Sherri's Story Disordered Eating and Cutting

My name is Sherri and I will be 20 on the 23rd of January. My eating disorder began at the early age of five. At the time my parents were going through a nasty divorce and I was suffering from thoughts I didn't know how to deal with or what to do with them. At the same time my father and his mother were sexually abusing me. At first I thought this was normal, he was my father, she was my grandmother, they loved me they would NEVER hurt me. As I grew older I began to sense that something was not right. I began eating compulsively to push down the unwanted feelings that were trying to make their way up to the surface. No one knew at the time and I could not say a word, I needed to be the strong one. During my parents marriage my mother was also abused verbally and physically. Things continued on for a while until my father said to the courts if he could not have custody of my sister Debi, then he didn't want either one of us. As a child hearing that your father didn't want to claim you was devastating but I knew it was a blessing in disguise. I continued on with eating compulsively and my weight soared.

My mom remarried when I was 10 and we moved. I was petrified this man was going to be just like my father so I was very aggressive towards him, to let him know I could fight back. My step-dad just stood by my side and told me that he loved me dearly. Love? What is love? My biological dad said he loved me too!

In seventh grade I realized I needed to lose some weight and I went on a so-called, regular diet. I cut the sweets, the pop, and snacks out. The weight dropped quickly. I thought if I cut out more I could lose more and faster. I began to starve myself. During this time I was left to deal with myself and I crammed down everything that I didn't want to come up. I couldn't use food to push the memories down so I began to cut myself. I entered therapy and I kept to myself. Several months into intensive therapy I began to trust my therapist and I told her about being abused. I told her everything! In letting everything out I lashed out on myself and went further into my anorexia. My weight was so low and I had no reserve. I began fainting at school and I could not withstand the daily tasks that were expected of me.

I entered my first inpatient facility. In there I felt like I was in a prison, inside of the prison I put myself in. I opened up, in hopes they would think I was ok. Then later I was told I should press charges against my father. Ok, well if I did this, maybe they will let me out. I decided to press charges thinking nothing was going to happen because it had been many years and I was out of the situation. A detective came to the hospital and I had to make a statement. It was devastating telling a complete stranger my deepest darkest secrets. I was later released and I continued therapy.

Up until '97 I was in and out of hospitals for attempted suicide, overdosing on laxatives, diet-pills, syrup of ipecac and cutting myself. In '97 the trial was called to a head. I never thought this would happen, I was not ready. Everyone was preparing me but I didn't take it serious. The day came when I had to testify against my father. Seeing him brought up so many unwanted feelings. My father was with a woman who used to go on our supervised visitations. They walked hand in hand and yet this woman was supposed to protect ME! I thought testifying was the hardest thing but being cross-examined was so dehumanizing. It made me think that maybe I was crazy! The trial lasted a full week. The verdict came, a hung jury. I was so angry. Again, I thought no one believed me. Again, I was hospitalized.

Just last October my therapist, whom I grew very close to, revealed to me that she was moving. This tore me up. I felt abandoned like everyone was leaving me. Also the trial was called back and I was not going to have her by my side. I knew there was no way I could survive this without her. Before the trial I did a lot of soul searching and praying. When I was called to testify I was able to look my father in the eyes and say "I am NO longer afraid of you and you aren't my father." It was hard to say that to someone you love deep down inside but I had to do it for me. Again the trial lasted a full week but this time around he was found "guilty."

Many people feel they should say sorry to me or, oh no, but I am grateful I endured what I have, it has made me a stronger person. It has given me a dream, a dream to help others who have walked in the shoes I have. I think it is so valuable to tell another person that I understand and that I've been there and this is what I did to get out.

Today I am still struggling. I was released from Remuda Ranch not too long ago. I know there will continue to be bumps in the road but I will get over them with my head held high. Recovery is possible, even though at times it feels like the farthest thing from your reach but trust me it's there.

Keep fighting and believing.