I have always loved this.. It is so true. I have people compliment me all the time about how I look or about how I am doing. Do I believe it? No. Not always anyway. So let’s address why comment are hard, why I lie about how I am doing, and how I can take offense so easily.
This week in therapy we talked about how the ED has trained my mind to take everything negatively. I take everything negatively because the ED is still in control. I might say “thank you” or “you’re sweet” when people compliment me but that is the hardest thing to do because my mind says “they’re lying” or “they’re just being nice.” When in reality, why would a complete stranger, someone who has zero clue as to my struggles, need to lie to me? Why would they “just be nice?” It doesn’t make sense, but that is how I see it. And forget family or friends being able to compliment me. Those I rarely believe. I feel like the people that know me and know my battles are just making those comments as a way to get me to eat or to stop exercising or obsessing with the way I look. It’s stupid that I think that way, I can admit that. But you call a girl fat once and it sticks with her her whole life. Tell a girl to suck in her tummy, and it is something she will do for the rest of her life. Ask a girl if she really needs to eat that much or go back for “seconds” and she will remember it, and chances are she will take it to the extreme… she will ask her self if she should really eat everything she is about to put in her mouth.
The ED in it’s entirety is a negative thing. So this week when Marissa (my therapist), Jacob, and I talked about how I viewed everything negatively – from comments people make to refuting my own thoughts as they start to change for the better – she pointed out to me that I have been battling this for 11 years with a lot of negative weight and food influences before that, so it is going to take time to retrain the way I think. It’s like having the good and bad angels sitting on my shoulders. The bad one being the strong one, and the good one being the one that gets shushed. The bad one constantly saying “they’re lying,” “they just want you to eat,” “they are obligated to say that.” All while the good one is saying “just believe them for once,” “not everyone is out to get you,” “they love you, why would they lie to you?” I have to train my mind to learn to let the good angel talk – definitely not an easy task.
This week in therapy we also talked about how I tend to tell little white lies to cover up the ED. Nothing big, but just things to avoid talking about how I am really doing or about my problems. I have never liked admitting I need help or that I can’t do something on my own and I have certainly NEVER liked people knowing I have problems. I used to lie about “not feeling well,” or “not being hungry,” or “eating a little while ago,” so that I could skip meals or not eat much. It was my way of covering up starving myself. I used to do sit-ups, push-ups, squats, lunges, and other weight bearing exercises when I was alone, so people wouldn’t see my trying to compensate for eating. I’d run longer than I said I did. I’d eat a salad and say it sounded delicious, when really all I wanted was a burger and fries like everyone else at the table. I’d avoid eating around people so no one could comment on how little I ate or the food choices I made. Point is, I did what I could to try to hide the eating disorder as long as possible. I remember the first time I failed. I was with my swim team on a summer travel trip to Kansas for a meet. We were eating pizza for dinner. Let’s just say I hated this idea, pizza was a “over my dead body” food at this point. But I remember how my dad used to eat it – just toppings, no crust. So that is what I did. I had two or three slices of just cheese, sauce and pepperoni. My teammates thought I was crazy. A few that really cared, tried to get me to eat the whole pieces and then confronted me later. I can remember them sitting with me in their hotel room confronting me about my problem and telling me that if I didn’t tell our coach and my mom they would. Well thank God for good teammates and friends. I refused to tell either of them, so they told my coach and he pulled me aside and gave me one more chance to tell my mom on my own or he would tell her and not allow me to practice until I told her. Well this was not an option, I needed to practice, or rather the ED needed to practice. So I told my mom. she cried, I cried.. but she knew. She knew and probably had known for a while, that I had a problem. We said we would seek help when we got home from the trip, but unfortunately we never did. I should mention here that it was in NO WAY my moms fault. I was the one that didn’t want the help. I was the one that didn’t want some doctor to tell me I couldn’t swim or exercise. I didn’t want to go to a rehab center or some recovery hospital. My mom tried and even threatened to get me help… I always did just enough to keep her from forcing me to get help. I was scared. She was scared. It’s a SCARY thing. I will tell you this though, my mom helped in more ways than I could ever count. She made sure I had nutritious food, she bought peanut butter grapes and soy nuts like they were going out of style. She made foods she knew I would eat and she always made sure I knew I could ask her for anything I needed. So please know it was NOT her fault I didn’t seek help sooner than I did, and also remember that I told you in my first post, we thought I was past all this nonsense when my grandfather died and I started eating again. I was the one that didn’t want the help. I was the one that didn’t want to get better. I was the one so focused on being thin that I chose to live my life the way that I did for so long.
So why do I take offense so easily? Because I take everything negatively. Because I don’t know how else to take things. Having an ED makes you vulnerable and irritable. An ED depletes not only your body of nutrients it needs, but also of mental and physical energy. I don’t always think clearly because I am depleted. I get tired when I don’t eat, don’t eat enough or even when I don’t eat the right way. It is so much harder to take a step back and ask yourself “what did they really mean by that?” when you are depleted, tired and cranky. But even when you aren’t those things, an ED still makes you vulnerable. Things become personal very quick because sometimes it seems like everyone is out to get you or hurt you in some way shape or form. Sometimes things that are said trigger memories from the past that really hurt, even though the current situation may be under a totally different context. So it’s not always that the comment, conversation or situation is meant to offend, it just inadvertently does. Is this bad? No, not always, but it should be addressed on both sides. So that is one of my tasks this week from therapy – try to calm my mind enough to take a step back and really truly ask myself, “What did that person really mean by that?” and “Did I really take that the way it was intended or am I construing things when I shouldn’t be?” Again not easy things to do. So if you are reading this and you encounter me this week, be prepared for me to ask you how you meant something if I take it the wrong way!
Finally, as the last part of the quote says. I appreciate the support, love, time and money that have gone into this process over the last 11 years. Mom, dad, THANK YOU!!! From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!!! You have loved and supported me both emotionally and financially through all this, and I appreciate it. None of this is your fault and you should NEVER blame yourselves or think that it is your fault – ITS NOT!!! The two of you are wonderful beyond words! Nana, THANK YOU!!! You have loved and supported me my whole life. You and Papa both have. You have done what you can to help me through this and it is appreciated tremendously!! Jacob, THANK YOU!!! I couldn’t have made it over some of these recent hurdles without you. You have taken the brunt of some of my moods, and you have done nothing but love me. It doesn’t go un-noticed. I appreciate your support – emotionally and financially. There have been many sessions I couldn’t have gotten through without your physical presence. Rachel, THANK YOU!! You will forever be my sister. I know you love and support me through this and that you are fighting similar demons. Thank you for the love, encouragement and prayers. To those teammates – you know who you are! Thank you for confronting me and supporting me even though I didn’t want to help myself. Thank you guys for still including me as a part of the team and for pushing me both in the pool and in life! We had a lot of good times together. There are too many other people who have supported me through this to thank individually. So THANK YOU! I know I am not always showing my gratitude, but I assure you it is there and it runs deep.
I am recovering from an eating disorder. I will recover from it. But in the mean time I will continue to fight, take one step forward and two steps back. It will be confusing for me and you. There will be many more tears and rough days, many more “moods.” There will be “faces” to hide how I am feeling, not because I want to hurt you by lying to you, but because I want “normalcy” – whatever that is. There is a long road ahead of me, I realize this with each new day, but there is a light at the end of this tunnel. I will reach it – I have come too damn far to quit now. I will continue this fight – I have so many reasons to fight!
Thank you all, and may God bless you!