Divorcing EDFebruary 22, 2020
The Yoga and Body Image Coalition is a 2020 Featured NEDAwareness Week Partner. The following is a YBIC National Eating Disorders Awareness Week post that highlights how the practice of yoga can be an integral component in the effective treatment of and on-going recovery from eating disorders and disordered eating. The shares included are from those who have first-hand experience with disordered eating or from those who are called to share their body acceptance journeys.
I met my ex in 2007 at both the start and height of my nearly fatal battle with anorexia. He was aware of the severity of my illness, yet committed to walk beside me and support my off- and on-again efforts at recovery, a combination of therapy, medication, and my first experiences with yoga. We married two years later, seniors in college, young and perhaps a touch naïve. He was there through it all—ER visits, substance abuse, bouts of bedridden depression, and more—and, in many ways, is what kept me alive for some 10+ years. For that, I will be forever grateful.
Some months ago, I learned his love for me had changed—that it had changed years prior, but he couldn’t bring himself to leave for fear I’d relapse. I thought maybe we could work things out; he seemed uncertain. Things became more certain when I discovered he had fallen in love with someone else and developed a relationship outside our own.
I’d heard of the divorce diet. It’s not something I really understood until I was in the thick of it. As I worked through a mix of shock, sadness, anxiety, anger, and grief, I struggled to eat well and take care of my basic needs. For the first time in years, I lost weight without trying.
When I came out of fight or flight mode brought on by this traumatic life event, I considered how this dramatic life change and rapid weight loss could be the perfect conditions for relapse. I could feel my eating disorder (ED) trying to creep from the back of my confused, cloudy mind and regain control of my very out-of-control world.
But I refused to go back.
I shared my concerns with family and friends aware of my past, so as not to isolate. I nurtured and cared for myself with activities that bring me joy and help me feel healthy and strong. And I reflected back on my time living with ED and my ex and realized it was time to divorce both.
Various times over the past several months, my loved ones have reminded me I have the tools available to navigate this period of transition, that everything I’d done—yoga training, self-study, therapy, and personal transformation work—have prepared me to overcome this and come out stronger than ever. What’s helped most are practices of non-judgment and rhythmic, steady breathing; mindful movement when I feel particularly anxious or can’t escape the chatter of my mind; and the power of connecting with those who understand the yogic and spiritual path is not always rainbows and butterflies. Sometimes we must breakdown to breakthrough.
While I place no blame on anyone for my ED, there were ways my marriage perpetuated my disorder. In our early years, we’d often share in a binge. When our relationship made me anxious, I’d fixate on my weight and over-exercise. I’d eat mindfully and enjoy home-cooked, nourishing meals only when my ex was out of town; not when we were together. As I’ve dropped more fully into a home meditation practice and returned to my first love of yin yoga, I’ve realized how these patterns did not serve either of us and understand what I need to shift for the benefit of my personal health and the health of future relationships.
As painful as this period has been, I am confident in my ability to grow past my marriage and relationship with my ED. I commit to no longer entering partnerships that feel co-dependent or perpetrate any form of addiction. I commit to putting my health and wellbeing first, so I can support loved ones in doing the same. And I commit to sharing my story as often as I can with the hope it may help others along their own path to healing. Whether single, divorced, or somewhere in between, we’re all in this together. None of us has to go it alone.
Liz Getman is a teacher (E-RYT, YACEP) and community builder who facilitates collective joy and transformation across the globe. A survivor of anorexia and depression, Liz has journeyed from years of abuse and mental dis-ease to a life of service and spiritual guidance. As a coach, yoga teacher, and retreat guide, Liz supports others in connecting within, to divine purpose, and across supposed divides. Her goal: to remind all people—no matter where we come from or what we look like—that we belong to each other, and it’s more fun to take this journey together. Liz studied Hatha and Hridaya (spiritual heart) yoga with Arjuna Dharma Das and Arpita Kshama Devi at Mahadevi Ashram & Kaivalya Yoga School. Her continuing education includes trauma-informed training and healing-centered engagement in various modalities, including yoga and mindful movement and her community building and personal transformation work has taken her from Nigeria to Guatemala to her U.S. homes in New Jersey and Florida. Liz serves as program director of YogaLoka, a nonprofit organization that provides yoga and meditation to traditionally underserved and marginalized populations. Liz is executive producer and host of Beyond Asana (@BeyondAsanaPod), a podcast that features yoga teachers, changemakers, and spiritual leaders living yoga on and off the mat. She has a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Ithaca College and a master’s degree in Latin American Studies with specializations in gender and development from the University of Florida. Follow her journey on Instagram @LizGetman and learn more about her offerings at LizGetman.com.