It would be a lie to say I love my body today, but I can’t deny the fact that yoga taught me how powerful my body is and that is what I think about if I move too far into self-hatred.
Paige Elizabeth is a yoga entrepreneur currently bringing her brand of pragmatic instruction to the internet via her Dharmic Path business. She is one of only a handful of women in the world who have completed the Advanced B series of Ashtanga Yoga, a backbreaking series of poses concocted by Indian guru Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. But it is not the hardest thing she has done. Paige Elizabeth discusses overcoming a life-threatening eating disorder, facing early trauma, and her passion for yoga with The Fix.
When did you realize you had an eating disorder?
It started when I was 11 and people said I looked chubby. Looking back, I realize I wasn’t chubby, I just had a round face but I ended up with such a distorted body image that I went on a diet aged 11. It worked and lost weight. Soon it became an obsessive thing and I weighed myself in secret every morning because knew if my mother found out she would try and stop me.
What stages did it take?
I started starving myself: taking the anorexic route until my mother noticed and tried to take control of the situation. But I wasn’t having that so I would eat to please her and then go and start vomiting. I was bulimic for three years and then I started cutting and self-harming to punish myself for not being good enough. It was also a way to attack my body for not being perfect enough.
What was behind it?
My therapist thought I was a sexual trauma victim but that wasn’t accurate but, during therapy, I did remember witnessing the molestation of my brother which could be equally traumatizing. That could have been the seed but I don’t want to pin it all on that; sometimes I wonder if it is due to karma from a past life because the sense of being unloveable goes so deep. The only way to survive was to dedicate my life to transcending that wound and replacing all that damage with self-love.
So it was a family trauma?
My brother became a heroin addict and died when he was 30. It’s interesting how family dynamics follow certain patterns. For example, when, after years of therapy, I took my power back from my mother, that’s when things started to fall apart with my brother. There was always a scapegoat in my family and I think he fell into that position.
It’s quite saddening that my mother treated me like a burden, but my brother she smothered to the point of not allowing him to do his own thing. It was two very different dynamics and both were damaging. She was still cleaning his house until the day he died.
My dad comes from a family of seven and my grandfather hated him so he was more inclined to be nice and if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be here. Crazy as my behavior got, he trusted I would pull through but my mother wanted me to go an institution.
I would have hated that.
I’ve always been a freedom whore.
Find out the rest about how Paige Elizabeth got into yoga and how it showed her how powerful her body and mind are in the original article Talking Yoga and Recovery with Paige Elizabeth at The Fix.