When you grow up, you realize that little in life is an either-or proposition.
Except for Nazis. Nazis are always bad. If you’re in a group that also welcomes Nazis and you stay and still think you’re a good person and not a Nazi, think again.
Every rule needs an exception.
Most binary choices are related to really bad things. Even then, the choice is more than this or that. Yes, Nazis are side-no, but the other side isn’t a singular option. Many successful life choices don’t involve a personal philosophy built on racism, bigotry, and hate.
To be honest, I sometimes find the lack of binary difficult. Adulthood would be easier if we could act like toddlers, if everything was an emphatic “yes” or “no.” Life gets complicated when you realize things come in shades. Life gets complicated when you can’t blame bad choices on missed naps.
I was bad yesterday. I had a chocolate bar before bed. And although I’ve been abstinent and in recovery for many of my eating disorder behaviours for nearly three years now, “bad” is still my brain’s default setting when it comes to eating this, that, and the other.
Eating chocolate makes me bad. This is a truth my brain has held onto for decades.
Binary. Luckily, I got over it. Most of the time. I do what happens next differently now. In the early days of recovery, it was a process. Complicated internal dialogues, reading things that reminded me to stay the course, journalling, and calling my counsellor.
Now I just tell my eating disorder brain to shut up.
I can’t speak about all neuroses, but mine have always been fans of binary choices and simple thinking. Understanding that life is about complexity paradoxically makes recovery easier. When you start to accept that you’re neither good nor bad, new worlds open up.
The old world will try and drag you back down. Building new thought patterns takes longer than you think it will. A lot longer than it does in movies.
We’re fighting ourselves. Our brains like binary thinking. Our brains like being toddlers. It’s easy, and we get to focus on getting our needs met. We get to be the centre of the universe.
When you have an eating disorder, you’re very much the centre of the universe. It’s a rather self-centred condition, a charge I defensively loathed when I first heard it.
Are you kidding me? I think about other people all the time. My whole life has nothing to do with me. I never say what I want or do what I want. I’m completely generous and open. I’m a giver.
Are you though? I thought I was, but in reality, my eating disorder always came first. Everything was secondary to that, and although I like to talk about the eating disorder as an infecting entity, it is, in fact, me.
Such a pisser. Personal accountability is the worst.
I thought I was a giver. But not doing what you want to do is not the same thing as being generous and open. It does make you resentful, and if you think that doesn’t trickle out and spit onto people like bacon fat, you’re wrong. Passive-aggressive nastiness is also not the sign of a giver.
Trying to make life and the choices therein binary (and mostly good or bad) is a sign that the toddler years are not fully behind you. Trying to make life binary is mostly about trying to make things “your way.” It’s definitely not sophisticated thinking.