This is one person’s story; everyone will have unique experiences on their own path to recovery and beyond. Some stories may mention eating disorder thoughts, behaviors, or symptom use. Please use your own discretion. And speak with your therapist when needed.
by Katie Monsewicz, an avid writer and practicing journalist who has been through The Emily Program’s residential treatment program. She wants to help others who have struggled with eating disorders – and those who are still struggling – through her writing and as an advocate for eating disorder recovery.
“Are you pregnant?” one woman asks another.
The other woman replies, “Why, yes, I am! Thank you so much for asking! I just love talking about this little baby bump and the gift of life and….”
Except that isn’t how that conversation went.
While at work yesterday, I was leaning over the customer service counter wiping down the tabletop, and one of the cashiers at the grocery store I work at puts her hand on her stomach and whispers, “Are you pregnant?”
You can imagine my horrified reaction and immediate, “NO!”
The thing is, I wasn’t nearly as horrified as I would have been a couple of months ago, a year ago, or 5 years ago when my first thought would have been, “Do I look pregnant? Is my stomach too fat? Am I seen eating too much?”
Now I think, “Aw, that’s sweet. And as much as I wish I were starting my family, I just don’t have those kind of resources yet.”
I’ve been through relapses and recovery on up-and-down rollercoasters plenty of times, but this one comment didn’t send me spiraling down into panic and depression-like I imagine it would many young girls with eating disorders. My recent recovery experience with The Emily Program, my very loving marriage, and the supportive friendships I have made since then have all taught me something about my own body: It is unique. It deserves love. It is mine.
I’m not ashamed to say I have a little bit of a tummy because I am a FEMALE. I am SUPPOSED to have something down there to support and nourish my future unborn child. I work out regularly, lifting more weights than I am slaving over the treadmill, and I am trying to target my stomach, but I’m not going insane over it. Sometimes I find myself pinching my skin and skulking about it, but I quickly straighten my posture and tell myself, “This is healthy. This is me.”
The cashier later came up to me at work and apologized, saying she just didn’t know because I was “so skinny” and had heard about my recent marriage. “It’s okay,” I told her. “I’m not offended.” She apologized profusely, but what I want her to know is that I’m not upset. I actually laughed it off.
I don’t feel so ashamed of my body as I have in my past with this eating disorder. I’m 21 and I finally feel comfortable in the body I have. I wish all of you reading this the same feeling of being welcomed into your own body.