Time Not Spent Wasted: A Review of Marya Hornbacher’s Memoir

My time spent reading Marya Hornbacher’s book was anything but that. Wasted was probably the most honest account of an eating disorder I have ever read. The most shocking and intense, too. While every other author I’ve encountered has written about their own experience battling an eating disorder has been 100% honest, Marya’s incredible writing and dark humor, combined with her courage to continue to dig beyond just the awful “this is what I did” but, further, to the horrifying “this is why” moved me.

Wasted was probably the most honest account of an eating disorder I have ever read. The most shocking and intense, too.

While I understand Marya’s tone may not be for everyone, I am a 100% believer in calling myself on my own bullshit. I can’t always tell when I’m fooling myself (because my brain, when it wants to be, is quite good at it), but I agree with Marya that when you sense it—when you have some wave of reality wash over you and you then see the lines your brain has been feeding you are lies—you have to call yourself on your own BS. It’s the most important thing to do, so you can disempower that particular line of thinking from ever being able to grip you again. One fantastic example of this:

Marya talks about the “collective perfect body” that she and many of her young peers seemed to be striving toward. Marya notes all of the girls she was surrounded by in her younger years, who were talking constantly about their weight, their bodies, their diets, etc., seemed to be trying to attain the “perfect body.” Looking back, Marya discovers it seemed they were all striving toward the same perfect body, a collective perfect body, which, when those of us trying to recover can finally pull the veil of lies from our eyes, know is impossible.

Realizing your body, my body, can only be what it can be, nothing more, can be a harsh reality to face, but it is reality.

None of us can have the same “perfect body,” but giving up that dream is the hard part. Realizing your body, my body, can only be what it can be, nothing more, can be a harsh reality to face, but it is reality. The thought that you can attain any shape other than your own is a lie.

I also admire Marya’s attempt not to diagnose or offer a cure, but simply to explain what happened to her and why, her understanding of it at least. I do believe her analysis, that sometimes people with eating disorders seem to dramatize their disease to feel powerful and special, has merit. The thought of being normal and just eating and letting your body be whatever it is going to be seems almost so mundane that it paralyzes people. They don’t want to be mundane. They want to pursue something powerful and great and, for many, an eating disorder fills that role. This reminded me of Portia de Rossi’s struggle in Unbearable Lightness.

Marya’s talk of “letting go” toward the very end of her spellbinding tale almost blinded me, it was so spot-on with my own experience.

I agree with Marya’s assessment that eating and trying to be normal can feel like giving up, like failing. I’ve often said the hardest part for me was the letting go because that’s exactly what it felt like. Like I was striving for something hard but worth it, then I just gave up. Marya’s talk of “letting go” toward the very end of her spellbinding tale almost blinded me, it was so spot-on with my own experience.

While I have read many eating disorder memoirs, Marya’s probably touched me the most. Not simply because of the graphic truth of it (which will, no doubt, leave images with me that I believe will help me in many future moments when I am struggling with the decision of whether to skip a certain meal because of an old impulse to deprive myself – no more! Thank you, Marya!). But, her assessment of recovery was the most powerful to me, because I agree with her that it really never leaves you. Or, at least, it has not left me.

It’s not every meal, not every week, not every month, but I have never felt a moment that it has entirely gone away. But, I have felt, in every moment since I, as Marya explained it, felt ready to recover, that I am now stronger than that voice.

As Marya said, you can stop the bad eating habits and begin feeding your body properly, but the mind never forgets. Food never loses its tiny little nagging voice that picks at you. It’s not every meal, not every week, not every month, but I have never felt a moment that it has entirely gone away. But, I have felt, in every moment since I, as Marya explained it, felt ready to recover, that I am now stronger than that voice. I have tools and reasoning, and a hope and desire for the future, that can always overcome that voice, even though I believe it will never leave me.

I want to thank you, Marya, for putting yourself out there and braving the telling of your momentous tale. I appreciate your honesty, your humor, and—first and foremost—your exceptional writing. It is an incredibly powerful piece you have given us.

–Callie

Goldilocks and the Three Thanksgiving Pants

It’s true; I have three pairs of Thanksgiving pants for the three different phases of my eating past. I can’t go back in time and change what I did all those years. My past is still very much a part of me, so I have to find a way to face it, forgive it, and find some humor in it. I truly believe that is the best way to make peace with it. Look back and laugh a little.

When I looked back, I was surprised to find I had somehow channeled my inner Goldilocks (I guess I can chalk that up to my natural blonde locks) when I found I had evolved through three very different types of Thanksgiving pants. I also found it ironically hilarious that Goldilocks begins her plunder hungry, looking for food, and the first thing she does is sit down and eat a stranger’s whole bowl of porridge.

I had to laugh, realizing that was a pretty fitting testament to what my ED-self might have done back then. Hide your porridge folks, Goldie’s hungry and on the hunt! And, in true Goldilocks-style, that is exactly where my twenty years of porridge-plundering began—with pants way too small in an attempt to hide my hunger. Continue reading “Goldilocks and the Three Thanksgiving Pants”

The Black Vine in my Mind

I imagine the path is similar for many and different for others. For me, my eating disorder was a seed I planted during puberty. It was a realization that I have a body that is not slender and beautiful like other girls, which somehow makes me different and less than other girls.

That seed was then nurtured by the stress of moving across country to live on my own for the first time, with no friends or acquaintances on campus, to begin college and start learning how to cope with all the demands of life as an independent adult. And as I was doing that, I found myself surrounded by throngs of gorgeous hourglass-shaped southern belles. This only continued the unraveling of my self-esteem, a pervasive waning of my confidence. Continue reading “The Black Vine in my Mind”

Happy Halloween: Be a “Butter” You!

I wouldn’t have even needed to dress up for Halloween back then. I could have just gone as a pumpkin with those orange-colored hands!

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While it’s a little hard to tell in this photo, I was sporting fingers I had turned orange by eating too much butter spray. Did I know it was causing my slow pumpkin-transformation at the time?

Heck no!

I thought a yellowy goo that tasted like salty heaven but boasted NO calories, not a single one, could only be good for me. But, in true Halloween style, I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-butter SPRAY is plastic in a mask, only dressing up as real butter.

This, year, let’s keep it real! Be a “butter” you : ) – the real you! The one whose size and shape you love because it is unique to you. Anyone else trying to be you would need a disguise. When I look at it that way, it makes me feel like a pretty cool person, one no one else can be.

Dress yourself up and head out on the town! But know that there is only one single, solitary Y.O.U. deep down!

Happy Halloween, peeps! 🎃

–Callie

A Chat with Meg Doll: The Unbreakable You Podcast

I am so excited to share this with you today! I was recently a featured guest on The Unbreakable You Podcast with Meg Doll.

This was such an honor! It was also the first time I raised my actual voice to speak out against eating disorders, and it was beyond empowering. Meg made me feel unbreakable. I really enjoyed talking with someone who has been there, who does not judge, and who simply wants to hear from others who have also battled this monster, so that our voices can reach those who think they are alone.

My biggest piece of advice was not to lose yourself to your eating disorder. In life, I am a strong, supportive, funny friend, sister, daughter, professional, all of that… but for whatever reason my eating disorder took all of those strengths away. In front of him I was weak, lifeless, and sad. When I finally found my humor again, and its keen ability to cut through the BS that the voice inside my head was always spouting, I finally found ME again.

I hope my talk with Meg can get some of you laughing and remembering what you were like before your eating disorder took over. That person is still in there. That person is still funny, strong, and capable of conquering anything.

A huge thank you to Meg Doll for taking a chance on this unknown author and letting me share my story. It meant the world to me.

Now, go check out that podcast — Episode #083!

Click here to listen!

–Callie

Can We Talk about Posers?

Don’t they all look so perfect and slender? Their taut tummies stretched in a sexy arch. Their chests heaving forward demanding your attention. And, their thighs! You can actually see daylight between their thighs! I don’t think any outdoor breeze on earth has graced the skin between my thighs. And, I don’t have really large thighs! And, I also don’t spend my time on the beach posing. I spend it writing to help others who might be slipping toward a terribly debilitating eating disorder as I did, and this topic has been burning on my mind.

Can we talk about posers for a minute? Continue reading “Can We Talk about Posers?”

Sisyphus

When the image first came to me, I couldn’t un-see it. It was there. Imprinted.  Emblazoned on my mind. I was Sisyphus. Or had been at least. There was no other way to put it. But, I was no longer. And, now, a recovered eating disorder victim committed to helping others avoid that treacherous mind-altering path, I hope I can help you see it, too. Continue reading “Sisyphus”