Continuing to plug away on the finishing touches of my book. Finishing this thing up is harder in some ways than writing it.
Nope, You’re Not Crazy: Rising from the Swamp of Disordered Eating
By Robin Massey
LABELS AND NUMBING OUT
I didn’t have a name for it for years, just knew I was struggling and had “issues”. (But yet I tried and tried to convince myself I was okay. Hey – it wasn’t anything because I didn’t have a name for it!)
I have a name now: binge eating disorder. That’s where the free fall began.
Somehow it helps to have a name for it now, a classification, even a way to label it. I suppose years ago it felt safer for it not to have a name or label, because then I could avoid a label too. And heaven knows I didn’t want a label. No fucking way.
I get now that I can only truly have a label if I give myself one and choose to keep it. In all cases, I have the choice to let something define me or inform me. I get to choose. I didn’t see that before.
So anyway, it started for me as binge eating disorder. I’d restrict what I ate, counting calories over and over again (oh the counting; so much energy and time spent counting and recounting, probably 100 times a day). I’d refuse to eat “bad” foods and stick to strict portion sizes. I’d do that for several days in a row (or as long as I could make it), thinking if I could just figure out how to maintain this way of eating, I could get to the “right” weight and then everything would be okay.
Then something would come up in a day, as it tends to in life. I’d feel a feeling (like upset or uncomfortable), and it was like I couldn’t control myself. I’d start eating to help me feel a little better and then eat until I felt sick. Then I’d eat some more. And then I’d feel really sick and begin the hate cycle, hitting repeat on how fat I must be getting, what a weakling I was, and that the solution was to just try harder. Yeah, that didn’t work out very well.
I began to notice years later that the eating numbed me, easing the inner pain for a while (so it makes sense why I’d eat). When my stomach physically hurt, when I felt like I’d burst, all I could do was focus on my body and how much it hurt. Then I’d move to how fat I was getting and focus again on weight loss. Back and forth, back and forth. There was no space or energy left for anything else, like looking around me or showing up in my life. In an odd way, it was kind of a convenient distraction for avoiding any reflection or feeling (which I didn’t think was okay to do).
Eventually it turned into bulimia, with purges following the food binges. When I figured out how to throw up, it was like I could make the fear of all of those calories go away, or at least make a little of it go away. I could eat until I felt horrendously sick and then make the worst of that feeling disappear, flushing it down the toilet. And see, if there was no evidence, then no one would know. I cleaned a lot of toilets in those days.
Interesting now to look back. Throwing up, too, brought its own kind of pain. Another area in which to focus my energy and attention. Another distraction.