Failing at my eating disorder

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.

21 thoughts on “Failing at my eating disorder

  1. Amir

    Do you participate in any social events where people like yourself show up, narrate their stories, progress, etc and share tips alongwith someone qualified (to handle issues) supervising it all on a regular basis?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. no currently. i’ve done group sessions in the past and i’ve given thought to developing a speaking program around eating disorders and recovery for schools, but thinking is about the extent of my progress.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Amir

        Awesome to hear that you have done it in past and that you have certain positive thoughts (or planning to do) about your future. All of us have our own speed towards any progress. Take all of your time without ever being hard on yourself. You seem to have a come a long way and headed very successfully towards your ultimate goal.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This resonates with what I discussed in my dietary session this week so deeply. She said “what are you waiting for to let go of your Ed?” I said “for it to get bad one more time” she said “but that’s the easy way. It requires no effort”. And she’s right. Recovery is so much harder than being sick. It’s the right way but feels so wrong at times.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. awoundedwolf

    I may not understand exactly how you feel because we are all different and all have different ways of dealing and feelings, but as another person suffering with an ED and trying to recover i totally understand that difficulty of wanting to let go but finding it difficult and thinking of eating or not throwing up as failure. I was once told we must feel like a failure before we can move on we just have to be persistent and know that this feeling of failure will later evolve to being a feeling of success.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you. the ED is really hard to let go of. it’s sneaky, always trying to find its way back in. I like that idea, that we have to be persistent and wait for the feelings to evolve. i’m impatient, i suppose.


    1. It is a challenge, for sure, for me, it’s the hardest part. Get better, but stay really thin. Not realistic, but realism isn’t really part of the ED. I was thinking about it today before I got up, how it would be so much easier to recover if I could just lose five pounds.


  4. I can so relate to all of this. Many years on, I wonder if we somehow need to allow ourselves not to hate, perhaps even to love our eating disorders too, since we can shrink them (hmm) back a lot (I eat, and I haven’t binged or purged in a long time), but we’re still going to have our ways in which we’re kind of strange around food and body issues. Just my 2 cents. hugs, Elisabeth

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the thought. Loving the ED for what it’s given is a hard one, but definitely food for thought, since hating it doesn’t seem to send it running for the hills.


  5. This is a really good post and it perfectly captures how I feel like my thoughts would be if I were in recovery. Actually, these thoughts are exactly why I’m scared to go into recovery. I feel like I’ll never be able to let this go, even though I don’t actually want it. I don’t want to be like this forever, but am I willing to give up control? I’ve started sharing my story on this new blog to see if I can help myself and others, but I’m relieved to see that other people have these thoughts. Please feel free to check out my journey if you’d like 🙂 ( Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. The “getting your brain back” part is really hard. It’s what keeps me stuck. I totally relate to the fear. Giving up control (which is actually taking it back from the ED) is wholly scary.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No problem at all! Right?? It’s like you have to give up control to get control back, but it feels like you’re free falling without the ‘control’ of the ED. Thank you for taking the time to share and respond!

        Liked by 1 person

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