Wrangling eating disorders

I’m sick, not, hopefully, with gastro like Rose, but with the pain and misery of too much work on not enough sleep. I hate Wednesdays and I’m under pressure to stay in the morning classes that are so distressing and exhausting me.

Today I wrote and worked more on my business site, attended a morning and night class and an apt with my disability employment provider. I’m shattered. I’m in so much pain I’ve been doing that awful gasping breathing for hours. I updated the About Sarah K Reece page on this blog, and suddenly felt over exposed. The thought of business clients coming here is powerfully silencing. Something in me growls and I found myself writing as very dark bio indeed, like marking my territory… All that out there might be brought and cheerful and child friendly but here things are said as they are… Four more edits later and it’s still dark but doesn’t actually bite anyone on the throat.

What the hell am I doing?

And then my business cards turn up in the post, and they’re so beautiful I can’t stop looking at them. To see my own artwork on them, my design that means so much to me, all my skills listed together and unified… This new business model I’ve worked so hard on and that feels like such as risk… It’s so powerful and moving. I get excited on Facebook and people kindly write to me inviting me to send them some. I have no idea what I’m doing but I seem to be muddling through.

My exercise program is working. My capacity is far improved, I’m building muscle tone and losing weight. Irritatingly I can’t track the latter well as none of the scales at my doctors office work or agree with each other. I’ve been tempted to buy a set for myself, the first I’ll have owned since I really struggled with disordered eating. I’m telling myself I can manage, that I’ll hide them and only check once a month, but the massive emotional high of stepping on them and finding a lower weight is telling me otherwise. The huge low if the number is the same, or higher, is telling me I’m not as far away from trouble as I think.

It takes huge effort to confess this to Rose, to talk honestly about the battle in my mind, how there’s such a desire to restrict food a and how difficult it is at times because it’s so tempting to let that disordered eating self (ED) take over the weight loss and then try to stop it later on… But when I ask myself questions like; how much food should I eat today, ideally, and find the answer is ‘none’; or what my ideal weight should be, and find the answer is ‘less than the last time I weighed myself’, I know there’s nothing more dangerous than letting those ideas take hold. I could look like I’m doing everything right, get all the kudos and compliments, but actually be moving into seriously unhealthy and dangerous territory.

So, I won’t buy the scales. That’s so hard, and the fact that it’s this damn hard tells me it’s the right call. I’ll keep walking and exercising. I’ll keep trying to listen inside and identify the different voices – when it’s my healthy self saying I don’t really want that treat, and when it’s my ED self saying I don’t want to eat at all. Talking with Rose the other night, for the first time it occurred to me that I might have some very healthy impulses wired into my ED self. I want to defy my father, who spent my teenage years telling me I’d get fat as I got older. I want the limberness of a thinner body, able to sit on the floor with little kids more easily. I want to be able to buy nice clothes without having to pay three times the price at specialty stores. Some of these desires have been cross wired into my ED self. For the first time it’s occurred to me that I can work on reclaiming them, that I can undo some of the things that give my ED self such power. Issues like self hate I’m still working on and obviously that plays a role, alongside anxiety and dissociation and shame and having been badly bullied… But where those are vulnerabilities I’m trying to strengthen, these other drives are strengths I want to reclaim, want to guide back into becoming strong, useful, motivating forces for health in my life. That’s a very different perspective for me, and a much more hopeful one.

Gently does it, gently does it.

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