I’ve been having conversations with my eating disorder. They haven’t been great ones – I’ve not been enjoying them. This is mostly because my eating disorder is not a great conversationalist. She doesn’t dialogue well; she’s rude, aggressive, intolerant, and kind of mean.
She’s up in arms because I haven’t been exercising. I’ve done nothing for five days.
I feel like I should explain that there are reasons, though really, I’m under no obligation to work out, regardless of what my eating disorder says.
Logic tells me that it’s unlikely I will get fat or fall apart if I give it a miss for a week.
The reason I’m skipping out on exercise is that I’m in pain. Not exercising because of that is a win. Historically, it would have made no difference. I work out.
The workout requirements of an eating disorder were designed by whoever put together the old postal carrier maxim – “neither rain, nor snow, nor dark of night shall keep the postman from his appointed rounds.” The same is true of the eating disorder patient. Workouts are sacrosanct and to fail to complete them is to fail as a human being.
Cold, flu, or pneumonia? Irrelevant. Muscle strain, sprained joint, or broken bone? Tell it to someone who cares. Headache, upset stomach, or just under the weather? Too damn bad. Get out there and get it done. Otherwise, you’re a failure.
I’m in pain because I had a dental implant replaced this week. I’m in the process of getting a total of six put in to replace teeth lost to my bulimia. Getting it done kind of hurts.
The process isn’t very stressful, mostly because I get sedation. I prefer to be unconscious if someone is going to be drilling something into my jawbone. It’s a me thing. I’m brave with respect to a great many things but when it comes to dental work, I’ve hit my limit. I’ve no stiff upper lip left.
But it’s done, and it’s in, and it’s healing, and it hurts. I forgot that from the last go ‘round. In my mind, it was snip, snap, done. Now that I’m back in it, I remember more clearly that it was a week or so of fairly significant discomfort. Or maybe it’s minor discomfort and I’m a wimp. Doesn’t really matter. The point is I feel off my game. I want comfort and wallowing. I want pain meds.
I don’t want to exercise.
My eating disorder really wants me to.
Hence the conversation.
She’s nagging at me, pointing out that I’m eating, ingesting calories and not matching the input with a corresponding amount of exertions. She’s calling me names – lazy, fat, hopeless, whiner. She’s suggesting modifications – just ten minutes on the elliptical; do three sets instead of four on the weights, just a little bit of rowing.
Historically, I’d be all over it. I’ve worked out with pneumonia. I’ve jogged while carrying an inhaler to deal with bronchitis. I’ve lifted weights while nursing pulled muscles. I’ve considered all of those things to be “wins” when they were really just more examples of self-harm.
But I’m getting better at talking back to my eating disorder. I’m getting better at not listening to her all the time.
Too often we soldier on. We push through the pain, push through the discomfort. Why do we venerate misery? What exactly do we win when we refuse to give ground, refuse to take it easy, refuse to be kind to ourselves?
I’m in pain, I feel awful, and I’m not going to beat myself up just because the bully who lives in my head tells me to.
I don’t want to work out. I want to take it easy. I want to heal before I jump back in, and that should be okay. We’re allowed to take breaks, despite our neuroses trying to tell us differently.