I have suffered with an eating disorder for 25 years. This is my path through recovery.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Life without Ed Ed doesn't live in my house any more. His bags are packed and sitting on the front porch. I've had a team of security experts evaluate my home for safety, change the existing locks, add deadbolts, glass breakers, alarms and cameras. My home is better protected than Fort Knox! Plus, the contents are much more valuable.
The biggest problem, I suppose, is that I keep listening when Ed talks. He has such a big mouth. He tells me whatever he needs to say to get me to do what he wants. Ed is really nothing more than a manipulative, self-centered abuser and I'm thrilled that he's out of my house.
Sometimes he hollers so loudly and smacks the door so hard I have to shove couches and other heavy furniture in front of the door to keep him out. Sometimes he whispers apologetic sweet talk in at the window. And sometimes I'm so lonely I convince myself that I just don't care that he's going to be abusive - I rationalize it by saying, "Well, at least he's there!"
Except that nothing changes the fact that he will be abusive and manipulative every single time. There are no exceptions with Ed. The eating disorder tells me that I can eat whatever I want just like the skinny chick next to me. He tells me that I will be able to stop this time, regardless of the fact that I have not been able to stop the last 4,387 times I have tried this. He tells me I am weak when I have to protect myself; yet in the same breath he tells me I'm strong enough to eat only one potato chip.
Do you see the paradox here? He tells me what he thinks will make me do what he wants me to do. And what he wants me to do is eat. Uncontrollably.
And he lies. Oh, how he lies. He tells me all the time how ugly I am; how nobody really likes me - they merely tolerate me out of politeness; how stupid or weak or selfish or useless I am. He points out every shortcoming and every failure or perceived failure. The perfectionist in me (which usually goes right along with the eating disorder) just sits back and nods her head. What a traitor! It's so difficult to refute these evil statements no matter how wrong they are, but it's vitally important to learn to do that, one moment at a time.
The answers are not simple. There are as many options for recovery as there are eating disordered individuals out there, both men and women. I journal when I feel the need to eat outside of my prescribed normalized meal plan. Or I find an activity I can do. Granted, this can feed the obsessive-compulsive fetish, but I prefer that to the alternative.
One of the most important activities in which I can engage is connecting with other people, most particularly my support system. I can pick up the phone when I'm feeling food-related anxiety or an urge to binge, go hang out with my friends wherever they may be or even pick up a pen and write a letter. Anything to stay in contact with the people who love me. This is most usually linked to the craving that I'm experiencing, so it's a healthy outlet for me to meet my needs.
And I can take my message to the world - that's you, my friend. Please learn something from me and don't follow in my footsteps. Besides, they're not my footprints right now because Jesus is carrying me through this recovery process.