Have you ever had that moment where it clicks that what you are doing is not ok? Or had that realisation that everything you thought you knew, everything that you believed in is not quite real? And if you have, how many times have they happened? The thing is, in my experience, those moments happen repeatedly and each time, I recognise them and then I let them go. Those light bulb moments are not the one off catalysts that propels you towards recovery as some people will have you believe. They are only a flag to say something isn’t right. The truth is though when Anorexia is drowning you, those moments are a slight graze that doesn’t even break the skin in getting you to change direction. Yet they matter! They are not irrelevant even though they are not in themselves life changing. I like to think of all these little grazes as something that nestles inside of you and makes you begin to question your Eating Disorder. They don’t alienate it, they don’t even make you hate it as such, but they do shake your blinding faith in it. That loyalty that you have always shown to your Eating Disorder begins to present fault lines and those are a painful opportunity to begin to move away from working with your disorder to fighting back against it.
The way I see my Eating Disorder is broken up in to sections. Not so much a before and after but how my attitude shifted towards it throughout the years that have passed. I think I’ve always known that what I was doing was not ok, that it was a problem and that’s only because I refused to let anyone else see it. I didn’t openly engage in behaviours, I made excuses for why I couldn’t eat and didn’t tell anyone what I was doing. So even if I wouldn’t or couldn’t have called it a disorder, I knew there was something not quite right with what I was doing. However I quickly normalised what I was doing and became so fixated on the benefits that I lost sight of everything else. It switched again when I was about 13 and I was desperate for someone to see me and help me but equally terrified that they would. That would be the first and only time for quite a while when I probably have accepted intervention. Yet I couldn’t open the door wide enough to let anyone else come through it. After that I hit what I like to think of the “shut down years”. Denial, anger, lies, hiding, refusing to believe or listen to anyone else. This lasted despite hospitals and tubes and sections and misery and not being able to wash myself. It lasted beyond diagnosis and all the medical crisis’s. I could cling on to this mind frame for so long because not only did I make myself believe that what I was doing was acceptable, but because I made everyone else believe it too. I rationalised all the stays in hospitals and tests and threats as nothing more than people being overly cautious and kind of stupid. I suppose I didn’t come out of this until somewhere in the middle of my first stay in treatment. Then my awareness drifted in and out. My ability to fight grew and shrunk and disappeared then strengthened.
Throughout all of that…I had more moments than I can remember. Some of them I do…
There was the day when I passed out on a soft rug and snapped my collar bone clean. Or the day I curled up on the kitchen floor, crying and praying and screaming because I couldn’t do it anymore. There was the moment when my brother refused to hug me in case he broke me. And the moment when I had to leave work because I couldn’t stand up anymore. There was the Christmases I ruined. Then there was yesterday when my blood sugars crashed and I stood in my kitchen trying to figure out how to eat a snack and fix what was fixable. Or the moment when I ran into someone and blatantly lied to their face about how well I was doing and felt instantly guilty when they were honest about how not so great they were doing. There was also today when I woke up tired, with the headache at the edges and my muscles cramping and considered that these weeks of slight restriction might be starting to catch up with me.
I’m trying so hard not to ignore the moments this time because I wanted more from life, didn’t I? That’s why I chose recovery. Isn’t it? At some point I’m going to have to lean from the past rather than making myself repeat the same mistakes over and over again.
I hope your day has been good to you.