Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

Let’s talk about sex . . .

one common secret

one common secret

another common secret

another common secret

I just couldn’t resist the throwback to the great 1991 hit single.  Although someone was asking about identity in my Topics page, she also brought up the issue of sexuality.

I think it’s a topic a lot of  us with eating disorders would like to ignore, but I don’t think we can. The two are intimately linked, no pun intended, even for those without histories of sexual abuse or trauma.

There is a fear of sexuality, of growing into an adult female form.  We become instilled with the fear that men can hurt us.  And we found a way to prevent this from happening: We starve our bodies down until there are no feminine curves.  We eat until we can hide behind an excessive amount of curves so that no man would would want us.  We purge to numb the fears away.

Here’s a short run-down of my story: I was sexually abused and raped from the time I was four until I was eight.  I thought that if I could just make myself small enough, no one would see me.  If no one could see me, no one could hurt me.  Problem solved.

Except my solution was killing me.  Literally.

As an underweight anorexic, a part of my recovery required weight restoration (I do not believe you can recover and maintain an unhealthy weight).  One of the most triggering parts of weight restoration was whenever I had to change my bra size.  Silly, huh?  Not the size of my jeans (although that bothered me), but the size of my bra.  That meant that men must be looking at me, appraising me, and that they would take advantage of me as soon as they could.

That didn’t happen.  Part of recovery was also learning how to take care of myself, and that meant having proper boundaries and learning how to protect myself.

But sex in general.  These two “secrets” (from PostSecret) are not uncommon.  The first one was the first part of recovery.  Where I just shoved aside anything sexual or intimate.  My only experiences with sex had been negative, even as an adult.

The second secret is still a common fear of mine, again, because it’s been so prevalent in my history.  I thought I had found someone to prove me wrong, but I was mistaken.  But when I look back at the experience, I learned two things: I am no longer afraid of sex and that I should have waited in this one situation.  Not in the “saving myself” waiting, but in the “I really didn’t know enough about him” type of waiting.  If I had waited, I would have learned that I was not going to be loved.  But I did learn that when I find the person who can offer more than sex, I am ready.  That doesn’t mean I won’t need a little reassurance.  That doesn’t mean I won’t be a little shy.  I haven’t completely healed from the trauma, and the person who is willing to love me is going to have to be willing to work with that.

And I will have to be willing to continue to work on my body image, the way I think about my body, the way I think other people picture my body.  I spent twelve years building up a repertoire of  negative comments and my head is filled with distortions.  Sometimes, I find I have to tell myself to just “shut the fuck up, already” and get dressed in the morning and walk out the door.

I noticed someone watching me, appraising me in a sexual kind of way,  as I walked by her the other day.  And I kept my head held high, and after I had passed her, I actually smiled.


September 29, 2009 - Posted by | Body Image, Eating Disorders, recovery | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. I’m ashamed to say the role sex played in my eating disorder.

    Comment by Jessica | September 29, 2009 | Reply

    • I think we all have aspects of the eating disorder that shame us more than others. For me, I still feel a great deal of shame about the amount of lying I did. But I think at some point we have to let go, or at least acknowledge that these things are in the past. They don’t define who we are anymore.

      Comment by surfacingaftersilence | September 29, 2009 | Reply

  2. I really like the second graphic.

    I often wonder exactly how many of my choices and preferences are rooted in these issues… I don’t think I’ll ever have an awareness of all of the ways they’ve affected me.

    Comment by K | September 30, 2009 | Reply

  3. Super-Duper site! I am loving it!! Will come back again – taking your feeds too now, Thanks. 🙂

    Comment by RobD | October 6, 2009 | Reply

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