing—it has to stop.

We go round and around way too much. I am doing the best I can.. you have to trust me.

I have been through a lot of ups and downs with you, and I’ve stuck it out and made it through as intact as I possibly could under the circumstances and the unrealistic expectations you had- and still continue to have of me.

But it is about time you started holding up your end of the bargain here. You promised this time would be different- to listen to me, to provide me nourishment, to thank me, to stop allowing your negative perceptions of me impact your quality of life.

Listen.. you may not always love me or even like me but I am the only body you have and we need to begin having a better relationship. Here is a list of what I need from you- and like any good relationship I would welcome compromise and invite you to make a list of what you need from me:

  1. I need you to listen to me—acknowledge that you hear me and respond appropriately to my signals and ques.
  2. I need you to give me rest, activity, nourishment, and self care.  Balance is KEY.
  3. I need you to understand my limits and not push me too far.
  4. I need you to trust me:
    • Trust that I will use the food you give me for nourishment and provide you energy and I will get rid of the rest- I do not need your help with that.
    • Trust that if you miss a few days working out you will not gain 20 pounds and all my muscle will not turn to flab.
    • TRUST ME TO DO MY JOB!
  5. Give me sweets when I want them—without guilt.
  6. Give me healthy foods and nutrients with a balance of the “good” stuff—to much of either is not what I want.
  7. Mostly I need you to learn to love me. I need positive affirmations even, and especially, when you do not believe them at the time.

Lauren, everything takes time. I am still regulating, learning and adjusting to our new healthy lifestyle- just like you are. I am adapting, so be patient, but do not worry—I will figure it out because that is what I am built to do!

-Your Body
April 2013


Dear Betsy:

 Hey!  How are you? Well, I'm not doing so good.  I know you hate to hear the bad news, but you should have seen it coming.  You know what you are doing is causing me some harm.  Well, lets face it, you have caused me some major damage.  Let's hope that none of this is long term, but you never know.
 Were you that unhappy with me?  In high school you were okay with me.  You thought I was a little big, but nothing worth changing over.  You were happy with your JLO, bubble butt and your flat stomach.  You treated me pretty good then.  But then we went to college.  Freshman year.  Yea, so I gained the freshman 30 instead of the usual freshman 15.  But at this point at least I was functioning.  I know you were unhappy with me and you were upset that you couldn't fit in your clothes and depressed with the way you look.  So what did you do?  You decided to change, and that you did.
 Summer time!  Home from college, back to seeing old friends, swim suits, and horse shows every weekend.  What did all of this mean?  DIET!  You told yourself that this was for real and you wanted to prove to everyone that you can loose weight if you want to.  Its all about will power.  This should be easy because everyone else in your family is on a diet, you will just fit right in.  Your dad and sister are on a liquid diet, and mom is doing the slim-fast diet.  So there was no unhealthy food in the house…well there wasn't much food in the house at all.  So I decided to follow the South Beach diet, eat healthy foods and exercise.  You did this all summer.  I was happy, you were taking care of me.  I was fit, fueled, and ready to go.  I was looking pretty good, everyone said so.  They all ask you how you did it and give you endless compliments.  It was great and it felt great!
 Then we go back to college.  Determined to keep the weight off that you had lost and to prove that every girl living in your sorority house doesn't gain weight you started to read into this healthy eating a little too much.  You went to the extreme.  You started to hurt me little by little until I almost broke.  Almost is the key word.  If it had not been for your parents, family, friends, and trained professionals you would have killed me.  Thankfully that didn't happen.  You started restricting what you ate.  At first it was just no junk food like cookies, cakes, candy, white bread, chips…you know the typical "unhealthy" food.  Then you started cutting out high calorie food and some grains.  Then you started to skip lunch.  Which lead to restricting on breakfast and dinner on top of already not eating snacks.
 It got so bad that you were eating less than 300 calories a day.  Can anyone live on that?  NO WAY!  No person can actually function on that amount of calories.  Why did you do this to me?  Why did you cause me to take harmful action in order to stay alive?  You caused me to slow down my metabolism and heart rate to try and conserve energy.  To fuel myself I began eating away at my muscle and my body organs.  I had to cause damage to myself because you weren't giving me the energy I need to function.
 When you went to impatient the first time you were very sick and it scared you, so you started to eat and give me what I needed.  That only lasted a limited time.  Then you started to restrict some.  At first just very small amounts that would go unnoticed.  Then it grew and grew so you were back to eating less than 300 calories a day.  I was back in pain and damage mode.  You made me do it.  I didn't want to, but I didn't have a choice.  You made me suffer and be the way I am.  I can't help it, but you can.  I have tried to work with you, but you wouldn't corporate.  So now I am asking, begging, pleading for you to never make me go through this again.  I want to live and have a great life.  I don't want to go back to damage mode and hurt myself.  I never want to make my heart only beat 25 times per minute.  I am hoping that you hear me.  Take this in.  Think about it.  Think about what you are doing to me.  Then decide to STOP and CHANGE!  Take my side.  Decide to stop killing yourself and start taking care of me.  You can do this.  Just do it and we will both be happy!  XOXO
   ~Your body       


Dear Christine
Yes you are right. I am a complete failure. I am sorry that I keep quitting on you and that you have to go through another disappointment in me. I know you are upset about having knee surgery on Wednesday but there is nothing I can do about it. You simply pushed me past me limits and refused to give me rest when I was clearly telling you that I needed it. I am trying to give you the signs so you can follow them so that I am better able to maintain a healthy body for you, but you continuously choose to ignore them. I am not trying to hurt you; in all honesty I am trying to do the exact opposite. Neither of us can survive without the other and I wish you would start seeing us as two halves that come together to form a complete being. That if I went gone or you went gone we would no longer be in existence. We are simply dependent on each other in order to be successful and live a fulfilling life.

I know you want me to be strong and do the strenuous workouts that you constantly demand of me but you have got to give me the fuel so I can last through it all. Restricting caloric intake and reducing the amount of carbohydrates is not going to work especially during the rehabbing of your knee and even more so when basketball season starts. You need to give me the fuel so I can perform for you…please give me the fuel…I am demanding it. Because you have starved me for nearly 18 months I have no conservation to resort to…I have to use every little thing that you give me and anything extra that you sometimes manage to give me I must hold on to because I know it is only a matter of days until you deprive me of the necessary carbohydrates and fats. Christine, I do really want to work for you and I do want to make senior year an awesome year for you both on the court and off but your way is not going to work…it never has and I wish you would see that. Please start listening to your treatment team; they know my needs and if you learn to trust them then maybe someday you will learn to trust me again too. I know it will be difficult because we have hit many bumps in the road the past three years but I am all you got and you are all I got…so let's start working together as a team again.

I know all your hopes and dreams and I want to help you achieve them. I hope one day soon you can see me not as the enemy but as a friend, a partner in living a fruitful life and helping others. You have so much going for you…we have so much going for us and all it takes to get there is a little nutrition and not so much self-destructive behavior. Please Christine, give me another chance. I am simply too weak to go through all the abuse again…I cannot do it again and I will not do it again. You need to start trusting me again and giving me what I need before time runs out. I am scared of what will happen if you continue this on much longer. I simply cannot keep up with the purging, alcohol, restricting and overexercising. You are literally killing me and I hate to break it to you…you kill me, you lose me like you are trying to do…you will lose yourself and you will be left with nothing but a worn out body and a wasted life. The choice is ultimately up to you…I want to live, do you?

Body
July 30, 2007


Dear Meredith,

I am truly concerned at this point. You have exhausted me and I have been forced to start shutting down. I have nothing left. I have offered warnings you chose to ignore and I have given you plenty of second chances, but I am dying. You know and I know it.

Dr. Susie may not be able to see it because externally I am surviving. Inside, however, I am expending energy I don't have. I'm working in overload to keep my kidneys functioning, my heart pumping, and my lungs breathing. I have made you aware of this for months. I cannot be what you want me to be because you deny me the proper fuel. When you do fill me up it's a tease because you turn around and take it all away. I try to grab onto what I can, but it's not enough. I don't growl at you or cramp up because I enjoy it. It's because you MUST feed me.

I cannot survive another 13 years like this. I beg you…PLEASE take care of me before it's too late.

Body

April 30, 2007


Dear Erin,

Thank you, thank you for starting to take care of me. For two years you treated me poorly and I really felt as though you hated me. You were so mean to me criticizing me for every little thing. You always compared me to other people and could always find something that was better about them than me. My God, sorry I'm not perfect, but who is? First of all, it was never fair because you only considered a fraction of me - the outside part - and didn't think about the rest of me, all your organs, your heart etc.

I remember your freshman year of college when you were focused on "how big you thought your stomach and thighs were" and would compare them to every other girl in the room. You were so focused on that that you started to cut out what you ate. I hated you for that and didn't understand what was going on. I remember how when you came home at Christmas time and everyone asked if you had been feeling okay and I thought "yes, now she's going to realize she needs to nourish me, because you looked sick, but you didn't." It was strange you keep restricting your diet. How did you ever think that half of a Pop-Tart would give me nourishment for the whole morning? Anyway, eventually you stopped restricting and I was relieved. You were really wearing on me, by forcing me to still function as normal with minimal fuel.

But sadly, that wasn't the last time you would listen to the ugly voice of someone I learned later was named ED. When you lived in Michigan, I think ED started to creep back into your life. Even though you were 23 years old, you tortured me by comparing me to every college student you interacted with. You would weigh me quite frequently and put me down for what the numbers said. I remember it clearly when ED first started controlling you. I had worked hard for you that day and I was low on fuel. I tried to warn you by sending you hunger signs, but you ignored them. You were on your way to the hospital to visit a friend and there was even a Nutri-Grain Bar in your car. I thought "oh good I'm going to get a little fuel." But then ED forced you to look at the calories and you decided 140 was too many. "What!" I thought, "I need energy here" but you didn't listen to me.

So while you were visiting your friend, you blacked out, fainted, and ended up in the emergency room. They ran tests but everything came back normal. The nurse kept asking if you had eaten that day and you were insulted. If only you would have gotten it then. You were seriously in denial that you could have possibly caused the black out. Unfortunately for the next two years you listened to ED as he led you down a dark, dark path that would only lead to death - death to your soul and potentially death to me. You see Erin, you've always thought skinny was beautiful and being overweight was unhealthy but being underweight is even more dangerous. I tried my best for you and continued to function, but you continued to tear me down by putting my worth in the numbers the scale said. It was a game to you, a sense of control, but you had none in reality. Even when I would warn you that I needed food you wouldn't listen. You became numb to hunger signs so I would make you light-headed to make you realize how in danger I was of being low on fuel and how I was going to start using up any fat or muscle I could find. I'm sorry I couldn't provide you more energy and that you were tired and weak all the time but what did you expect?

Oh Erin, even though I could be bitter I'm just grateful that you are trying to get rid of ED. I really do want to be healthy for you so that you can lead a healthy, normal life. I'll try to let you know when I'm hungry, but you have to listen to me. And Erin, you have to trust me more than you do ED. I'm for you and not against you. And Erin, whether you like it or not, you are 26 years old now and I'm tired of you treating me like you are still 16. Let's make this year a healthy one and learn what it's like to be an adult.

Love,
Your body


Dear Kyle,

Wow, you have put me through a lot. Really you have. And what did I do to deserve any of this abuse? Nothing. I did not deserve the excessive binging, throwing up, laxatives, exercise, starvation, or water restriction. I did absolutely nothing to deserve this. So why did you put me through this? I am STILL recovering from all of this, I hope you know. As you know, you're still on the wonderful Gatorade protocol of 64 ounces a day. WHY? Because you abused me for no good reason and now I am paying the price for all of this. Also your bone density is low, which hopefully won't turn into anything worse, but is something that should not be happening to me at this age.

I can't believe what you have done to me. I have been so good to you. I have helped you to do everything that you have ever wanted to do. Really. All of your academics came from part of me, your brain. Moving around so you could over exhaust me with all of your activities came from me and my skeletal muscles. You have really put me through a lot of excess strain throughout your life. Look at yourself. You are only 21 years old. TWENTY-ONE. You have so much time to live. So much to live for. Why do you feel that you have to do this to me? P.S. it doesn't benefit YOU or ME. It hurts us both. It hurts you emotionally and me physically.

I can benefit you so much, Kyle, but you just need to work WITH me, not AGAINST me. If you weren't so neurotic and had to be involved in everything, I could give the energy without damaging myself, to be amazing at what you were truly passionate about. Not everything that everyone else wanted you to do. If you gave me the correct nutrients, this would help us both out to great ends, as I could function properly and it would make you feel a million times better.

I really want you to think about what you are doing to me. You have hurt me and caused a lot of pain to me throughout your lifetime. I know that you know better. You know that you know better. Now the true trick is acting on that knowledge. I beg you please, don't do this to me anymore. We BOTH deserve better in life. There is so much out there for both of us. You may not be able to change what you have done in the past, but don't let that get you down about the future. Start today and focus on what you can do and don't focus on what you didn't do.

Love,
Your Body


So it is time for me to be very honest with you. What were you thinking? You are such an idiot. I know I am using harsh words, but you deserve them. You have done so much damage to me and caused me so much hurt. You deserve to be withered away in some bed, sick as a dog. I have rescued you from the evil man named death, giving you one last chance. I deserve better than this. And you deserve a life back.

What the hell have you been doing to me for about the past year? You have treated me like I was worth nothing to you. You have starved me time and time again, thinking that it was the smart thing to do. You have depleted me of energy, muscle, fat and life. I tried my hardest to do everything I could for you to keep you strong and healthy, all the while you were just using and abusing me. Never once did you listen to my signs and warning signals. Your body slowly began to eat away muscle and fat while I was screaming "no, no, don't take that."

However, I think that my voice was too faint to be heard as I had hardly any energy to carry on. Day in and day out, you starved yourself thinking you were on some high and I just slowly withered away. Did you not notice me making your tummy growl? That was me screaming inside of you "nourish me, nourish me," but once again I guess my voice was too faint to be heard. For the past year I have grown to only hate you more each day. We used to be such a good team, you and me. All through the years I have been there to help you be the strong person you were. To be that post player that could barrel through girls, to be the one who was always diving after balls. You would bang against the ground and I would help you get right back up and keep moving. I was the one who helped you kick that soccer ball, put the moves on all the girls and whiz right by them. I made you the strong goalie you were; remember when you went into a shoot out to get to the state cup and your team won. I was the one who assisted you in saving that goal to win the title.

Now, in the game of life you are losing big time. You let the ball through and are losing the game for your team, which only includes yourself now. Your teammates, me - your body, your organs, your body systems - have all turned against you. We no longer want to be on your team, and you don't deserve to have us on your team. Years ago, we all worked together so well and made things happen. We made life happen, a joyful life. Now, all of us inside live in a dungeon of darkness, a place we call hell. There has been no light, no bright days, and no rainbow after the storm. You have left us completely high and dry, with nothing left to help recover the next day.

I can remember all of the times I was hungry and I tried telling you to nourish me. I would make your stomach growl, your head get light, or make you dizzy. All of these were in hopes you would recognize that I needed something. I used to jump at your every need. I gave you that extra bit of energy you needed to carry in overtime in all of your sporting events. The extra bit to sprint up and down the basketball court when the game was on the line. When it was your turn to come to my aide, you ditched me. You just ignored those signs, thinking that you were "so cool" and on some high being some mighty person. You thought by ignoring those signs that your life was just going to get better.

I remember being there with you inside that hospital gown. I felt like I was floating away at sea it was so big on you. While you were in there you started to really nourish me and gave me what I needed. I sucked it up as quickly as I could because I was finally being taken care of. I loved every minute of it and started to forgive you. Then, you got out of the hospital and you just started teasing me. You went from nourishing me so well, to skipping here and there ignoring my signs again. I was in dire need of that food as well as energy. I wanted to be free again, just as much as you did. I slowly began sucking for air again, feeling like I was being pinned down beneath 10 feet of water. Finally, you have slowly but surely been adding to what you give me. With each day, I have begun to feel a little bit better and am thankful that you have been kinder to me now. It is going to take us awhile to being back to friends, and the team that we used to be. I want you on my side again, I want life to be ours to conquer.

So it is time for me to be very honest with you. What the f**k were you thinking? You are such an idiot. I know I am using harsh words, but you deserve them. You have done so much damage to me and caused me so much hurt. You deserve to be withered away in some bed, sick as a dog. I have rescued you from the evil man named death giving you a last chance. I have scrounged up every last bit of energy and force I have left in me and put it forth.

Whatever happens from here on out is up to you. It is up to you whether you are going to give me what I need to carry out your normal daily functions so that you can go about your day. It is your choice whether you want to be able to play those sports you lived for, to go out run with the wind at your back, whether you want to live, and whether the book on the story of your life will have a happy ending. It is your choice, do you want your teammates back? Do you want to win or lose? You decide.

Regretfully yours,
Your body


Dear Shannon,

I'm not sure how to start this, but this is your body writing you. I have lived with you for 27 years now, and the past eight have been horrible for me. I'm not quite sure why you have treated me the way you have. I never thought that I did anything to hurt you. In fact, I have held you up, have grown fairly strong, and have even stuck by you through everything. But you never seemed happy with me. It was like you were trying to change me into something you wanted, but could never achieve. So I'm here to tell you that you have deeply hurt me.

I may look fine to you on the outside, but Shannon, let me tell you a little about what you have done to me on the inside. You have caused me to have a bone thinning disease called Osteopenia. Slowly my bones are wearing away because you never gave me enough vitamins and nutrients. I loved when you ate, but it only stayed in me for a little time, never enough time to absorb anything. So now I am more capable of breaking and never being able to fix myself.

I also want to tell you how much damage you have caused to your teeth. Even when you would brush your teeth after each purge, you never really helped anything out. You see, all that acid would wear away at your teeth and all the brushing in the world wouldn't stop that. You caused me to become rotten, which therefore produced you a lot of pain. That wasn't me hurting you, it was you! You caused the five root canals, you caused the multiple cavities, and you caused the wearing away of your teeth, all with your precious purging.

That's not the end of your troubles with me. From all the upbringing of stomach acid, you have caused a small wearing away of your stomach lining. This is not a pretty sight either. And I know for sure that you feel the effects of this one. Anytime you eat something that doesn't agree with me, you are sure going to be in A LOT of pain, and it's not a pain that goes away quickly either, this one lingers for a while. Now isn't that worth being thin over! You threw up so much because you were afraid to get fat, but now you get sick because you eat. How ironic is that? Don't ever say I wanted this.

Shannon, I wish that you had accepted me for me. I wasn't that bad, was I? I mean, I was strong enough to play sports and work out, I was never sick and I kept you going through long, hard days. But now I'm more fragile than a 60-year-old woman. I truly wish that I were good enough for you.

Hopefully you will start taking better care of me, I do want to be around for a long time.

Remorsefully yours,
Your body


Dear Christine,

What are you doing to me? I don't understand why you are depriving me of all the foods you love; you used to be so good to me giving me proper nourishment and now I feel like you have abandoned me. I miss being out on the basketball court so much and running around. I miss perspiring and feeling like I got a good workout in.  Don't you miss those days when I got your heart rate up because of exercise? Now the only thing that you do to get my heart rate up is purging, or at least attempting to make me successful at purging. 
 I really don't know what I have done to deserve this. I try to give you signals that I am in much need of food including fat intake which you refuse to give me unless we go out to restaurants.  I can't get your brain to function properly or keep your heart in good condition much longer. I am doing everything I can with what little you give me but I am starting to get the feeling that this little bit is not going to last much longer. I try to hold on to everything you give me for as long as I can but the severe deprivation of food does not give me much to work with. Also the lack of fluid in your body is preventing me from keeping things running smoothly. Without proper hydration and an excess of alcohol consumption there is no way to keep things balanced. 

Look Christine I want to get back to a healthy state; we were absolutely gorgeous together before you got mad at me for things that I couldn't control; you pushed me way to hard during the summer and got pleasure out of smacking me with the jump rope; like the welts were a sign of success to you and pure exhaustion was the finish line letting you know you can stop the workouts. I just couldn't do it anymore. It is not my fault you pushed me so hard right away as soon as your doctor released you from exercise restriction and look at where you are again, exercise restriction aka NO EXERCISE AT ALL!  We can make a turn around but you have got to be able to trust me again that I will work for you and not against you; with the proper nutrition you can get me healthy again so you can exercise to tone me up and look like the athlete that you are, but until you make that decision to work with me again, I will just try to keep holding on to the little that you give me; I just hope that you make that decision soon before I can't hold on any longer…

--Body
January 25, 2007