*Spoiler Alert: Reading further will reveal information about the plot of Twin Peaks, Seasons 1 and 2.
*Trigger Warning- This article contains the following content: eating dysmorphia, eating disorders, and challenging relationships with food.
In 2013, I was in the grip of a vicious body dysmorphic episode. I was extreme dieting, jumping from one diet fad to the next in weekly intervals. I would download the Weight Watchers app on a Monday, only to drown myself in Vegan documentaries on Friday. I joined an “afterschool” Crossfit club at the middle school I was working at. After work, I’d drive to my mom’s house on Friday afternoons, and I’d go for a six mile run or go on the treadmill for an hour. If I neglected to do this, (see: opting to take a nap after work instead) I would fall into a pit of shame. My world revolved around shrinking, and I was sinking.
Before this point, I had dabbled in the diet world, but nothing like I was experiencing in 2013. There were a few reasons for this.
- I was living alone in a family-centered city that was not designed for single millennials to thrive.
- The city I lived in was not pet-friendly. It was a dog park desert. There wasn’t a local place where I could take Clementine and meet people.
- The average resident age was 56. Enough said.
- Everyone who taught at my school was in their family-raising years. I found myself connecting more to their kids when they’d tell stories about their children who were in college.
- Because of everything above ^, I used this as an excuse to focus on (what I thought to be) the most important necessary change: My weight.
(Sidebar: I want to make sure to point out that I wasn’t aware that anything was wrong with my eating habits. I thought this was completely normal behavior for a young woman in her 20s. A year or two later, this realization fueled my craving for body image activism and eating disorder awareness.)
The living situation was not ideal, but it certainly wasn’t hopeless. I could’ve socialized more. I could’ve joined a club. I could’ve found a way to make friends. But I chose not to. And this is when my Netflix account took center stage.
Twin Peaks: Characters With A Purpose
Because I was busy not putting myself out there and enjoying my early twenties, I locked myself up in my empty, three-bedroom home to sulk, cook diet-food/vegan recipes, and watch Netflix shows. What I need y’all to take away from this is that Twin Peaks was introduced into my life during a very fragile time. Sometimes, I wonder how I would’ve received the show if I wasn’t so spiritually delicate at the time. I believe it was this delicate state that allowed me to fully absorb the messages and interpret all of the ways in which Twin Peaks is metaphysically twisted and profound.
At first, I didn’t know what to make of it. This show is quirky af. If you have not watched Twin Peaks, here is a quick synopsis of the show.
“FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper, a mystical loner and eccentric nature lover, comes to the small Washington state town of Twin Peaks to investigate the brutal murder of a young high school girl named Laura Palmer and soon becomes entangled in most of the town’s problems and situations.” (IMDB.com)
Twin Peaks is disguised as a murder mystery, even though it unfolds into a dense, spiritually-“woke” series. There’s a demonic spirit that possesses people. There’s a parallel universe that houses evil doppelgangers of main characters. There’s a secret, deck-o-cards-themed brothel that recruits girls from a perfume counter in a department store (Intrigued yet?) The character development was enough to hook me, regardless of the various subplots. BUT, it was the spiritual implications of the show that impacted me on a metaphysically level.
Agent Dale Cooper, an outsider, arrives at Twin Peaks to solve the murder of local teen, Laura Palmer. It is quickly revealed that while Dale Cooper is a lively and quirky dude- I like to think of his character as the male, 1990s version of Jess from New Girl (played by Zooey Deschanel)- he has something that Jess from New Girl does not- a clearly defined life purpose. Dale Cooper enters Twin Peaks ready and determined to solve this mystery, and he does so with a smile on his face and a donut in his hand.
Watching the first few episodes, I found myself wrestling with my own demons right out of the gate. Cooper naturally possessed qualities that I did not:
- a passion for his career goal
- a social intelligence that allowed him to connect with others effortlessly
- an analytical mind frame (with flairs of creativity)
- an infallible level of confidence (spiritually and socially)
- a spiritual framework to guide him personally and professionally
- the ability to TRUST HIS INTUITION and use it as hard evidence to ultimately solve the crime of Laura Palmer’s murder (as well as the rest of the spiritually-steeped plot)
And I wanted those things.
The Start of Healing My Eating Disorder with Donuts
Before Agent Cooper, I had never so readily connected with a character outside of the female identity. And come to think of it, I haven’t connected with a character outside of the intersection of my identities since. He had an impact that I couldn’t explain, but at the time, an explanation wasn’t necessary. While I didn’t know it at the time, this was the beginning of my healing process. When I finished the first five-or-so episodes of Season 1, I impulsively got into my car, drove to Bennett’s Fresh Roast in downtown Fort Myers, and I ordered a coffee and a strawberry-frosted donut. (My first of many in the years to follow.) I drove with the wrapped, forbidden treat in the passenger seat- ugh, the symbolism is unreal- and I parked at Centennial Park in front of the Caloosahatchee River. I stood by the riverside and slowly sank my teeth into the donut. I savored every sugary, sprinkley bite.
And I cried.
Y’all, I cried for a long time. I cried because I knew I had to unlock whatever bullshit chains I had wrapped around myself. I cried because the donut was so good, and yet I still viewed it as my number one enemy. I cried because I was so lonely and lost- and my soul knew that the strawberry-frosted donut was the most joy I had experienced in a long time. It was as an act of rebellion, and I felt shame.
I cried because I knew that I was sick and that I needed help.
Sometimes, the realization of needing help is just as important as the actual recovery. Months later, I would begin to make substantial progress in my recovery journey. My cousin introduced me to the book, Intuitive Eating, which helped me to finally discard those chains of food guilt and dieting obsession. A short year later, I’d make Body Image the center of my research in grad school. Three years later, here I am- writing about how the process of healing my body dysmorphia has manifested into a sense of purpose. Funny how nothing is coincidental, right?
After the trip to Bennett’s, I went home to Clementine, and we finished the rest of the series together. It wouldn’t be until years later that I’d re-watch the series with new eyes, a new perspective, a healed heart, and a new support system. I’d grapple with the deeper issues that the series presents, because I had acquired the emotional space to sit with those concepts. (And maybe my interpretation of those concepts will be another post later on- someone could write a book on this. Maybe they have?) For now, I know that I’m looking forward to enjoying the revival of Twin Peaks with my renewed-sense of purpose, a pot of freshly-brewed coffee, and a ton of donuts.