By Guest Blogger Anna Keller
In the fall of 2016, my husband and I went to our 20-week OB appointment to find out our unborn baby’s gender. When I found out I was having a girl, I was thrilled – and slightly terrified. After all, I don’t know what it feels like to be a boy, but I DO know what it was like growing up as a girl. For me, that experience was riddled with a combination of insecurity, comparison, and perfectionism. My expression of that uncomfortable state? An eating disorder – bulimia, specifically – that I ultimately carried with me for more than a decade.
Until I sought treatment for my eating disorder in the form of counseling and was really READY to dig into my recovery, my bulimia was my most shameful secret. I went to great lengths to hide my behavior from everyone around me, and tried to think about it as little as possible myself, too. After tucking this away for so many years, I was shocked when, in the summer of 2017, I felt ready to talk about it.
It felt really strange at first, of course, but over the past few years I’ve really been working on vulnerability and openness as a way to build true connection in my life. I knew I needed to share this in order to get rid of barriers in some of my relationships. I ALSO knew I needed to get okay with talking about this, because I want it to be something I share with Maggie as she grows up.
I want her to know the warning signs. I want her to hear me talk about how lonely and dark it was when I was in the throes of my eating disorder. I want her to see my relationship with food and my body as something that’s healthy and positive and gentle. I want her to feel comfortable coming to me if she starts to feel unsure of how to deal with her emotions.
Of course, it’s my hope that my daughter will be different than I was. I hope she’ll be stronger at an earlier age. That she’ll feel more comfortable in her own skin when she’s an adolescent than I did. That she’ll have a healthy relationship with both her body and the food that fuels it even during her teen years and early 20’s. It’s my hope that by sharing my story with her, Maggie’s story will be different.
So really, this is a post that’s more about my desire to be an open parent than anything else. Whether it’s my eating disorder or other parts of my past – the things I’m proud of and the things I wish I’d done differently – I hope I’m able to appropriately share my experiences with my daughter to both strengthen our relationship and to add context for her as she starts to navigate adolescence and beyond.
She just turned 2 though, so we do have a bit of time. In the meantime, I’m continuing to work on myself (and on my vulnerability), and I’m soaking in the sweet moments where the most important decision to make is which color crayon to use or which sippy cup is superior on any given day.
These days, I feel much more of the excitement and much less of the terror of raising a girl. There will absolutely be hurdles – both ones I can anticipate and ones I know nothing about yet – but I can’t imagine life any other way.
I can do this. You can, too, fellow mama.
Find resources for counseling here.
Anna Keller is a wife, mama, marketer, blogger, Pure Barre teacher, freelance writer, and Beautycounter consultant. (She wears lots of hats, but the theme of connection is what links all these roles together for her.) Anna is an Atlanta native, but she and her husband, Kevin, moved to the Triad in 2011 and haven’t looked back. They love being part of this community, and are so thankful to be able to raise their daughter, Maggie, here. Follow along with Anna on her blog — curiouser-and-curiouser.com — or via social media. She’s on Instagram at @curiouserandcuriouserblog, or you can connect with her on Facebook at facebook/com/
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