Cami Julaine is a blogger, public speaker, singer & speaker with a huge heart, and I’m excited to share her story with all of you! She and I connected through Instagram, and her passion for empowering women was immediately clear. Her blog The Rising Goddess features inspirational interviews with other women, and tips for self-care, travel, style and more!
Me: Can you tell us a little about your experience with food and body image concerns?
Cami: Definitely. So, I struggled with anorexia and bulimia from age 8 after a traumatic experience. I started to repress memories and disassociate while using my eating disorder as a coping mechanism. As I grew up, I developed a sense of hatred towards my body and always wanted to feel clean. Whether it was through detoxing, purging, juicing, restricting, I just wanted to get rid of the shame/guilt/fear that I felt was “fat”.
Me: I love how you use air quotes for “fat” because you’re so right! Our perceptions of ourselves get so skewed. Plus as we both know, being fat isn’t bad anyway! Did the people in your life know what you were struggling with?
Cami: My friends and family had an idea but didn’t see how severe it was until I was about 16 in high school. At that point, I couldn’t even drink water without purging it. They weren’t educated on eating disorders, so they thought that if I could just eat I’d be fine.
Me: I’m so sorry you went through that. I think most people aren’t educated about it, but I’m hopeful that is starting to change. What was the catalyst for you getting better?
Cami: My mentor, Paula Abdul (who is also in recovery from an eating disorder) helped me to understand what I was going through. When I got really sick and nothing seemed to help, she told me I needed to get into treatment. We found a treatment center that her assistant’s girlfriend was the CEO of. So I ended up getting into treatment. If it wasn’t for Paula, I definitely wouldn’t be where I’m at today.
Me: That’s so wonderful that you had that! She is really amazing. When you were in treatment, what was the most difficult thing you had to learn to accept?
Cami: The hardest lesson for me was learning that not everyone will validate you, but you have to be in acceptance of that. A lot of my work surrounded trauma issues and some people who I thought would support me didn’t. I had to still stand strong in my truth and validate myself. Once I found that validation within myself, I unlocked a sense of safety that no one could take away from me.
Me: Oh my gosh, YES! Learning to develop internal validation is so important. And definitely challenging at first. Now that you’ve learned to go inward for validation and safety rather than seeking it outside, how has your view of yourself changed?
Cami: I would say my view on myself hasn’t necessarily changed, but just evolved. I realized that I am not to blame for my eating disorder. It isn’t my fault. But, it’s my responsibility to take action in my recovery. I realized how much power I have within myself, and I diminish that power when I don’t speak my truth.
Me: I love what you said about taking responsibility. That is so empowering. Has getting to that place changed the way you look at others? For me, I always felt so alone, and so different. Honestly I felt like a freak. When I started opening up, I realized I really wasn’t that different from everyone else, and that people were way more loving and accepting than I ever imagined.
Cami: The big thing for me is that I have a sense of love for everyone now. No matter what they’ve done or who they are… I’ve learned that we all have special gifts and talents, and when we are in our light, nothing can take away our glow.
Me: That’s so beautiful. I couldn’t agree more. I’m also curious to hear from you–for just about all of us, staying on the path of recovery is not easy, and it can be a real challenge to stay motivated. What gave you the strength to stay on the recovery path?
Cami: I knew that if I didn’t stay on the recovery path, I’d die. And I knew that I didn’t want to die… and I couldn’t live miserable anymore. So I had to choose life.
Me: I’m SO glad you did! That takes so much strength and courage. Now that you’re on the other side, what did all of the work you did to recover help you do that you never thought you’d be able to do?
Cami: DEFINITELY speaking my truth! My truth has become something I value more than anything.
Me: Amazing! Is there anything you would do differently now if you had to start recovery over again?
Cami: I would definitely be more willing and try to let go of the stubbornness. I really struggled with wanting to take control in my recovery journey in the beginning. It was really hard for me to let go and trust my therapist and treatment team.
Me: Oh man…that sound familiar. Control was my drug of choice! Thank you for being so honest and transparent about that. Speaking of which, what has it been like for you to speak out openly about your struggles?
Cami: I have been supported and loved on a new level. It’s a really beautiful thing to be able to share something so true and vulnerable and be loved unconditionally for it. If I hadn’t shared my recovery story, I genuinely believe I wouldn’t be anywhere near where I am today… in all aspects of my life from the friends I have, the jobs I pursue, etc.
Me: That is so wonderful to hear. Truly that warms my heart! Who have the most supportive people been for you?
Cami: Definitely Paula, 100%. Two other women that were major influences in my recovery were Nancy De Andrade and Jeannette Rojas. I genuinely believe that Nancy came into my life to save it, by opening my mind to spirituality and connecting to God, while Jeannette changed my life into what it is today. Jeannette taught me everything about my eating disorder, its little patterns and core issues. Jeannette also worked with me on my trauma work, and fought/protected me when no one else did. I am beyond grateful for Nancy, Jeannette and Paula. Without them, I wouldn’t be alive today.
Me: That is such an incredible gift. There’s nothing more powerful than women supporting each other, and I’m so glad they were there for you in such a big way. I imagine you’re a tremendous gift to them as well! I think the last thing I’d love to hear from you today is what would you like the general public to know about eating disorders or recovery?
Cami: Eating Disorders have absolutely nothing to do with food. It sounds silly but it’s true. For me, it was much more about the inner issues that held me captive.
Me: That is so true, and so commonly misunderstood. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, and for shining a light on that!
Cami: My pleasure!