‘The pieces came together, but the puzzle will never be complete.’: Sexual abuse, eating disorder survivor finds clarity after years of deeply rooted trauma

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Disclaimer: This story contains mentions of abuse and eating disorders which may be upsetting for some. 

Life As A Child

“I believe every story is unique and different. Mine, yours, and the one who has never spoken about it.

I’m not sure where to start, because my life is full of everything. Maybe I could share something that changed me forever. Something I didn’t know about until I was 20 or 21 years old.

As a child, I was bullied and told I would not succeed in anything. That I was stupid and immature. I was told many things but don’t remember much. I don’t remember any of my birthdays up until I was 22. Christmas, New Years, celebrations, elementary school, teachers, and even my family I barely remember.

I was clinically dead at the age of 3, and since then my life has changed completely. My aunt told me I was never the same afterward. I found out about that hospital when I lived with my aunt, after losing everything I had at 18 years old.

From the pictures and a few images in my head, I knew I was overweight. I was 209 lbs. at the age of 12 when my mom decided to put me on a diet, and I lost around 77 lbs. I was wearing loose black clothing all the time. I looked so different, better even. People didn’t make fun of me anymore, and suddenly I had more ‘friends.’ After losing so much weight, I started to watch movies about anorexia obsessively and had no clue why.

sexual abuse and eating disorder survivor wearing red shirt sitting in front of birthday cake
Courtesy of Chloe Thenewone
sexual abuse and eating disorder survivor posing under umbrella
Courtesy of Chloe Thenewone

Struggling With Eating Disorders

Out of the few memories I have, one I do remember is the summer I spent in Croatia, which is where my grandfather is from. I feel more connected with the water, sea, and ocean, and on that particular day, I stayed in the water for 9 hours! I remember I didn’t get out to eat and some of my friends threw some fruit into the water for me.

Later in the evening, I got a high fever, so we left and went home. I was very weak, lying in bed, and I couldn’t do anything. Eating wasn’t an option because I felt so sick. That week changed me because it caused me to develop anorexia. I saw myself as fat, even though I wasn’t.

There were images in my head from all of the movies I had watched about anorexia. I finally felt like I had control, which I didn’t have before. My memory was very foggy after that, but I know my mom freaked out when she saw me like this. My sister had bulimia at the time, and she didn’t know.

I could barely move my body, had no energy left, and was ready to give up on life. I would eat one spoonful of yogurt a day and still thought I would get fat. All my clothes were too big for me and I would hide that in front of others. I was still a teenager and didn’t know what was happening. Nobody was there for me and I felt so lost. There was a writer from my country that wrote a book on eating disorders. I was scared to talk about it, so I educated myself secretly.

Unfortunately, I don’t remember how everything stopped, how I started eating again, and who helped me. But at 23, I had left my country and was anorexic again. It was like a punishment for me. If I didn’t do something right, I wouldn’t eat because I thought I didn’t deserve it.

I had no idea where these thoughts were coming from but my life was like a real hell. Many traumas were still present and as a result, I ran from them. Otherwise, I wouldn’t survive. I was angry, and didn’t understand what was happening!

Why was I still punishing myself? Where was this coming from and why did I need so much control over my life?

sexual abuse and eating disorder survivor wearing blue jeans and navy sweater smiling at camera
Courtesy of Chloe Thenewone

From anorexia, I went to compulsive overeating. I was eating everything as a vegetarian at the time. I went through so many feelings and lost control, so I was eating and gaining weight but not like before. It was different this time. I was an emotional eater. I then fell back into my old ways of not eating. It was really hard and I had to deal with everything on my own. I had no support system and no therapist understood what I was going through. I felt invisible.

At 27, I went to the library where this book caught my eye. It was about this ‘famous’ girl from Austria that was locked away for 3069 days. I was in this beautiful park in Slovenia, Europe, and started to read the book. Very soon, I realized she was abused for over 8 years by a man who had kidnapped her when she was a little girl. My heart was beating like crazy. I felt so much anger and pain in my chest and I couldn’t breathe.

What was happening to me? Why was I having these reactions to some random book? It was hard to describe my feelings, but it felt like it was somehow happening to me.

sexual abuse and eating disorder survivor in the middle of two men smiling
Courtesy of Chloe Thenewone

Unlocking Troubling Memories From My Childhood

I was traumatized since I could remember and my life had always been difficult. Someone I knew told me about a healer who works with angels on a fifth dimension. He was a man and I felt uneasy about it, but I went to see him anyway. We met, and I told him I couldn’t afford much healing, even though I needed it badly. He looked above my head and said, ‘The angels, told me I need to help you.’

I had healing sessions every week for a year after that. I told him I barely remembered my childhood and didn’t understand why I went to the hospital when I was 3 and almost died. He was preparing me mentally for a year, which I didn’t know from my first session.

It was scary, but an inner voice confirmed to me that I was raped at that time. That was not the only time and it was from more than one person. It happened throughout my childhood, as well as physical and psychological abuse.

That’s why I had an eating disorder, because that was the only thing I could take control of. More than half of my life is blurry due to everything that was happening, but I never stopped digging. I wanted to see and face the truth. Piece by piece, the puzzles came together, but the puzzle will never be complete. Not in this life. My soul is not searching anymore, because I now have some clarity.

sexual abuse and eating disorder survivor as a child wearing blue shirt and backpack looking back at camera
Courtesy of Chloe Thenewone
sexual abuse and eating disorder survivor as a young teen wearing floral dress
Courtesy of Chloe Thenewone

Turning My Life Around

From being overweight and having anorexia, to compulsive overeating, I’ve changed from unhealthy food habits to being vegetarian for over 12 years. I’ve been vegan for 7 years, and raw vegan for the last 3 months. My life has completely changed when it comes to food. Today I have a healthy relationship with food and am no longer an emotional eater after 18 years of healing. I had an extremely long journey and it wasn’t easy.

My message to all dealing with an eating disorder is that you are not alone in this, and it’s not your fault for what you’re going through. There is always a reason why this is happening to you, so keep searching and digging into your past. The only way to get out of the cycle is to understand why you need such control to begin with. Everything starts within you.

Most people won’t understand what you’re going through, but there are so many of us out there with these stories, so find them and connect with them. It’s going to be difficult and you will feel like giving up, but please don’t. It’s so worth it to keep going. Get mental support or try different spiritual techniques, just don’t give up!

One of the worst things for me was that I was not heard and understood. You have a chance today to find your way. Stay focused, and believe you can heal, because you can.

I hope I was able to encourage some people with my story.”

sexual abuse and eating disorder survivor taking headhsot photo
Courtesy of Chloe Thenewone

This article was submitted to Love What Matters by Chloe Thenewone. You can follow her on Instagram. Join the Love What Matters family and subscribe to our newsletter.

Read more stories like this:

‘I threw plates across the kitchen, and threatened to hurt my sister. ‘Accept that you’re never going to get better.’: Anorexia survivor says ‘recovery can only come from within’

‘She’d set a bowl of fat-free yogurt in front of me, hand my sister ice cream. ‘No one wants a fat daughter.’: Woman details battle with binge eating disorder, depression

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