A few months ago, I shared some pretty personal stuff on my blog. I haven’t written here since because, honestly, I didn’t know what to say next. I’ve written a “part two” about 15 times and published none of them. Talking about anything else on my blog just seemed trivial, too.
There are so many explanations I feel like I owe people. In reality, I don’t owe anyone a thing, but it is cathartic to write about my story. Above all, I hope I can help anyone that is dealing with the same thing. So, here’s a Prelude and Part II to my previous post.
In March of this year, I hit a breaking point. I was in my favorite Wednesday Candlelight Barre class when suddenly I couldn’t breathe. The room was actually dark for their candlelight setting, but regardless, I could barely see. I was dizzy– floundering. I wanted to leave but I was afraid of drawing attention to myself. I pushed through the end of the class and sprinted home to resume my panic attack. I dove straight into my bed and sobbed. When Bryan asked me what was wrong, the only words I could utter were “I really think I need help.”
Once I calmed down, I fumbled through ZocDoc for the highest rated therapist that specialized in treating eating disorders. To be clear, I was certain I didn’t have one. In my mind, I was actually slightly overweight, and there was no way I was thin enough to have that label on my forehead. But I knew my body issues were at the root of the problem.
My now therapist, Tory, had raving reviews and availability in 5 days. I emailed her from under my covers. Something about how I didn’t have an eating disorder but I thought she could help me.
It was after my second session that she informed me that she did, in fact, believe that I had an eating disorder. Cue dizziness. Cue inner-monologue: “That is NOT true. Is it? It can’t. Well, actually…” I literally didn’t hear another word out her mouth after that.
She assured me the label wouldn’t make a difference anyway. She was going to help me no matter what. That I remembered.
My breaking point had been a culmination of a lot of minor breakdowns. None were obvious to anyone; this was all my deepest secret. It was waves of depression that would hit me in Weight Watchers meetings, in front of the mirror, in dressing rooms, etc. I absolutely loathed my body. It was all so unfair. I refused to look at myself in the mirror. I wrote myself hateful emails and Boomeranged them for first thing in the morning. “Don’t you want to be skinny at your wedding?” they would say. “Then you better track every single fucking thing you put in your mouth.” It would be the first thing I read when I woke up. I set alarms to go off throughout the day that read, “don’t forget you’re on Weight Watchers.” Day in and day out, it was nearly the only thing I thought about.
The problem for me was, no matter how hard I had been trying, I was NOT losing weight. I was dieting and exercising and making sacrifices I thought I ‘should‘ be making before my wedding. Of course, this wasn’t the first time I had tried any of this; at this point, I was a seasoned pro. But a wedding had a deadline. Every single day brought be closer to a goal that was impossible to reach. I could have eaten SkinnyPop for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and my body was not letting me go a pound lower. It was infuriating.
The thing is, what I initially saw as an antagonizing flaw, I now view as luck. Unlike some people who really deprive themselves, my body said “I’M NOT GOING ANY LOWER. WE’RE RIGHT STOPPING HERE. NICE TRY, BUT NO.” I had stayed the exact. same. weight. for one full year. I would know because I weighed myself regularly and tracked it. I’ve now been informed that not fluctuating at all is actually uncommon and unnatural. But my body would not budge no matter how I hard I tried; no matter what CoreBurnPainSweatHell class I took or how many kale smoothies I ate. Now I feel fortunate. I can only imagine the damage I would have done if my body hadn’t been so loyal to me; it knew better than I did.
Not only that, but my body was giving me clear signs. I was physically ill. I actually had made an appointment for an intensive food allergy testing at a GI doctor days before I reached out to Tory (I canceled that GI appointment after I met with her). I had been having symptoms of IBS and thought I must be seriously allergic to something I was eating. At this point, I had completely stopped eating dairy (too fattening, I reasoned), so I knew that couldn’t have been it. I went another week without eating gluten, but that wasn’t doing the trick either. Something I was eating was making me very sick; at least that’s what I thought.
I learned that we can actually make ourselves sick. When we think food will make us sick, it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Not to mention, the anxiety was doing a number on my digestive system. Hearing this in a session was a pretty big “aha moment.”
So, fast forward five months later and I am in a completely different headspace. I have seen my therapist twice a week before work and an acupuncturist once a week after work. This is actually the first week that I “graduated” to seeing my therapist once a week. It is a hefty process, but recovery is a very expensive, very time-consuming and very worthwhile side-hustle.
So why haven’t I written in about five months? It’s because I feel vastly different every. single. day. Some days, I wake up and feel absolute bliss. I feel as close to Bryan as I’ve ever felt. I feel at peace and thankful for my body. I feel lucky that I don’t have to deprive myself; that I get to enjoy moments and be present.
Other days, I wake up obsessing over my weight and don’t stop until my head hits the pillow again. I’ll carry around guilt and disgust and fear. I’ll calculate ways I can change my body before the wedding. I’ll do everything in my power not to cry in public. With help from my therapist, these days do come less often, but it is absolutely a journey.
What I often have to remind myself is that these obsessive feelings have been looming for about 16+ years. I have been extremely self-conscious since before puberty. I have aggressively hated my body for as long as I can remember. I could fill a journal cover to cover with all of the memories I have of myself dwelling on my size– starting in about 4th grade. I remember lying about my weight on my customized little league baseball card because I didn’t want the other girls to realize I was fatter than them (I kid you not, I put 75 pounds instead of 85). Certainly, there have been phases in my life when those voices were quieter, but they have been present for a very long time.
My point is–Rome wasn’t built in a day. My body issues won’t be resolved in that timeline, either. Actually dealing with these feelings and working to undo them has been like a year-long deep tissue massage. The more I knead into the areas that hurt, the more relief I feel afterward.
No matter the day I’m having though, I feel infinitely grateful for Bryan. He has been wonderful and patient and supportive. He has wiped away my tears more often than either of us would like. He has made me laugh and cheered me up and helped me enjoy food again. What he doesn’t see, however, is how differently I feel towards him since getting help. And it’s not just because he’s consoling me through this (which he is), or because I get to spend Saturday mornings with him instead of going to Weight Watchers (which I do). It’s because I don’t have a monstrous, obsessive thought pulling me away from him on a daily basis.
It pains me to say that there was little to no room in my head for Bryan a few months ago. When you obsess over something so much, it’s difficult to feel anything else. It makes you selfish but in a way that you don’t notice. It pulled me out of countless date nights. It made me absent during moments I should have been present. I would complain incessantly about my weight instead of listening. I would pick restaurants that were better for my diet. I would criticize him every time he ate pizza or donuts because it felt so unfair that I couldn’t have any. I would beg him to make me feel better about my weight and would scream when he didn’t say the right thing. It was truly an impossible task to ask him to fix me but it didn’t cease my anger when he couldn’t. I was furious at him for my unhappiness. I was jealous that he, with his washboard abs, didn’t have to deal with this. I was not a good partner. I was not living up to my values at all. I was not the best version of myself.
That version of myself would, without a doubt, have been much thinner under the chuppah. From the outside looking in, that version of Taryn might have been more compliant with society’s standards of a “wedding-ready,” with extra toned arms and a palpable hunger in her eyes from not eating bread in weeks. There is no convincing me, however, that that version of myself would have been a better bride.
Instead, the bride that will stand alongside Bryan on my wedding day will, without a doubt, be head-over-heels in love. She will be grateful for the man who has literally already loved her through thick and thin; a man who has been forgiving and kind during trying times. She will be accepting of who she is and proud of all that she has overcome. She will be an amazing bride and an attentive, equal partner: the true best version of herself. She will have just focused 5 months of energy into strengthening her relationship, evaluating her values and really living up to them. For 5 months, her energy was poured into her partnership instead of her diet.
If I had to choose which bride I wanted to be, I would choose the same one every single time.
I want to say thank you to the dozens of people who reached out to me after my previous blog post. I received a myriad of kind, thoughtful messages and I couldn’t be more grateful to know that I have cheerleaders near and far.
While it’s a great relief to know that I’m not alone in feeling this way, it was equally as poignant. I heard from SO. MANY. WOMEN. who share my same struggles.
People thanked me for being transparent; opening up about something that’s difficult to share. It was my pleasure. Maybe one less person will stop using the term, “beach body,” or “wedding body,” because of my blog post.
Additionally, if you are close to me and feel guilty that you didn’t know these things about me: please don’t. This was my best-kept secret. It was shameful and painful and it felt very private. Believe it or not, this is still VERY hard for me to talk about in person. Try me, though.
Lastly, I want to thank my therapist, Tory, for all that she has done for me. She is truly one of the most brilliant women I’ve ever met. I can’t express how much I adore her and how much she has helped me.