Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Life happens. Food happens. Even to a former anorexic.

One thing I have had a very hard time coming to terms with in my recovery from eating disorders is that life happens. Even when it comes to food. I'm still not entirely ok with it. I am that person who, at family gatherings (or other food-related events), will bring her own food or eat beforehand. I don't make a big fuss about it, I just quietly do my own thing (unless people start teasing me. Then you're in for an earful as I explain why I'm doing what I'm doing). I will avoid certain social gatherings because the food won't be acceptable. And it's not even a downer for me. I'd actually rather not go.

But I don't want to be ruled by food like that. I have cultivated a long-term view of health (for the most part) and I have proven to myself that I can make adjustments, I can compensate when the day has been bizarre and long and tiring and you really just want Mexican food. It's hard, though, to maintain balance, especially when I'm constantly rating my relationship with food. Did I eat because I had scheduled it? Was I driven by emotion? Did I not eat enough and was I actually needing food? Do I feel the sudden need to run several miles? Or slash calories tomorrow? Do I want to punish myself? Or am I ok, and eating the food was normal. Normal. What is that? What do normal people feel like after eating? What does it feel like to not count calories?

And yes, I think about stuff like that. In fact it's pretty tame compared to my thoughts when I was in the midst of the eating disorder. I consider myself healed now, and I won't relapse (God is truly my strength in this area) but some behaviors and mental thought patterns remain. Will I ever be free of these? I don't know. In some ways I think I'd be afraid to let go completely, since it's what I'm comfortable with and venturing into new territory frightens me. I might know for certain I won't relapse but the fear is still sometimes there.

I also wonder what might have been different if I hadn't gone through an eating disorder. Would pregnancy have been less crippling? I did not find my pregnant self beautiful. It horrified me (I am NOT referring here to my beautiful children, just myself). Could I go with ease to social/food gatherings? Would the immense amount of attention I paid to food been used to fuel a spectacular hobby? I don't know. On the flip side, I did learn things from my eating disorders. I can exert enormous willpower. It's not enough, my complete inability to stop disordered eating proved that, but I can do almost anything once I decide to. I can endure pain (the blessedly brief cutting period and multiple tattoos proved that). I have staying power. And, more importantly, I have immense compassion for those who suffer/have suffered from similar issues. I know how powerless one can be, how you can't even see how thin you are, just how much more fat you need to get rid of because fat is the enemy and is to be feared above all. Even more importantly than that I know the horrible fear can be stopped, that a healthy relationship with food can occur*. I couldn't do it on my own, but God was never far from me and He gave me the strength. And one day I started eating healthfully. And the next day. And all the days after that. And food lost its power over me.

To tie this whole monologue back to my first paragraph, I'll tell you that I'm writing this because yesterday was the day that was bizarre and that need a Mexican food ending (most of the food was gluten-free, albeit carb-heavy, so I wasn't going too far off my chosen diet). And I was slightly anxious. And needed to remind myself that life happens, and that food no longer rules me and that it's ok to sometimes eat outside of my schedule.

I'm still bringing my own food though. It's not you, it's me.

*There is ALWAYS hope. Never forget that.

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