It started a year and a half ago. I wrote a piece called “La revanche des moches”. It described my winding journey through eating disorders. I wanted to write about it to rid myself of my own judgments, of the negativity I had been inflicting on myself for years. Once I published it on my blog, there was no going back. What I wasn’t expecting, however, was how this moment would become a true stepping stone for me. Your response has been tremendous and you have really reached out to me. Our discussions have since opened up and become more meaningful. An unfiltered connection brings us together.
However, that step was but the tip of the iceberg. I gave myself one year. One year to achieve mental and physical well-being regarding my younger self/body. I read up on the subject. I facetimed with professionals. I sat in a shrink’s office. I looked myself straight in the mirror—no filters. My husband didn’t recognize me for quite a while! Unlocking my rusty emotional doors gave way to a not-so-quiet revolution. Change can be disruptive. Living with an eating disorder is kind of like using food (or the lack of food) like a drug. It’s the best way to shut yourself out and to detach yourself from strong emotions. It’s important to reconnect with yourself and others, to express what’s wrong and to set your boundaries. This may be difficult for those around you, but things eventually settle down. After all, my husband and I are still going strong!
All this taught me to be even more transparent with the love of my life. I also accepted to ask my friends for help and to trust my colleagues. Through this process, I am growing into the leader I want to be in all the areas of my life.
I must admit that the road to freedom is dreadfully long! Come twelve months, I realized that my initial timeframe wasn’t quite realistic. I had to keep going, often with no clear light in sight. I had made significant strides, but the journey was darker and more treacherous than I had imagined. Had I really expected to achieve inner peace in just a weekend? On my way, I met some great people. The first was a specialist who recommended that I start eating whatever I felt like eating to move my body out of starvation mode. Talk about shock therapy! Especially for someone like me who had been used to keeping track of everything I ate for years. I followed her advice and painstakingly put on 13 lbs. I continued on my journey without her, and only now do I better understand the impact of her teachings. Strangely enough, I don’t get anxious about food anymore. Not even during the holidays. I eat what I like and stop when I’ve had enough. A natural balance. She also told me to take my time. The hardest part is being patient with yourself during the healing process.
The next person I met was a psychologist who was very compassionate and offered me a whole new perspective on old issues. I realized that I shouldn’t downplay the impact of having been a child star—on the small screen at the tender age of five and a pop star by seventeen. Striving to please my team, the public, my boss . . . It definitely takes its toll. I had always trivialized my whole situation. I had to reassess how I had been affected by being in the public eye for so many years.
Ah . . . Public scrutiny. It’s actually not that bad compared to my own unobjective and perfectionist self-criticism.
I met a talented, clear-sighted producer who would send me achingly enlightening messages like “Who cares if your love handles show up on screen when your guest is telling you about how she would make herself throw-up in the bathrooms throughout high school. You could weigh 230 lbs and you would still be gorgeous.” or “It doesn’t matter that your jean jacket is too tight when your guest is taking about how she was abused by her father as a child.” Of course it didn’t matter! When you decide to reach out to others, you’re also reaching out to yourself. You simply need to let yourself in.
For me, this meant accepting my femininity, both in terms of my body and my day-to-day lifestyle. Less action, more tenderness. We live in a man’s world where performance rules all. I had to listen closer to my needs and slow it down to find my sweet spot. The best gift I have given myself is time to nurture my spirituality . . . time to return to the basics, to open the eyes of the heart. Spirituality has taught me to live in the moment. Not just any moment. The real, present moment—achieving a state of mindfulness through daily meditation, taking the time needed to develop true awareness.
Struggling with eating disorders and maintaining an unhealthy relationship with your body (because not everybody takes it that far) are the perfect ways to remain out of touch with the present. Our minds are trapped in the past—longing to fit into a dress we wore ages ago—or in the future—dreaming of dropping to a certain weight by starving ourselves. All because we’re not good enough. We’re never good enough. Accepting to live in the moment means living in your own body, heart and soul NOW, right THEN and THERE. There’s no better feeling.
I have experienced relapses and moments of self-doubt, but now I understand what triggers them. I am therefore able to get back on my feet much faster. I know to whom I can turn (you may have recognized yourself in this piece) to talk or cry when I feel the need. This journey has made me a softer person (both mentally and around the hips!) but life is so much more enjoyable with you in my life.