I’m failing at my eating disorder and my eating disorder voice reminds me of that fact incessantly. She’s a bitch that way.
I feel bad about failing, which is odd, considering that I’m mourning the absence of incredibly destructive behaviours. We miss what we know, even if it’s negative; we miss the loss of the familiar.
I’m failing because I’m eating. That’s a huge failure when you’re afflicted with an eating disorder. The goal of my eating disorder, consumption-wise, is zero. It regularly reminds me to eat less. Less is more because the eating disorder is in it to win, and “winning” means starving to death.
I’m failing by not purging. I’ve had some struggles of late with bingeing. It’s mostly food that historically, I’ve not been allowed to consume without repercussions (read vomiting). I suspect the bingeing is a big, angry “fuck you”: at my eating disorder, at years of restricting, and at years of punishing myself with purges. That I’ve not purged in response to these lapses in control is irritating my eating disorder no end; unfortunately, when she’s irked, her language can become unkind.
Failure. Fat. Pathetic.
She’s not happy with the way my pants fit today.
Part of the problem stems from what I decided I was willing to accept in order to recover, and what I thought recovery would look like. More specifically, what I thought I’d look like in recovery.
In my mind, in recovery, I look thin. Very thin, eating disorder thin. In my mind, in recovery, I eat normally, indulge occasionally, and keep baked goods in the house, all with a perfect body.
That’s not recovery. That’s not being realistic. That’s letting my eating disorder dictate the terms of its surrender – a bizarre proposal to be sure.
Considering what look to be successes as failures is also not recovery. That’s letting the eating disorder remain in control.
The other part of the problem is I’m conflicted about letting it go. I want to be free of my eating disorder. I’m tired of it, more tired than I can begin to explain. I want my brain back. I want to stop connecting my sense of self-worth to the size of my jeans, I want to stop wasting time on such irrelevant and pointless trains of thought. I feel petty and shallow in my disorder, sometimes. I feel sad that I’ve given such time and space to something that’s ultimately irrelevant, an obsession with the body, though writing my eating disorder off completely minimizes its helpfulness in my survival.
Weird and untenable behaviours abound, and they’re all designed to do one thing – help us to carry on. We do what we need to do to survive, and sometimes that manifests strangely. They don’t serve us, but they do save us. Ultimately, however, we must let them go, or they’ll destroy us.
But I digress.
I know I need the disorder gone. I get that; I get that it’s killing me, but there’s a small piece of me that’s still hanging on, wondering if it was really that bad, wondering if we can’t just peacefully co-exist. You have to admire the eating disorder’s tenacity.
Still, I cannot let my eating disorder decide what my recovery should look like. I cannot let my eating disorder decide what constitutes an acceptable body. It’s hard pulling free of her strands; it’s hard to identify who’s speaking sometimes, me or my bulimia. We’ve lived together so long, we are enmeshed.
My eating disorder tells me I’m failing at recovery, but among the myriad of things I don’t know there are some things I do. I know that recovery can’t be dictated by the disease. I know that recovery isn’t deciding today will be horrible because the waistband of your pants feels tight, and you should probably cut back on what you eat, and why aren’t you on the elliptical already?
I know that recovery is being willing to let go.
I ate breakfast today. I got dressed. I did something positive for myself.
I guess that means I’m winning the fight against my eating disorder for now, regardless of what she’s decided to say.