I feel annoyed. See, I don’t even like writing that, because I feel guilty when I have negative feelings, especially when omg, life is going so well, but if I’ve learned anything over the past few months, it’s that I need to stop ignoring or denying my feelings.
So back to being annoyed. I had a really great weekend getaway with my friend. But TALK ABOUT TRIGGERING. You were in full force. I had hoped you would stay back at home, but you decided to tag along. And that was hard.
Together, we judge people eating. We judge what they eat, how they eat, when they eat, and how much they eat. We judge Starbucks orders and mid-afternoon snacks, definitions of “pigging out,” and versions of “dieting.” You want a VENTI what? You feel fat after eating just that? I must be a monster. We judge cooking and type of ingredients. Real sugar in their coffee? Whole milk? Fast-food for lunch? We judge grocery lists and cocktails, portion sizes and favorite restaurants. You’re giving your kid SODA…you criminal? Are you really going to eat all of that?
I don’t know if this is due to the eating disorder or due to the recovery process. You use judgment to harm (wow, look at all that you’re eating) or help (at least you’re eating healthier) me. I don’t recall this kind of automatic judgment when I was younger, but then again, why would I? I didn’t notice how others drove until I started driving either. Same sort of thing, I guess. You cannot notice eating habits of others until you become so acutely aware of your own.
Still, I feel deeply ashamed of this habit, even though I believe it is characteristic of the eating disordered pathology. I do not judge skin color, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, religion, or any of the major causes for discrimination, but whether you order a burger or a salad, you can bet I’m making some kind of assumption.
Wow. Tangent. I assure everyone that there is a point to this rant.
So, back to my weekend. It was fun. It was needed. We went jet-skiing and swimming and relaxed at my friend’s parents’ house, where we read, napped, booked some SUPER EXCITING THINGS for our European adventures in August.
Being a guest in someone’s home while in recovery from an eating disorder is tricky. For one, I had limited control. Her family had taken the honor of preparing and home-cooking all this wonderful food for us. Most of these meals fell on the “unsafe” side of my rigid continuum. For nearly three days, I subsided on foods that created anxiety for me. I know this was a good test that pushed me out of my comfort zone and literally forced me to eat these foods in normal-sized portions, but I hated all the emotional turmoil it created.
For two, my friend has never struggled with an eating disorder. She eats intuitively, which is my eventual goal, but I am obviously not there yet. Over the duration of our trip, I experienced stress. And, yes, I felt jealous. I also felt superior. Even though she is relatively slim, this girl does not follow much of a nutritious diet. At times, I was appalled by her intake. I think, besides a lone tomato slice and shred of lettuce, I went an entire day without eating vegetables. I think she drank one bottle’s worth of water during our trip. This felt almost cruel and insane to me, but seemed routine for her. I doubt she once questioned it the way I countlessly did.
My friend maintains her envious weight because she eats when she is hungry and stops when she is full. Nobody would ever accuse her of being fat.
This was hard for me. I eat a very nutritious diet, but I struggle with satiety cues, be it waiting until I’m truly hungry to eat, stopping when I’m actually full, etc. She eats cookies and chocolate and chips without remorse. She eats at erratic times without thinking about it. She can eat one big meal a day and feel fine. She does not eat what does not appeal to her, even if it may be healthier, cheaper, or simply more convenient. She is okay with feeling hungry. She knows she will eventually have enough to eat, and when she is done eating, she moves onto her next task, without giving the food she just consumed or later will consume a second thought. In every way, I suppose she is a “normal eater.”
I felt jealous because at one point in my life, that used to be me.
Am I willing to do whatever it takes to get back there? Can I even get back there? I have no idea, but this weekend was a rue awakening with regards to how disordered my thinking still is. Even though my behaviors have lessened in frequency and intensity, I still obviously struggle with the undoing of my rigid mindset. I often play tug-of-war of my black-and-white world; sometimes, it feels that no matter how many times I reach for the gray area, the rope pulls me backwards. Back to my safe zone. Back to defined rules and structure. Black-and-white is predictable. It may not feel great, but it is comfortable. The gray area is evasive; it is unknown and spontaneous without discipline and instructions.
An old boss messaged me earlier today. One of the first statements he said was, I would ask you how you are doing, but it looks like all is well in the world with you.. lol.
I instantly felt irritated. Yes, there is so much that is going well with me, and I do feel incredibly humbled with gratitude, but his grandiose assumption provided just another reminder of the image I supposedly project to the outside world. Based on my outer self and personality, few would even guess I struggle. I told my therapist the other day that if I had a dollar for every time someone told me, you just seem so cool and laid-back all the time, I would have enough money for the BOTH of us to retire.
Sometimes, I wonder if I am entirely fake. I realize that I hide emotions almost automatically, and I know that I find it difficult to expose myself around others. For these reasons, intimacy, despite having many friendships and relationships, has never been easy for me. None of this, of course, I do on purpose. Even though I have made significant strides, I have not totally been able to let go of what others think. Their opinions still matter. I still want to impress. I want the attention. I want the compliments and praise and admiration, even when I think I don’t want it. Because I do not fully give myself unadulterated love, I rely on others to give it to me…and they always seem to provide. Maybe it’s because I always give them a reason.
Either way, I don’t want to be hard on myself for any of these things.
I am pushing through darkness. I am reaching for a light that shines so brightly on some days…and on other days, does not shine at all. I know I will hold this light and feel this restoration of sanity and peace so long as I keep looking upwards for hope, outwards for balance, and inwards for love. Recovery is healing of the body, mind, and soul…healing of the malady of dysfunction, trauma, pain, and compulsion that dominated my existence. This fight is my plight. It is the shaping of my identity. This recovery is the easiest process I undergo in theory and the hardest process I undergo in execution.
The exit is opposite of the entrance. I entered this war with bitterness, insecurity, and self-loathing. To leave, I must practice kindness and compassion over hatred and malice. I’m not totally secure with myself yet, but that’s okay. I’m just doing the best that I can. And for that, I can say that I, without needing anyone else’s approval, validation, or reassurance, am proud of myself.
PS: No longer feeling annoyed 🙂
PPS: Does anyone else judge how others eat? How have you worked through it?