(DAY #33 total inpatient admission)
Weetabix x 2.
Wholemeal toast x 2, butter.
Vegetable goulash, boiled rice, cauliflower.
Ice cream (2 scoops).
Ham sandwiches (wholemeal), 5-bean salad, side salad.
Lemon sponge and custard.
Weetabix x 2.
….& the usual pint of milk.
*just a quick note before you read on – you may want to refer to yesterday’s post for this to make sense about challenging my Eating Disorder behaviours in the dining room*
No idea what a goulash is. I would ‘Google’ it and share the definition… but I’ll settle with the fact that I’m pretty sure it’s a curry.
Smelt like one, looked like one (ish – with the odd random baked bean I noticed?) and tasted like one.
Anorexia’s instant over-reaction to knowing this was coming at lunch-time was:
“Oh, you greedy b*****d. That’s basically a takeaway. You clearly picked the most fattening option on the menu… have fun with the grease and your thoughts, especially when you ‘challenge’ yourself not to eat it all in our safe and careful little order” (see previous post to make more sense)
I have to say… before going into the dining room, knowing full-well this saucey dilemma was going to throw me in the deep end… I actually didn’t feel nervous. I’d been distracting myself all morning (‘mentally compensating’ by staying productive, subconsciously as a way of ‘earning’ my food – something that’s crept in, but self-aware enough to know this needs work on!)
Instead, I felt numb; on the flip-side it was a positive as it meant I couldn’t go in there with a ‘plan’. Staying busy didn’t allow for ‘over-thinking’ time which would lead to (despite committing to mixing my foods and breaking order) pre-preparing ‘what’ order that would follow…
…when our table got called up, I wasn’t confident enough to feel I could portion, especially with my anxieties around this particular meal. So I handed that control over right away to the staff. I’m fairly comfortable with elements of a meal that are easier on the eye to judge… such as a ‘piece’ of meat/fish, I know boiled potatoes are usually around five, the mash comes pre-scooped… but rice and curry ready to swarm the plate, I wasn’t prepared to let my head give me any more grief about over-portioning. I was scared the staff member would tell me my portioning was okay, even if it was more than what it should be.
Took plate, sat down. This is the moment I suddenly felt myself turn into a bull in a china shop, sending teacups and saucers flying as I sussed out how to approach it with my cutlery. Staring at the chaos on my plate. Sauce seeping into the pure white rice. Not too much as the staff member was kind about toppling the elements on one another. But the whole concept of a meal felt awkward. My immediate instinct was to save the poor rice by pushing it away with the knife. I could feel the urge knocking loud on the door but I ignored it. Almost like an annoying waste-of-time salesman.
You could say it felt a bit like an awkward first kiss – not knowing where to position/place anything. My autopilot would use it’s pre-programmed cauliflower… curry… rice concept. That order. Nothing to consider.
But now it was like not knowing which colour to dip my paintbrush, without making a dirty colour brown. How was I ever to work through the saucey vs. light floaty rice that has a mind of it’s own, without jumping on to an Eating Disorder behaviour?
People normally just dive in, without the waste of mental effort. This isn’t ‘messy’, this is ‘normal’. Reassurance to myself.
I did turn to the cauliflower first, but as though pushing Anorexia to the ground as it tried to niggle at me, I then dipped it into the sauce. It was a first breaking of the ice… continuing then to combine cauliflower and carefully scraped segments of goulash.
Like a mental tidal wave, I couldn’t stare at the rice any longer, out of fear it would seep deeper into the sauce, so sent my knife in to save it. I think it was my irrational mind punishing me for feeling the alien mixture of textures and flavours now in my mouth. And it was the fear of finding an un-expectant piece of floating rice in the sauce that bothered me.
Unpredictable – Anorexia’s biggest threat.
Well, Anorexia – you are absolutely ridiculous… by parting the goulash and rice, a thin, saucey stain ran straight through the middle. A thin lining of goulash. This wasn’t the ‘clean and tidy’ result my irrational thoughts were aiming for. Did I just prove this to myself? Was this method of trying to separate actually creating MORE mess on my plate than less?
Listening to a loud old bang on the door from my pestering irrational friend as I continued to match up cauliflower and curry, I rescued the herb dumpling too. Moving it to the top of the plate. Again, Anorexia tried to compromise with my success at breaking it’s rules, by convincing me I was to eat that last. On it’s own. No fancy business.
With an aisle now running down the middle of my plate, veg eaten, dumpling at the far end, it looked like a wedding ceremony in a church. It felt that way with my chosen method of eating it. So I KNEW I was committing to this mixing foods palava, because there was no way I was getting to the end of treatment with a weight-restored body, and still a mentally disordered mind-set. That was my huge fear. That, which would set me up for yet another relapse. More wasted years.
So I could do this.
I could still keep it neat and it could still feel tidy, I kept reminding myself. Curry to the left, rice to the right, I took a bit from each side, ‘marrying’ it off together. In a steady, quiet way. (and this is why it so bizarrely reminding me of a wedding…) Making my way through silently and respectfully as though not to wake a crying baby in my head (Anorexia) and oh-my-god I was kind of eating curry in a ‘normal’ way. Reaching the far end of the plate, it was like the dumpling was the vicar waiting at the front… the most important man of all.
Anorexia HAD to put it’s last stamp on it didn’t it. Still encouraging me to eat it uncontaminated, to appreciate it for the flavour that it already was and to put my greed of mixing foods for the day to bed.
But I did it. I committed to my challenge. Yes, it did feel a bit horrendous. But I knew it would.
I chipped away at the rigid conditioning, that feels such a stubborn permanent script in my brain. But I’ve just proven to MYSELF that it isn’t as permanent as my Eating Disorder wants to me to believe. That’s what makes me so angry. All those lies I’ve believed for so long, and continue to out of ‘habit’ and emotional reliance.
I’m sorry if that meal description was utterly whacky in any way… ! But I can 100% promise you those were my exact thoughts when I did my usual reflective after-meal pen scribble in my notebook.
I bet you’ll never look at a meal of vegetable goulash, herb dumpling, rice and cauliflower the same again…