You don’t realize how much power something has over you until you take the time to accept the fact that there may be an issue to begin with.
Part of me was always proud of my binge eating. I boasted it around on my shoulders, “I’m a swimmer, I’m allowed to eat what I want, when I want it, and however much I want.” But recently, I’ve started to wonder whether or not the way I live my life is healthy, and what I’ve decided is that my relationship with food isn’t. I always hid my connection to food behind my swimming. It was an easy way to hide never being able to say no to a plate of seconds. Everything always thought I was fine with food because I’m not fat and I’m not skinny, I just eat a lot because I’m a swimmer. My recent six months of not swimming has taught me differently though. My obsession with food doesn’t end just when swimming ends, and I certainly saw the truth of that about 12 pounds later. 12 pounds of fat, 12 pounds of shame, 12 pounds that no matter how much I swim I can’t seem to lose because I can’t control myself at the dinner table.
It wasn’t until this week that I realized the actual power that my eating disorder holds over me. Before I thought, sure I binge eat and then I don’t eat for like a week, but hey it’s no big deal. What I’m realizing though is that it is a big deal. My life revolves around food and my next meal. Last week I only had 3 dollars for lunch so I bought a slice of pizza. It was my first time eating in a long time where I left a table not feeling like hansel did after the witch stuffed him full of food. To be honest, it scared me. It actually felt like a part of me was missing, and I couldn’t get my mind off of the next meal or how much money I needed to be able to afford another slice. I messaged my friends telling them about how I had just had amazing food and how I so desperately wished that I could have more.
Today, was my real moment of realization. I had 6 dollars. Enough money for 2 slices of pizza, so I could either buy one today and save money for another time or buy both of them today. I would like to mention that these slices of pizza are absolutely huge. Anyways, I couldn’t say no to the two. I had to have both. It didn’t matter that I probably wouldn’t have money for lunch tomorrow. I had to be able to stuff my face. So after I got my 2 slices of shame I sat there staring at them for awhile, and then I dug in. I ate fast, and even burned the top of my mouth. Then I finished, and I looked down and for the first time after eating I felt shame. There was no, “I’m a swimmer I’m allowed to do this.” It was just a pure realization of the fact that unless I’m about to throw up, I can’t say no to food. That fact really scares me. I don’t like being out of control.
I have multiple theories as to where my eating disorder arose from and it’s probably a combination of all of them. Swimming probably did play a role in it; being able to eat unlimited amounts of food at an early age when I was always hungry never would have ended well. My main theory though is that my obsession with food comes from a time when I didn’t have a lot of food in my house. There was a time in middle school when my family was fairly poor. Our house was in foreclosure and we went grocery shopping about every 2-3 weeks. That meant there were times when we had almost no food in the house. There were stretches of days a time when all I had to eat was a bowl of spaghetti a day. Having theories about the origin of my eating disorder won’t make it any easier to stop, but it does help with the shame. It makes me feel like even though what I’m doing now is screwed up it came from somewhere. It has it’s place because of what happened in the past. That fact is kind of comforting.
I think what really brought the severity of my eating to light is the extent that I’ve been binging lately. Usually I’ll binge for a day or two and then I won’t eat for a week. But I’ve been binging for at least two weeks now and my week of salvation, of cleanliness, of not being fat hasn’t arrived. Which is a scary thought. What if this time I can’t fall back and control myself? What if this time my eating is gone for good? I can’t let that happen. So today I make a promise to myself. Today I will fight this eating disorder. Today I make the vow to fight my version of EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified), and never to binge eat again.
Until Next Time,
Jane H. Blood