Golden syrup porridge.
Tomato pasta with ricotta shavings and salad.
Fruit ‘foamy’ sweets.
Chicken and coleslaw sandwich (white).
Strawberry yoghurt, flapjack.
Sultanas and raisins.
…& the usual PINT of semi-skimmed milk.
Behind the vibrating sound of my toothbrush this morning, and the minty taste of ‘Colgate’ I had one of those moments. A ding-dong thought.
At this curious stage of recovery, where if feels like I’m testing how my ‘head’ will react to this new ‘thing’ (my relationship with food AND my body), every day currently feels like an experiment. I am a guinea pig.
How will I cope? When will I explode of disgust if my Eating Disorder/body-shame feels so loud but I KEEP choosing to eat without rigid rules, measurements and over-planning? Am I kidding myself that this could leave to a ‘better’ life? How will I know when that feeling of ‘happiness’ will lead me to lose control and become a mess of a human being… ?
Rebelling against all those things that promised to make me feel emotionally and psychologically ‘safe’ can feel dangerous, but then freeing and exciting and hopeful, all in the space of a few minutes. And sometimes, it can feel like ALL those things at once.
But back to brushing my teeth this morning – I was trying to picture what would best sum up how it feels in my head and where I stand with food at the moment. In fact, I was trying to work it out for myself, too.
And suddenly I realised, often it feels similar to having a teacher in class at school, to having none. Sometimes, although we moan, having rules and expectations set by someone/something outside of us can keep us focused and on track – there’s less decisions for us to make and we hand-over the responsibility. Less likely to go ‘wrong’. Whereas, the feeling of the teacher being out of the room and all the kids messing about makes me feels like I’m full of errors, unfocused and rebellious. Sometimes I don’t know how to think and behave around food, so I have to wing it. I have to be my own teacher.
Particularly as I’ve reached ‘Stage 3’ of my treatment program, and now there’s no-one saying I HAVE to put on weight (but I might, yet, until I reach set-point) these disorientated feelings are a lot more intense. It’s almost like, as difficult as it is at first coming into hospital and completely scrapping your Eating Disorder rules for hospital rules in your ‘best interest’, putting on weight and reaching ‘targets’ start to become the NEW pre-occupation, and what you once used with your Eating-Disordered energy, transfers into this instead.
In a sense, your Eating Disorder thrives off having NEW rules and boundaries. The comfort of being told you are ‘allowed’ and ‘have’ to eat from the prescribed weight-restoration meal-plan. Having to put on weight, almost reassures your Eating Disorder that it existed, that you deserve to eat because ‘science’ (your body/brain’s nutritional status) says so.
Whereas now, learning to maintain and HOPEFULLY hold my weight without freaking out and reverting backwards, I have to learn that I deserve to eat, just because. Not because science says I’m worthy, but because of just being me, I am.
And that’s a fucking long shot right there.
I’m doing it, but it’s terrifying that people around you may assume that now you FEEL deserving to eat these nice foods again and keep your weight healthy. Not the case. I’m in training and will be for a LONG time.
But without committing to this training I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy an absolutely gorgeous 2-course Italian meal with my Great Auntie in Sheffield today. Or that home-made flapjack on Friday. Food stuff aside, neither would I have genuinely been INTERESTED in talking about stuff I failed at connecting with because of my Eating Disorder taking up so much space, or been able to laugh and mean it, or been able to talk the dog for a walk without feeling ‘compelled’ or treating it as punishment and a way to gain reward.
And now, after typing that up to there in ‘Pret’ whilst having my sarnie and decaf coffee, I’m finishing this off back at the Unit. And going from that space to this, the reality of weigh-day tomorrow again has hit…
The cobwebbed thoughts will remain, but it’s how I choose to find the light through them and clear a path I want to go down. Instead of assuming the cobwebs will build and build until I’m a fly amongst them, surrendering to my Eating Disorder again. Like the whole idea of ‘controlling your inner chimp’ (the rebellious/obsessive/habitual/coping part of you) I read this in a helpful book once! …it’s like making sure I stay mindful of that cheeky ‘spider’ casting it’s dusty webs in my head (the clinging Anorexic thoughts and echoing, low self-worth).
The biggest change this week I’ve noticed, although I struggle mainly with my anxiety and fear of losing control on the evenings, is my compulsive urges to play the guitar/sing… it’s a similar feeling to when I’d either compulsively feel I needed to re-add my calorie content for the day or in whatever I was about to eat, or to plan for the next few days food, or in more the Bulimic-days, the midnight urge to walk to the shop to fulfil something and suddenly get rid of it.
This new compulsion, to me, is a good sign.
I’m feeling like someone, instead of an Eating Disorder again.
But it’s STILL weigh-day tomorrow. Sh*t.