i give great advice. it’s measured, balance, and specific. i try to make sure i’m not just a “go team” cheerleader; i try to pay attention to all sides of the issue, at least with respect to other people. when i’m advising myself, my brain likes to spew out absolute crap and all too often, i follow it. why does the bad advice i give myself seem so much easier to pay attention to?
i’m not alone in my affliction; it seems to me that we are all very much “do as i say, not as i do.” i find this especially holds true in my parenting; i nag my kids over their lack of ingestion re fruits and vegetables while maintaining a food selection that consists primarily of white carbs. this is just one example.
i like to think of my brain as an entity that’s built along the lines of a shoe cubby. the little boxes hold different bits and pieces of me. there’s the empathy box, and the humour box, the trauma box, and so on. the first box in the display, the one which has the loudest voice, is the “stay impaired” box. it is the anti-healer. it’s the one that gives me bad advice. it’s the box that wants to maintain the status quo.
it’s favourite phrase is “you’re fat.” for someone with an eating disorder, “fat” is a small world that contains a multitude of meanings. it includes but is not limited to: disgusting, gross, fleshy, repulsive, ugly, hopeless, and pathetic.
i know, empirically, that i’m not fat but too often, i don’t see it. all i see is flesh and i want it gone. i want bones and not much else, even though i absolutely know that the pursuit of that goal leads to death. you don’t see very many fully functional skeletons.
i tell myself i’m not fat. i tell myself that i’m trying to recover. i tell myself that body shape and size is not the most valuable thing about me. great advice that i struggle to believe. i find it extremely challenging to hold the recovery line when every part of me is screaming that i need to be thinner. when all i seem to notice is the flesh on my upper arms and the outside of my thighs.
i’m eating like i’m supposed to. breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack. i do it every day, even when i don’t want to, even when it’s really hot out and my appetite is gone, even when my inside voice is focused on the fact that there’s layer of tissue wrapped around my bones and i should really work on getting that gone. even when i’m hating every moment of recovery and trying to decide if it’s worth it. even when all i want to do is eat nothing but salad and exercise for hours every day. i don’t do what i’m not supposed to do. i stay on track and a large part of me hates that i’m doing so.
it would be nice if recovery was sunshine and lollipops. it’d be nice if i could eat a lollipop without self-recrimination. it would be nice if we could take and believe our own advice but i can’t seem to do that yet. all i can do is follow instructions and hope that my brain catches up at some point. if it doesn’t, then i can’t win. i will give up and fall back into the eating disorder pit. the desire to do so is seductive. the brain rewrites my historical memories, trying to convince me that it wasn’t that bad, even when i was courting death. i yearn to follow my own bad advice.
i wish i’d been given one of those “honest abe” brains rather than this lying trickster. i wish i believed my purposeful and directed self-talk but i don’t. all that’s left is faith. faith that if i keep on this path, if i keep following my own advice and the advice of others, i’ll get there in the end.
(july 25, 2018)