Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Meeting My Eating Disorder: Narrative Therapy, Part 1

I have been thinking about eating disorders again.  I am recording a podcast for Power of Moms this Friday about what I learned when I went to counseling for an eating disorder, so I've spent a lot of time this week preparing and attempting to organize my thoughts on this complex and personal topic.  Going back through my notes and the books that I read during my counseling has been awesome and gratifying.  It has reminded me of how much I learned and how far I've come in my relationship with food.  I am a dramatically different and happier person now than I was when I was trapped in destructive cycles of dieting, negative self-talk, and obsessing about food/exercise/body image.  Man, am I glad to be free of all of that.

As overwhelming as it is to condense a year's worth of counseling and self-reflection into a 40-minute podcast, I am so grateful for the opportunity.  I can't wait to record it, and I can't wait to share it once it airs.

As part of my preparation for this podcast, I've revisited something that I wrote during the "narrative therapy" component of my counseling.  For this exercise, my counselor asked me to embody my eating disorder as a character in a story--a person separate from myself whom I could interact with and analyze.  She told me to write about how my eating disorder and I met, what our relationship was like, and what my future looked like with or without him/her in it.  I did this in three different portions, over the course of three weeks, and we discussed the insights I gained from each chapter as I wrote it.

This was a super interesting and eye-opening exercise, and the finished product is pretty heart-wrenching to read.  I've decided that I'm finally ready to share it on this blog.  I've been contemplating doing so for over a year but have never had the courage.  I share it now in hopes that it will help someone who might be feeling alone, trapped, and desperate.

There is hope.  You can change.  I know this because I have been there and I am not there anymore.  As I wrote in a blog post back in May, I can only share this now because it is so very far from my reality today.  That can be true for you too--I promise.

I will publish this in three parts over the next three days.  Today's portion is Part 1: How I Met My Eating Disorder.  

And here we go...


She came to me one night when I was out for a run under the starry skies of Provo, Utah.

She pulled up beside me in running shorts, falling right into stride with me--as if she knew me, as if she’d been waiting for me.

“You could run faster than this, you know,” she said, matter-of-factly.

“Huh?” I asked, vaguely confused about who she was, but so taken by her nonchalance that I almost felt like we’d planned the meeting.

She repeated herself.  “You could run faster than this.”  I didn’t respond, but I didn’t have to.  She hadn’t meant it as a question.  “And I hear your mother is dying,” she continued.

Again, it was a statement of fact.  And as we plodded along in side-by-side silence, breathing heavily, taking in the night air, I didn’t say anything more. 

“It’s okay.  I’ll be here for you,” she said simply.  “I can make it better.”

These runs, which had started just a few months earlier when I’d left home for my freshman year of college, had never been about running fast, or burning calories, or counting mileage—they had been a time of solitude and peace, a time to think and to try to make sense of my vastly changing life.

I wasn’t sure I wanted company.  

But I didn’t tell her to leave. And as we reached my dorm hall and I watched her padding off into the night, her long blonde hair swinging with her steady stride, I knew that I would be seeing her again. 


Part 2, "Living with My Eating Disorder," tomorrow...


  1. You are such a great writer. I felt like I was reading the start to a scary novel! Thanks for sharing your story.

    1. Hahaha! Yes, it does kind of have that spooky feel, doesn't it? Well, it WAS a scary story in my life --a very real one that I am so glad is over!! Thanks for commenting!!

  2. Rach, this is amazing. Did your counselor recommend such creative writing assignments to everyone or was this tailored to you because you are a writer? I am looking forward to reading the rest of this . . . but only because I already know that you broke up with her and are happy now :) love ya

    1. She recommended this type of therapy for me because she recognized that it fit my interests and abilities, but I think it is a fairly common technique that counselors use. Cool, right?? Thanks for reading and commenting!! I love you too!

  3. I tried to comment on this earlier but it must not have worked. This gave me shivers. I am so glad that you are finally FREE!!

  4. Boo!! I tried to leave a comment before and it didn't work!!! Let's try again... OK so I saw your comment on my blog this morning and was so glad I did! I don't usually check it since I hardly ever get comments, haha! Why did you erase it?! :) This is big!!! I'm so proud of you!! I have so much respect for people who put themselves on the line in an effort to help others. Really, it's so brave. And man, you are a good writer!! I know it's kind of besides the point but it had to be sad. So glad you posted this and even more glad it's behind you now!! Gives me hope


I love hearing from you!! Thanks for the comment!