A God-Shaped Hole


Posted on March 12th, by mb in gratitude. 19 comments

Until three years ago, I hadn’t stepped on a scale.

Sure, I’d been on one in a doctor’s appointment or two every year, but every single time I stepped on the scale, I asked the doctor to stay mum. “Just write it down but please don’t tell me.”

This fear isn’t even really based on the number. I was completely terrified of returning to the dark and lonely space of disliking, even hating at times, myself based upon some stupid number.

When I was about 15 or 16 I started doing some modeling in Omaha, just twenty minutes outside my small Iowa town. The agency was called Nancy Bounds, and honestly the memory of what took place there is pretty foggy. But I distinctly remember the day that I was told I wasn’t enough.

We had a fashion show of some sort coming up and the head of the agency asked me to come in for a fitting. I brought along some sweaters, jeans, whatever I had on hand, but when I got there she asked me to put on a swimsuit.

Um, okay.

So I go into the changing room and put on this purple Mossimo swimsuit that pretty much pushed my teeny tiny boobs up to my chin (?!!) and stepped outside.

This absolutely awful, older woman who reminded me of a more fashionable version of the Trunchbull eyed me up and down and said, “If you lost 10 to 15 pounds and we could do something about your chin you’d be perfect for modeling. Maybe even runway.”

Her words just hung in the air as I choked back some tears and tried to smile.

Mind you I was fifteen years old. Little with knobby knees and almost always wore that creepy bra with water in it.  And yeah, my chin sticks out a bit, like Drew Barrymore’s.

Why didn’t I run for the hills just then? I was young, I was impressionable and I was pretty dead set on filling the God-shaped hole in my heart up with just about anything that seemed like the right answer.

Well, that day I decided I wasn’t enough. I wasn’t pretty enough. I wasn’t skinny enough. I wasn’t naturally talented at anything it seemed. And my only goal was to survive small town high school (the bullying, the terrible relationships, the keg parties that almost always made me feel bad) and get the fuck out.

Unfortunately I carried with me this idea that I wasn’t enough and oh boy, did it play out in every area of my life. I ate as little as I possibly could. I ran and worked out until I was completely worn and drained. I made myself throw up. And I beat myself up over every possible thing.

Even after I graduated I carried this with me to college, where it became even worse, because there wasn’t anyone watching over me. It was so easy to measure out a small cup of black beans, a small cup of rice, and maybe, just maybe, a few cubes of chicken if I was lucky. I seriously started to vanish. I stopped writing. I stopped caring. I stopped connecting with anyone around me in a way that was genuine and true.

It didn’t stop until a 36-hour train ride to New York City when I devoured the book “Wasted,” by Marya Hornbacher, and made a choice: it was time to let myself free.

It was as though I’d spent six years sitting in a jail cell with the door wide open. And I just sat inside wasting away. It was rooted in choice. It wasn’t Nancy Bounds’ fault. It wasn’t anyone in Glenwood’s fault. It was mine. I needed compassion and instead tortured and abused myself.

I got off that train and I marched myself down 8th Avenue until I found something that looked delicious and that day it was an oozing grilled cheese and a piping hot mocha. And I vowed that I’d feed myself – not just food – but feed my heart, my soul, my beautiful creative mind.

It was a summer of enjoyment, sometimes decadence. I immersed myself into all of the sights, smells and tastes of New York. Falling in love with life again, or perhaps maybe for the first time.

And fast forward to now. I’m thirty. I still love my body. I know what makes me feel alive. I know what nourishes me and what doesn’t. I know what used to plague me was simply flesh and thoughts and what now propels me forward is all heart.

Then the other day there was a comment on my blog about my weight. She thought it had fluctuated and she asked. She had the kindest of intentions but as I read it and my breath caught in my throat. For just a split second I thought, “What if I’m not enough?”

And something deep down inside of me, where that God-shaped hole used to be, said softly and quietly like a Mama to her young, “But you most certainly are.”

And I knew it to be true.





19 Responses to “A God-Shaped Hole”

  1. rachel says:

    Absolutely beautiful, Mary Beth. Thank you so much for sharing yourself so generously :)

  2. Jennifer says:

    Wow, thank you for sharing something so deeply personal. From my vantage point you are so at ease – confident, comfortable in your beautiful skin, joyful and easy with a belly laugh. There are lessons to learn here. You’re someone I want to be like when I grow up – although I am more than a decade older than you ;)

    • mb says:

      Haha, thanks Jennifer! I am definitely comfortable in my own skin now but it’s something I’ve actively worked at for years. When I had that momentary reaction I knew it was something I had to share because I think most women go thru very hard times in their relationships with their selves and their bodies.

  3. Nicole says:

    Mary,

    I loved this post. So much truth and vulnerability. Thank you!

    I find so much to relate to in your words — I’m also an Iowa alum, (’04), I practice yoga, and I lived in Los Angeles l for 7 years before moving to Chicago a couple years ago. I love living in California again (vicariously) through your beautiful blog and Instagram. Thanks for all the inspiration and wisdom.

    Nicole

  4. juls says:

    i have been reading your blog for a few months now, and love it. this post was beautiful. thank you so much for opening up and sharing. truly inspiring!

  5. […] Moving words by Mary Beth LaRue […]

  6. Angie says:

    Thank you so much for being willing to share, the experience is definitely relateable!

  7. Cathy says:

    Such a great authentic read. Thanks for sharing this!

  8. HAnnah says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this part of your story, Mary Beth! I am currently recovering from anorexia and bulimia and while I find yoga to be incredibly motivating and healing, I sometimes think that every one- especially the teacher- is confident and happy with her body and doesn’t struggle in the way I do. It is so encouraging to read that you chose freedom and went after it! Now you seem to exude joy, gratitude, and confidence. I can’t wait to get to that place as well!

    • mb says:

      Thanks Hannah! Will be thinking of you and sending love and strength your way. Life is so much better on the other side!

  9. Marie says:

    Here’s to that choice and to the amazing grace and bravery of this piece. And, as someone who’s known you up close and at a distance for these past 10 years, thanks for the reminder that wisdom is hard fought for and sometimes soft but oh, so strong. So much love to beautiful you- body, mind, and spirit!

  10. […] was on the cover and there was a very insightful interview with her. i recently read this blog post from Mary Beth Larue, a yoga teacher based in Venice, CA who writes beautiful words and found it to […]

  11. morgan says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I am also in my early thirties and your feelings around recovering from and still processing a teenage eating disorder totally rings so true for me. I too spent years avoiding getting on a scale, or any kind of exercise/fitness approach that required measuring anything (calories, weight, inches, reps, miles), for fear that I would slip back into how it was decades ago as a teenager. Thanks for sharing!!

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