Addicted to Everything: I'm Not Doing That Well With My Food Stuff, You Guys

Don't call it a comeback.
Publish date:
June 15, 2012
food, eating disorders, stress, bulimia

Me in front of my cabinet. I didn't want to be too, too dramatic.

I had a plan.

The plan, in the past few days, had become something of a life preserver that I was clinging to even as I felt increasingly controlled by the jerking puppet strings of my long-dormant eating disorder. I'm having a little bit of trouble right now, I admitted to my therapists, but I have a plan.

I was talking about it with all the right people. I had the right pamphlets and meeting lists. And I would see a nutritionist, someone to give me boundaries and structure around food, someone to just tell me what to put into my mouth and at what intervals. I did the research, carefully selected one who had experience with both weight loss and disordered eating, talked to her on the phone, made an appointment.

I rolled that appointment over and over in my mind like an incantation, while I was crouched with my head in the toilet of a single-service bathroom, trying to puke quickly and quietly enought to keep my secret. When I bolted abruptly out of a staff meeting because I suddenly realized I was about to pass out, stumbling and nearly falling twice on my way out, I told Jane's concerned face: "I have an appointment to see someone."

Then, yesterday, the nutritionist's office called to tell me that my insurance won't cover the appointment before quoting me a prohibitively expensive out-of-pocket price. I choked back sobs long enough to get off the phone, then I lost my shit.

And I felt, as I often do when I am crying or feeling another strong emotion, "Well, I'll write about it." And then I thought, "I can't write about it, because I just wrote two pieces about accepting your body."

You get boxed into this place, the more people reading and commenting on your work. You feel like you should be a role model instead of a messy, flawed person. You have to ask yourself constantly, "Am I being honest, or am I too afraid? Am I saying what I mean to say, or what I think I should say?" Is this real is this real is this real?

But I wasn't lying when I wrote those pieces. I meant every word in them, just as I mean every word in this piece. I am of more than one mind about my body. Self-love is a work in progress for me.

And also this disease is not about my body. I am not obsessed with getting thinner. The shape of my actual body is incidental to the pounding compulsion to purge that sometimes visits me after even reasonable meals. The number on the scale is unrelated to the compulsion to wait just another hour, then another, then maybe I can last one more, before eating my first meal of the day.

I'm not sure how I ended up here again exactly. I'm very hard on myself, I know. Particularly regarding this website, which is my job, but also much more than my job. I get up at 6 am and sign into this CMS before I can even fully open my eyes. I beat myself up when I feel something isn't good enough, isn't up to my exacting standards. I am a "chronicler of one," someone who will read 99 glowing comments and focus obsessively on the one negative one, take it in, believe it.

I don't handle stress well, and things have been stressful around here lately. Being around disordered eating is triggering for me, and I've been around disordered eating lately. My life has changed a lot, and I'm still figuring out how to balance it all -- motherhood, getting married, my intensive work in therapy, my job, my recovery. They tell you you're likely to lose anything you put before that last one.

Mostly, I am just an addict, essentially a human who wants to avoid feelings at all costs, and will use any substance possible to squelch them, stuff them, drown them or white them out with temporary oblivion. It's a Whack-a-mole -- my addictive tendencies will probably always jump from one substance to another; the substances will just grow mercifully innocuous. I'll watch too much television, eat too many popsicles.

It's not too bad yet -- a few purging incidents, a few days of severe calorie restriction. I am on thin ice, but I haven't plunged into icy water. I can still tipetoe carefully backward, make it to dry land.

I just need a new plan.

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