Today I reflected on the disordered declarations I used to make every morning while in my eating disorder.
I would spend hours scrolling through fitness instagrams. Updating myself on the latest health trends, finding exercise gurus to follow, and pinning vegetarian recipes.
I would go to sleep with all this newly-found inspiration on how to be thin and active.
It felt exhilarating to create a flawless routine for myself. Thinking: “this time it will work. If I follow this plan, I will never have another unhealthy craving. And I will never want to stop exercising.”
Oftentimes, I fell short of my goal. My motivation to work out would inevitably dwindle, and I’d eat things that caused severe guilt.
I failed yet again. Somehow all these beautiful women I read about could do it, but I wasn’t good enough to keep up.
My personal eating disorder often included binge/purge cycles that crept in about a week after I implemented my strict diet and exercise regimens. And I aways wondered, with such intense self-loathing, how could I allow myself to get to this point, again? What am I doing wrong?
“I just have to try harder,” I would think, as I scrolled though more Pinterest pages and found new ideas on how to tighten the reigns on myself.
I’d spend a long time reading and pulling tidbits from everywhere: what women ate, how they exercised, how much water they drank, how they kept their motivation.
Another night’s sleep would pass in anticipation that… “tomorrow I’ll be good.” and “this is the last time I’ll have to start over.”
Years later, in an eating disorder treatment facility, one of the first steps I took was deleting all accounts that fueled my desire to be thin and fit. I could not allow myself to look at anything that made me feel as though image was ‘all-important.’ This even meant unfollowing certain friends. I made a conscious effort, which was very difficult, to not indulge in the health/fitness and diet culture. I had to be really serious about it.
Two years later, I hold true to this. However, I still see fitness models and seemingly flawless women all around me. I do not seek them out, but it is truly unavoidable (especially with social media.)
I do not speak about it, but I overhear conversations pertaining to the subject. How people plan to lose weight. I hear many people confidently boast about their work out routines, and others “ooh-ing and ahh-ing” at their “dedication.”
I know the truth:coming up with ways to change my body is an absolute waste of my energy and time. I am a better person when I am not trying to be like others. I am proud that I want to obsess over the beautiful/unique aspects of myself, and not pick apart my flaws. My core belief is that self-love is all-important.
But that doesn’t change how hard it is to deal with the fitspo pictures that pop up and conversations surrounding food and body.
When ‘Jill’ talks about how many miles she ran today: I hear the remanence of my eating disorder telling me how flabby I’ve become since I stopped putting so much energy into working out.
When my eyes graze the cover of Women’s Health and I see that another actress dropped ten pounds and gained lean muscle, I wonder: why the hell would I give up focusing on what I’m eating everyday.
I noticed today that my declarations, although lessened, have not stopped completely. They are not as loud and intentional, but they do remain in the back of my head. It’s the little voice that says: “maybe I’ll just give up my mac and cheese.”
or “I have to start using my pull-up bar again.” or “no more desserts for the next two weeks.”
I made a couple of these subtle declarations in therapy.
My therapist stopped me. She reminded me that focusing on food is my way of regaining control in some area of my life. And although my eating disorder isn’t as obnoxious as it once was, it’s still successfully convincing me that I have an inadequate body and I need to change.
If that little voice starts to plan anything related to food or fitness, shift my thoughts and start planing other things: such as what do to with my free time. Start imagining the canvas I plan on painting when I get home from work. Or what facial mask I’ll wear while I pick out a color to paint my nails.
Declarations aren’t quite as bad as I once thought they were.
I can still wake up exhilarated to start or continue something. But, let your declarations be constructive and worthy of your time. Let them be soulful and artistic.
Look forward to your current life, do not plan on changing yourself.
“I declare that I will use my experiences to write more” …
Yesterday I woke up feeling happy.I literally had zero anxieties. It was strange. My brain didn’t know what to do.
No anxieties—gave me anxiety.
So here’s a little back story:
I had quite a stressful week.
I had gotten violently ill and had to deal with incorporating food back into my life after almost 48 hours of eating and drinking the bare minimum. This is an extremely difficult task for someone with an eating disorder.Being sick has a psychological effect of wanting to continue to restrict even if the restriction began without your consent. Furthermore, I had to go from Work to Renfrew (16.5 hour days with lots of driving). I made the decision to bail on Renfrew one day which causes me anxiety because I really want to be dependable, but I was putting my mental state first (which typically causes guilt) and I was just too exhausted. I also had to deal withheightening drama, a boss who put an extra load of work on me, and being taken advantage of by co-workers.
Thursday I was able to work through it at Renfrew.
At first, I was having a hard time in my therapists office because I did not want my anger to linger. I felt as though I needed a change in attitude before it devoured me.
I would justify everything as I vented. I’d explain the unfair situation and then say, “But it’s okay because…”
My therapist told me to stop rationalizing it and to trust what I was saying. She told me to get the emotions out without judging them. I rebuttaled:
“I do not want to feed my anger. I don’t like the person I am when I’m going on and on about other people or life being unfair.”
She explained that this was part of the eating disorder. By not talking about it, I am shoving my emotions down and smoothing them over (get it—a direct correlation to what I do with food when I get out of work).
She told me to stick with talking about the reasons why it is unfair.
By removing the judgements (the “buts” and rationalization), I was I able to realize that I can talk about my emotions without being consumed by them. It is therapeutic to spill the emotions out and not just leave them bottled up. I need to either vent to a support or journal in order to recognize why I shouldn’t be treated this way.
Furthermore, it gives me the ability to find a solution. After getting everything out on the table, I can now look at the positives.
Initially, this situation didn’t seem to have a solution which is probably another reason why I tried to cover my emotions up and “just deal with it.”
I want to be compliant, I want to be kind, I want to be able to handle what others throw at me. However, I also want to work to the best of my ability. If I am being taken advantage of, it is not unkind to state the facts and express reasons why I have to say no.
I felt amazing. Venting lifted the world off my shoulders. Being non-judgmental allowed me to forgive myself. And removing the rationalizations eventually gave me solutions.
I continued my day. I was able to be honest with loved ones about my day without crucifying myself for my emotions.
I couldn’t wait for the weekend. I wanted to wake up without any obligations. I wanted sleeeep!
But a complete worry-free Saturday morning? I have to be honest: when I wake up without any worries, sometimes my brain makes up an irrational one:
“My boyfriend’s going to break up with me.” “My mom is going to get sick.” “So and so doesn’t like me.” And then I mentally whip out my Renfrew worksheets. “What evidence do I have to support this?” “If this is true, how will I handle it?” It’s a lot of work calming anxieties.
But I had none. A thought even crossed my mind: “aren’t we worried Rob is going to break up with us…” (ED said)
“No.” I answered.
“Well aren’t you unhappy with your body?” (ED said)
“No, I’m really not. No faking today, I really do like it.” I said.
I got ready and went to Renfrew. Suddenly, in my euphoric moment I realized I didn’t necessarily want to eat. I was feeling afraid of food, like it might ruin my worry-free attitude. Despite the fact that I’ve had no issues with binging and restricing all week.
At Renfrew a memory came up and I went with it…
I was 17 and at the beginning stages of my eating disorder. This particular boy may not remember saying these words; he may not remember the way he looked at me; but 8 years later–the memory was clear as day.
A few friends were gathered around a fire drinking in the woods. I was carefree and laughing, having a great time and feeling good. On the walk out, I jumped on another boy’s back for a ride. The other one was not amused. He seemed offended as he watched my actions unfold throughout the night. Finally, he lashed out. For no obvious reason, he called me superficial. There had been no talk of image or weight during our entire night so I was very confused. He added to this by bitterly saying I was ‘conceited’ and blamed it my body.
(Many people experience their bodies being a spectacle for peers. This boy considered me “thin.” I’d lost weight after being bullied years earlier for being called “fat” by another boy. Don’t you just wish body shaming of all kind would vanish. It clearly has an effect on all ages especially susceptible adolescent minds.)
I was devastated. I shut down. I tried to continue my good time but it was completely forced. I felt really guilty for being happy with my body.
My ‘happiness’ had been labeled ‘conceit’ and according to this boy, my ‘carefree’ attitude was only because I was ‘skinny.’
There are no such things as coincidences. I have been working hard on self-acceptance for many years, and this memory popped into my mind for a reason.
I allowed it to resonate and shared the incident with the supports around me.
I did not manipulate my body to achieve happiness today, but I due to old beliefs, I thought food would ruin my ephoria. I am demeaning myself because being completely content may make others look angrily upon me. Therefore, I can only be content as long as I have an underlying struggle with my weight
I feel uneasy over loving myself.
Is it all because of this one incident? No. But this boy clearly had the same beliefs as ED. And since ED was just beginning to take control of me at that time, that boy validated EDs lies. Lies that were buried deep in my skull until I had the proper education, coping skills and support to dig them up and plant new ones.
Luckily, we had art next and I furiously journaled:
…”you’re only happy because your skinny.” How can this be true? I had cake, cookies, and pizza this week!
I want to exercise to keep this feeling? But I didn’t exercise at all in order to achieve this feeling…
I haven’t restricted so why do I feel guilty for being happy with my body? Do I actually feel guilty that I haven’t been bingeing?
Do I not deserve to feel “skinny?” Because I have an ED? I don’t know if ED even considers this skinny, I’m just at peace with my body?
I hate the way that boy looked at me–like I don’t deserve to be happy. I don’t know if I’m actually working through anything or making any sense, but I hope that writing this down is freeing myself of it…
Happiness is not related to thinness, no matter how many people may hold that belief.
ED gave me a high every time I was happy with my body. But that high was fleeting. It was due to over exercising and restriction.
And I’ve proven many times in recovery that I can experience happiness without focusing on my body or the mirror.
Today’s euphoria was not due to manipulating food or exercising. It was the real thing.
It was due to feelings of adequacy. Feelings of pride that I took care of myself this week. Feelings of contentment for life and love from my boyfriend. It was due to appreciating my kindness both for others and for myself. And my new super-power: venting and finding a solution!
…I was confusing feeling “thin” and feeling “light.”
My ED likes to misinterpret “lightness” as a physical sensation. And often tricks me into restricting and exercising in order to feel “light.” That is why it is a fake euphoria.
I know now that feeling light is a mental state. And food does not affect its ability to come and go…
This feeling will inevitably pass, as do all feelings. But, now I can enjoy it as it comes and not fear losing it because of actions or thoughts associated with food or body.
Being content with oneself is not conceit. It is kindness and we all need to appreciate it when it comes.
Being care-free is a blessing. There are too many worries in life, and when they seem to dissipate for one beautiful Saturday, smile and go about your day, in hopes of it lasting forever. But also knowing, that if it leaves, it will soon return as long as you take care of yourself.
Numbers are very defining to an Eating Disorder. No matter how bad you may want recovery, if you suddenly have to go up a pant size, all bets are off and ED is back to controlling your actions. When in treatment, I took recovery very seriously—I was doing pretty well and for that reason I was afraid to go shopping; what if I don’t fit into the same size clothes?
Shopping during recovery:
I decided to grab three sizes (I knew my roundabout number). Without looking at the tags, and making sure I did not WATCH myself in the mirror as I was putting them on—I changed clothes until the right pair fit. Then I bought the most comfortable ones WITHOUT checking the number on the inside. “It doesn’t matter because these look the best on me” I repeated to myself.
Before going shopping:
Goals during ED’s reign over me: Buy the smallest size. Buy the sexiest belly shirt. Keep these in my closet in order to motivate myself to lose weight and work to look like the skinny models that wear them.
Goals during recovery: Search pinterest for models/actresses with REAL bodies (tweak the wording to find different size beauties ex: plus size, curves, real bodies). I discovered so many celebrities with sexy bodies that were not a size 0. (After finding women I admired I started searching specifically for them and copying their style)
(Below: Kelly Brook, Iskra Lawrence)
Honestly, I have no idea if their figures were bigger/smaller or the same as mine, I just know that they inspired me to be proud of my shape just the way it is. They accentuated their best features instead of focusing on bones the way my ED always wanted to.
I made collages of these woman and hung them up on my mirror.
I also made collages of things I wanted in my future, things that only a life without ED could give me.
Grab a small mirror and spend lots of time on your make up and hair. Focusing solely on your face, as to not get distracted with your body.
I would carefully curl my lashes, paint on my cat-eyes, and line my lips. I pampered myself until I genuinely smiled and felt beautiful. Then I threw on my clothes. I took a quick glance in the full length mirror and tried to focus only on that smile.
Make a List of Go-To outfits:
Getting dressed with ED can be really difficult. I took hours and I changed clothes every 5 minutes. Whenever I thought I was happy with how I looked, he would point out an imperfection that forced me into changing again. Truthfully: ED was full of shit–when you stare at something long enough, your bound to find a flaw. Therefore, I devote all that wasted time and effort coordinating the outfit I want to wear before it goes on me. Trust your style! They are your clothes after all (and get help from those pictures you’ve pinned).
The trouble is that this is not always realistic. Sometimes we get caught up trying to make sure we look okay, and spend a little too much time analyzing. Suddenly before we know it, we are getting badgered by ED.
That’s when I turn to PLAN B:
Lay down. Take a deep breath. Distract yourself with a show or texting a friend. After ten minutes throw on a GO-TO OUTFIT.
What’s a GO-TO outfit? These are outfits that you’ve worn in the past that you’ve been complimented on; that you’ve found yourself attractive in; that you’ve actually managed to smile about when looking at yourself in the mirror. Write every single detail of this outfit down and DO NOT question how you felt last time you wore it. Throw it on and walk out the door.
My only disclaimer is that you have to be VERY committed to recovery. Do not get tempted by ED when he tries to lure you in (checking the tag inside your pants, scrolling through social media) Be proactive.
I was sitting in my car outside of work, sobbing. My mom was in the driver seat watching me fall apart.
We both knew I needed to get out and go to work. I was already late. We knew I needed to pull myself together.
But every time I wiped my tears, more would come. I was exhausted. Before finally getting out of the car, I said
“I have to do something different…”
I’ve said those words countless times over the last few years regarding my Eating Disorder.
That morning, I had binged and purged relentlessly. It was ongoing from the night before. And this had been a cycle I got stuck in for the last 3 months. I hadn’t experienced a lapse this bad since the dreaded act had crept into my life 6 years prior. (My ED started with restriction at 17, but I didn’t realize my diagnosis until the binge/purge symptoms started at 18)
(At 18): I would count the months at first: “Wow, 8 months later and I still have an eating disorder. I need to do something different.”
I’d buy books, I got a job, I went to therapy.
Before I knew it, I was counting each year that passed: “My twenty second birthday, and I still have a problem. I really do have to do something different.”
I went through new therapists, I went back to school, I was put on medication.
(At 22): All my efforts seemed to be paying off. I didn’t restrict for days on end anymore. I didn’t stay in to binge and purge on nights my friends were going out. I was experiencing milestones with my anxiety and accomplishing goals that I set for myself with my body.
I began to go days without binging and purging. Pretty soon I was going weeks—
2 weeks to be exact.
I would eat healthy and exercise during that time. But as soon as those two weeks were up, I’d slip back into binging and purging. It was a vicious cycle that I felt tied to. Each time I climbed out of the binging and purging, I would say THIS IS IT: THAT’S THE LAST TIME I PURGE. I didn’t anticipate another lapse. In fact, I worked my ass off to push through that 2-week check point. Why couldn’t I do it? I wanted recovery so bad.
Finally, Halloween 2014 (The evening that started my 3 month tailspin)
I felt like I had accomplished my goal. I was still purging, but only on rare occasions.
I could keep some of my “unhealthy” foods in my tummy (that is, if the guilt didn’t force it back up)
I was very close to eliminating the binging (which is the part of my ED that I hated most of all).
And I wasn’t restricting (I didn’t go days without eating and only replaced some meals with a very hardy protein shake).
I looked in the mirror October 31, 2015. I was in my Princess Leia costume and I looked great. I had finally reached my goal of lean muscle and losing weight—oh yeah, right, and recovering, too.
Then I ate dinner.
I ate a salad. It caused indigestion–“why did I use all that dressing!?” It caused bloating–“I should have picked something that digests faster!”
(Looking back of course, the real reason my stomach hurt was related to how little I had been eating those last few weeks. The acid from the dressing hurt my stomach because I had recently purged. And I’m sure some of it was mental, and some of it is unknown. Stomach problems are magnetic when it comes to having a relationship with ED).
Relax, it’ll pass–I said to myself. Fighting for recovery was really important to me. I hate ED and all the things he makes me do.
The boys are on their way to pick us up.
“Crap! Do something to get rid of this feeling… Exercise!”
I started doing crunches with weights until I could feel my abs burning. Adrenaline coursing through my veins as I kept thinking: “I have to look good. I have to look good.”
I stood up and that indigestion/boating feeling was still in my stomach.
“Fuck it, I’ll just do it this once. I’m wearing a belly shirt in public, after all. And I really need to go through with this. Wearing this costume is one of my goals.”
I purged. But, I promised myself I wouldn’t do it again (as I always did).
I was so proud of my body. And yet, still insecure. I had to keep body checking and I absolutely HAD to wear stockings because my thighs jiggled.
Fast forward to crying in the parking lot. Halloween was the last time I actually felt good about my body (if you even call that feeling good).
I thought I was on the brink of recovery. The scariest part is how well I THOUGHT I was doing at that time.
That night spiraled me into 3 months of binging and purging—which was, without a doubt, a godsend. If I didn’t feel the helplessness I experienced through this horrific lapse, I would never have realized how sick I was. My thoughts were consumed by ED. And most of my eating disordered actions were completely ignorant to me. I was only working to rid myself of the obvious symptoms (binging/purging and starving myself). But, I was still tied to the symptoms because they gave me the easy out when I needed to feel good.
And I would have never finally said to my mom: “I need to do something different… I want to go to treatment.”
I wish I could take you step by step thought what treatment did for me, and all the things I learned. It truly granted me freedom. And although I’m not ED free, I have the tools to combat him.
“I have an ED, but I don’t really restrict. I eat,” I thought as I entered treatment.
“I want to lose weight and my eating disorder makes it very difficult for me because I end up binging and purging and messing up all my hard work. This place will teach me how to lose weight the healthiest way.
I’m not like the other girls here. They will need to gain weight because they can’t see how thin they are, but I’m definitely at a healthy weight and my weight loss goals are realistic”
I was weighed by my assigned nutritionist immediately.
She told me that I was a ‘healthy weight’ (I was a little disappointed even though I anticipated that. I just wished I was thinner). She wanted me to stay at that weight.
I started to panic. “Are you kidding, I’m in an eating disorder facility. If I don’t need to GAIN weight, then I’ve clearly failed. At least let me lose weight so I can be happy.”
But I want to be subordinate. I want to be here. How do I put this?
“I was really hoping I could lose, like, 5 pounds.” I said meekly (and I was compromising)
She clearly saw how bad I wanted recovery. And I wasn’t asking for anything crazy.
She looked at me for a little while. Her response, so simple:
“When you get there, would that be enough?”
She sparked a chain reaction in my brain: the last 6 years of my life all mapped out by my weight
**(I’m using ridiculous numbers. There’s no need to put real lbs. The actual weight is not the focal point. Focus on how much and why these numbers fluctuated over the course of 7 years.)**
When my ED started, my goal was 12 lbs. Then, after a brief celebration of accomplishing that, my goal became 8 lbs.
Binging and purging among other things sent my weight up a bit,
Feeling disgusting and ashamed, the goal is to lose X amount of pounds.
I exceed that goal. But I wasn’t as unhealthy as when my ED started. I totally know how to eat and exercise to lose weight without starving myself. I could be a pro.
Now I’m back to my goal being 12.
Binging and Purging sends it up,
Goal weight: 14.
And so on and so forth,
Reflecting on that, I’m staring back at my nutritionist as she waits for an answer. And to be perfectly honest: “No, it wont be enough.”
You see, all this time I thought I wasn’t restricting. But, while I was attempting to “recover” by myself, I had a conflicting goal of desperately needing to lose weight.
I was asked in an interview before treatment: Do you restrict? To which, I responded “No.” What the interviewer should have asked was:
“When was the last time you ate white bread without purging?”
—“7 years ago”
“How often do you accept sweets?”
—“God, never. Unless I plan on purging after.”
“Can you eat just one cookie?
—“I can have the INTENTION of eating just one, but it will inevitably turn into the whole box. So, I’d rather avoid them, as well as many other foods.”
“Do you have a “binge/puge” list of foods and an “everyday” list of foods?”
—“Hmm, yeah, I guess I do. But the binge/purge foods don’t count when I’m talking to others. They are all accidental mess-ups.”
“If you eat anything outside of what you deem ‘healthy,’ what is the result?”
— “The inability to stop thinking about food. Perhaps purging. And endless guilt.”
“What’s usually the deciding factor when you are choosing a meal at a restaurant?”
Those are just a handful of ways ED tricks us into thinking we are not restricting. My answers don’t necessarily have to mimic yours, but if you suffer with ED you will see similarities.
Alas, the mysterious cycle was resolved. What caused the binging and purging episodes as I attempted recovery by myself: restriction!
The best decision I ever made was going to treatment (I’m sure I will write a whole ‘nother article on that: I could give you 1,0001 reasons why I’m forever grateful to Renfrew).
It taught me so much about myself: how to shut down ED, how to have real confidence, how to counter the idea that ‘I need to lose weight,’ and most importantly how to be a badass in this fight for self-love and recovery.
And although I am still working on these things, I have the knowledge and coping skills I need (and amazing people who can relate to me in ways I never thought possible).
I love writing, sometimes I don’t know what to write about. I decided to go on this tangent because I want to share the love I have for those who experience the struggles/successes that I did and do. The binging and purging is an obvious issue that we usually want to put an end to (but never be ashamed, it is an illness that many share, and your story will inspire others to work towards recovery, even if you are still in the process of ridding it).
But the constant body checking, and fear of being fat/undesirable;
The (short-lived) satisfaction of reaching a number on the scale, as well as the worthlessness you feel when going above that number;
The tiny high you have when your reflection rewards you, and then having it ripped out from underneath you after a simple meal or night’s rest;
Competing with yourself to eat less than the day before;
Using ‘nutritious’ drinks, or the lowest calorie meal to fill the hunger you feel. Or ignoring hunger cues completely (especially when out and about, distracted with friends);
The lingering sting of comments made by peers about your image, comparing yourself to others in the room, feeling judged each time you do or don’t reach for food.
Life isn’t meant to be lived in this way.
No mirror or meal should be feared. No person should be adorned for their bones or shamed for their body.
Life is short and meant for so much more. Let us work towards that together.
And I am so grateful for every moment of my journey (all 7 years of it—even the struggles you may be going through now) because it got me here. I know what I want out of life, and I am here living it.
“You’re not super-skinny, but you’re not, like, fat”
I think that was supposed to be a compliment.
A friend said this to me earlier today. In the past, ED would have encouraged me to use symptoms after a comment like this
I would have drowned in self-loathing because someone doesn’t think I’m skinny, and skinny=pretty. Not to mention she hesitated before saying fat… so she definitely thinks I’m a cow.
Today I laughed. I laughed because bodies change and mine has been through way too much for a label. Because I couldn’t believe how little I cared what she thought. I was feeling a mixture of shock and pride for feeling so little.
I was too busy thinking about something else.
I was at work when this happened. Moments earlier one of the mothers was dropping off her toddler to my class. She is pregnant with her second baby and today she was glowing. I admire kind people and good moms. She is one of those people.
I was thinking about my future, and hoping I’d be like her someday. I was daydreaming about being pregnant. And I wasn’t letting ED get sucked into worrying about how anyone judged my body. That felt like a recovery win.
I wish that the word ‘fat’ could be eliminated from other people’s vocabulary. Fat is considered an insult. God forbid we are ever tagged in a photo that makes us look ‘fat.’ FAT is the important substance protecting all of our organs. HELLO we need fat. But that definition doesn’t change the way people interpret being called ‘fat.’ That word, along with many others, can really fuel eating disorders.
I still remember my best friend at 17 telling me, “be careful, you’re getting fat.”
I am still good friends with her today, and I’m sure she doesn’t remember this moment like I do. But then again, I was in the midst of developing an ED. And she had just struck the fear of God in me. I was changing after eating a meal together, and didn’t give a second thought to how I looked until she spoke. I had been losing weight consistently. I thought I looked skinny. I was so embarrassed I couldn’t get my clothes on fast enough.
“I know,” a very naive 17 year old me agreed in response. She must be right if she called me out like that.
To this day I wonder if words like that helped to fuel my body dysmorphia.
Words can really sting.
My weapon against this is having my own voice.
(I know it isn’t as simple as words, but If they can hurt enough to fuel eating disorders and body dysmorphia, then I can see the importance of “self-talk.”)
24 year old ME would have responded this way: “That was really judgmental. I have to eat every meal because I have an Eating Disorder. So thank you, but I didn’t ask.”
I am also not the most confident dresser. As much as I love my style, the action of putting clothes on can be challenging(#EDproblems). However, I have lived by the saying: “fake it till you make it.” SO THEN, I’d also throw in:
“Besides, I think I look smoking hot.” (Even if I don’t fully believe it).
Most people who make ignorant judgements aren’t bad people, they just need a new outlook. I initially want to rip their throats out, but that wouldn’t help.
By choosing to ignore negativity and try to build up my own self-esteem regardless of other people’s standards, I hope to make a difference.
My dream is that self-love becomes real and stomps out poor body image. That the ‘everybodyisbeautiful’ movement replaces all the diet fads.
Ultimately, that’s why I post what I write.
But, besides spreading awareness, writing helps to take away the sting that some words leave. This entry helps remind myself how far I’ve come, the vast difference between the voices I choose to listen to now (voices like iamiskra, nourishandeat and lindseyhallwrites), and to also commend myself for being one of those voices in my own small world.
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.