My Struggle With Anorexia Was My Body Telling Me I Was Gay

I just wasn't listening.

woman looking into the mirror doodko / Shutterstock

Until a few short years ago I would have sworn the proverbial story of my life would hold a chapter peppered with trips to the pediatrician, embarrassing tests and prodding, bitter tears from my mother, and a sordid tale of my refusal to eat.

I spent over a year trying to fight my way out of a hole into which I only thought I had fallen.

The older I've grown and the more I've reflected on those months, the more I realize how painfully obvious it all really was.


I was 14 and violently ill the first time I was kissed by a boy. I don't just mean I was nervous; I mean body-wracking, profusely sweating, heaving with waves of nausea-nervous.

For the next year, until I ended that puppy love romance, I was anorexic. That was the term given to my condition by my pediatrician. He didn't have a test for gay.

I was sick at school. I was sick at home. I was sick on weekends. I was a sick girl. That poor boy I was dating thought one of the two of us had lost it, I'm sure.

Maybe both of us. I couldn't be around him without feeling nauseated.

The very thought of him kissing me or touching me made my stomach flip. I was repulsed by physical contact.


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This relationship permeated my very being. There wasn't a breath I took where I wasn't worried about why I couldn't get my sh*t together and be a girlfriend.

I saw other girls do it. They laid all over their boyfriend of the moment and talked nonstop about tongues in their throats. Not me.

I walked around with a churning in my stomach 24/7.

My innards felt like they had begun to shrink and were pulling my ribcage to my spine. I couldn't put any food in there. Every bite of food I took was painful.

The nausea was all-encompassing. I simply didn't want food; rather, my body didn't want it. I knew I was going to die if I didn't have it. My body just wasn't having it.


Over the months after that first kiss with that boy, I lost weight.

Reduced portions of meals turned into me moving minuscule portions around my plate and chewing a single bite for the duration of the meal. The whole time I did this, tears would roll down my face.

I was no fool. I knew what my body was doing to me. I even knew it was all related to this boy and how being with him made me feel. When you're young and everyone around you is doing the same thing, you go along — barf bag and all.

Since no test the doctor had could read my mind, and no question he could ask would open the closet door for me, my parents took the anorexia diagnosis as real. But I knew he was wrong. 


I wasn't anorexic. 

I wasn't trying to do this. I wanted to do anything but run to the nearest toilet at every meal. I was a rail and scared to death. My clothes hung off me.

My physique resembled that of a skeleton bearing shoulder pads and sockless Keds. I was a miserable wreck, and I was only beginning high school.

I was, strangely enough, determined to be this boy's girlfriend.

The harder he tried to make us his definition of the average sexually-budding couple, the faster I slid downhill. I vomited my guts out at least once a day. When my stomach wasn't emptying itself of the few bites my mother forced into me, it was churning and aching from the damage I was causing.


I pitied him. I truly did. We were both newbies in the game of dating, and I wasn't giving him much to go on.

There's nothing titillating about knowing your girlfriend is dry-heaving into the toilet in the next room. It's even less of a turn-on to know she's puking up bile daily.

A year went by before I ended things. 

Post-breakup, I gained weight, my eating habits very slowly returned to normal, and I was able to form coherent thoughts that weren't laced with worries about the next time I would have to face his wandering hands or his lips on mine.

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The rest of high school gave me a few more opportunities to be a girlfriend. And I would be d*mned if I wasn't going to be a girlfriend to a boy.

My first serious boyfriend after my anorexia diagnosis turned into my husband. I had outgrown the gut-wrenching physical reaction to being kissed by a male. I guess my body had given up trying to tell me I didn't want one. But where my body had given up, my conscience picked up the slack.

I quickly became resentful of intimacy and any attempts to have sex and wanted nothing more than to be left alone. Kissing was the first thing I eliminated. He was satisfied with that. As long as I kept things in the gratuitous category, he could do without the love. I didn't know what I wanted, but I knew I didn't want to have sex.

Years passed and I became cold and hard. I loathed him, hated my life, and was still gay and didn't want to admit it. We stayed married long enough for me to have given up on the notion of happiness. I couldn't have defined happiness or love if my life depended on it.


Then, I met her and my entire world changed.

God knows I hadn't gone looking for love with her or anyone else for that matter. Hell, I wouldn't have known love if it smacked me in the face. 

Like the kid who rides his bike blindly into a tree branch at throat level, I never saw this coming.

If you had told that girl choking back tears with her arms wrapped around the cold ceramic of a toilet bowl and begging her last meal to stay down just this once that she was, in fact, gay, she would've rolled her eyes and told you to/ shut the hell up.

If you had told that frigid woman clutching the bed sheet and fighting the urge to kick her way out from under her husband that she would ever know real love, she would've told you were insane and to go sell your BS somewhere else.


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Wanting to be with her, wanting to talk to her, and wanting to be near her were all new desires for me and brought a flood of new emotions.

I knew I loved her and it wasn't in the way I loved my best friend from college or my parents.

I was gay. Just as plain and simple and cut-and-dry as it could be. I was a lesbian.

She took my breath away without even touching me. I could sit across a room with dozens of people between us and feel an energy I had never known.

I was so clueless as to what genuine physical attraction was supposed to feel like that it took me a few months to call it that.


For the first time in my life, my body and my conscience weren't at war. I wanted her, and my body was actually going to let me have her and not try to kill me in the process.

She's the only woman I've ever been with and I'm convinced she's the person put here on Earth for me.

Every single tear and hardship led me to her  and it's all been worth it. I've left a number of confused people in my wake over the years, but none quite as confused as me.

Of all the mysteries a person has to solve to make it through this life, there's no other that leaves you quite as satisfied as finding out who you are.

I'm not sick.

I'm not anorexic.

I'm not hardened.


Sh*t, I'm not even your average dead fish.

I, my friends, am gay.

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Alex Alexander is a pseudonym. The author of this article is known to YourTango but is choosing to remain anonymous.