For alcoholics, a sign there might maybe be a problem is pouring the cooking sherry on ice.
For my bulimia brain, and other eating disordered thinkers, you know there’s a problem when you start eyeing the baking chocolate.
Of course, for me there’ve been other clues pointing to the problem.
But last year I decided to deal with the swirling storm around me by focusing on healing myself. That brought me back to therapy, among other things. On Mother’s Day I got a FitBit from my family – a gift I wanted, for the record. And something about that little bracelet worked so well for me. It was a physical reminder to me not only to take as many steps as I could but to be mindful of my food intake. I lost 31 pounds last year without barfing or being all obsessed with it.
It felt so awesome. So, so awesome.
I wore clothes I loved. I started to feel a sense of my own style. I thought maybe I could someday possibly enjoy exercising. My taste buds acclimated to not needing everything to be sweet to taste good.
It was good stuff.
Yeah. Was. Like before now.
Today … today (Technically, not, like today right?) I have gained more than half of that back. Which is, you know, not so much fun. In fact it feels like … well, shit. It feels like shit.
Here is the part that shows me I’m slowly healing something more important than my waistline though: yes it feels like shit. But I don’t feel like a complete piece of shit for going back down the slippery slope of eating for comfort, for relief from my pain or solace for my loneliness. Disappointed, of course, but prepared to begin again. Again.
That is huge for me you guys.
Huge Significant might be a better choice of words here.
So, even though I felt I had it licked as clean as the spatula I used to make an entire batch of gluten-free brownies for no one in particular just because I needed something sweet to cut the pain inside, I didn’t.
My bulimia brain is kicked into high gear and I am dealing with it. It is not something I can explain to anyone really. You get it, or you don’t. If you’ve struggled to overcome anything like this you get it. If you haven’t I am so, so happy for that!
Begin again seems to be my motto so here is my morning coffee replacement, hot water with lemon.
It’s going to take some getting used to but the part that feels good is knowing I’m starting my day with something good for me. So far, I’ve done it for two days so, you know, we’ll see.
Before sending me links to how coffee can actually be beneficial, it’s not good for me. And that’s mostly due to the shocking amount of sugar I use to make it palatable. Just use less sugar! I know, right? And yet … sugar to me is what heroin is to some … there is no such thing as one cookie for me.
It’s one cookie, maybe two, in front of you.
Then, it’s one when you’re not looking.
Then it’s the rest of the bag when everyone is asleep.
Then it’s lying when the family wonders “What happened to all the cookies?” Or mints. Or ice cream. Or Nutella. We have many such mysteries.
Just don’t buy that stuff. I know, right? And I don’t when my bulimia brain is under control. I know how to make good choices. Except when I don’t. In fact some of my close friends wonder why it is that I have such a hard time losing weight given that I eat pretty healthy. And I do. In front of people. But I also find comfort in my own private
Why didn’t I cross out finding comfort? Well, because honestly as I wrote those words it struck me that even though it doesn’t feel good exactly to make myself sick with food, it is comfortable in a familiar way. Just like an alcoholic doesn’t feel good after drinking a fifth of whiskey, it feels normal. And so somehow comfortable because that is how they cope.
My relationship with food is so disordered I don’t even know how to write about it. And I have no idea why I’m sharing it with you now. I write what I feel clearly called to write and have always trusted that process, so I won’t stop now. But it is all I can do to not scrounge for something sweet to salve this discomfort I’m feeling.
You know what else is uncomfortable though? My fat sitting in my lap as I write this.
It’s uncomfortable when your outside doesn’t match how you feel inside. Because there are so many parts of me that are happy, thankful and love this life I get to live. But then, you know … there are the broken parts.
At church awhile back our pastor talked about how we’re all broken jars of clay – but of course – that’s where the light comes in, right?
So, yeah. I’m cracked.
And from here, I heal.
To some, comparing an eating disordered brain to an addiction like heroin might be offensive. I mean people die from heroin overdoses. But you know what? There are a lot of ways to die. Some of us are walking around dying a little more every day with a smile on our faces. So, it’s worth mentioning.
Similar to drugs, the craving for the next binge – and the mental fatigue from fighting the urge compounded with the shame of struggling with something so “obvious” to others, hurts people.
It has hurt me for a long, long time.
For lent I am giving up that hurt.
For lent I am giving up the habit of eating my feelings.
For lent, I am giving up shame about this.
For lent, I am giving up self-loathing. (You’d think that would be easy. Nope.)
And I’m telling you about it because it’s so much fun to lay bare my heart and mortifying parts of myself.
Wait. No. That is totally not why. That part actually kind of sucks.
I’m telling you because I know I’m not alone here. I know that we all have dark places that need the light of hope, and help.
And they say the first step is admitting there is a problem
Which is hard because once you admit it … you have to own it. And then, you know, act on it or knowingly chose to be a victim at your own hands.
Luckily I’m not like Oprah doing this with an audience of millions, but it does stink to be in this place again. It’s a slippery slope down the rabbit hole and as a friend said “A long crawl out.”
It is a very, very long crawl out.
And here I begin.
“There is a crack in everything.
That's how the light gets in.”
- Leonard Cohen