This is me.
This may not be the most comfortable post you've ever read. To be fair, it's not the most comfortable post I've ever written. But it's been tumbling around in my brain, and it has to come out somehow, so here we are.
I still remember the first time I learned to be afraid of food. I was 6, and reveling in dipping each french fry from my Happy Meal in just the perfect amount of ketchup. I was a nugget girl, not a fry girl, and Micky D's had that sweet n sour sauce that even TODAY I occasionally wish I had in a cabinet. My babysitter looked on enviously, and eventually uttered a phrase that would change the way things were arranged in my little girl brain. "You'd better enjoy those things while you can, because you won't be able to eat them without getting fat when you get older,". Just like that, everything was different. There was a clock running, and I had better enjoy a lifetime's worth of fries, milkshakes, and tacos before time ran out and they became the enemy.
It's no great secret that I've long had an intimate relationship with eating disorders. No, I was never hospitalized (although it came close a few times in my early 20's), but it's always been there. The controlling voice, perpetually nagging away in my brain that I can't shut up. "Did you exercise today?", "What did you eat?", "Did you exercise enough to burn off what you ate?", "Why are you even looking at that dish? It contains almost all of your calorie allotment for today!". The list of daily mental flagellations goes on and on. Food had indeed become the enemy, and I hated that I needed it to live.
I didn't stay in that place forever. Hope and redemption are very real, very powerful forces in this world. But there are scars that I will never be able to get rid of. A voice in my head that comes back on the bad days to ask what I've eaten, and if I've worked out enough to "earn" it. And do you know what my response to that controlling sonofabitch is?
I'm a dance teacher.
Every day at work I am in front of a group of young girls (mostly), who look at me like I am the coolest person they know. That I am their role model and idol is not something that I take lightly. It's my choice whether they see the woman who is confident in who she is, or the starving little girl I used to be, pinching at her sides in the mirror desperately wishing she could change everything she sees. Every day, no matter what kind of day I am having, I choose the former. Even if I'm not feeling it, that is who I will choose to be for every single minute that there is even a chance that one of my students is watching. Every class they ask where my taco meter is at, which may sound silly. And it is! But we do that because it helps us talk about food. Dancers are hungry people. We move all the frigging time, and if I reiterate to them that I eat like a normal human after class too, then maybe, just maybe feeding themselves won't feel taboo for them the way it did for me for so long. Because that voice that I still live with? I'll be damned if my class is where it begins to pick on one of my precious ones.
With that in mind, is it any wonder that my soulmate is someone who artfully uses food to express his love? The way that he prepares a meal... it's not just to show off. He loves cooking. He loves feeding people, and he REALLY loves when he knows he's prepared something that will bring joy to those he loves most. Some people will tell you that food isn't love. Those people have never had dinner prepared for them post-rehearsal at 11PM by a Hippie who has to wake up early in the morning, but wanted to make sure that they had a dinner that did more than just fill their belly. They have also probably never tried bacon jam. That stuff's just happiness in a jar.
The demons may never fully go away. I will probably have to deal with them for the rest of my life. But that they don't control my every action is a victory that I once never thought would be mine. I'm not really sure what the point of this all is, but... there you go. This is me. While I may not be thrilled about how I arrived here, I'm here. And I love where I am!