Friday, April 8, 2011

The R word

I had one of those days today where I didn't even attempt the hard stuff on the bike. I could feel it wasn't happening, so I will switch it up and hope for a better tomorrow. Hormones grrr.

I've been sort of avoiding this subject, mostly because it's kind of intense. But there's no doubt that eating disorders and relationships aren't the best mix. I guess on some level I got into how my past and my behaviors can affect how I relate to people, but actual relationship issues are something I have yet to tackle fully here in this blog, though I do go into more detail in my book.

When I was doing the research for my book, one statistic that stood out was the one that claimed that eighty percent of models have an eating disorder, and also eighty percent of models are unable to hold any kind of long term relationship. Having gone through an eating disorder, I'm not at all surprised and often wonder if stats like that are common for ballet dancers and in other arenas where being thin can be more of an issue. In talking to Ellen Hart Penya, now a member of the Eating Disorders Foundation, she described having an eating disorder like having a full time job. I agree. Add to that another full time job of training, and soon just going to school or getting through the day becomes working overtime. In such cases, who has time left for a relationship?

I have mentioned that I never went to dances or prom when I was in high school. My life was my running and my eating disorder. I went to school, but my real focus was on the running. But before all that, there were boys in my life, parties to attend and friends. And now I'll get into something I hate to bring up, but is, unfortunately, a very common theme in those who have eating disorders: abuse. Whether it is perceived or actual, abuse will have an effect on the psyche. For me, it was a huge part of why I developed an eating disorder. So often, Diane Israel speaks about the problems that can arise when one fails to self regulate. This was the case with me as a child. I was getting it from all angles, so I shut down. Some less sensitive types in my shoes might not have reacted in the same way, so it's a very individualized response to stress, though it is more common than not in those with eating disorders or with a predisposition to having one. When there is too much stress, addictive behavior is all too inviting. In addition to the verbal abuse I mentioned before, there was also a time or two where I was taken advantage of in a sexual way by older men I hardly knew.

For a short time after this, running was my freedom. It would soon become the chains that bound me, but at the time, it was my escape. Drugs didn't work and only made me more depressed. Running fueled me and gave me life again. Without a way to be OK in the world, running made life bearable. I remember a time in junior high, where everyone was forced to run 15 minutes once a week in gym class. Most of the kids hated it, but I loved it. Knowing full well that the cool kids were supposed to slack, lag behind and complain, when the gym teacher said go, I shot out like a fire cracker, straight to the lead and pounded out lap after lap in that small gym. Occasionally a guy or two would try to keep up, but I was always in the lead after about 5 minutes. I don't know why it was running that ended up being my way of saying fuck all y'all to who ever hurt me- now look at me! But it was. It was a statement, especially to boys that I was a force in the world, and nobody was going to shit on me again. From now on, I'll do it my way.

On that note, I can't resist:
My Way


Ultimately though, relationships are about compromise, to a point. Now that I have left my hardcore running days behind, I really have no excuse, except that I can't always say what I need or define what I want. That and I'm used to being alone, doing things a certain way and don't like dealing with outside factors beyond my control. No wonder I ran. No wonder I still wish I could run! I've lost my escape. I'm glad to know that there are people who claim to run to feel better and de-stress or whatever. I guess that's more where I am now or am at least headed, more content to just get out and do it for the mere discipline of it, but that's not where I started. In fact, I would go so far as to say that there was a great deal of self punishment and anger involved when I began. I mentioned there was passion-you have to have passion to run well, but there was also a great deal of sickness in what I was doing. And yet it was a way for me to survive. A great exercise is to ask your eating disorder how it has served you. Chances are that the methods of coping are no longer useful, but it makes it clear why the illness became a tool of survival in a warped way.

Lately it seems the world is all about shock and awe or everyone putting down everyone else. I find this behavior sad. I'm convinced that another reason I tend to be a loner is that it's rare to find people one can trust, really trust. They are out there, but they're not all that easy to find. I was fortunate to be brought up by my mom who always thought about others. If I do this, how will that affect someone else? I try to live by this model, but I'm not sure I get it 100 percent of the time. In fact, I know I don't. I do know for a fact that most people are not like this. Most people are too self absorbed to consider how their behavior might hurt or affect anyone else, or they are aware and don't care. As far as relationships, I don't know that I will ever be successful in one (the outlook is not all that great), but I'm to the point where I'm willing to give it a shot with someone who is willing. I suppose that's one step ahead of saying it will never happen.

This seems disjointed, but I'm too tired to fix it.


  1. Lize,

    Here is the ironic similarities in relationships and additive behaviors; once you realize that you have hit rock bottom in relationships, you won't be attracted to anyone that doesn't have the same commitment to a honest, supportive, giving and loving relationship. You won't settle for less, if you have truly hit bottom.

  2. I hope I didn't imply I'm in or have ever been in a bad relationship. I'm trying to suggest how my past plays a role in having difficulty with relationships in general. And also how those with eating disorders can put up walls when it comes to communication. But what you say is valid, for sure. I can totally see that. Thank you for your comment, Deborah. I really do appreciate it.

  3. Looks a lot like that applies to recent experiences in my life. Great comment from Deborah, too!


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