In this excerpt from her bestselling book on bulimia, Caroline Miller describes the criticism, shame and pressure that fueled her relentless self-loathing and despair. Ordinarily successful in all her endeavors, Caroline has trouble accepting her inability to assert will power to fix her eating disorder.
Even though I’ve now been married for 27 years to the same man I was about to marry in this scene, everything has changed for the better, thank goodness. But boy, did it take work, consistency and continuing to pick myself up every time I slipped and fell.
It’s so easy for me to recall those feelings of despair and hopelessness in this scene, though. In fact, I can’t walk into an industrial, single stall bathrooms without flashing back to the worst, and most painful, seven years of my life as depicted here. What gives me the most heartache from this passage, though, is that I was so alone. I hadn’t confided in anyone about my battle, and the irony is that today, my bulimia is an open secret. In fact, I was recently interviewed for a television show about my current work as a professional coach, author and motivational speaker, and at the end I was asked about my favorite “power moment”: the time when I knew I was a woman who had stepped into her most “powerful self.” Without any hesitation, what came out of my mouth was that I was proudest of my recovery from bulimia, and that I was the person I am today because of my willingness to confront my demons and to turn them into my biggest strengths.
So we need to always remember that not only do we have to find those safe places to go for healing, and that the people who matter the most will always be there to help us, but also that the things we might be most ashamed of could become the touchstones of our greatest growth and change.
Bestselling author of "My Name is Caroline", the first major autobiography on bulimia, shares about the overwhelming despair that prompted her to abuse herself bodily and mentally. As a recovered bulimic myself, I relate to Caroline's rejection of self despite her upstanding, affluent family and her enjoyment of many of life's finest pleasures.
I grew up near South Beach. I pinched my body fat when no one was looking at me. I envied the girls who ate without fear. I envied the girls who wore a size 0. My insatiable appetite embarrassed me. Every day, I battled with food, my body, my wardrobe and the mirror. No matter how good I looked, I only saw my fat.
I tried several tactics to control my eating. I avoided food, implemented portion control, followed fad diets and eliminated sugar. I over exercised, threw up, abstained from eating and used prescription drugs. When those methods failed, I invented the Cocaine Diet.
The diet was a combination of abstainance from food, cigarettes, cocaine and male attention. My body transformed and I looked like Lindsey Lohan. People as distorted as me were jealous of my skinny appearance and fake boobs. Inside, I still felt disgusting. I might fool others, but I could never escape my inner truth.
When the pain was great enough, I admitted I was powerless and a door to freedom appeared. It would be years before I realized a woman's essence, not her weight, is what matters.