Anorexia Addiction Works. Here’s What It Looked Like for Me.

Eating disorders, religion, and polarization in small town America

Dana Leigh Lyons
6 min readOct 15, 2022


Image of author, age 47, by Brian Limoyo

If you’re new to my writings, you might want to start here, for slightly more context. This post is a continuation of a chapter in progress.

And so, for as much as I loved Jeff Number 2, his God came between us. Not at first, when newly in love and avoiding the issue. But later, when he got an after-school job at a Fundamentalist ice cream shop, founded a Christian athlete group, and talk turned to marriage.

Also not helpful: He began taking cues from a beloved coach who, in a soft, disarmingly kind cadence, assured us all gays were damned for eternity.

Looking back, that’s when future planning went from dreamy and light to full of grownup fights and realities. It’s also when my inheritance — received and created — caught up with me. When anorexia and addiction to running emerged as my most dependable dealer.

Yet, as teens in love, we were optimistic. We assumed somehow, someway, we’d work it out. One of us would change. The other would get over this God thing and come around.

In a generous if self-important gesture, I attended his Christian athlete group in solidarity. Two meetings in, that soft-spoken coach suggested I take my outraged defence of “gay-ness” elsewhere.

So, as I pulled towards vocal, left-leaning liberalism violating the ethos of our small town and most everyone I knew, Jeff leaned hard into his religious, right-wing upbringing. Fights over “issues” became frequent and heated. We each stood steadfast: There would be no concessions. There was no reconciliation.

It’s funny-not-funny how, as my now self in today’s world, I suspect we’d find more common ground. Yes, polarization has gotten extreme. Yes, I’ve been openly queer for two decades.

But also, I do not parrot the so-called progressives anymore. I do not consent to their liberal interpretation and dogmatic deification of science nor to their conflation of issues and demonization of nuance.

So now, as before, I sit on the outskirts. This time, I refuse to pick a label and play along. This time, I’ve chosen to step…



Dana Leigh Lyons

Doctor of Chinese Medicine, Writer, Medium Top Writer in Poetry, Health, Travel, LGBTQ.

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