Food in disordered eating: a need/fear, love/hate relationship  

I’ve thought thoroughly about the last few years of my life. It doesn’t stop at a few years though. When I think about my life, you know what I picture? A blur…

Up until recently, I have lived in this blur. One, long, 26 year strong, blur. But, I am 27 now. Thank God for this 27th year…

In this 26 year blur, one thing is clear and clearly present.

Food. 

Food. That is what stands out. That is what is reliably evident. Food is one thing that has dominant and recognizable presence in this blurred recollection. Throughout my life, I’ve ate about “it”…whatever “it” has been. I have obsessively thought about eating. I have compulsively eaten. I have purged what I’ve eaten. I have exercised off calorie-for-calorie-and-then-some of the food I have compulsively eaten. I’ve eaten only to eat some more. I have purged only to remain relentlessly in thought about eating even more.

Food. I have been in love with food my entire life. I have eaten in happiness and in celebration; I have eaten in mourning and in sadness. Whether alone or in company, when I have eaten I was never just eating. I was never just eating to live. In good times and bad, I have lived and I have lived to eat. I have turned to food and I have eaten about “it”.

Food. I have been terrified of food for as long as I can remember. The thought of going to an event in which food would be present was always so scary. Holidays in which food is the center of attention have mocked me and succumbed me into my binging tendencies. Thanksgiving; I was never thankful for this holiday or any like it. I have spent hours thinking about and preparing for such holidays’ meals. I have fasted before and after them. I have been that girl that goes to 2 hour spin classes and excessively exercised on and around these holi-days. I have rationalized and blamed overeating, binging and purging on said holidays. Not just holidays… Dinner parties, weddings, you name it… any event where food is displayed, served and present has pushed me into whorls of anxious fear and has terrified me.

Food. I have been totally obsessed with food for as long as I can remember. As a child, I would sneak extra food; I would sneak and eat food in the middle of the night. I would eat others left overs (hence a  [horrible] childhood nickname of mine: garbage disposal). I would eat just to eat because I couldn’t stop thinking about wanting to eat something(s).

Food. I have rationalized and premeditated eating from the time I realized I could do such a thing. I have convinced myself why its okay for me to be eating; I have decided what I could/would do to get rid of what I was about to eat before I ever even ate it. I have eaten compulsively and uncontrollably. I have premeditated how I would get rid of [purge] what I was about to eat in order to eat some more after I purged what I ate in the first place.

Food. It has completely consumed, controlled and down right owned me. Relentless has been the thought of eating and not eating. Relentless has been the thought of binging to purge and purging to binge again. It has dominated my mind and controlled my behaviors. It has made my plans and canceled my commitments. Because of food, I have called in sick to work and have sold out my friends. Binging and purging does not like company.

Food. I have always been similar to the rest of the animal world in the sense that we all need food to live. Until recently, however, I was always quite different from the rest of the world in that I lived to need food. I lived to need, fear, love and hate food.

Eating to Live, Not the Alternative.


This transition, from LIVING TO EAT into EATING TO LIVE, is so incredibly and realistically possible. This blog entry has been about reflection for me. For those of you reading this who may be or may have suffered from disordered eating patterns, tendencies and compulsions, I hope and pray that this blog entry can serve as a reminder or first time revelation that YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Feeling alone is a huge element of disordered eating and an even bigger barrier to recovery. But, you aren’t… You aren’t alone now, you never were and you never will be. I have been there. I hear you. I feel you. I understand.

All the while, during my entire tenure as a disordered eater, I lived a normal life in total facade. I always come back to poetry, the same poem every time, when I disclose my life in facade: Suffering In Silence. Specifically, I think of this stanza:

In a whirlwind of sorrow and war
Reality’s blurred by her facade
Secrets, silence, truth; all these remain

You are not alone… You will never be alone. You do not have to Suffer in Silence.


Please do not remain silent. Please do not suffer in sorrow and in war without hope of recovery.

RECOVERY IS POSSIBLE.


Not only is recovery possible, recovery is sitting right in front of you. Just like food is all around you, so is recovery. Food is wonderful and delicious and necessary. Food is not scary; it doesn’t have to be. Do not be scared. Do not be scared that you can’t be “perfect” enough to be in recovery. Do not be scared.

You do not have to try to exist in perfection. Perfection exists and has always existed in you. You were created perfectly. You cannot become perfect. Do not be scared.

You cannot need and fear nor love and hate food and truly live at the same time.

Let go…
Just.
Eat.

You can live freely, easily. You can eat to live, not the alternative.

An Eating to Live, Not the Alternative life in recovery is possible.

My Secret revealed. Thanks, Dentist…  

I thought I safely held my secret. I thought I had it down, deep down, out of sight and out of reach. I thought my facade was impenetrable…

And then I went to the dentist.

It was my initial visit with a new dentist. The dentist was located on Flagler Drive in downtown Palm Beach. The office felt serene as it had a serene view of the intracoastal. I felt comfortable there. The staff was attentive and kind. I knew I had some issues going on with my teeth; I already had a couple crowns post a couple of root canals. For a short period of time, the Atlantic ocean became my center of attention.

And then my name was called.

I sat in the half reclined chair, hesitant to lie back. I was in the company of a good looking middle aged dentist and his female nurse who seemed to be in her mid-30’s. They put that typical dental bib around my neck and I lied back.

Doc said, “Let me just take a look, ok?”
Me: “Um… okay.”

A few glances later, Doc sat up and put down his mirror instrument. He asked his nurse to step out for just a minute.

Doc said, “Question… do you throw up a lot?”

(insert the gasp of all gasps)

…caught. He caught me. My dentist caught me and he totally called me out.

……tears. Tears came without my permission. I didn’t answer him. I didn’t have to.

………caught. He caught me. My dentist caught me and he totally called me out.

My secret, the one I thought I had safely hidden, revealed. And all I did was say “ahhh…”

I spent quite a bit of time at this dentist’s office. I also spent quite a bit of money at this dentist’s office.
After 3 root canals, 2 crowns and 1 temporary crown, I maxed out my credit card and my pride. So, I quit.

Well, I haven’t been to the dentist since that dentist. It’s been about 2 years since I stared out into the intracoastal at that office. That temporary crown is still there, well, sort of… it’s pretty worn. So still is my pride. But, I have decided to bite the crowned bullet.

I have a dentist appointment next week. I can only imagine what he will think of the view of my teeth. I wonder if he, too, will call me out on my purging history. As weird as this is, I want him to. I want him to call me out and to ask me if I throw up often.  I want to say “NOT ANYMORE.”

….to be continued post new dentist appt.

Watch out, here she comes…  

For life as I ever knew it, I was never a normal eater. I was not a normal eater and food was never just food. In plenty of instances in my life, stories of food restricting and excessive exercise provided me with ways of purging for comforting reassurance [Stay tuned for an upcoming blog on forms of comforting reassurance]. Exercise and restricting remained steady outs for her for a few years. But, they soon were not enough…
Watch out Jessica. 

I wish someone would have told me to watch out. I wish someone would have begged me and warned me. I wish someone could have warned me to watch out for what she had in store for me next.

 
Purging by way of self-induced vomiting made way on a day I will never, ever forget. I was a sophomore in college. Pre and Post gall bladder disease and removal in the summer of 2003, I was first forced into eating lightly or not at all. After surgery, I continued to train myself to eat lightly (understatement). In fact, I convinced myself I was “allergic” to some foods (i.e. chocolate… hah, yea okay).
I was borderline anorexic. But, I ate though… I ate enough to live. I ate veggies, egg whites, salads, sugar-free/fat-free frozen yogurt, I ate bits of protein (sometimes), I ate fruit, I ate oatmeal and I ate bite by small bite of protein bars [can’t write that and not think of this blog: Bulimia and Petit Thievery]. I had total control over my minimal calorie consumption. I had total control until the day I will never forget losing it…
I had a box of whole wheat pancake mix that I had purchased a few weeks earlier. I had yet to build up the courage to allow myself to eat pancakes though. Well, today, I was gonna do it. I made one generous sized whole wheat pancake (made with apple sauce instead of vegetable oil) in which I (thoroughly) enjoyed with sugar-free syrup and fat free butter (–> oxymoron?). I enjoyed that pancake so much. That pancake packed as many many carbs as I normally would eat in days. But, gosh, I remember it still to this day… it was divine. It might as well have been the best thing I ever ate.
I enjoyed that pancake so much that I decided to make another. But, first, I rationalized it.

“It’s been so long. I have been so good. I can eat one more. Its fine.
I will exercise today and do sit-ups. It will be totally fine (and delicious).”

I made another. I ate another. Then, I made a third. The third was not pre-meditated by rationalization. The third wasn’t pre-meditated by anything except for her. In fact, I didn’t make the third one, she did. And, she ate that third pancake. She ate that third one anxiously and she ate it quickly. She ate it so quickly that if anyone saw her eating it this way, they might have thought I was starved or that I was scared someone might take it from me. I ate that pancake so quickly that if anyone saw her eating it in MY body this way, I would have been devastatingly embarrassed.

I had lost control.

Binge. 

This was my first completely out of control binge. To me, it was like an out of body experience. To her, it was home. She made a home in me and my mind. For 8 long years, she would reside here mostly in control leaving ME mostly out of control.

In my midst of losing my own control to her’s, I freaked the fuck out. Mini-panic attack became me. Purging game on became her. 
Here she goes…
Here she comes to claim me with her most unforgettable showing. I had to get rid of what she did. She suggested the obvious.

Purge.

In my mind, this sort of vomit-self-induced purge was unspeakable and disgusting. But, like I said, I lost my own control. My mind was no longer my own.

Apathetic toward her request
An addict abnormal in notion
Her
mind has got a mind of its own
[taken from: Suffering in Silence]
 

She won. Her mind and her notions won. I vomited. I stuck my finger down my throat and I made myself vomit for as long as I could. My life changed on this today in 2003. For years, 8. long. years. I would never be the same. I would no longer be the same because I was no longer just me. I was me and I was her. But for now, she had taken over. She won.

The binge continued with my roommates powdered sugar donuts and other things that I wouldn’t and hadn’t eaten in months and/or in years. Any foods I saw that I had been restricting myself from in that pantry my roommate and I shared were eaten. They were eaten standing up and swiftly. I never made a plate, I never sat down. I just binged…she made me. The binge continued and so did the self-induced purging.

For 8 long years, she sometimes often, sometimes sporadically maintainedher control. But now, she is gone. Looking back at this day, I wonder how I could have changed it… I wonder how I could have recognized her and what she had in store for me. I wonder how it all could have been different.

Well, as I sit here and write this post, I am smiling. I am smiling, not because I suffered, but because I know this suffering. I know this binge-and-purge suffering first hand and well. Now-a-days, in the peace that I have found inside of me and away from her, I am thankful for the above disclosure. I am thankful and I am proud. I am proud of where I have came from and I am thankful for where I am going.

Watch out, Jessica… ?


Watch out world, is more like it!