(Dis) grace

Do Not Retreat in Disgrace
I am a disgrace. I am a disgrace to my eating disorder and to my religion. How do they co-exist?
I have been in one of my (many) phases of recovery. They just sort of happen sometimes. I eat well (maybe slightly orthorexic) for a few weeks. I still purge from time to time but, it is all relative. Last week for instance, I purged four times. In relation, I used to purge as many times if not more per day at the height of my bulimia. I still consider that week to have been in recovery.
After a few weeks of being in recovery, the same pattern occurs. I start feeling heavy. I hate the sight of my fuller reflection. I feel out of control. I am hungry, starving all the time and I am eating constantly. Yesterday I ate a banana, a protein shake, oatmeal, an apple and a quinoa salad. I was still ravenous on the way home after yoga so I ate three veggie patties and another banana. I was disgusted with myself, but I didn’t purge. I sat there trying to tell myself that it was alright, that I was getting better and stronger and fitter. What I was really getting was fatter.
My thighs are a disgrace. Today I took a long look in the mirror before work. It distressed me. I ended up teaching ballet in studio 5 which is notorious for it’s fat mirrors. I was distraught at the sight of myself. How is it that just a few weeks in recovery mode can make me balloon like this? I teach ballet everyday; I go to hot yoga everyday; I even started training to run 5k everyday and I just get bigger and bigger.
This moment always comes when I am in recovery: the realization that I cannot do this. I cannot bear to be this size. I cannot stand to see flesh where there were bones before.
As if to reiterate how fat I got, I went out with a girlfriend for brunch on Sunday.
“You can borrow a few of my dresses if you like,” she offered. “After all we are the same size. I finally gave up and went up to a size 8.”
I sit there speechless, stunned. I wear a size 4. I have for years. Sometimes if I starve long and hard enough, I can squeeze like a sausage roll into a size 2. I have not worn a size 8 since I lost 40lbs after I was given thyroid medication for my hypothyroidism about 5 years ago.
My friend sees me as the same size as her. Not only is she a size 8 but she just gave birth 3 months ago and is still carrying a lot of baby weight. I love her. I think she is gorgeous. I never for one moment thought we were the same size. Perhaps if she sees me that way, then it is the truth. Perhaps I am the one who cannot see properly. ED sufferers are always told that they see themselves as bigger than they actually are. I feel like I actually have a pretty good idea of how big I really am.  Now apparently, my friend sees me as bigger than I am. She wasn’t being insulting. She genuinely meant it. Maybe I got that big and didn’t notice because my pants still fit.
Anyway, her comment has haunted me all week. I made it three days after that without giving up and today was the last straw. The heaviness consumed me. I left work early and went to a coffee shop. I got a latte and a cheese panini. I went to the grocery store, bought a box of a laxatives, greek yogurt and granola. I sat in the car and in my hurry to open the granola the bag ripped and it went flying all over the car and all over me. I sat there like a lunatic, covered in granola and cursing. I thought perhaps God was trying to say something too me. I stuffed half a box of laxatives and all the food down my throat. I followed it with the rest of the box of laxatives. I went to hot yoga and nearly vomited from exertion and the excess of food in my stomach. I disgust myself. I never want to eat again. I never want to be recovered again. I know better. God tells me better. I can’t believe it.
I am a disgrace.
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11 thoughts on “(Dis) grace

  1. K says:

    Dear J,

    I’m so sorry you’re feeling this way. Trust me, we’ve all been there (all of us with an ED, that is). I’ve been so desperate to eat that I’ll rip open wrappers as soon as I leave the store and will be stuffing my face while walking home with bags full of groceries. My most shameful moment was when I went on a huge binge (donuts, cookies, pastries) and then got so disgusted with myself that I threw all the leftovers in a garbage bag and put it in the garbage bin outside my apartment. An hour later I was so desperate that I actually walked down 4 flights of stairs, went outside, opened the garbage bin, and picked up my garbage bag and brought it back upstairs to eat the leftovers. I ATE FOOD FROM THE GARBAGE.

    First things first, I am proud of you for not purging after yoga. Apparently purging encourages more bingeing, and even though it feels terrible, breaking the cycle is key. An amazing book I read, Overcoming Binge Eating (http://www.amazon.com/Overcoming-Binge-Eating-First-Edition/dp/0898621798) even says that purging gets rid of maybe a little over half of the calories consumed in a binge. So it doesn’t help as much as we think, and it wreaks havoc on our bodies physically and physiologically (electrolyte imbalances). Regarding your friend, this was the opinion of only ONE person. That is hardly an objective measure of your weight. It could have been what you were wearing that day, the fact that your face was puffy (purging will do that!), the lighting – a million other things. If your clothes are still fitting, you obviously haven’t gained that much weight, if at all. If you are worried about losing weight, a more objective measure like weighing yourself (I know, I know, the dreaded scale!!), taking pictures of yourself or how clothes are fitting is a better way to monitor progress.

    Also, you have a medical condition. You know that hypothyroidism works against weight loss 😦 Have you been to the doctor recently to have your TSH and fT4 levels checked? If you’re hungry, you’re hungry. You are listening to your body. You obviously live a very healthy and active lifestyle, which is amazing. I know this is tedious, but do you know how many calories you consume? Weirdly enough, I have found that sometimes eating more is better for weight loss, and I feel fuller (obviously). Starve too much and everything goes out of whack.

    There are days where I look in the mirror and want to cry. I walk down the street and envy all the tall, beautiful, bony women who walk by me. I curse my body and my genetics. I hate to talk about weight loss because we with ED take it to another level, but I know you are consumed by it, as am I. So let’s try to do it the healthiest way possible. You are starting to take fiber, which is an excellent step. Are you completely vegan? Do you eat eggs? They are amazing for making you feel full with such little calories. I see you already have protein shakes, which is great! Also, I am not sure if this is available where you are, but have you tried Alli? It stops some of the fat you eat from being absorbed. I have a blog entry about it. I really think it has helped me lose and maintain my weight.

    We all go through bad days, and that was one of them for you. Tomorrow will be better. Please take care of yourself. You are an amazing woman – independent, nurturing, intelligent, talented. I know you will be able to get through this! Please let me know if there’s anything I can do and if you ever need to chat some more. I am thinking of you and wishing you happiness.

    Love,
    K

    • Dear K,

      I love your long letters. I love the connection we make through sharing our suffering and encouraging each other. I have been much better this last week and will write a couple of posts with more info so you hear all about ED and the new boyfriend. But, I do appreciate all your comments too.

      I think I need to eat more protein because I am so hungry all the time. The other day I ate 4 eggs (!) and oatmeal for breakfast and I was full the entire day until dinner. The other thing I noticed is that instead of just eating egg whites, I ate the entire egg and I was so much fuller. I think sometimes I need to eat more because I am trying to exercise more and when I get really hungry, that is when I start bingeing. I have also read many articles that say if you stop purging you will eventually stop bingeing. So my new strategy is to not purge even when I feel like I have eaten too much. I guess breaking the cycle is important.

      Anyway, things are going well now that I am feeling better. I am trying to make peace with being recovered and not as thin as I would like but being healthy instead. I think this psychological fight is what keeps making me relapse.

      Things are going really well with my new boyfriend. He told me this week that he will not share me with ED and that I need to chose it or him. Harsh conversation, but I know it came from a place of love. We seem to have got to a place of commitment in a very short amount of time. We are already talking about a future together which is exciting although obviously we won’t be making any big decisions for another little while. I am still a bit in shock at how amazingly this has turned out and how unexpected it was.

      I hope you are happy and healthy and taking good care of yourself. You are a strong and beautiful and one incredible woman. Remember that! Fill me in on your news when you have time.

      Love,
      J

  2. xonthis says:

    I think that maybe your friend sees herself smaller, not the other way around.

  3. royaltyandrainbows says:

    My darling, I just went through a hellish month due to dangerously low potassium and liver trouble. You don’t want this. I know you know the dangers, but when I see posts like this, it worries me. I love you and you are worth so much more than your eating disorder, or any perceived thinness or fatness. I’m here if you need to talk. You can leave comments, send me email, or you can text me if you want. Just please take care of yourself.

    *biggest hugs*

    • thank you for your love and kind thoughts. I am so sorry that you have been having liver trouble. Are you alright now or are you still struggling? I will keep you in my prayers and am here if you need me too. I think it is so important that we can connect and support each other even if it is just to reach and find solace with another fellow sufferer. I hope you know that you are worth more too.

      lots of love,
      FB

  4. Honestly – I do know your pain. Being thin is such a priority, it can cloud your vision. Your friend didn’t mean any harm. I had the same thing happen to me years ago. I was so hurt and it was so stupid. Really, so stupid.

    The bad news is, you will always struggle with this. The good news is as soon as you stop being self centered (yup – it’s the truth) and start being happy, your weight will matter less. You need to re-focus on something that matters more then the numbers on the scale. Love, sex, children, family, friends, hobbies, work – take your pick. You need it.

    I used to follow your blog, but I stopped because I couldn’t tourture myself anymore. Yes, reading your blog was touturing me. I feel your pain so much, it makes me reminisce in my own pain when I had an eating disorder. Every once in a while I will check in on you, praying that you have beat the disease. It does look like you are getting better. I want to see improvement every time I check.

    The only way you are going to beat this terrible disorder is by dealing with the issue that is actually causing it. You are depressing an emotion that is causing your pain. Repressed memories, rejection, abuse. Try to talk to someone or start realizing that your eating disorder is a reflection of your inner pain. Deal with the pain and you will start to heal. That is a fact.

    Good luck. I’ll see you in a couple of months.

    • Thank you for your honesty. We all need to hear the truth because ED is such a lie.

      Lately, I have been focusing more on my faith and expending my energy being more involved in the Christian community. I am also in a new relationship and focusing on that is a good thing because he told me outright that he would not share me with ED. I have to make a choice between the man of my dreams and my eating disorder.

      I am sorry that my blog tortures you. I am hoping to turn it away from being so triggering and negative in the next few months. I appreciate your prayers and your checking in on me 🙂 I am certainly a lot better than I was 6-9 months ago during my last epic relapse. I am choosing recovery every day in both big and small ways.

      Take care of yourself. Be healthy and happy.

  5. Melia says:

    FB –

    MISSING YOU!

    Hope you’re doing well. I hate when people point out things to me about my appearance. Things that have been said to me, like, “Well, you have a healthy figure and weight, you don’t look sick.” “You look tired, like you’re not getting enough food.” “Doesn’t she look like [a certain celebrity]?” (It’s a celebrity I don’t care for). I hate when people tell me how to manage my conditions… don’t you? People eventually figure out their stuff on their own; I feel like sometimes it makes me feel worse when people assume I’m not doing something to control my poor eating habits, like I just woke up that day and forgot how to eat normal. “Are you eating enough of this?” “Are you eating enough of that?” “Can’t you take care of yourself?” Who the f*** gave anyone the right to comment about another person’s appearance… is it really someone else’s concern? (I will stop myself before this turns into a rant).

    I keep sprawling myself into attempts at eating normal again – like, organic, whole foods… completely balanced, spaced out over the day. But it never works!!! The temptation to binge and purge is always there.

    I’ve spent some time the past two days figuring out why it is that I feel the urge to stuff my face sometimes, often to the point of… well, past the point, actually… of feeling uncomfortable. I’ve literally eaten previously thrown away food from the trash (my own garbage) because I had gotten to the point of, “Well, I’ve eaten this much already, and God, does junk food taste soooo good.. why did I throw the rest away?”. I’ve tried to pour salt on it, then dump it. I picked around the salt one time. (this was all during a time when my garbage disposal was broken). Now, if I am done with a binge, I have to walk the leftovers to the trash. And it’s a long, sad, and lonely walk. I could seriously go into it, on why our society binges and purges and all of my theories, but I don’t want to rant too much!!!!! 😀

    Anyway, I finally have had enough of missing out on life. I choose food over people (which, sounds irrational, but is it really?)…. if I have the opportunity to go out and spend time with loved ones, I make up excuses, just so I can get home early, and binge. It’s like, suddenly, it’s become less of a craving for all of my favorite foods (I’m still mad about that damned vending machine that didn’t give me my favorite candy bar)…it’s become a craving to hide, to find comfort in no judgement.

    Of course we all care about you, and I could sit here and badger you about how you should take better care of yourself, but I don’t know about you, but my eating disorder has created so much frustration and anger, that I just cannot allow it to consume my life anymore. I will never fully recover (does anyone?), but there has to be something or someone in our lives worth more than our eating disorders… What about our sanity? Our dignity? I certainly have NO dignity, after some of the binges I have completed. What would it take for us to just stop?

    *sigh*. HUGS HUGS HUGS!!! I wish I could visit you at your favorite coffee shop and listen to your intriguing adventures in person.


    M

    • M,

      I have missed you too! I wish we could hang out in a coffee shop and exchange our life’s stories. I would love to hear all about you. The greatest blessing about these blogs is the ability to reach out to each other and encourage and support each other. I want to start making my blog more inspirational and less triggering.

      I love it when you start to rant…please feel free to rant to me any time that you like. I have some strong feelings on all this stuff surrounding ED.

      I do agree with you on the missing out on life and the choices that we make to leave ED and live instead. I have been trying really hard to do that in the last few months. I am trying to make peace with being healthy and not being as thin as I would like. I have realized it is the only way that I will stop relapsing. And, I have to adjust my focus. I have to expend energy on the things I care about and not on ED like faith and family and friends and my boyfriend and my career. All those things have suffered because I chose ED instead.

      You are so right that we are worth more than our eating disorders. Our sanity and our dignity are worth more. We have to start respecting ourselves and eventually loving ourselves. We would never treat anyone else the way that we treat ourselves. It is weird to be in an abusive relationship when we are the ones abusing ourselves every day.

      I have always believed that I would never be fully recovered; that I would live with this for the rest of my life which was always and excuse for me to act out whenever I was triggered (several times a week) even though I was in “recovery”. I have realized that I now have to believe in a full recovery and a life without this if I am ever going to make it out alive. It may be a vain hope but I believe in miracles and I need something to hang on to right now.

      I wish you so much love and happiness and health in your life. You deserve it. Be kind to yourself. Talk to me anytime you need to. I so enjoy hearing from you. You can beat this. You can have a life instead of the lie that ED makes you believe is a life. No one deserves this hell, this half-life, this shell of an existence. You are worth so much more.

      Love and hugs,
      FB

  6. heartlectics says:

    I agree with another person above, in that it could be that she sees herself smaller than she is. Especially after having a baby and you have become smaller after that. It’s ALL perception. Yours, hers…. they cannot match.

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