National Eating Disorders Association

Stories of Hope

Freedom From my Relationship with Ed
By Julie Mathers


Julie, mother, daughter, sister, friend, yoga teacher, educational director, neighbor and most certainly not a number! Julie Mathers here to admit to my long term relationship ship with "Ed”…My EATING DISORDER. Starting this story for Evolution Yoga is a key piece to the recovery from my illness EDNOS (Eating disorder not otherwise specified). Just recently in May 2013, I was ready to admit to the illness and be transparent with my 13 years of struggles due to the illness. Shame and fear have kept the admission in the dark, hiding from my truth. I would juggle with the thought of being ready then always saying I would admit to another time. But if not now than when?! I am ready NOW! (A big advanced thank you to the Evolution Power Yoga community for creating a safe Kula for me to share and recover) I met "Ed” in 2000, we may have met prior but he and I really connected in 2000 ... 13 years ago… wow!! I was 20 years old, in college, living on my own and wanted to get "healthy." What started out as a good thing quickly turned into an out of control spiral. I was seeking control but was actually out of control-the opposite - lortnoc! Growing up in an affluent suburb of Philadelphia, I felt pressure to do “perfect” things, be the” perfect” girl, teen, woman. My family unit was to always appear “perfect” there was no room for error. Eating out a lot growing up was “normal” and I had limited exposure to much variety in foods. Food was just there; not something that was enjoyed or created out of love or fun. It was just in package or eaten at the country club or at restaurants. Growing up life was always busy; busy with work on committees, playing sports, enrolled in clubs and after school activities. I was always doing something never just being still, present-with feelings, both physical and emotional. Empty time and space was scary and it felt safe only to fill it with an activity or words. As I was “hustling” around, I lost touch with core feelings, with my true self, the part of me that was worthy. I learned to stay busy and so I did not have to ever actually be aware of myself and truly get to know myself or learn to love who I really am. That distraction was transferred into my ”Ed.” I was just always "too busy" to feel real feelings. I wanted to change this busy way of being but with the emotions and anxiety around control standing in the way I could not actually do it and hung onto false control. I wanted to be perfect for my parents and for everyone else, and it was when I realized that I could never be perfect I decided that I was not good enough; not good enough to eat or to be present with my physical body. I was totally disconnected with my physical self. I was in an abusive relationship with an older guy and while he kept trying to break up with me and I kept begging him to come back. I am not sure as to why, because I had a strong male role model in my life, my dad. When we finally broke up I found ED- something else to control. My mom and dad forbid me to see my ex-boyfriend which of course made me want to see him more and more; I learned in that relationship how to hide the truth and lie. I mastered this so that I lied to myself and my body about what it really needed. I held onto the negativity of my ex because I did not have my girlfriends anymore whom he took away from me. I did not think I was good enough to ever be with anyone else except the abuse I allowed myself to endure. Which I never deserved. Even the night I met my husband years later I said to the girlfriend standing next to me “oh this guy is too nice and too cute; he won't ever go for me." But he did because I am worth it and I am good enough, I always was. My yoga practice is so helpful because I must be present and allow myself to feel, to feel my feet, legs, hips, hands, etc. When I eat I remember to feel, it keeps me present and still; and when I am in that place while it is scary and does not feel comfortable it is new territory worth achieving. I sought out yoga in 2001. I guess deep down inside I knew yoga was a way to keep me present and ground me, a way to keep me from my irrational thoughts. At that point it was when I realized that I am able to use my practice of yoga as a recovery strategy. Recovery is worth every second.

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