Lately Tuesdays have been difficult days for me because Nat has class until 8:30 pm. This means two things: first (and most importantly), we don’t get to spend much time together on Tuesdays. By the time he gets home, I’m getting ready to go to bed. We may watch something together, but that’s usually the extent of our together time. Second, since Nat isn’t here all evening, I’m either on my own when it comes to food, or he’ll stop by the store and pick something up on his way home and we’ll just eat late.
I’ve actually been meaning to order some groceries through Fresh Direct, and just haven’t gotten around to it. As you may know, I’m not the best when it comes to grocery shopping–this is possibly one of the most lasting and stubborn symptoms of my ED. And this being a Tuesday, not having anything in the house is a bit of a problem. Because food is such an issue on Tuesdays, I kind of obsess about it all day. Today was no exception, and my obsessing continued when I got home, and as I did my hill repeat workout. I started to worry that I’d have to go to the grocery store by myself, which I haven’t done in a long time, and which I don’t really feel prepared to do since I get easily overwhelmed when I can’t just run in and pick something up and run back out. Skipping dinner was not an option, and because I’m not very good at determining what I actually want to eat, I tried to think of all the easiest options.
Our cupboard is not so bare that I wouldn’t have been able to pull something together, but I also haven’t cooked in a long time (see above re: symptoms of ED) and I knew that if I tried to make myself cook, it probably wouldn’t end well. This meant that my options were peanut butter and jelly, microwave popcorn, or baby carrots and hummus. PB&J with carrots and hummus wouldn’t actually be all that bad as a meal, but as I thought about it I realized I just didn’t want it (believe me, I can always come up with about 100 reasons why I don’t want something). I started to feel discouraged, as though I was struggling against my ED habits and they were starting to win. Skipping the meal was becoming more and more tempting just because I didn’t want to keep fighting. But I realized that skipping the meal pretty much negated everything I’ve been working toward lately. So instead of giving up, I reapplied myself, and tried listening to a different voice–the voice that was trying to tell me what I was really hungry for. As it turned out, all I really wanted was some fresh fruit, greek yogurt, and cereal or granola. Once I figured this out, I went to a deli (easier to handle than a grocery store) and picked up the things I wanted. Then I fed myself.
Eating disorders are frighteningly powerful things. It’s common to hear a person dealing with an ED to describe things as though their ED thinking is separate from them; this is because once you reach a point where you can recognize that you aren’t your eating disorder, you begin to feel stuck between a healthy you and a disordered you. When your ED is at its peak, the healthy voice gets drowned out. As you begin to recover, you have to learn how to listen to it again. You also have to learn that it never went away in the first place, just that you stopped being able to hear it.
Nurturing the healthy voice, letting it speak and responding positively to it when it does, is probably the nicest thing you can do for yourself, but also the hardest. I’m really proud of myself for having been able to do it tonight, and I hope that next time I have to choose between the healthy me and the ED me, I can make the right choice again. For now, though, I’ll just be happy in the moment, and celebrate this act of kindness to myself. I think the Embrace:Me Challenge has had a positive influence on me!
- I didn’t chose to starve myself. (psychologytoday.com)
- Eating Disorders Awareness Week (blogher.com)