Eating Disorders: Living in Secret Shame
What does it feel like to have an eating disorder? Like you can’t do anything right. It’s like a constant fist fight with yourself.
There are two people inside of me.
The smart, level-headed, sensible one that loves herself. She takes care of herself with positive vibes, good food, time to herself, friends, family, and outside time to be with nature.
The other person… She thinks she needs to punish herself. She doesn’t deserve anything good. She should be locked inside, eating low-energy food, and smothering herself with it and all of her insecurities.
It’s so hard for me to forgive myself for allowing that person to take over once more. The loving gal seemed to be number one for so long! She took me to “regular” size clothing stores. She gave me so much energy.
Then little by little, Debbie Downer crept back in until I felt strangled by her. And I let her win most battles.
I ate for no reason. I ate not to nourish, but to punish. I ate because I didn’t want to face any of my problems.
Suddenly, when I got to the healthiest I have ever been, I became nit-pickier… about my appearance, about my job, about where I lived, about my friends… Before I knew it, I was unhappy with just about everything and everyone in my life.
I’m no therapist, but my guess is that without the weight to hide behind, I had to start facing some of my other fears, insecurities, and goals.
So… jerky me took over. She allowed me to eat processed junk and be a couch potato until my non-plus sized clothes didn’t fit anymore. It became a struggle to workout again. It became hard to like me again. And the cycle began all over.
The bingeing. Sneaking food. Eating non-vegan <– that last thing is especially a punishment to myself. I know what’s good for me. I know dairy does not agree with me. It is all inhumane to me. And yet, I went there… because I wanted to be disgusted with myself.
Why? It’s how I was taught. I learned through the examples of other people close to me who used food as punishment/reward to stuff my feelings down. I was forced to eat things I did not want to, and was restricted from eating everything I wanted to by my parents growing up. I was taught by the shame that society and TV puts on overweight people.
I still can’t hear the word “fat” and not think people are automatically thinking about me. Even if they’re not, when the word is said, I imagine the association that comes along with it to be me.
In 2014-15, that was the first time I ever thought I wasn’t fat. And it was so hard for me to admit that, because I didn’t quite see the weight loss all the time. Instead, I wanted to lose more weight. To tone up loose skin… it’s fine to have goals, but I don’t think I truly appreciated my accomplishments. If I no longer was “fat,” what was next?
I had traveled… I had become a writer… and I thought to travel more. To write more. To think of bigger dreams… But I was stuck. Admitting that to myself was hard; that I still struggle with who I am and who I want to be.
I am searching for something, maybe someone—because I definitely don’t bring guys into my realm enough. I put up quite the thick wall in dating, and maybe that’s why I keep getting stuck in this cycle.
Imagine this: I am a romance writer terrified of love! Of who I will love. Of who will love me. Of who I will be once I am in love. Or how badly it will end. Will it lead to kids? Do I want kids? Do I want marriage? The answer is: I don’t know, and I have been so scared to find out.
But I have come to realize, fat, skinny, young, old—I need to be loved now. Not after I lose weight. Not after I move to some other location. NOW. For me, for who I am at any point in my life. Because I know I am worth it… deep down, I do. And I need to love me and stop judging myself for all of my issues.
They’re my issues and they make me who I am. Easy to tears, sensitive, uber-compassionate, funny, optimistic, and strong.
I want to stop living in the past and the future. My goal is to truly embrace NOW. Future goals are nice, and I will continue to make them. However, I need to stop looking in the mirror with the intent to change who I am or how I look today.
Do I like my current weight? No. Do I want to lose weight? Yes. Does my current weight make me unworthy of love, from myself or from others? HELL NO. I am learning it’s okay to want to better yourself, but it’s definitely not okay to punish yourself for struggling during the journey.
Writing blog posts like this helps me affirm these messages to myself and I hope they will help you.
For another great blog post on binge-eating disorder, which inspired me, check out this.
Have you ever suffered from eating disorder issues? Or unworthiness? What tips, mantras, therapy techniques do you use to lift yourself up? Please tag me on Twitter: @AuthorSandyLo.
This post originally appeared on SandyLo.com.