Last week was spring break and it went surprisingly smooth. Usually breaks in routines are so tough for me. Ed amps up and I fall into a sense of depression and hopelessness. I am so thankful that God has blessed me with my friends’ trips though, because that carried me through the break in the norm. I spent the first part of the week extremely disciplined at school getting work done, and the second half of the week I was feeling under the weather so I did work at home. As always, I didn’t get everything done that I would have liked but I am content with how I spent the time.
For the last year I have pretty much been in this funk of binging/overeating/emotional eating once a week, every single week. When I was at my worst in restriction, I would plan to overeat once a week, and that anticipation would help me to starve myself the rest of the week, but also be able to survive as well. It’s hard to explain and I certainly wouldn’t have understood it until I experienced it myself, but it was once a week where I soothed myself, where I accepted myself and my craves to food that I was forbidden of, where I released myself from the judgment and criticism of restriction and made myself feel better by the comfort of food. It was hallow and short lived, but it was certainly a high. It became a drug that I craved, needed, urged for, dreamed of. On my worst days, especially after my dad’s death, I would be in watch Gilmore Girls in bed and eat, and eat, and eat some more until I was so intoxicated by my drug that I couldn’t think straight, I couldn’t think about doing anything else but being numb and in pain, and as crazy as it sounds, that’s exactly what I wanted. It was such a dark period in my life, and a period that extended far beyond what I would ever want to admit, but it was truly the one time a week I ever felt okay, soothed, at peace, still. As it used to be on Fridays when this “therapeutic” time took place, I get such high anxiety when Friday approaches, and over the entire weekend, every weekend.
I am so excited and proud to say that I did not emotional eat this past weekend! The last time I had engaged in emotional eating borderline binge was last Sunday, March 10. It seems like a small success when I write it out, but for me it’s huge. Since I habitually engage in overeating once a week (even though I am desperately trying not to and it’s become something I absolutely hate as I no longer restrict like before so it’s no longer a positive thing to me, but rather very negative because I can’t soothe myself with restriction afterwards), my therapist posed the challenge of not overeating in TWO weeks. I would really, really like to not do it ever again, but most especially not before my friends come (starting next Thursday). I feel so bloated and awful and it takes me into a really dark place and it takes days to get out of it. I am not able to be mentally present, but I am trapped and isolated and I feel awful. It’s like an urge that develops though, that grows and grows and the only way I can get relief, release, my high, is to give in to the seemingly inevitable and hurt myself with what I put in my mouth. I hate it and I feel so much better and clearer even from just ONE week of recovery.
It scares me that recovery is a process, that it’s typically two steps forward, one step back. I don’t want to go back, it scares me so much. I feel like the phrase, “once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic, it’s just one day at a time” is so fitting to me too. “Once an anorexic, always an anorexic, it’s just one day at a time.” “Once a binge eater, always a binge eater, it’s just one moment at a time.” It’s scary to feel so vulnerable and on edge.
The amazing thing is, is I’m liking the way my body looks now that I’m not starving or binging more than I have in a long time. I stopped restricting badly many months ago, and since then it’s been more a process of just gaining weight back. While this has been good, and I know I needed it, it was scary to see it gain back in fear that it will all gain back. The phrase that that the real challenge of weight loss is keeping it off has never really sunk in until recently. It was seemingly simple to starve and loss the weight (although I’m oversimplifying and glorifying that process, no doubt), but it’s the day to day, it’s trying to live life normally again while maintaining a healthy weight that’s extremely difficult to me. One crucial thing that I need to continue to put more and more emphasis on is taking time to myself, taking moments off, often throughout the day, to myself. I need to listen to my body and to my brain, to my feelings which I have not listened to since I was a little girl. I need to give myself rewards and encouragement, not just live my life by such rigidity, structure, rules, and punishment. I need to find joy and relief and contentment in the ins and outs of everyday life. I need to not feel bad taking time to myself, not maximizing productivity. I am not a machine, I am a human being with, surprisingly, feelings that must be acknowledged, loved, cherished, and managed. I have lived like a machine for so long where of course I am setting myself up for failure, I don’t take care of myself. And the biggest question to me that matters is how am I going to be a good mom if I can’t even take care of myself? If I don’t even know how to feed myself? Express my own emotions? Handle my own thoughts? Listen to my own body? How will I possibly be able to do all of those things and teach them for infants, toddlers, children, teenagers? I’m only going to repeat the generational cycle of all the problems that wound me up to where I am now if I don’t address these things now. My entire future, as well as my loved ones futures, is on the line now. I can’t escape to self-destructive coping tendencies and live the life that I want. I pray for strength, because it’s a strong drug to resist.