I eat a lot of peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Nearly every day for lunch, in fact, and that bothers me some. I worry over whether it’s compulsive. Eating’s difficult when you’re recovering from an eating disorder. It’s not easy or natural for me yet. Preparing and eating a meal at mealtime takes thought. Not restricting is a challenge – if a bagel would be good, perhaps half a bagel with no butter would be better. I have those conversations with my food choices quite regularly.
Except at lunchtime, because in all likelihood, I’ll be having a peanut butter and banana sandwich. The portion size doesn’t scare me, it has a variety of food types represented – fruit, carbs, protein – and most of all, I like the taste.
Lately, however, I’ve been worrying I’m obsessive about it. Would it not be better, and more recovery-like, to eat a variety of foods? To mix it up? Maybe a dogmatic routine is a warning sign.
That thought’s been bouncing around a fair bit. Perhaps I should be doing recovery better. Perhaps I should be doing it the “right” way.
I had a hard day yesterday. My neuralgia has flared up; pain makes good choices more difficult.
The pain also causes a spike in my depression. We’re very interconnected organisms. It’s interesting how one thing can affect so many other systems. All in all, it was a grim morning. Until lunchtime. It was then I realized something about the de rigeur peanut butter and banana.
It makes me happy.
So what if consuming them every day is a little obsessive? I’ve lived with an eating disorder for a long time; I suspect I’ll always be a little different with food.
So what if I have quirks? We give too much weight to the idea that there’s a right way to be and a correct way to recover. What’s important is the recovery itself. What’s important is living.
It’s like the reading.
I like reading. I do a lot of it. I like it more than anything else, really. I especially like it when I’m anxious. It takes me out of my head and away from difficult thoughts. But there’s a part of me that’s kind of ashamed by it.
I’m ashamed to admit how often I lose myself in books. I’m ashamed to admit that I reread old favourites when I’m struggling. I’m ashamed to admit that I need it.
Reading hasn’t appeared on any of the “how to deal with your anxiety” lists I’ve encountered. If I’m the only one doing it, then it must be wrong. At least that’s what my inside voice likes to tell me.
But it occurs to me that once again, it doesn’t matter what the inside voice has to say. What it, or other people may or may not think about my relatively rigid lunch routine or reading habits is irrelevant. What other people think of me is not my business. They tried to pound that into us when I was in treatment, but it didn’t take. Truths often don’t the first time you encounter them. You must be ready to hear them.
The truth is, I need to choose recovery behaviours that allow me to heal. That allow me to function. That allow me to survive. It doesn’t matter if no one else is doing them. It doesn’t matter if they look odd. It doesn’t matter if they seem rigid or offbeat.
What matters when it comes to coping and healing mechanisms is not what they look like to other people. What matters is that they work. Imagined and internal judgements are unimportant in the face of that truth.
Do what works.