Today, I’m happy to present my interview with Sui of the stunning blog Cynosure. There, Sui writes beautifully and honestly about improving your body image, overcoming binge eating, loving yourself and finding health and happiness.
Below, Sui talks about her harrowing past and how she found recovery from an eating disorder and related struggles.
This is just part one of our interview. Stay tuned tomorrow for part two of Sui’s story (and part three on Friday)!
Q: Please tell us a bit about yourself.
A: Hi, fearless Weightless readers! You can call me Sui (pronounced sway). I live and love to learn, grow, and help others learn to love themselves & live the life they deserve. I love to love, and I love you!
Q: How and when did your eating disorder start?
A: I was never a normal eater as a kid. I wouldn’t eat when I was hungry, then get hungry to the point of feeling sick, and then finally eat when my stomach hurt. I was also really scrawny as a kid and I secretly reveled in that, because my parents would point out their friend’s kids who were “plumper” and make me feel like I was a good kid for being thin.
In middle school, I would always come home to an empty house, and I was teased and bullied a lot for my appearance. I started binging in middle school to cope with the bullying, and to fill the emptiness I always felt when I was home alone for several hours every day with nothing to do. I also developed depression when I was around 12, and from 12 to 14 dwelt constantly on suicide and self-hatred. I self-mutilated. I thought I was ugly, and binging made me feel more disgusting, even though I didn’t do it as often then as I did later on.
High school was a slight improvement socially, but I had my heart broken my freshman year. It hurt so much (I remember crying for 6 hours straight) that a dullness came over my emotions eventually and I started overeating to fuel this numbness in my heart, a worse kind of depression because I didn’t even know how to feel sad anymore. I didn’t realize it, but by my sophomore year, I had gained much more weight than I had ever expected. I went from wearing XS and S my whole life to L, and I was shocked. My parents had always warned me against “being fat” ever since my weight went into three digits (in pounds). I suppose they thought that they were warning me against being unhealthy or gaining too much weight during puberty, but it always made me feel like my worth was measured in pounds– the fewer pounds, the more worthy I was.
On my 16th birthday, I was sexually assaulted by someone I was hanging out with– an older student from my community college class. He told me I was fat and that I should wear make-up, to be “pretty like a Japanese girl.” (He had a girlfriend who lived in Japan.) Not only was I scarred by this moment, but I felt ashamed. That shame became internalized, and I hid from it. I tried to sink deeper into numbness with food and simply, hiding away from life.
I spent the next summer working. I walked a lot more, and I lost weight, and my co-workers all praised my weight loss. When I went back to school, I was determined to lose more weight. I started calorie counting (a terrible demon, in my experience) and undereating. At the same time, though, I started to love baking– so I would basically starve during the day, and bake when my parents were asleep and binge on what I made.
I started finding any excuse to skip meals with my family. I would run or walk for miles on days that I consumed nothing but water. I starved myself. I started taking laxatives, which gave me really painful stomachaches every day. After reading about the dangers of laxatives, I stopped… and started inducing myself to vomit instead. I would put myself on dangerous diets, but would always fail and then beat myself up even more. Also, after my first few sexual experiences, I felt even more disgusting in my body.
Eventually, I started realizing I had to love myself. I forced myself to stop purging and stop starving. I read Breaking Free from Emotional Eating by Geneen Roth and promptly stopped binging or starving… for about a week. When I got my college rejection letters, I started binging again. I gained a lot of weight after I stopped starving myself because I didn’t know what to do with all the sadness, and because I hadn’t allowed myself to eat anything I enjoyed for 2 years. Still, I started to heal.
Then I went to college. And realized I had never learned how to make friends. I was suddenly very lonely, even though it was what I wanted– to forget my past and start somewhere new. Instead, I was somehow sadder than ever– this time, because I truly had no one but myself, and I didn’t even feel like I could depend on myself. I binged constantly until I realized that I had to start learning to love myself. And that journey’s been long and difficult as well, but it’s been the biggest reason I’ve been able to recover.
Q: What has helped you find recovery?
A: Learning to love myself. Learning to love my body and trust my hungers. Learning to eat mindfully in a way that respects both my body and my heart. Not depriving myself of anything. Never starving. Being in check with myself emotionally, and finding alternative ways to cope. Using binges, when they do happen, as flags to what I’ve been suppressing or overlooking in my life. Finding ways to move that makes me feel good, rather than exercising to look a certain way. Respecting my body by eating in a way that is healthy for my body.
Learning to let go of my ego and thus not take things personally or compare myself to other people. Spirituality. All in all, love, love, love: Recognizing and teaching myself to think in a way that is positive and empowering. Realizing that the Universe is always taking care of us. Seeing other people as a part of me, so I can empathize and love them. Honoring my own uniqueness and realizing it never makes sense to compare myself to someone else. Knowing that the appearances of this physical realm don’t matter at all compared to what we do for ourselves and others and how good and healthy we feel.
Oh, and always steering clear of: “health” magazines (“lose weight fast!”), diet blogs, and unhealthy relationships.
I know those are very straightforward answers that don’t really tell the crux of what I went through to get there, but I could write a book on each of those topics– haha.
Oh! And quitting calorie counting. I quit quite a few years ago, and that was my first step to recovery. Calorie counting made me mad– seriously, all I would think about were those stupid numbers.
Thanks so much, Sui! Be sure to stay tuned for part two tomorrow.
More about Sui:
Sui Solitaire lives (& loves!) to help you empower yourself & live the life you deserve. She’s currently doing an e-course to help you learn to love yourself more & find happiness within. Read more about it here & reserve your spot! Read inspirational posts on personal growth & body image at cynosure, follow her on Twitter, & connect with her on Facebook (or check out her creative writing & photography!). Get on the cynosure list to get exclusive updates + a free guide to mindful, loving eating!
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Last reviewed: 3 Aug 2011