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51 years old; bulimic for nearly 30 years!

Here I am, middle aged, and I've been bulimic my entire adult life. Before that, I was just a binge-eater.

The present:
Somehow, I've escaped the worst ravages I might have experienced from all those years of bingeing and purging. I have reflux, some heart flutters from time to time, some crampy stomach times, but my teeth are all still in there, and I can eat normal meals from time to time. I'm a little anemic, and I have dark splotches under my eyes, but my skin's not too bad.

The seeds:
My mom left when I was 8, leaving me and my two sisters with our pervert dad (she swears she didn't have any idea), who then moved in a horrible woman who psychologically dismantled every one within reach. Apparently, I was particularly offensive to her. I was sexually abused by my father, a few "friends" of the family, and my step-mother's step-father (who had abused both her and her sister as children) from the age of 8 'til 17. Our older sister also ran off, as a result of our father's abuse, bouncing from street, to juvenile hall, to our mother, to men.

The progress of eating disorder:
I started binge eating probably about age 12; shortly after our step-mother moved in with us, and a couple years into being molested by Dad and friends. There was never any family pressure to be thin or athletic or any other body-image concept, but I was aware of my step-mother's attachment to her own self-image of being thin, waifish, a victim/martyr in need of protection, and of my father's reflection that our mother had let herself get "fat" (more like voluptuous), which turned him off. Because I suddenly had ravenous step-brothers, their huge appetites camouflaged my own bingeing from us all.

When I escaped home at age 17, it didn't take me long to start my bouncing path from one harmful relationship to another, my sexual boundaries thoroughly confused. When I left my first long-term relationship to move back to the city I came with a guy I knew from high school, that's when bulimia really grabbed hold. Before that, I had tried purging a few times, but it didn't really become entrenched behavior 'til I moved back into my father's realm. Literally. For a few weeks, I lived with my father and step-mother. Food was absolutely taking over my mind. I could barely think of anything else. Food and body image. I was in Los Angeles, in the time of "Flash Dance". I was trying to go back to college, live with my boyfriend, be an adult .... All I could think about was how/when/how much/what/where to EAT! And then, how to make it not-have-happened!

Finally, I sought help. What followed was about 6 years of different therapists, even a 5 week stint in the UCLA psych hospital eating disorder program (not separate from the general psych ward), none of it curative, though it was helpful in many ways.

I left my then-husband, Los Angeles, my father, my sisters and nieces, and moved to the woods. I thought I could be a different me if I was in a different place. But, you know what Buckaroo Bonzai says; "No matter where you go, there you are." I continued being bulimic, depressed, even suicidal from time to time. I married Mr. Wrong #2, stayed with him for 6 years, until I was really ready to kill one or the other of us, and finally left him for good.

This was the dawn of the internet. I found an on-line bulimia board, learned a lot, made a few friends, but stayed bulimic. I think I must have managed to grow up a bit in the few years between Mr. Wrong #2 and Mr. Right. I stood squarely on my own two feet, working, supporting myself and my menagerie of pets, if not in high style, at least sufficiently. But, still bulimic. How I managed to recognize Mr. Right I have no idea, but I did, and he's been a huge support and anchor for me for the last 11 years.

But, I'm still bulimic.

Last year, I tried Timeline Integration Therapy, which I found very helpful for a few other issues, but... Here I am.

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Article by Shaye Boddington
Author of
and creator of The Bulimia Recovery Program and Community

The Bulimia Recovery Program