I was given the opportunity to be the first “stop” of a digital book tour for a new book by Jon Derek Croteau called My Thinning Years. The book is about the author’s life, growing up in a household where his father doesn’t accept him and his battle to learn how to accept himself. The subtext of the book is “Starving the Gay Within” – meaning it talks about the author’s struggle to come to grips with his homosexuality and the eating disorder he developed along the way in this battle.
While I’m not a man, I’m not a homosexual and I had parents that loved/accepted me… it’s still amazing how strongly I identified with elements of this book, particularly when he developed his eating disorder. From my experience, I think most people who develop an eating disorder feel out of control with some element(s) of their life and so they take the control back by controlling their body in some way.
The book paints a heartbreaking portrait of how difficult it was for the author to constantly be in flux with who he is. From the time he was young he knew he liked artistic endeavors, yet his father pushed him into sports. Despite injuries from the sports, his father still required him to be involved in many sports that made his life miserable. No child should have to feel completely unloved by a parent! And while he had a good relationship with his mother, his father didn’t condone having the close, confiding relationship with his mother and his mother had a hard time standing up to her husband.
And I had learned the hard way that when I told my mom things that I didn’t tell my dad, I’d just get her into trouble. Suffering in silence was the only option.
After the author dropped out of college (almost immediately after starting) he moved back home and to feel more in control of his own life he developed an eating disorder and an obsession with running. He would run miles upon miles with very little food to fuel him. Logically, people shouldn’t be able to physically do that… but I’ve been there and some other issues are fueling the fire inside to keep running. Because it just feels better to run on empty than to deal with the emotions and pain inside.
The inner dialogue began in my head. I wondered how many miles I could run without stopping. How little can I eat, I wondered, without running out of energy on a run? … I’d run in the rain, during thunderstorms, at five in the morning, and at eleven at night, oftentimes both. It didn’t matter, nothing could stop me. I never missed a day. As I soldiered on, something happened to me: I came to feel like a super hero.
The book is written in such a way that you really do feel how deep the pain went as well as feel such joy for the author when he has successes. Battling an eating disorder is hard… doing it as a man must be more difficult because they are not really recognized as having ED issues as much. In all my years of treatment, I only encountered one guy. He spoke about how hard it was to be in treatment as the only male. It makes me happy inside to know the author has found peace and a balance in his life, with friends/family that love him.
Now for some things I feel necessary to mention… if the reader is in the throes of an eating disorder or very early in the recovery process, this book could be triggering. I would recommend holding off for a while OR reading it with a support person to talk it over. I’m always scared to mention my crazed ED practices on the blog because I don’t want anyone with an eating disorder to stumble on those and think of them as suggestions or a how-to. This book is kind of descriptive in how he experienced ED. And if you or someone close to you is battling an eating disorder… please seek help. It may be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done in your life. Making the call to a treatment center was super hard. But I’m glad that I did it, even with the difficult moments in treatment and the fact that I still consider myself recovering and question if I’ll ever be recovered. Getting that help and learning to experience my life (the good and the bad) has been worth it. YOU are worth it… always remember that!