I love writing about my successes and how far I’ve come. But I have to be real and talk openly about the days I feel like going backwards.
It feels like a chore to write when I’m sad and urgy—of course because the seemingly easiest thing to do is give into the urge.
With recovery, we learn very well that binging, purging or restriction isn’t going to make us feel better—it actually makes things worse. But somehow, 7 years later, I still tamper with the idea of doing it “just this once” to make my anxiety go away.
“Just this once” is nonexistent to an eating disorder.
Therapists have called it a “quick fix” if we give into urges. By binging all day, I’m temporarily distracted from my anxiety. They say I’m “putting a band-aid on a wound.”
And then if I skip dinner because I ate too much today or I feel fat, I’m told “it’s not the right thing to do.”
Well, it’s actually not a band-aid. That is way too simple. I’m literally injecting myself with Novocaine and then pouring gasoline on the wound. I’m making the original problem worse, and adding more levels of pain. And I’ve chosen to numb myself the whole time.
And sure, it’s “wrong” to deprive myself of food. Because my body needs nutrients and yada yada yada.. But more importantly, when I wake up tomorrow and still think I look fat, I will spiral into a deep depression. I will feel like skipping one meal isn’t enough—I’ll stare in the mirror and expect to like it because of the deprivation. But I’ll scowl at my stomach and pinch my imperfections (so I’ve now indulged body dysmorphia). What if I wake up and DO think I look thinner? Now that’s where I get fucking addicted and never want to stop skipping meals. I’ll compete with myself to eat “better” (an old ED term-all food is good food) or less than the day before. Because I don’t want to undo what I did to make my body look like this (obsession sets in).
Why am I going into such detail about giving into urges right now? It seems unhealthy to talk about it with such scrutiny. But Renfrew does say: “approach, don’t avoid.” And I’m being real.
I really need to acknowledge what I avoided tonight. I almost spiraled down one of those paths and gave into binging and purging. Thankfully, I didn’t.
I had just gotten home from a full day of work. I had 45 minutes to decompress (or in my case, worry) before I had to leave for training at my new job.
I have so many concerns about my new job, I love it, but I’m so scared of (god forbid) making a mistake.
As these thoughts were playing on a loop in my head all day, I chose to continuously eat and ignore my fullness cues at the daycare.
Going through recovery helps keep logical thoughts like: “EATING WILL NOT HELP YOUR ANXIETY” front and center of my brain. Then I am usually more prone to pick a healthier coping skill than what ED wants me to do.
But today ED was yelling back at me: “you don’t have time for another coping skill. You have a full time job, and then you have to go to a new job that you clearly aren’t good enough for. When exactly are you going to find time to cope. You’re going to be so exhausted this week… Oh, by the way, you’ve gained weight…You’re hopeless and worthless and fat. So, here’s some food, at least it will help shut me up…”
I walked in the door when I got home from work and immediately went to the kitchen. Rummaging through the cabinets; opening the fridge 4 or 5 times; “should I go right for the binge and purge or should I pretend ‘I’m just going to have a little’ for the next hour until I get so full I have to purge.” If I chose the latter I can say: “It happened so quickly. I just wanted to have a little.”
(BTW, this sounds like I’m manipulative and don’t really want to get better. But, I’m only capable of this raw honestly in retrospect. I, of course, didn’t want to binge and purge when I got home. In that moment when I walked into the kitchen, my brain was moving so quickly I couldn’t think about logic. I didn’t care about the outcome of my actions. And I would have sworn up and down that ‘I’M JUST GOING TO HAVE A LITTLE!’ …and I will genuinely mean it.
But I’m going for food, not out of hunger, out of anxiety. And when I take that first bite, that’s like an alcoholic smelling someone’s unattended glass of whisky. It’s impossible to stop there.
But addictions are all about breaking the patterns…defying impossibilities…)
I took my first cup of granola upstairs. Many times before I would have finished that first cup, gone back for more, again and again until I purged. Today I finished the food and said NO. I laid my head down, set my alarm for 45 minutes, and closed my eyes.
Of course, now without any food to comfort me, my thoughts got excruciatingly loud again:“You are so fat. Think about how much you ate today. OMG, you didn’t go over your notes from last week’s training.You’re going to make a fool of yourself when you try to help a new client today. You’re a mess. You need better priorities. You left work fifteen minutes early today, you are so goddamn annoying to your co-workers at the daycare. Remember what the scale said at the doctor’s office last week, I bet your more than that now…“
annnnnndddd ED doesnt skip a beat: “…Oh you feel that? That’s your stomach because you filled it with so much crap today. You have to get up now and put on nice clothes. You’re going to look gross in them.”
I got up, knowing that I no longer have to be alone in my house with the potential to binge. All I have to do now is get ready, get out the door, blast some music in the car to shut ED the fuck up, and make it into my new job.
I put on some pretty lipstick and looked at my full length mirror. No, I didn’t see my body: I saw the beautiful artwork I made in Renfrew. I saw the vision board of my future home, I saw a collage of women I admire
all of whom have smiles and absolutely beautiful bodies. I grabbed my keys and went downstairs to go to work. Just then I got a phone call.
“Hey Tash, you don’t have to come in. The day has been really slow. By the time you get here, we will be closing up.”
I couldn’t believe it.
Can you imagine if I binged and purged and then got that phone call?
I would have slipped backwards (which is ok, it can be forgiven and it helps us grow sometimes) but I would have felt so defeated.
Using symptoms to get through the anticipation of facing something that, in the end, I wouldn’t have to do?
I am so grateful I didn’t have to say “I binged and purged for nothing.” I am so grateful I didn’t have to learn this lesson the hard way.
Instead I got to say: I slept off the urges, I ignored ED as best I could, I pulled myself together and NOW I can even act on the “better” coping skills I wanted to do earlier.
So here I am. Writing my feelings and being a badass.
I know urges can come on strong when I work long days, and they will probably be there as I transition into my new job. It’s not pessimistic to say this, it’s being prepared.
So tonight, I stayed in and I ate dinner: I had salad.
Then I ate ice cream.
Fuck you ED if you think the ice cream was a bad choice.
Fuck you ED if you think the salad was a good choice.
I need to remain non-judgemental, but I just love Ron Swanson.
If I’m going to beat these urges I need to stop letting ED dig up old beliefs about food. I need to stop letting him dictate what I eat.
Avoiding certain foods will not make me happier with my body. And I am not a walking, talking balloon that inflates every time I eat. I’ll eat what I crave when I’m hungry. And when I’m done, I’ll be in the moment, coping with whatever tools I can find. That can mean a baby at the daycare, a funny friend at work, my notebook when it’s naptime, a friend to text when I’m vulnerable. I can find other coping skills if I look for them–even if I’m working myself to the bone.
Less ED, more LIFE.