How Disordered Do You Want to Be?

stop-the-insanity-2I ask this because I, like you, have a choice.

The answer for me is … not at all.

We have a choice. We might tell ourselves our disordered minds are in control, but they’re not. We are.

If we punish ourselves with restriction or over-exercising, or if we punish ourselves with a binge, we’re doing it to ourselves.

It’s not about the food or the exercise; it’s always about something else. Food or exercise (lack of it or over-abundance of it) is a coping mechanism.

And I don’t want to use either as my coping mechanisms any longer.

This weekend, during an Honest.Open.Willing. chat with my husband, he asked me point-blank, “When will the obsession end?”

He sees me more than any of my friends and family, and he sees glimmers of hope, some aspects of behavioral change. He knows I want to be better, to be more fun again, to be the happy girl I was when I was heavy … but he (as well as others close to me) have said, ” … but the obsession is still there.”

He’s right, it is.

I want to turn it off. I don’t want to be disordered, or have disordered thoughts, or to make progress only to fall back.

It just seems to hard to channel back someone I haven’t known for so long, that fun girl who didn’t fret about the size of her hips (which were “good for breeding” and comfortably fit my best friend from high school, when she’d hop on for a piggyback ride).

Our talk came about following me filling out one of the exercises in Geneen Roth’s book, “How To Break Free From Emotional Eating,” and talking about it. In the exercise, I had to identify the “Fat Me” (*everything up to WW in 2004) and the “Thin Me” (2004-2006).

(Disclaimer: I don’t think I was every truly “fat,” overweight, but never “fat” — I hate that word, but that’s what she chose in the book so forgive me).

If I had to guess, I’d say today, April 9, 2009, I fall somewhere in between the two, both mentally and physically.

These are the words I came up with for the “Fat Me”: Funny. Blends in. Doesn’t stand out. Center of attention. Easy-going. Genuine. Natural. Non-judgmental. Dresses well for her shape. Not embarassed to buy a size up. Loves shopping. Enjoys intimacy. Is playful. A good friend and lover. Eats and loves to eat and isn’t shy about loving to eat. Runs or works out when she feels like it. Enjoys lasagna, bread, desserts. Loves life. Loves Grapeade Snapple and mint mochas with whipped cream.

And these are the words I came up with for the “Thin Me”: Restrictive. Less playful. Anxious about weight, food, exercise. Concerned about “weight gain” (real or imagined). Vain. Not fun to go out with. Not easy-going. Lives by a schedule/thrives on rigidity and plans. Journals. Over-exercises and sometimes over-eats; over-exercising to compensate. Shuns junk food … but then chews/spits. Spends more time alone. Less sexual. Loves food. Thinks about food. Eats some food, but not everything she wants. Drinks Diet Coke like it’s going out of style.

There’s a happy medium somewhere, itching to be found. Sometimes I have a grip on that happy medium; other times I live in worlds of black and white.

As I noted, weight gain and a bit more relaxed approach to life has put me in somewhat of a gray area as of late, but I know I am susceptible to falling into that black-and-white, and need to be careful to avoid that.

The important thing here isn’t about my size but rather this:

I want to be fit and fun. To enjoy life, to not freak out about a surprise dinner out or an unplanned shared dessert, or an impromptu glass of wine.

These shouldn’t be “successes;” they’re part of LIFE!

I want my cake and to eat it too. I want to be the “fat me” mentally in the “thin me” body, but I’m realizing that just might not be possible. Especially not if it’s going to cost me my ability to enjoy life any longer. I’ve wasted too many years not being the best version of myself I can be, not loving myself as I ought to be doing.

Life is too short; my dear friend Jason died of brain cancer at 27. Would he be wallowing about his weight if God had spared him? Hell no!

In high school, I used to love the mantra, Carpe Diem (seize the day). I think I did back then; I embraced life. I need to get that girl back; she’s in there, underneath the anxiety and selfish thoughts, she’s there.

This past Christmas, my best friend gave me a framed photo with a picture of us and our hubbies taken at a wedding last April. The quote on the frame (which I keep at work on my desk so I can look at it often) reads,

“A friend is … someone who understands your past, believes in your future, and accepts you today just the way you are.”

Truer words couldn’t have been spoken. I’m very blessed to have the love and support I do … and I know I’ll get through this. Fun Melissa’s in there.

It’s my task to unearth her, chisel away at the outer layers, one day at a time.

Can anyone else relate to being more “fun” when they were heavy, and less so when they lost weight? (not talking about ED/DE here; just weight loss in general). If you didn’t lose that spark, how did you avoid falling into this abyss?


19 thoughts on “How Disordered Do You Want to Be?

  1. I definitely can relate to the before and after “me”. I’ve also seen myself getting closer to that happy medium every now and then as my recovery has progressed. But it’s still there. The obsession. The restrictions. The freakin’ RULES. I’m maintaining weight, and feeling healthy, but I know that I’m still following rules and regulations that are not normal. They aren’t destructive like they used to be which I think is a good step. I’m hoping that with time I will continue to find “Jenny” again, and leave more of ED behind.

  2. Sometimes I just want to be 15 again…when, sure, I weighed in more than I do now – but the OBSESSION wasn’t there. I looked at pizza as yummy Friday night food, orange juice was a delicious drink I had at breakfast, and going to a party where there was cookies and cakes didn’t TERRIFY me. Ahhhh, to be innocent again. 🙂

    I’ve lived with the obsession for so long, I know better than to think it can go away over night. I just want to be able to enjoy dinner with the girls without worrying about the bread basket and dessert. Sometimes I do, though, and that is definitely better than I could say before!

  3. Amen, Yasmin! Jenn, that is wonderfiul that you’re finding that balance. Some days I think I am but other days, it’s back to black and white thinking. I need to be “in the gray” and it’s just not natural to me. Holly, I soooo know what you mean. But you’re right, that mentality we had back then, “ignorance is bliss,” doesn’t work once you’ve been exposed to so much. And it sounds like you’ve made progress — yea!! 🙂

  4. I can totally relate to this post! I long for the times that I didn’t go into a complete panic mode at the prospect of social events that involve food or someone casually asking me out for dinner and not freaking out about being thrown off my usual meal “routine” of salad. I long fo those days.

  5. I can relate in a way. I remember teh fun me back in high school before I thought about weight at all — I would eat cookies, cookie dough, cake, Chik-Fil-A, without even thinking about it. But I was thin and worked out constantly for fun with softball. Once I started gaining weight is when the fun stopped. And tehn I became teh restricted anxious dieter.

    I wish I could go back to my Middle School self so much sometimes.

  6. I have definitely fallen into that abyss. In the past, friends made comments about me not being “as fun” anymore and my husband says it too. When I am heavier I am definitely less sexual (which is odd becuase when I met my husband I was about 15 lbs heavier and never felt bad about myself) So it is not like I worry he isn’t attracted to me, it is just me being self-concious.

    For me to be the weight I like to be, I have to really be so strict with myself. If I let myself maintain at 5-7 lbs more I can have more “fun” with food and not feel so restricted (which makes me happier in general) yet I struggle with accepting myself at that higher weight.

  7. hold on though. it sounds like the thin you had ALL negatives, and the bigger you had all positives, whereas I know it’s not as black and white as that. or is it? with me it’s probably more the opposite.

    I know the bigger me was uncomfortable sexually, I was uncomfortable when it came to people discussing weight, I was not an avid exercise and just generally out of shape. furthermore, I know I was unhappy.

    the thinner me is definitely more happy, sure more concerned and watches her weight more than I did while heavy( but it’s because I now know HOW to lose weight), more comfortable sexually, more confident in terms of finally doing the things I want to do (grad school, spin instructor, race runner, a good gf).

    I guess it’s not super black and white for me. I’d love to eat what I want without restrictions, but at the same time I didn’t like how that restriction-less eating looked on me.

  8. I so know what you mean, Lola and Sheena!!

    Lara, that’s a great point: I need to be happy with myself 5-7 above my goal if I don’t want to be uber-restrictive (I don’t). But I’m 10-15 above that, so there’s work to be done.

    Good points, Cathy. I didn’t put any negatives in being “fat” or positives to being “thin” I guess b/c to me they’re obvious. When I was heavier, I didn’t know about portion control or nutrition, and I know in that sense, my risk for diseases has gone way down being thinner, so there is a plus side for sure.

  9. I can honestly say I don’t want my ED to stop right now. It’s the hard truth, but I’m not ready or willing to stop this for now. I guess I have enough faith in myself that I’ll soon make healthy changes and mature in due time that my ED will eventually fade and no longer be relevant in my life, but now is not the time because I have wanted to lose 10 pounds for the last three-four months, and I haven’t made much, if any, progress. Yet I’m convinced I can lose that weight with more discipline and focus. Yes, it is my ED that is making me want to lose unnecessary weight, but I figure why not see if I can make good on this goal and see if I really do like the way I look 10 pounds thinner. I don’t like to quit easily, and this mentality adds to my wanting to still lose this weight. Therefore, I won’t allow this to stop, but eventually I know it must for the sake of my sanity, happiness and that of others who care and love me.

  10. Stella, thank you for being honest. I think that what you’re feeling is something very natural. I know there are times when c/s (for me) feels good and I don’t want to fight the urge. It’s alarming for others to hear … but it’s not abnormal to feel that way from time to time. That said, please take care of yourself. If you’re already underweight and still trying to lose, it makes sense why your body won’t let go. In this case, it’s not a question of quitting, but rather, your health, your future.

    This line right here speaks volumes: “Therefore, I won’t allow this to stop, but eventually I know it must for the sake of my sanity, happiness and that of others who care and love me.”

    Perhaps that “eventually” is now?

  11. This was a really interesting post. I don’t often think about how happy I used to be but I know that I was in a sense. It was also a season of life that was just less stressful. I wasn’t married with a child and I wasn’t working full-time. I was also being almost wholly supported by my parents – yahoo! But, I knew as I was losing weight that I was being perceived as “less fun” because let’s face it; many social gatherings revolve around food and since I wouldn’t touch anything there, people gave me loads of crap.

    Do I want to be heavier again? No. Do I miss how I would eat a bag of Skittles without regret? Surely.

    Like you, I think a happy medium would be awesome. 🙂

  12. I cam completely relate to this post 100%. I’ve been reading a few good books lately that I’m finding are helping me to realize that in order to “have it all” you must truly accept the person you are right now. (not 5 pounds from now). That person is valuable and important and I think our ED likes to make us believe that it is not.Not until.. (insert improvement here).You can have it all.
    The books I’ve read/am reading lately: The Body Myth, Intuitive Eating, It’s Not About Food: End Your Obsession With Food And Weight. They all say the same thing: accept yourself: you are not your weight, and stop the weight loss goals.
    I can say it is NOT easy and I struggle daily, but I have found it’s gotten me out of the cycle and I’m hopeful it will continue in this positive direction.

  13. Staci, I see what you mean. I know there were times when I didn’t eat at social functions, too, but then I realized it was keeping me from living … so I have gotten much better about that, but am still picky/choosy and I think that’s ok so long as we’re in the moment enjoying it. Happy medium — amen!

    Susie, I liked the IE book a lot and think that is a great step you’re taking — not making a goal weight/weight loss goals. It’s some good food for thought!

  14. i can relate so much to what you say…
    before i used to be carefree, just enjoy everything without asking questions, now, its all about having control, always anxious about every decision that i make.
    its annoying and like a lot said here, sometimes, you wish you could just turn it off or to mute, just forget this little voice that tries to make you feel bad.
    i wish i could go back 10 years and avoid what created this obsession… maybe its just in me :/

  15. I know, it’s hard Nikita … I, too, certainly wish I could turn it off … or at least have the voice be a smaller part of my brain, rather than being in surround sound, which is what it often feels like!

  16. It is unbelievable. I was talking about this with my husband last night. I have been on a diet since I was 6. When I was anorexic, I remember being in rehab and praying to Gd that I DIDN’T GET BETTER because I didn’t know how else to stay thin. Now, at 30, I am just waiting for the part of my life where body-awareness and an occasional slice of birthday cake (slice, not chunk) can live in harmony.

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