Well, I’m about to make a kind of crazy, provocative analogy that I truly hope won’t offend anyone, but it’s one that I’ve been thinking in my head for a long time now … and only now, do I feel comfortable enough to share it here with you, my readers.
One of the questions Dr. G. asked me (when I initially started therapy and we were talking about anxiety and my perfectionist tendencies) was how things are in the bedroom for me –am I able to “let go” and enjoy sex/intimacy.
I was kind of surprised, because I certainly wasn’t seeking therapy for marital problems or sexual problems of any kind.
But I guess when she heard so much about my tendencies to restrict certain foods at certain times, over-exercise, obsessive calorie-counting, negative body image etc., chewing and spitting — i.e., my tendency not handle such things in moderation — she was concerned perhaps those tendencies also flowed into my personal life (read as, sex life).
Though I was most definitely a bit prudish in high school and even somewhat in college, I’m a married woman now, and my life, thoughts and feelings have changed a great deal since I dated my first boyfriend in high school. And while I believe in keeping my personal life private between my husband and I, where it belongs, I was on the spot, on the couch.
My answer was a (bit blush-tinged) “yes,” that I most definitely enjoy adult activities and have very little shame about my body during those moments. Of course, I am positive a big part of that is having a husband who appreciates me for who I am and loves me as I am … my negative body image usually surfaces the rest of the time.
But her question was a pointed one, because as she noted after I answered “yes”, someone — even an anxious person — who can enjoy things like sexual activity (or chocolate, another example she used) is likely able to make great strides in dealing with anxiety/perfectionist tendencies. But if I were also coming at this with a lack of self-esteem in the bedroom as well, our therapy sessions might be a bit more challenging.
(From what I’ve read, many people suffering from serious EDs tend to avoid intimacy — not sure anecdotally, maybe someone can elaborate? But it’d make sense)
So I got to thinking, that in many ways, my act of chewing and spitting (which I do on occasion now — much less so than pre-blogging, but I still do it from time to time, as you know) is like that prudish girl in high school who likes to toe the bases (getting more and more involved with the “partner” — in this case, disordered eating behaviors) … but doesn’t go “all the way.” (i.e., binge or purge).
When it comes to my disordered eating behavior, I’m kind of a “tease” — I “flirt” with over-eating … but never actually do it because I don’t swallow it. Or perhaps flirting with even binging and purging — but instead of purging, I just spit it out.
You could argue someone who chews and spits doesn’t want to “get pregnant” or “get a disease” (binging and then gaining weight) so I do “everything but” to still enjoy, but not actually “engage” (in that I buy food, chew it and savor it for a second, then spit it out).
I realize this analogy might be a stretch for those readers who don’t do (or understand) this gross behavior, but it really makes sense to me.
I like the thrill of the chase, the pleasure of “foreplay.” Fortunately, I can stop it at that, and not “go all the way.” I’ve shared here, I’ve never ever binged/purged and I have no desire to do so. And I’ve never starved myself.
And so when I chew and spit, I do actually enjoy the moment sometimes — it’s so elusive, so secretive — just like foreplay/intimacy can be.
Sometimes it really IS a thrill to buy candy I know I’ll never swallow; other days I can buy the same item and eat it rationally, in small portions.
But the difference is, when I chew and spit, I don’t have to worry about the physical effects someone with bulimia deals with (their esophagus getting ruined, or puking their guts out and ruining their teeth enamel, etc).
Granted, it’s not a healthy behavior — certainly not one I condone — but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it sometimes. Likewise, who would say they don’t like passionate kisses and gentle caresses, intimacy that doesn’t essentially have a final result?
Anyway, I just wanted to toss this idea out there; does anyone else feel similarly?
How about you? Has your view of sex or your sex life (without being specific) changed as a result of your ED? Does my analogy about chewing and spitting and not “going all the way” make any sense, or am I off my proverbial bed?