Alright, first thing’s first:
Smirk at my headline.
And took me all day to think of. (Partner currently shaking his head; don’t think he found it as amusing as I did when I snorted into the coffee.)
Anywho, shifting away from PornHub vibes, (gotta watch what I write otherwise pervs on the internet end up finding my blog from “unshaven fetish” google searches)…
Let’s dive in.
We all do it – this lusting over anorexia – so let’s call a spade a spade.
Pondering this post from a plane (God bless the lady next to me: likely reading over my shoulder thinking ‘’what the hell is this woman writing about?”) – and I’m on my way back from a wedding. My dead best friend’s sisters wedding, to be candid – so maybe I’m not much in the mood for bullshitting, and the words pour.
Who knows. It’s beside the point, but I want you to know where I’m coming from so you’re not all like ”whatta asshole.”
Truth is: I’m about to make you uncomfortable… because I’m making myself uncomfortable.
However, four years into this recovery business, I can assert with sincerity that being uncomfortable is half of the process – and in order to navigate this murky world – we have to let it exist.
So, face it with me. And if this post pushes your boundaries, sit with it. You’re making progress.
Last week, I caught myself doing it —
Reminiscing over anorexia like the 1976 class ring a football coach shows to his buds over a beer.
Ever feel like you relive it? Just a taste.
Yearn for it like you’re gonna shiver in your sleep – missing the lifestyle you created around it.
Human beings, eh? We’re destructive mother f*ers. And none more destructive than those of us who develop eating disorders.
I sat in my parents house last weekend, a film crew in my childhood living room.
Spent a whole day reliving that faction of my life.
Getting paid to divulge all the horrible shit I did to myself, starting at 15.
When was the first time you threw up?
OH! I was 16… had a chemistry test… was feeling sick, and didn’t want to disrupt my 4.0 average (cause ya know #perfectionist LOLZ), so I went and shoved my fingers down my throat. Wasn’t eating disorder related at all, but it was GLORIOUS. So easy, too. They never tell you that. It’s easy … until it’s not.
… Alright, I didn’t say it THAT casually. (or basic? I don’t really know what I was going for there.)
But, inside, I could feel my emotions percolating. My fingers stating to jump. Possibly a twitch in my eye.
It’s like taking that first sip of alcohol after a hard day. Ahhhh, freedom to divulge.
When did you start to have an unhealthy relationship with exercise?
OH! Where do I start?! Dead-best-friend-and-I-used-running-as-coping? High-school-athletics? Calorie-counting-turned-calorie-purging-through-treadmill? There’s so much I could choose here! I’ve pretty much used it as a calorie purger and self-validation for ohhhh, 10 years?
What nobody wants to just bloody admit about eating disorders – is that half the battle of moving past one – is being self aware enough to not glorify it.
It’s retraining your brain to not believe that it somehow is one of the most interesting things about you.
I continue to learn this.
Spent a whole day with a documentary crew.
Dived in and out of those “stories.” The time I fell off a treadmill drunk.
The lies I told to get to the gym again.
The restless nights with leg cramps and shin splints and fractures.
Feeling bones in the mirror.
There I go again. Reliving.
Like a broken record.
I missed it.
As I do still, sometimes.
I miss the anorexia lifestyle. Not the binges or the purging (hated that shit).
But, I miss the validation at times. I tell the stories sometimes, absentmindedly, out of a need to self-validate.
Or, perhaps, as a way to validate myself through others? As though the “muggles” think some girl who starved herself is a FASCINATING (and OH SO ORIGINAL) story.
Who knows, really?
All I do know is that it’s like a drug to the brain.
I imagine if you stuck some wires to my brain, you’d see parts of it light up when I talk about the glory days.
They’re easy to get wrapped up in – memories.
We put so much damn reality into them when we were living that way; so much pride, confidence, and false sense of security into the lifestyle.
Back then, it was:
The less I eat = the better I feel about myself
And I think, in turn, we let that same mentality creep in to recovery when we’re not paying attention.
Subtle, of course, but ever-present.
It was there this past weekend: like a buzz when I looked at my best friend in the eye as I told a camera man about high school – and how I called her once, breaking down – having just yakked in a toilet.
It was there: a sense of confidence, glancing at my partner as I showed the camera my food journals and exercise logs.
Perhaps, I still think that he will love me more because I was once “that strong and disciplined.”
Perhaps, I think “I barely work out these days – but I need you to know that there was once a woman in me THAT. WORKED. OUT. EVERY. DAY. AND. WAS. THE. BEST…. do you like me?”
I’m like a dog with his tongue out, whimpering for validation.
It all came to a head though, as it does in my little world of flexible recovery.
There I am, 3:30pm – after seven hours of filming – and my parents take the stand.
That was dramatic. They didn’t take a stand. They just sat in the living room with a big ole’ light in their face and a rolling camera.
I didn’t consider them.
How selfish I can be – to still believe my eating disorder affected only me. Like it didn’t disrupt, disable, and destroy relationships around me.
I often don’t take the consideration of what they went through – both while I was struggling, and now at this point. Years later. Blabbin’ about all this on a blog to anyone who cares to read.
It was sobering, to say the least.
Like a good buzz when it fades into fatigue, and you’re like ‘’wait why am I still at this party – I wanna go home AND NETFLIX IN MY BED.”
Sat on the couch, out of camera shot, and listened to them talk to a stranger. How they felt as parents. When they knew. What it’s like now.
Anger. Confusion. Hurt. Love. Pity. Guilt.
Witnessed it all pour out of their brightly lit camera pores.
I sat there – and noticed the anticlimactic shift in emotion.
It wasn’t doing it for me.
Pat my veins.
Another hit? Heat up the spoon.
“As parents, we felt guilty that we missed it for so long.”
WAIT. WHAT. NO.
IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT, DAD.
GO BACK TO TALKING ABOUT HOW MANIPULATIVE AND GREAT I WAS AT HIDING IT.
TELL THIS CAMERA DUDE ABOUT MY BONES. THE RUNNING.
“We didn’t always know what to do – we still don’t.”
NOOOO, STOP. NU UH.
“We’re a close family. We still learn together.”
Like a helium balloon spewing out air, I sat there.
“It’s hard not to feel the guilt.”
Shit gets real.
Shit always gets real.
Looked at my mom. She half-grinned, somber in her face.
My dad glanced, thumbs up or down he motioned.
Thumbs up, I smiled.
Lessons we learn in recovery – they are vast and many… or as many as we want them to be.
As many as we’re willing to face.
It’s easy to revel in the “good” of anorexia.
There’s something to be said about the lifestyle.
Fuck, you’re acing the American beauty standard when you do.
You have this great (albeit false) sense of security and confidence. And that confidence that comes from our brains telling us “not eating = success” is a drug in itself.
We forget – lemme speak for myself – I forget to invest in the whole reality.
Which is that anorexia, or whatever it is that is your ED sickness, is always nothing more than a few minutes of bliss per day – followed by a lifetime of battle.
A lifetime of fighting the ED mentality, and the severe beliefs in how we think about food. Battles against “eat this or that” and the tough evolution of “how the fuck to have healthy relationships following a pattern of manipulation.”
It’s not all about the physical – these eating disorders. I say that shit all the time.
It’s the beliefs. It’s the boxes you create, and live by.
It’s the maniacal obsessions over calories and food and cardio machine purges.
Listening to my parents this weekend, I was faced with the whole truth again.
The big reality that my eating disorder is nothing more than a tool to keep me boxed into a cruel, but safe reality.
So, what do you do?
Hope is turning on the light in a dark ass tunnel that you’re not sure you’ll wade out of.
Let it shine.
Forgive – it’s all you’ll ever hear throughout recovery. And it’ll bug you. And gnaw at your calloused knuckles.
To forgive is never to forget. And it’s not a one-time move. Overtime, it just allows you to come full circle, so you can actually face your shit, hate yourself, forgive again, and wade through the murk.
The only battle truly worth a damn in this life is the one to live in the present, instead of being constantly consumed by the ED dialogue in your head.
Live a true, honest recovery – don’t just dream about it. You’ll wake up 10 years later, and all you’ll want are those 10 years back, so you could’ve done it differently.
The way you talk about eating disorders or weight with your friends.
Those fucking sick pics.
A damn hobby. Search for one.
Because you don’t want to talk about this shit forever.
(Irony, coming from someone, like me, who does?)
Writing is the only expression I’ve ever been good at – naturally, at least.
So, if this is what is has turned into – I’m okay with that.
But, you don’t wanna talk about this stuff forever.
I don’t want to talk about my eating disorder forever.
I have a whole other world I continue to create, in spite of my xx amount of new weight.
Don’t get stuck telling the same story over and over. Otherwise, you’ll live it like it’s the only truth you have.
And most truths are interchangeable.
Let your truth be interchangeable, malleable, and free.
Give yourself experiences so raw, uncomfortable, and unnatural that the whole idea of “truth” or what you believe to be true – is stripped from you in an instant.
Our eating disorders become our base of every story sometimes.
And we have to be careful not to make them our leading lady.