Last week, I visited a chiropractor for the first time in my life. You'd think the fact that I've been going to OB appointments at least once a month for the last eight or so months would have prepared me for the number of detailed questions the chiropractor would ask about my health history. You'd think, but you'd be wrong. My OB measures my stomach, asks for any questions or concerns, and escorts me sweetly out the door. My chiropractor, however, might show up in our next Christmas card, so well acquainted is she with my family at this point.
And though my history of disordered eating is not something that I hide or about which I am ashamed, I found that, this time, my chiropractor's specific questions about my experiences with eating disorders were difficult to answer with the same matter-of-fact approach that I normally try to take. "I was anorexic for approximately three years, in college," I said. I always say that. It's a medical reality and important for my health professionals to know. "And I was bulimic for five or six years after that," I continued. She jotted notes, uttered a sympathetic or otherwise speechless "wow," and asked, "How are things now?"
"Good," I said. Realizing how utterly unconvincing that sounded, I clarified, "I'm good. I'm healthy." And then, "I worked really hard."
Maybe it was because she made me feel comfortable...or uncomfortable. Maybe I hadn't talked about it enough recently. Maybe I am a little terrified about giving birth to a baby girl in a month and a half. Or maybe I'm a completely overwhelmed by the honor and responsibility of mothering a daughter for the rest of my life. Regardless, it has become clear in the days since that those words - those simple affirmations of the work that I have done and the place to which it has gotten me - were not for my chiropractor. They were for me.
Nearly two and a half years ago, I sent the following email:
A couple of months ago, I ventured into the big bad world of the blogosphere. I went not to comment on my life amongst the cows and the co-eds, but rather to creatively and honestly share my current journey with a community of friends and strangers. The blog is called Thighs and Offerings, and can be found at www.thighsandofferings.blogspot.com. As I say in my profile:
Many female ministers look at the world through the lens of spirituality, of hope and grace and mystery. On the best of days, I - also a female minister - do, too. On the busy days, the cloudy days, and the otherwise not-so-good days, though, I look at the world through a different lens, that is, the myopic lens of an eating disorder. To be sure, I am healing, learning what it is like to be happy - and happy with myself - again. That being said, my story is far from complete. And so rather than share it with you from beginning to unidentified end, I will share it with you from the present.
I realize that such news - that is, that for the last eight-or-so years of my life, I have suffered from eating disorders - is probably quite shocking to some of you. I want to invite you to move forward on this journey alongside me, and to share with me and others your own thoughts and experiences as you do so. But I also want you to know that I will be willing to talk, or write, or cry, or listen, to and with each and every one of you as you respond in whatever way you wish or can. Thank you for being a friend. Thank you for the unique ways that you have touched my life. And thank you, in advance, for accompanying me on this hard and oftentimes messy road of healing.
Much love, Kate
Since then, my life has changed in so many ways. Good ways. I have gotten married, changed my name and my home and my job. I have made new friends and reconnected with old ones. I have traveled to different parts of the country and world. I have received more support and love and encouragement than I could possible recount. And now, in five (or three or seven) weeks, I will, God willing, become a real-life, honest to goodness, in the flesh mother.
I don't know what form the blog will take after that. I'd like to think that I will continue find time and space and energy to reflect on my experience as an embodied woman in the world, but seeing as how, even during pregnancy, my blogging has been spotty, I will not make any promises.
I will, however, say thank you. Thank you for accompanying me thus far. Thank you for being so empathetic and insightful and non-judgmental. Thank you for helping me heal. Thank you for helping me arrive at a place where I can say with confidence that, though the work continues, I'm good. I'm healthy. And dammit, I worked really hard.
"And when they finally hand you heartache, when they slip war and hatred under your door and offer you handouts on street corners of cynicism and defeat, you tell them that they really oughta meet your mother." Sarah Kay, "B"