I feel like a broken record a great deal of the time. A fat, annoying, repetitive broken record. The same problems keep circling around. Yes, I know I’m making progress and yes, I know I’m further on than I was but my god, sometimes my problems bore me.
One of the problems with an eating disorder, or with any mental illness, or even with life in general is that it can get repetitive. The same things happen over and over again; the same problems keep popping up. It gets boring. It makes me angry. And when I’m angry, I tend to forget about being nice. I fight to keep my tone from shifting to bitchy and harsh – it’s partially why I prefer to isolate when I’m in a mood. I don’t want the guilt that comes from lashing out at others. Lashing out at myself, however, is fine.
Why are you thinking like this? These thoughts again? You’re still dealing with this shit? What is your problem?
Eating disorders are tiring, draining and soul destroying. The longer I work on being in recovery, however, the easier things get. New habits are starting to form. New thinking patterns sometimes emerge. Sometimes I even believe them. At times, I think maybe the eating disorder is getting ready to drift away and disperse. I start to relax. I start to have more energy. My spirit starts to feel like it’s being replenished. I start to think that maybe I can recover, be a whole person, be okay.
That’s when the eating disorder will show up in force again. Maybe a pair of pants is too tight, or maybe a shirt binds, or maybe I have the thought that the dress I’m wearing makes my ankles look fat. Or maybe the eating disorder is aware that it’s under threat. I don’t suppose the trigger itself matters all that much.
At any rate, the eating disorder’s voice pops right back up and starts in on me without missing a beat. It is as it every was.
But although this is stressful and painful and hateful, I have been learning to pull myself out. Learning not to purge. Learning not to binge. Learning not to starve. But they cycle continues and boredom is a good word to describe it. Sometimes repetition is soothing. I lose myself in piano technical exercises often. But this, this constant circle and cycle? It’s dull. I’m sure it bores the people in my life who have to listen to the same issues crop up again and again. I bore myself.
The eating disorder doesn’t care about boredom. She doesn’t care about fatigue.
I feel fat. I’ve gained some weight and I feel fleshy rather than taut and skeletal. My brain is busy making plans to correct the situation. Meal replacement bars, it has decided, are the way to go. Breakfast and lunch and I’ll eat a sensible dinner. Just until I lose weight. Just until I’m thin.
I’d recover so much better if I was thin. And yes, I recognize the failure in that kind of thinking but it’s still there, still racing around my brain, still making me think, even though I know better, that maybe it was better when I didn’t eat.
I’m supposed to go out with friends. I feel too fat to go, too fat to leave the house, too fat to do anything. All the stoicism, all the Buddhism, all the thinking and deep thoughts and insights are irrelevant today because today, all I am is fat. My jeans are tight on the thighs and there is flesh on my hips. So, I don’t want to go. I don’t want to spend time with my friends, don’t want to go out, don’t want to leave the house. I am too fat today. When I’m thinner. I’ll do it when I’m thinner.
And I’m bored with this conversation that I’ve had far too many times. Enough is enough. I feel like screaming “leave me alone” at the top of my lungs except the person who is simultaneously pissing me off and boring me is an aspect of myself.
Why am I back here again? Why can’t I learn to accept myself as more than a body? Why can’t I accept this body as is and be grateful for all that it does do and can do? Why am I so unwilling to treat it better? Why am I so cruel? Why do I still so desperately want to be thin, thinner, thinnest?
Apparently, I’m not bored enough.
I wish recovery came with a timeline and checklist. Do X and advance to Y. Watch your thinking evolve. Get better. Never again feel the things that drove you to the disorder in the first place again. Recover perfectly. Never, ever cycle up and down until you are utterly fatigued by the pattern and ready to chuck recovery in disgust. That, of course, would suit the eating disorder just fine.
That’s the rub. The eating disorder, the illnesses, they count on boredom and anger and fatigue. The eating disorder wants to survive.
Can I lose weight in recovery? Can I go on a diet? A diet isn’t an eating disorder, after all. Lots of people go on diets. Can I just lose a little weight so I can get a body I can tolerate while I recover?
Unfortunately, conditional recovery isn’t recovery at all. A bell hooks’ quote seems apt here: “you cannot dismantle the master’s house with the master’s tools.” You cannot think the way you did and recover. You have to let go of old ways and that’s difficult. The old ways don’t want to die; even as you think things are getting better, they lurk, ready to pounce. Waiting for an opportunity.
I’m bored by my tendency to keep ending up back here.
I want to love my body. I want to celebrate it. I want to not care about bits of flesh. I want to be happy. I want to grow my hair really long and wear bohemian dresses. I want to stomp around in Doc Martins and a plaid jacket. I want to be a hundred different personas and I want none of them to care about their weight. I want these things and yet it still feels like I’m fighting my way through syrup.
I’m bored with the fight. I’m bored with telling people about it. I’m bored with not being better yet.
But it’ll all be better if I can just be thin, right? I wouldn’t be bored if I was thin. I’d be perfect. Perfect and recovered and it’s all just a diet away. Because getting thin will fix everything. It will make recovery more palatable. Because the overwhelming desire to get thin worked out so well in the past.
Broken record indeed.