A Couple Years of Average

A lot has changed in my life since I posted about 6 months ago.

I am still drinking after having been sober. And I’m still “in recovery” from all my eating disorder behaviors. In fact, next week will be a whole year of freedom from ED behaviors for me! I’ll talk about what that looks like in a minute…

But first, to paint a picture of my life changes, I decided to throw my romantic relationship into question, move out of the house I was sharing with that person, and go halfway across the country to a different state with basically no plan.

I have one or two connections in my new city. I have taken on a part time job. I am also trying to step back from all the recovery I’ve been doing this past year or year and a half and figure out who the eff I really am without all those things. But I’m finding that to be almost impossible.


Because I’ve been depressed all my life, and using poor coping techniques – such as ED and alcohol and co-dependent relationships – for 20 years, I am lost as to who I’d be otherwise. And since I have been drinking lately, I’ve also been drinking too much. Alone and for really no reason. I’ve thought about going to AA again. It does provide community in general. But I simply don’t feel like being abstinent, which was the problem last time I tried AA. I drink a little too much now, but there are plenty of times I don’t. I don’t have to drink all the alcohol around or pass out in order to stop. I just drink because I’m bored, lonely, depressed. And let’s face it – AA is pretty depressing itself. So I’ve decided I”m not going back to AA in my new city. Not yet.


Instead, I’ve been toying with “getting back into shape.” Just the thought sets off alarm bells in my head. I quit running and formal exercise of all kinds back in November 2016. At that point, I was desperate to stop bingeing and recognized hat I was caught in a cycle of overexercise and restriction that was making everything more confusing to my hunger cues. So I quit cold turkey. I also threw out my scale. Unexpectedly, it was a relief. I had been so lost in the chaos of my old restrictive obsessions colliding with my new desire to get the F*** out of that hole that suddenly having no bars by which to measure myself freed up an entire section of my head.

But now it’s over a year later. Shockingly I’m almost the exact same size. As far as I can tell. I wear all the same clothes. But other changes sadden me: my blood pressure is higher. I can’t lift things I used to be able to lift. My back is sore a lot. My knees are achy. And the general preference I have for sitting on my butt and being lazy is disconcerting.

In other words, I’ve acknowledged that feeding myself when I’m hungry feels good and gives me a boost of energy. I’ve also acknowledged that working out really hard when I’m not eating enough in general feels horrible. (I never knew how horrible it was because it’s all I’d ever done! But, yup, turns out working out after eating well is way easier.) Still, I don’t really like to push myself during exercise and that feeling confuses me immensely.

What implications does it have? Will I grow more and more sloth-y as I age? Will I be old and so unfit that I can’t enjoy my life? To what degree is it still okay for me to “force myself” to exercise, even after all the ED stuff? Aren’t there benefits of pushing myself a little bit – but how much?

Since I moved, I’ve been walking or running sporadically. One to three times per week, nothing over 45 minutes, and plenty of weeks in a row when I’ve done nothing. Even writing that kinda grosses me out. I read something a while ago now that said if you want to start exercising again, you have to be prepared to eat more to support that exercise. Knowing that really gets to the self-defeatist part of me.

I will start my run, the first breeze will hit my face, I am going over the route in my head and feeling glad I’m doing this for myself because now I finally won’t be embarrassed in my clothes. And then I hear that voice… you should only be doing this if you’re prepared to eat more to support it. Very quickly I remember that even if I decide to purposely eat less, I will most likely overate later to compensate. And then very quickly after that I curse myself for ever pursuing recovery because if I hadn’t found out that it’s actually nice to eat enough, if I hadn’t found out that I don’t have to exist being hungry and tired all the time, then I’d STILL BE SKINNY. Ugh. Deep breath. Honestly, I am still not a a big person. I still wear straight sizes. Even though I’m more “normal” sized now. “Average.”

I might even look at it as a victory – I didn’t exercise for over a year and was almost always satisfied by what I was eating and I’m still not huge.

It’s just that I don’t feel like me anymore. I don’t feel special, I feel depressed. I don’t feel hopeful, I feel lost and expired and irrelevant. I don’t feel alluring, I feel invisible. I don’t think I ever look pretty, I think I look old.


Eating on a day to day basis has consistently left me feeling “Fat.” And every day I wish I could feel good on less, and weight less overall. But I continue to eat when I’m hungry and not eat when I’m not hungry. I know it’s important because in the long run I have proven with my own body as the guinea pig that any other way is ineffective when it comes to changing my body for good.

No moderate actions will change how I look very much for very long.

So the decision is mine. Do I want to undergo extreme changes in activity or diet and use changing my body drastically as a distraction from my depression and anxiety and distorted sense of self, or do I want to let it all happen and observe? The last 6-8 months have just been me observing. Wishing I could be different, be someone else, be happy, but feeling sad that I am not and never will be.

My schedule with work has thrown my eating off a little. I tell myself it’s making me “Fat” but I don’t actually believe I’m changing. The stress and loneliness translate in my mind to “Fat.” I still do accept the theories of size acceptance and body neutrality/liberation, but there is a simultaneous acceptance of the death of my life as a possible ingenue.

The potential stress relief of running or any exercise is offset by the tension I feel from my hunger being different/bigger. I want everyday to be the same. Exactly the same. And sometimes, I do just eat my exact meal plan from treatment for a day – the same cereal, the same sandwich, the small piece of fruit, so self-contained and simple – and I feel some emotional relief. But life just keeps happening and the meal plan doesn’t solve it, just like restricting won’t solve it, or bingeing, or running, or any size clothing, or any relationship.


I just went to my old private journal online and went to this day in 2004 – the earliest archived year on that journal. It was an entry about how a guy I’d made out with told people I was fat. (I had no recollection of this having happened. It made me want to cry. No wonder I feel like shit). At the time, I stood up to him. He tried to talk to me again and I told him he was mean and cut him off. Friends commented on the post saying it was because he was intimidated by how pretty I am and didn’t know what else to do. I wrote back about how sassy I felt standing up to him and how lame he was. I do remember not feeling fat at that time in my life. I remember feeling sexy and desirable. The one positive takeaway is, I figure, that no matter how you yourself feel, there will always be someone who disagrees. So it’s up to us to decide we feel good and to love ourselves.

I know that I wasn’t fat then. I was about the same size I am now – in other words, “Normal/Average”. A comfortable body for me. It’s shocking to think a guy would’ve called me fat.

And again I just circle around to feeling like “shucks, I guess this is the body I have and some people would consider it fat.” Society is effed and it’s a challenge to build myself up against it, against everything I’ve told myself my whole life I HAVE to be in order to deserve love and friends and success. I don’t identify with all those strong women I see being activists online. I am so quiet and introverted, I don’t want to have to stand up for myself or stand out or be seen. I would rather disappear, be under a man’s wing, and be thought of as delicate and beautiful and submissive. I would like to find some way to challenge these ideas in my head without necessarily identifying with visible activists. There must be a way I can create for myself to stand up against BS societal standards without also being a super extroverted proud self-loving mamasita. (Though actually feeling good being that must be awesome).


I put my favorite bowl on the counter next to my favorite spoon. The bowl is more like a big mug, short and wide with a big handle. It has two large yellow flowers painted on it in a thick earthy glaze. The spoon is in an Art Deco style, its handle a heavy column and its perfectly balanced steel.

I pour cereal from a big mason jar. Removing the store packaging helps the food feel like food instead of an attachment to mainstream culture. (I pour the small bowl so full that some falls over the side). Marketing from the designed boxes on my shelves tells me this cereal will help me. Well, it can’t change my life in any way apart from being what-I-eat instead of not eating at all.

During breakfast, I am usually alone. The house is quiet because I’m the first one awake. I listen to the coffee finishing its brewing, sputtering along. I’m happy usually, first thing in the morning. But the focus and clarity of wakefulness is a double edged sword. The space up there gives a lot of room for my anxiety to entertain its conversations.

Breakfast this morning sounded like so…

#1 Inner Depressed Rebel, searching for truth in a sea of cons:

I wish I could eat more than this.

#2 Inner Best Friend , comforter, assurance, support:

You can if you want to.

#3 Inner Humiliator, scared of change, controlling to me in order to calm themself:

Don’t eat more than this, you’ll freak out. You don’t want to go off the program. You always freak out when you go off the program and it’s not worth it. Think twice. Careful!

Friend: I actually think I might just be hungry.

Rebel: Remember when we just drank when we were hungry?

Humiliator: Do you want to get into bingeing again? I mean, why not just get a bigger bowl and call it a day? You could spend your whole winter just eating alone!

Rebel : I’ll eat what I poured myself and just remind myself it’s okay. I’m hungry and should eat. That’s why I poured a lot!

#4 My-Real-Self:

Just havin breakfast and wonderin what I should do first today.

Humiliator: You’re full now. Consider stopping.

Rebel: I already said – I poured a lot of cereal today because I”m HUNGRY  *I eat faster*

Humiliator: Leave half. ALERT! LEAVE HALF!

Friend: Pause. You’re doing great. You haven’t had breakfast in a few days. You need this. There’s nothing wrong with eating.

Rebel: Plus when you get fat, who cares, right? Fat isn’t even bad anymore.

Humiliator: Yeah, what are we gonna be scared of instead of fat now?

Friend: You’re just really anxious. There’s a lot going on right now.

Humiliator: Jesus I wish you hadn’t bought cereal. You’ve put me on high alert and you’re wasting my time. Now you’re saying it’s not even bad if we get fat. Just get drunk then. Do SOMEthing!

Me: QUIET! Cereal is done. Now I have energy. Let’s go for a walk.


My disordered voices have been fighting with me all day every day during the past few weeks. I have also been drinking again, though in only a moderate way. Only at night, only two. All of this is due to anxiety. It’s confusing. Nothing makes it go away.

Restricting my eating did not make it go away.

Drinking did not make it go away.

Sobriety did not make it go away.

Eating normally does not make it go away.

But sobriety and eating normally did give me the perspective and the wherewithal to seek out support and to stick with it. I’ve fought much harder lately against these different people who live inside me. I’ve recognized them for what they are – not entirely ME. And because of that, even when old tendencies surface, I am not dragged under.




Picture The Past

I finally saw my ex with a new person. It was from the comfort of my own bed. I was on my phone. A reflex led me to my infrequent but habitual crawl of his photo feed. Sure I would find nothing, I clicked through several tags and there it was. This can’t be, I thought. But she was pictured several times in my place – on a trip, in the car – as if I had never existed at all.
The intense feeling of erasure consumed me.
We have been broken up for years now and we never speak, but I still hadn’t yet been confronted with his “moving on.” At times I’ve anticipated the event with a fear that’s made me tremble. He’s the only person I’ve ever really loved, ever been able to truly imagine spending my life with. Why it didn’t work out is a combination of slightly divergent world views, and traumatic move over long distance, and fundamental immaturity. Maybe alcohol. Maybe depression. We couldn’t save each other, so to speak. We dragged it out for sometime, hauling our attachment to each other through the muddy grey area of wishful semi-commitment.
The woman I believe to be his new partner is pretty and thin and white. So pretty, her life is a magazine. So thin, she can fall asleep comfortably in skinny jeans. (But not too thin, of course. Nice boobs). And so “white,” she rides horses. Simply looking at her pictures made me feel more ugly myself. After crying all morning, I dissolved into the type of constant negative brain chatter which has defined me my entire life.

If only your hair was – straight – blonde – shiny – long…
I can’t believe you are working on loving yourself looking like this…
Please don’t settle for this body. Get to work! You’ve done it before – do it again!
He was pretending to love you that whole time, just waiting for her to show up…
People think you’re annoying…
You’ll never have what she has…

Thankfully I now recognize the Diet Culture and Misogynist roots of all these feelings. We cannot help being conditioned to think that we are in competition with Other Women. We have also been conditioned to think that if we work hard enough we can change our bodies and our looks permanently. This is a waste of our energy and our love. It would be better served in accepting ourselves and helping others. I understand those things thanks to the treatment I received, my sobriety, and reading a ton of books which helped me feel empowered. I don’t want to judge her, or hate myself in comparison.
Despite that, when I feel hurt, threatened, or sad, my default reaction is still to think “I am disgusting and should begin my exercise regimen and skip certain food.” Other reactions are: a tall pint of beer, a bottle of wine or two, and a lot of ice cream or cookies. In other words, right back to where I was last winter.
I am willing to meet myself where I am in my recovery right now. I want all those things, but I can recognize I want them because of my fears and insecurities. I can recognize that I have full permission to act on them to any degree but that acting on them probably won’t make me feel much better.
Five months ago I was already able to recognize this, but now I can clearly feel the difference in my body. Now, it is not just the knowledge that yeah, i guess I feel better when I don’t binge. Now, I finally do feel better when I don’t. I actively choose to sit with feelings because it feels better to feel them than to be drunk or stuffed full of food.
I can’t tell you how much relief I feel in realizing that to be truth.
(To put this stage of recovery into context, I eat three meals and two snacks per day. They are dietician prescribed meals, so they are balanced and plenty of calories. I don’t exclude any food group of type of food. It took that much nutrition – every single fucking day – over the course of the last five months to get me to the point where I can recognize my preference for balance over extremes. Yes, I was worried about gaining weight. I have had large weight swings throughout my life. Now that I am eating everything, never doing strenuous exercise, and am never hungry for long, I am still no heavier than I was when I was at the top of my past weight swings).
I am feeling more lonely than ever, though. My relationship sucks and my confidence is low. My skin is thin. I’m often frustrated and confused about how I got here. I am a little lost and not sure what to do next in my life in order to give it meaning. My eating disorder used to do that for me! I feel like a more powerful woman/person, but I’m highly unsure of where a powerful woman fits into our society. That’s what I feel when I look at the pictures of my ex-boyfriend’s new partner. I feel like she fits – easily – and I just… don’t.

Perspective on ED Recovery

Much more fueled by anxiety than I thought

I needed to grab whatever was closest in order to ground me. When I was panicking I would need a lifeline, someting outside of myself, in order to change the feelings so they would become manageable to me.

Much more isolated than I thought

Even though I had a lot of information about eating disorders, was reading personal accounts, and had tried to mention things to friends in passing, I myself didn’t even believe I was sick. The shame I felt, the overwhelm I felt for not knowing how to eat normally, was expressed in self-hate which always turned to eating disordered behaviors.

Much more hidden, much deeper than I thought

My eating disorder told me “Until you return to the most painful spot in your history and relive it until it goes right, you are doing yourself a disservice by changing, growing emotionally, or even considering happiness.”

Over the past 10 years I have been very nostalgic. I have trouble throwing things away and have been chiefly directed by an overwhleming sense of loss. I was attempting to navigate back through my past to a place that didn’t exist anymore. Getting somewhere that doesn’t exist and doing it without a map? I now see that as the ultimate in martyrdom. “Sadly, present life, I can’t show up for you,” in other words.

My eating disorder forced me to check out of my life as it was happening at present. With my eating disorder, I had stability.  It appeared to be comfortable and safe there. It was at least familiar. And even with the physical pain, it was better than acknowledging how lost I felt.

The thing I leearned to let myself see is that the places in the past don’t exist anymore. They are not based in geography so I can’t physically go back. They will have changed to a different place in time. My eating disoder tells me all the time that my body cannot, should not, will not be allowed to change. I believe the last of its behaviors are/were hiding in this thinking that (1) my body can stop time by staying the same or (2) my body can take me back to the past to fix things by maintaining the shape it had then .

Ironically, a lot of the things I wanted to fix back there in the past – but am now letting go of and forgiving myself for – are situations that I felt I could have avoided with better personal boundaries and a greater sense of assertiveness. (For instance, paying attention to red flags in relationships instead of staying when I’m getting hurt. Or trying my best to pinpoint my emotions and reach out for understanding from someone who can help).

Unfortunately I didn’t always have good boundaries or assertiveness skills, and at one point I was too young to have the perspective that help is available to me.

That very fact underscores the importance of moving forward now.

Now, I am working on improving these skills and will not stop asking for other perspectives.

I am lucky enough to have met a number of incidents which brought me here, finally, to the place of getting help. A big part of that has meant help in letting go. Letting go of regret for not acting sooner because I AM acting NOW – and now I’m actually ready! Letting go of my judgements (of myself and others) and replacing that with curiosity as best I can. Letting go of telling myself I’m fat and ugly, and instead asking myself how I really feel and what I can do to feel better in this moment. Letting go of knowing best and letting other people take care of me, allowing for the possibility that it could lead me to happiness. That’s what I really wanted after all.









Right Here, Right Now

It’s been three whole months since my last post here and I’ve come a long way. My sobriety then did not feel like Sobriety. It felt like an addiction to alcohol being replaced by an addiction to binge eating… while not drunk.

I pulled myself up by my bootstraps and made the decision to investigate my eating more thoroughly.  For four entire years – April 2013 through March 2017, I had been stuck in a cycle of binge-restrict-exercise, repeat. My weight was on the low side and fairly stable most of that time. But each night, I went to sleep bloated on packaged food to make up for the calories I wasn’t consciously allowing myself to consume during waking hours. Then I would make a teeny breakfast, pack a carb-free salad for lunch, feel gassy and aggressive and ashamed all afternoon, workout hard, make a vegetarian dinner that was mostly greens, drink an entire bottle of wine, and binge.

The last 4-6 months of this four year span were mildly healthier-minded. I began listening to Health At Every Size (HAES) podcasts and wanting to adopt that principle. I found Christy Harrison’s Food Psych, Isabel Foxen Duke, Melissa Fabello, and Summer Innanen. I learned about the books Intuitive Eating and Health At Every Size. I discovered The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women by Naomi Wolf (which now is like my bible. You can read it in full here), and edited my social media feeds to include posts from fat activists such as Lindy West and Virgie Tovar. I loved everything I read and saw. I was more open-minded, slightly less judgmental, and very interested in learning more. I read a lot of blogs from women who decided to stop drinking in their 30s. Besides Hip Sobriety none really resonated with me.  I scoured the internet for bloggers addressing both food and alcohol addiction, but those were difficult to find. (If you are interested & okay with possibly triggering language, here are very few links to what I did discover – onetwo, three). Nobody’s story was enough like mine so that I read it and knew exactly what to do to get better. A lot of the eating disorder recovery and body positivity posts, like most of the internet, are image based. This had me stuck in diverse superficiality. Cue loneliness and hopelessness and binge eating. ARG!

I went back to the therapist I’d seen the year before.  Once a week did not feel like enough. When I was left alone I would panic and binge eat. And, yes, I did feel like a toddler who’s afraid of the dark. And, yes, I did feel ashamed of that panic. I decided I’d had enough of my anxiety and started seeing a psychiatrist who helped me work my way down the list of medications as they each presented their annoying side effects. (For a while, I still drank on the pills even though you aren’t supposed to). Fast forward eight months, and I think I’m finally on the right anti-depressant for me. I can’t offer advice on what to do about medications.  Trust your doctor and keep trying, or find a new doctor you like more! I found a new doctor.

What I am getting to with all this back story is that once I made the decision to start anti-depressants, stop high intensity exercise completely, try eat more intuitively, and – five months into that IE journey – finally quit alcohol, it became clear to me that my eating disorder had morphed but not disappeared.

So in mid-May this year I entered eating disorder treatment on an intensive outpatient level. The program consisted of three half days per week. We had group therapy, instruction on emotional regulation via CBT, self-esteem and body image work, individual therapy, and group dinners. I did it because somehow I was lucky enough to be covered by my insurance. All the therapy work I’d done on my own outside of treatment turned out to be necessary for my insurance to cover the next level of treatment, so it wasn’t all for naught. Still, by the time I got there I was ready to kick this things butt. I’ll admit that I was anxious to get treatment largely because my bingeing was making me heavier by the week and I was scared of getting fat.

SIDE NOTE: Whatever my weight, however, treatment came at the right time for me. It wasn’t because of my weight. It was necessary because all I could think about was food. It ruled my life and I was in a very unhealthy, unsustainable place. In fact, one of the main reasons I convinced myself I wasn’t sick was because I wasn’t as thin as I’d been when I’d been sick in the past. I was so afraid to enter treatment and be surrounded by people who looked like my former anorexic self. That they’d judge me for my size. What happened was this: not everybody in the program was thin. In groups, we barely ever talked about what exactly our specific behaviors were, but more about the emotions and situations surrounding them. The first two weeks, I was self-conscious about my body at treatment just like I am self-conscious about my body in every other part of my life. Then I started to get to know people. Sometimes we’d offer insight to each other, and the gratitude I felt for having helped someone, and the gratitude I felt having been helped by them began to feel much more important than my body. Then I started to remember how stable and comfortable “heavier” people looked to me when I was very underweight – I started to remember that feeling of hope I had when I’d see someone recovered who was happy – someone who looked very normal weight, who had once been where I was, being kind and patient with me. And I decided that was one really good thing my current body could do for someone there. That isn’t to say I’m healthy 100%, but I do feel better physically being a higher/”normal” weight.

So, now I am sober from both alcohol and bingeing. I haven’t binged in five weeks and that is a major accomplishment for me. On top of that, it had been about seven years since I’d been free of yo-yo diets/restriction and overexercise. I’m proud to say that now I don’t restrict or binge and I exercise only moderately. I have a relapse plan. I stopped weighing myself in November and do not plan to diet or step on a scale again.

While my body does not look entirely free of fat or super toned, I have gotten to the point where I feel neutral about it instead of negative. The time and energy I spent in an effort to look “airbrushed in real life” seems insane to me now. I’m happy it seems insane. I’m happy to leave it in the past. I have been this heavy one time before in my life, a weight that is still within (but on the higher side of) a healthy range (EDIT Oct 2017 – according to the BMI, which is bull****. I believe neither size nor weight indicate “health”) .  I still have the privileges of existing in a smaller body, though it is more difficult to find clothes that fit that I like. The more curves you have, the more individual your body becomes. So it’s more difficult to find mass produced clothing that fits in all the right places. This does not mean I’m too big or overweight. It means I’m one of a kind and could use an awesome tailor.

One thing that I’m excited about is that the longer I spend at this weight, the more normal and comfortable it feels to me. A large part of this has been switching from bingeing to feeding myself more frequently at regular intervals. As it turns out, I was not feeding myself enough at meal times even when trying to eat intuitively. When my body is fed regularly to the point of fullness, my urge to binge at any point during the day or night is decreased from about 8 or 9/10 to about 2 or 4/10. When the urge is that low, it is much easier for me to sit with and override that urge.

In hindsight, had I not had the money or time for treatment, I think a dietician who could have taken over my meal plan would have helped the most. I needed someone to weigh me, keep track of that themselves, and give me a good idea of how much I should be eating and when. Group support was/is a close second.  In my real life, nobody knows about the depth of my issues with food and body. (I wonder how they couldn’t with my weight having been all over the place, but maybe the external changes aren’t as huge as they seem to me). Having a place to bare the secrets I held SO close and felt SO MUCH shame about was freeing. If you can, find group support!

I’m in a really good place now and I want to help other people stuck in this maddening cycle. Leaving this squirrely story here in hopes of helping you.

A Buzz of My Own

Today while walking the dog I catch myself brainstorming sober ways to achieve a Skip In My Step and/or The High of Superiority. My first brilliant ideas are

(1) some sort of mid-afternoon fresh fruit juice spritzer with citrus or cucumber and apple cider vinegar

(2) lots more coffee, but BLACK (internal voice puts me down for ever using dairy or sugar in my coffee: “That’s why it’s not working dummy.”)

(3) eat enough protein, since I’ve read this will help decrease sugar cravings. (And man do I have those).

As I sigh and suffer incredibly deep disappointment over these being my only unexciting options, I realize the issue is not with my lack of exciting options.  The issue is that I’m still looking for that buzz at all. I’m still hoping I can find something benign to afford me the thrill I seem so unable to produce for myself.

Immediately I thought of the people at meetings who talk about their Higher Power.

They say they are only able to stay sober thanks to their Higher Power. They say that’s where they turn when they would otherwise turn to alcohol. People have also admitted sheepishly that their lives may seem a little boring, then quickly follow up with something like, “but that’s okay for me,” or “it turns out that’s how I like it.” Then comes the mantra about their worst day sober still being better than any day drunk. I understand we have to continually remind ourselves of this to prevent reasoning our way back to our addictions.

I do believe that in terms of mental health and a person’s basic need for stability, a boring life may be better. A life made chaotic and unmanageable by drinking doesn’t equal many good days, days where you have the stillness to really live. Right now, though, it’s a challenge for me to have the perspective of many days of sobriety.  I can hear the stories from others and that is helpful. I’m grateful for that because it keeps me hopeful, but presently I miss fucking myself up.

When your life is stable and “boring” (but good) it must be because you have inner peace. When you carry yourself through life peacefully and are able to return to your peaceful self whenever times are tough, I imagine it to be the most comforting feeling. I imagine you then crave sobriety since it enables your connection to your inner peace and you tend to like it there. It seems like the surrender to a Higher Power and the state of inner peace are closely aligned, but I struggle to understand how exactly.

If I’m looking inward, isn’t that selfish? But how can I find the inner peace if I don’t look inward?

How do I find a Higher Power if I don’t even know what I need?

If it’s not supposed to be all about me, why do I feel so self-centered all the time and not able to shake it?

If I stop thinking of myself I’ll run out of energy. What if I have a break down?

My own identity scares me, mostly because I’m not at all sure what it is. Having to discover it is happening NOW. I would very much like to delay the discovery with DRINKS – one million drinks, starting with a giant pint or three of sparkling IPA, a bunch of warm whiskey toddies while perched atop a barstool, and ending with red wine and movies in bed after walking in the rain. As the sober days pass, though, I feel the discovery growing ever nearer. I’m freaked out.

Today for the first time I felt Real Me tapping me on my shoulder. Seriously. Tapping. I am avoiding turning around because I know Real Me is there – waiting – and I am ignoring her, for now. Hypothetically speaking, I desire the buzz of feeling comfortable in my own skin much more than I desire any sort of drug or alcohol. I’m going to be cautious, stay informed, stay sober, keep reminding myself I’m right where I’m supposed to be.


Do They Want You To Hate Yourself?

Listening to a woman being interviewed on the radio the other day, I was reminded of advertisers’ desire for your self-dissatisfaction.

Ask yourself, she warned, if the point of the advertisement is to get you to be unhappy with some part of who you are in some way.

It’s difficult to separate what I hate about myself and what advertisers want me to hate about myself. I’ve hated most things about me since I can remember.  And they aren’t specific things. Although I’ve punished myself all my life using food and weight control, the object of my dissatisfaction doesn’t really end with weight.  In fact, I’m not too sure it even starts with weight.  My weight is naturally very normal.  My dissatisfaction is more energetic than physical, more internal than external.

For instance, I’ve always had this crushing blow to my self-esteem when I see my own smile in pictures. ~ They all know you hate yourself, why even bother to smile?  You’re annoying. You annoy these people. They tolerate you because they’re sweet and mature, unlike you. You’re uncouth. You’re nuts. They know you have problems so they make sure not to upset you by pointing them out. You are the ugly one here, put away your face as soon as possible ~ I don’t make friends because I don’t want to put people in situations where they’re forced to tolerate me and do me the favor of politeness. I’m so anxious having to live in the uncertainty of acceptance that I isolate myself in order to avoid it completely.

This is the root of my anorexia, the root of my bulimia, and the root of my alcoholism. Each keeps me lonely, serving as a wordless best friend. Each provides the illusion of a predictable immediate environment. And most of all, I’m realizing since I quit drinking, each keeps me from having to ever acknowledge my true self.

When you’re following the itinerary of an eating disorder or addiction, you are always conveniently “busy.” You’re either thinking about the next fix, or you’re hung up on the bad feelings of the last one, or you’re planning how you can revamp the addiction so you don’t spiral into shame or boredom. You do all of this alone.

The entire time I was underweight, I knew how sick I looked. I saw pictures and I looked unreal. It didn’t feel like me, I barely looked like a girl. I looked like a prisoner. I knew people were worried about me. I knew people were talking about me behind my back. And I knew I finally didn’t care. In a way it was like hanging my self-hatred over their heads mockingly, as if they no longer deserved the luxury of ignoring my suffering. I didn’t have to hide it anymore.  THIS IS HOW MUCH I HATE MYSELF! (Pretty attractive, right?) I remember being so self-satisfied then to be able to show it to the world. Like I didn’t have to swallow my shame in silence. I thought it was gravely unfair that I was forced to live in myself, and – it felt – forced to be ashamed of myself. It seemed like there must be something I could do to relieve this burden. Sure, I was born this way, but couldn’t I fix that?

The strange part is that losing weight will not change your smile (besides that it becomes all jutted out and boney), and it will not change your hair (besides it all breaking off and thinning out), but those are the things I desperately wanted to be separate from. That and my family.

As I regained weight after years of starvation, alcohol was the first thing that helped me cope with the loss of my thinness. (Phew, at least I can forget that was ever a problem!) I immediately jumped anorexic ship for alcoholic island. Now, after almost a decade of binge drinking, hiding bottles, blacking out, and impulsive haircuts, I have finally realized I have issues surrounding drinking as well. In the last four years, I’ve been cycling through bulimia, alcoholism, and severe depression and anxiety – overconfident when I’m starving and sober, desperate when I’m starving and drunk, miserable when I’m bingeing, and vowing to change when I lose track of my old body.

I’m feeling grateful at the moment that I have found Alcoholics Anonymous and have come to a point where I’m devoted to making booze a thing of the past. I understand it can take a long time to sort out all the issues you’ve created for yourself and the emotions you have after you quit drinking. I understand that especially the first year can be hard. Yeah. The first YEAR. So because of that, I’m trying to take it very easy on myself.

But the issues surrounding my love relationships and my eating seem completely out of my …control. I get so afraid when I eat because I know I am overeating for comfort.  But when I exercise even lightly to ease my anxiety, I have constant chatter in my head about how fast I should be going and how much I can “improve” by summer. And I still see food and exercise as the only reason the other exists. I take my little aggressions out on my partner and I’m completely unable to tell if I am being taken advantage of, or if I have truly found someone who loves me for me. It depends largely on my mood how I feel about him and I make very serious internal judgements about our relationship that flip flop almost every day.

The people I read about online and the people I meet in AA almost all say they gained weight after getting sober.  Either that or they’ve started smoking more cigarettes. The weight gain scares me so much. I talk about it with people, but I haven’t found anybody who seems genuinely afraid of it. There’s a lot of laughing and patting their sober bellies while telling goofy jokes. Please don’t let me get fat, is the only superficial thing I can think. I don’t know if I’m ready to find out who I really am yet, especially since I started all this mess when I was 14. Seems like 20 years is a lot to make up for. I’ve just been looking in the mirror at my hair, trying to tell myself I’m okay.