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).