This weekend was so much fun for me. I did things that I was so proud of; things I had said no to in the past; things I was afraid to do because of my eating disorder. But, in the moment I thought the fun was worth the fear.
What could I possibly have to fear while doing a slip and slide, you ask?
Well, I was already experiencing a huge recovery win not only by publicly wearing my bathing suit, but also eating in my bathing suit.
“A slip and slide?” ED asked in disgust, “You’ll be running in your bikini? You’ll be jiggling everywhere, and not in the good places. And what if your top or bottom slide off? You think you’ve tricked these people into thinking your attractive, wait until they see your real body.”
I’ve heard this all before. Every time a fun summer activity was mentioned. Everyone around me would get so excited, and I would be listening to ED in a panic. The words would get louder and meaner as he relentlessly repeated them.
This weekend, when his horrid voice started, I shut him down. “I’m in!” I said with a smile. My best friend and I shot each other a supportive glance—an anxious but genuine grin, as if we were about to bungee jump (funny how ED can create such fear around trivial things, that’s why its important to have someone who understands the magnitude of these victories).
The game began.
In my friends words “it was one big blur.”
One big blur of spraying water, sliding, falling and laughing, high fives, and checking to make sure my bikini was still in place (it was-so suck it ED), and then my only thought was to flip that solo cup as fast as I could so I could watch the next person slide.
I don’t know if I jiggled, if my rolls showed, if there was a wedgie while I was sliding. The videos taken showed me two things though: I flopped like a dead fish, and I was laughing the whole time. I was genuinely happy.
I wasn’t standing on the sidelines with ED hovered over both my shoulders. I was ME.
And then I played a water game of kick ball. Where I went sliding through oiled up tarps to get to our kiddy pool bases.
The following day, July 4th was more mellow. I lounged by the pool with my boyfriend, again in my bathing suit. I say this with hope, and some uncertainty: it gets easier to fight ED’s negative voice after you’ve shut him down before.
Nonetheless, I still expect that his voice will sneak up on me occasionally—a lesson I’ve learned time and time again—so I do not let my guard down in situations that I know to be triggering. ED can be sneaky.
A few other friends showed up, and I kept a cool head while walking around in my bathing suit. As the evening BBQ began, everyone around me was eating grilled chicken. Here comes ED: he wanted me to eat the chicken because it is the healthiest choice. I wanted a cheese burger. “Of course you’re going to ask for the greasiest food, you fatso,” I was literally being made fun of before even asking the cook. It would be easier to have what he is serving, but in the past ED would be so excited grilled chicken was my only option and I didn’t like that ED was getting his way.
I struggled to work up the courage to ask for the burger. I even struggled with knowing if a burger was a good idea since it used to be a “binge-food.”
Binge-foods used to only be eaten in privacy, when I am alone and drowning in self-loathing. They are the foods ED deems off-limits when I am around others because they make me look fat and disgusting.
Recovery has proven that this way of thinking is a lie. No particular food can make me fat, and every food can be enjoyed in moderation. It is nonsensical to prohibit food from touching my plate while with others, knowing full well that the deprivation will cause binges later.
So today, during my July 4th barbecue ED has confused me. Am I eating my old binge-food just to prove a point that I can, or am I asking for it because I genuinely want it?
Seems so complex, right?
The sole question I need to ask when things get convoluted is: what does my taste prefer, and what does my ED prefer?
The decision was made for me because there were no burgers left, lol. But, I was proud of myself for asking, and I did realize I didn’t actually want the chicken out of taste preference. It’s delicious, but grilled chicken is a safe food that I eat often. So, to spice it up I made myself a bowl of salad with some craisins and a little creamy dressing. In conclusion, I had an awesome dinner.
If it had been a cheese burger: I would have had it with ketchup on a white bun. Eaten slowly, and thoroughly enjoyed it. “Binges/binge-foods/fear-foods” are words from my past that ED likes to throw around and confuse me. I need to remember to trust myself.
A pretty victorious weekend. It was filled with all the things I’ve always looked forward to during my journey through recovery: saying yes, eating with others, asking for what I want, and finally instead of being stuck inside my head with insecurities and ED, I was able to really enjoy the people around me, the activities, the conversations and the laughs. These times don’t come completely free of anxiety, but I powered through it well and that’s all I can hope to do.
Today is Tuesday, my first day back to the real world. I am alone in my room waiting for my work week to start and I am a bit nervous.
Coming down from a fun-filled and successful weekend of trumping ED, sometimes means he comes back swinging. I don’t have my supports surrounding me, or an abundance of plans to look forward to. I picture him smiling at me like Cheshire cat in Alice In Wonderland. He never really went away all weekend, but he disappeared a little and now he’s coming back to life with that little grin on his face, kinda following me around as I walk around my house.
Things like journaling, art, Pilates, playing games usually keep him at bay. I just have to motivate myself to keep up the coping skills, and then the next day is usually easier. Today, I wrote this article, and hopefully there will be more to come.