Hi! It’s Jordan. This is what I was thinking about when I wrote BEST BODY: Pretty, Miserable, Perfectness.
First things first, Best Body Memoir is two things. For you, it’s a book that may help you understand the intricacies and influences of eating disorders, dieting and the recovery process. For me, it is my coming-out party.
To those of you who know me but don’t know all of me, and to those of you who don’t know me at all and never will but may nonetheless learn the most consequential bits in a quick, 300 page read:
(I’m just going to dive in….)
I had a massive eating disorder when I was thirteen. Massive in the sense that an eating disorder can feel like a heart attack, one that lasts far longer then the actual attack. And when they are just bad enough, an eating disorder may also leave you with an ice-cold imprint inside your heart, that faulty but nonetheless It’s all we’ve got-form of protecting you from you that we like to call recovery.
With recovery, we learn — perhaps because we have to — to distance ourselves from who we used to be, from who we are if we are left to our own devices, even, and with that the ice-cold imprint feels like nothing more than absence.
I didn’t have a quinceanera, or a Bat Mitzvah and I didn’t even attend my high school graduation, so in many ways this book is my one true check-me-off-the-list pass that says I’m well on the way to grown.
Congratulations! We’re proud of you! You did it! You did not die from an eating disorder at a wee thirteen, and you did not die in a relapse and you may just be well on your way.
Perhaps predictably, my unconventional graduation into adulthood, my first book that marks the time of my first attack, taught me many unconventional lessons. Because, while writing a book, you actually do have to look back. You’ve got to process. And you’ve got to figure these things out, for the reader, even if you’d rather not do so for yourself.
It was not cathartic — don’t go into writing thinking it will be anything close. But there was no other way for me to pinpoint what it was that made me stick around even when the odds were against me, what helped me to “not just survive but thrive!”– a too-cheery phrase that couldn’t be more appropriately borrowed. Because I did not just survive my eating disorder but, really, I overcame it — that’s what happens when you keep on surviving, you pass things and you get to say “I’ve done it.”
My tallest mountain far behind me, it isn’t a case where I can now wear a ring and always feel victorious: rather, recovery came with a warning that says I can always find myself, without any notice, right back where I started. But with the book I learned invaluable lessons about why I got so sick so young, what I did during my teenage recovery that did not work and what I did during my early adulthood that did, forever sealing the life pathways’ slot that says I might go back down there — at least that’s how it feels for me.
Thanks to the lessons learned, or the tokens of perspective and graduation-wisdom taken, I’ve recovered to a point where I really do not think a relapse is in my deck of cards.
And that’s something every former anorexic and bulimic and EDNOS or overeater or orthorexic deserves.
If it is okay with you, I’d like to share what I’ve been working on since I was eighteen years old, a galaxy in a 20-something person’s life that spans ten far years ago. A thirteen-year-old with an expiration — I thank the stars I’m not her anymore, that she bestowed me with some mercy so that I’m here, far away from then, and that I’ve learned and thrived.
But maybe, just maybe, we can stay a while and what she taught me can help you, too. Oh, and you can keep on reading via. 😊
—Jordan Lee Knape.