i’ve gained about seven pounds over the last month, on purpose. the amount is my best guess since i don’t do scales, but based on how my clothes are fitting, it’s probably about right.
i was concerned i was getting too thin. there’s more to recovery than not throwing up. i was too thrilled with each increase in visible bone structure. i was too pleased with the increasing bagginess of my clothing. i was having cognitive and sleep issues, both of which are exacerbated by low weight. i was spending too much time planning how little i could eat and still consider myself to be moving forward in recovery. i realized that was not the direction i should be heading.
so here i am, once again having gained some weight and once again feeling like i’m in hell because of it. it seems like a few pounds shouldn’t make such a difference but they do, to me. to my perception of how i look and how that will be judged by the world.
my self-image is tied up with being thin. thin has been my everything for decades. i have other accomplishments, things i’ve achieved that are more important. i know this cognitively. people tell me these things. i’m a good friend. i’m a good parent. mostly, i’m a good person.
i’m educated. i have a variety of skills. i’ve had many interesting experiences. i know that i’m supposed to value these things more than being thin. despite that, i sit here with my brain attacking me because i’m no longer headed towards extremely emaciated.
the schism between intellectual and emotional wants is a challenging one to overcome.
three years ago, i went into a rehab program for eating disorders and i stayed for just over three months. we did the things we were told would make us better, we pushed through hard and harder days, we fought battles large and small together but in the end, went our separate ways to continue to fight for our recovery alone.
social media lets me see bits and pieces of their lives. they share more than i do about their actual lives. i see their struggles and triumphs. mostly they’re doing well. i’m glad for them of course, but i’m also jealous. i wish i wasn’t. i wish their accomplishments in recovery brought me only feelings of charity and gladness. i wish that i was doing as well. i wish that i had been as able to embrace the life that awaits when you fully let a compulsion go. i wish i was farther removed from the quest for extreme thin-ness.
one in particular, seems to be thriving. her spiritual growth is immense. she seems happy. she revels in her body. she is bathing in life, she is living it and loving it. she eats and drinks and sleeps and participates in the world. she free and full of joy and i want that. i want to want it enough to commit to changes. right now, i want it, but on my terms which apparently include being able to count the knobs of my spine.
i want to love myself unconditionally, but that voice is still inside, telling me it’d be just as easy to love myself thin. i want to engage with life and celebrate it but i want to do it without excess flesh. i want to have adventures again; i want to find out what my passions are and pursue them, but i don’t want to have to give up my feelings of control to do so.
my food and exercise choices are still tied to the ideas of calories and size. i don’t life weights because i want to feel strong. i don’t go for walks to revel in the pleasure and freedom that comes from moving your body. i do it to stay thin. stationary bike and elliptical sessions are not undertaken to ensure cardiovascular health. i do it to burn calories.
a lot of people think about food and exercise a fair amount of the time. most likely too many do it too much. the difference for those of us with eating disorders is one of degree. i don’t think about it a lot, i think about it all the time. my eating disordered thinking is with me from the time i get up until the time i go to bed. it goes where i go and does what i do all day, every day. it impacts all my decision making, from the clothes i wear (and that depends on how i’ve judged my body that day), to the snacks i do or don’t eat, to how hard i’ll exercise (how fat am i feeling), to how i compare myself (unfavourably) to the character in the book i’m reading.
you are never alone when you have an eating disorder.
i think that recovery for me will mean moments of joy. moment like the ones i see other people in recovery having. people who aren’t in recovery have moments of joy too, i suppose, but i don’t look to them very often. i search out the similar.
recovery will mean believing about myself what i believe about other people: that who you are is more important than your size; that it’s healthy that matters; that emotional stability is more important than skipping meals; that’s it’s okay to love yourself as you are, right now.
it will mean not only saying, but believing, that i have value even without visible collar bones.
january 2, 2018
photo credit: Vieve-Kethrun