Weetabix x 2.
White toast x2, butter.
Roast turkey in gravy, roast potatoes, brussel sprouts.
Cherry full-fat yoghurt.
Jacket potato, butter, baked beans, side salad.
Sultanas and raisins.
…& the usual PINT of semi-skimmed milk.
If I’d have done what I did at lunch time this time last month, I would let shame swallow me up in one. I’d be tightly squashed into it’s big old chip butty… mentally destroyed.
As Anorexia is like an evil one-eyed parrot on your shoulder, it will spot ANY chance within your actions to make you feel greedy. To make you drown in that shame and regret of ever choosing to try and leave it behind…
Shame is it’s metal hook, it’s seductive weapon for reminding you how emotionally vulnerable you are in recovery.
So being the first to finish lunch (which I must have done before, but this time I felt very aware – perhaps because there’s less of us patients here this weekend), made me feel a bit of a kick in the stomach. But the difference was this time I left it at that. I refused to fight it back or give it the attention.
I felt quite a fiery/fierce attitude this morning, perhaps partially inspired by listening to another ‘TED Talk’ on YouTube. But also because I’m starting to feel quite scared of the ‘shame’ feeling that seems to be lurking behind the wardrobe of my mind, ready to pounce. Not just with food, but socially. It makes me feel weak, which then make me feel angry because I feel powerless in myself. So I’m trying to spot it ahead of time, to recognise my triggers before it gets a proper chance to trip me up.
And that’s why I chose to not fall for shame this time. To be lured into it’s trap, telling me it will take away the pain of what I’ve just done by giving into it, but actually making me feel worse.
When beginning to start my lunch today, I made a conscious effort to block out the people around me and the poking comparisons the parrot would have made me alert to. Keeping myself in my own powerful little ‘Yasmin’ bubble, I thought – right, I’m likely to eat this quicker than other meals because it is an easier one to get through…
…so I could try and drag it out so I don’t finish too ‘early’, or I could choose to eat at my own pace. And to pretend I was in a ‘normal’ eating environment where we wouldn’t be given a ‘time frame’ to eat within. I made the most of feeling in a mentally quite positive place this morning, and did just that.
No I didn’t eat too fast, I felt steady. I didn’t feel in a tug-of-war battle with time like Anorexia would have liked. I had to keep reminding myself as I felt the bubbles of shame ready to fizz and rise when I was the first to put my knife and fork down. Usually I wouldn’t have been able to face that wait of sitting in these guilty thoughts, for others to finish, pulling my head to the floor and wanting desperately to shrivel up. Anorexia’s way of getting me.
But just as quickly as the thought arrived today, I remembered who was in charge here. Yes I could let Anorexia snuggle me up in self-pity, or I could try and convince myself I was confident about MY decision. So when placing my knife and fork down, I focused ahead and fiercely drowned out the thoughts with some attempted ‘Yasmin confidence’. I purposely kept my head physically up, fighting the string of shame trying to pull my chin down. I knew I ate at a Yasmin pace that was right for this meal. I wasn’t greedy like Anorexia was saying I was. There will be other meals when I will be the last to finish, other times somewhere in the middle, and yes, more times when I will be first.
Sometimes you have to really transfer your little mental world in that dining room, OUT of the dining room. Because the thoughts swimming around, in a shared ‘Eating Disordered’ environment can start to feel quite intense. Anxiety can breed. That you lose your true intentions. There’s lots of parrots with metal hooks sitting on shoulders in there.
If you’re sat with someone struggling – using obvious eating behaviours, or is quite physically displaying with their fear/anxiety, it’s so easy to get sucked up. And it’s a quick, deep trap for me to fall into… but I know I have also been the one there, not realising I guess the affect on others because you are too busy beating yourself up about how to scuttle around and hop over and above the thoughts of guilt and shame.
But how nice it would be to BE that someone at the table who others feel comfortable and relaxed to be sitting with… that’s my aim… I’m not the most confident talker yet at the table… but I’m not suddenly going to bloom with all the confidence I’ve lacked over the years, just because I decide to knock my eating behaviours on the head. Yes the shame about me as PERSON, my self-worth is even louder now I choose to fight my Eating Disordered thoughts, but as I explained yesterday, my only choice is to continue in HOPE that this will weaken as I become stronger in myself, and start practicing skills to overcome my insecurities.
Not to run straight with the easiest option – give shame what it wants, hang my head and regret my ‘disobedient greedy behaviour’, to punish myself if at least by scratching away the pain of shame, or not allowing myself to smile even if the situation asks for it, to not embarrass myself by showing myself as ‘happy’ if I should suffer the greed of eating what I’ve just eaten.
God, that’s all too easy. But I’m sick to death of ‘easy’. FEAR is too easy… it shuts you away from opportunity.
I still have mega fears about other areas of my life – mainly with what people think of me/my social interactions. So don’t assume I’m mentally superwoman. But if the food side of things is something I now can control… to take ownership… then I will… I just have to be a bit more brave to tackle the other stuff. The stuff that feels less controllable.
In other news, I’m now off to complete my ‘self-care’ challenge. We have an ‘Aims and Objectives’ group once a week – we set a realistic goal for ourselves, question our thoughts around it throughout the week and then feed back to the group about our progress. Well it’s two weeks since I set my aim of having a bath once that week. The first time I cancelled it because it had been an emotionally topsy turvy day. And I don’t think I could have tolerated allowing myself to relax and indulge in sitting with my naked body. The second week, I realise I was just shoving the idea under the carpet, thinking there was never a ‘right’ evening to do it. So this morning I realised, then contemplating when I could plan it for THIS week… again… excuses… what was the ‘right’ time?
My instinct – let’s just bloody do it tonight. Reminder to self: all we have is now. And you probably think I say about having a bath like it’s a bad thing. It’s not – I KNOW (hope) that I will grow to enjoy having a bath, rather than a hop-in-straight-out shower in 2 minutes flat… the busy bee’s answer to staying clean. Necessity rather than enjoyment.
As I know I’m uncomfortable with the idea, it makes me think it’s the right idea. All we have is today, and as far as I know I’m not jetting off to any major conference tonight, so I have no valid excuse as my weapon to put it off any longer.
I can think of excuses jumping to mind right now – but it’s weigh-day tomorrow, your thoughts are going to be even more painful, you mean you’re actually going to sit with your fat and growing disgusting body… what about if you feel your boobs touch your belly… what if you feel the heavier weight of yourself as you get OUT of the bath… how are you going to cope with the body image thoughts… how could you be so lazy to want to stay still and ‘relax’ when you could be making yourself useful doing other things.
I’m PRETTY sure, these probably aren’t just thoughts from someone with an Eating Disorder. But the sad ones that probably many women (and men) have niggling away at them.
But ultimately if we allow ourselves to avoid such things, especially when it comes to ‘self-care’ then we feed into our negative body image self-talk. But if we rebel against it, we are wearing the fear, and if we WANT to make friends with the body we call home for the rest of our lives, telling ourselves we deserve to take part in these little things that we don’t HAVE to do, will eventually strengthen more positive body image talk.
Bloody hell, I’m shitting it at how loud my thoughts are going to be to sit with my naked self for longer than feels necessary. But I’m again putting HOPE (I find I’m using that word a LOT recently… because I’m starting to live it, as that’s where I can focus my trust in a better future) in that I CAN enjoy baths. I’d like to start showing appreciation for my body, and also to ENJOY the general experience of having a bath and feeling ‘pampered’.
I’ve never before understood the adrenaline around bath bombs most women seem to have… but I’ve not given myself chance. My mum’s mad on them!And now, before my first bath in years, I’m quite excited of the new concept of having something else in life to look forward to… purchasing pretty bath bombs and new gorgeous smells… one of the many little things to cherish. A replacement of seeing ‘food’ as the ‘reward’. For a change, perhaps giving time out for yourself in a moment of quiet/stillness with you, your body and your own thoughts could be enough of a reward.
I say that like I’m preaching and believing it – trust me, I’m dreading taking off my clothes and stepping in. In fact I’m procrastinating right now by tip-tapping about how incredible the bath experience COULD be. It WILL be if I keep practicing at body acceptance and feeling allowed to keep my mind still…
Right. I’m off in.