Struggling with, or recovering from, an eating disorder is just so bizarre.
I know that sounds like a weak understatement, and it is. But there really isn’t a better way to put it. To someone who has, thankfully, never experienced the disorder – to whatever degree – it is absolutely impossible to try and explain the feelings you get when you make a choice toward your recovery.
Two eggs scrambled + gluten free cheese toast with butter + apple
I can’t even explain it myself. It is like a deep sadness mixed with an even deeper sense of compassion, gentleness, loss, fear and euphoria.
I instantly feel like I am once again 5 years old. Very, very fragile.
See? You really can’t explain it. As much as you may try, one who does not struggle with the disorder just can’t understand. How could they when I can’t even understand it myself?
These feelings arose on Monday. It was such a weird day. I had a whole morning off and was just feeling really tired. I slept in, scrolled the web for far longer than intended and eventually sat down to my breakfast at 10 am. I did not do anything productive, I didn’t clean, I didn’t exercise. And I ate at 10:00. Bizarre feelings number one.
Street Meat Hot Dog with kraut, ketchup and pickles
And then came lunch. I left the house to do some errands and packed only an apple and a piece of cheese, assuming that this is all I would eat . “Considering my late breakfast and all” (um, return to earth, please). At 2:00 I found myself hungry. As I explained here, I don’t get the typical physical hunger ques of a growling stomach, but I knew I was hungry because I was having the hardest time focusing and felt extremely lethargic.
I passed a hot dog street vendor. And damn. It looked good.
I have never had “street meat.” It’s been on my “list” for years. I’ve always wanted to see what those totally weird yellow hot dog buns are are all about. But I’ve never let myself.
I passed the stand and kept walking. But the thoughts starting to bubble. “Maybe… do I want one? Really? No.. pfft I can’t do that. But… oh my god I think I want one. Holy crap. What do I do? Do I actually get one? No. It’s 2:00. Plus I shouldn’t spend money. Screw it. I think I’m going to freakin’ get one.”
I marched back, ordered my dog, loaded it with kraut and ketchup and sat outside on a bench and ate the damn street meat. The weather was so beautiful.
And then I do things that I am not proud of but lessen the feelings… like having a diet coke.
These are really, really weird moments. Moments when I do something that I’ve never done, things that are so “against” the norms I have lived by for so many years. They bring up a lot of feelings – to which, like I said, I can’t really explain. I know you are thinking… a hot dog!? But yeah… A hot dog. Or a night out with friends… or eating at a new time… any of these so called “normal” things can actual provoke these feelings. And there is no rhyme or reason to them. Sometimes its more obvious – having to do with calories etc – but other times even this part doesn’t make sense. I mean a hot dog is no different from a sandwich, which I eat regularly. So sometimes the logistics are completely irrational. But you can’t deny them. You can’t always rationalize your way into getting rid of them. For whatever reason, these notions and feelings have lodged themselves in to your subconsciousness and they do hold power.
Plantains fried in coconut oil + ground beef in tomato sauce with sautéed onions and peppers + avocado + salsa + steamed broccoli
Of course after the ‘dog’, my plan for dinner was salad salad salad. That is the immediate compensation that is just so engrained. But god damn, when I got home I was hungry again, and really did not want a salad. I wanted a plantain. I wanted it fried in lots of coconut oil and topped with beef and avocado. “But… salad!!” says one side. “But……. my plantain is going bad and this is the only night I can use it, and I hate wasting,” says the other (anything to use as arsenal, right?). So I didn’t have a damn salad. And my dinner was so good.
The last of my freezer chocolate
The beautiful thing is, when you have a day like this and you do make the right choice – the choice that is fueled by your true desires and not by your eating disorder – though it may feel extremely raw in the moment, the feeling does pass. And you come out the other side feeling…. pretty damn cool. You feel more grounded in who you are; you feel a connection with that person you always have been but have been running away from. You still feel very fragile, but with a powerful compassion for yourself and whatever is hurting inside you.
I know how crazy and weird and possibly even immature this all sounds. Like something from a small child. I see it that way as well. But this is the reality of the disorder. The thoughts and feelings that arise through recovery are beyond explanatory and do not make sense. And they run very, very deep. For one person, a simple choice to get a hot dog when hungry is just that… a simple choice, and then it’s gone. But for someone else, this choice can somehow mean entering a whole world of painful memories and feelings and deep, child like compassion.
I apologize for bringing you into a long version of “a day in the mind of someone in recovery,” and I apologize for not simply gracing you with a lovely day of recipes. But this is life. My life… and the life of many others. You may be inclined to feel sadness, but I’d argue to say that this was actually a good day. It is these days, when I get that really weird, unexplainable feeling deep down where I know I am doing the real work that needs to be done. When I know that something in me is hurting and that this is how I’ve learned to make it better. When I know I am making a step towards regaining my life.
Thanks for listening. And thanks to Jenn for creating What I Ate Wednesday as a place to celebrate these simple moments.WIAW: The Day I Slept In and Ate Street Meat. An honest look into the thoughts of eating disorder recovery. Click To Tweet
Not a hugely exciting week. But I did get a few nice things…