Okay, so I sprained my ankle yesterday. I could walk on it but not all that well. I wasn’t sure I could make it to therapy even. Today it was improved. I had to be careful but I could walk just fine. By this evening, I could walk full speed on Puzzle’s walk. I still have to watch the bumps in the sidewalk and it still feels funky, though.
So…while on Puzzle’s walk, I was promising myself that tomorrow I’d go to the track and walk seven laps. With not only a sprained ankle on my right side, but a shin splint on my left. The latter has improved as well, from resting the past couple of days. But….
WHAT AM I THINKING? Does my eating disorder have that much of a grip on me that I have to go out there and possibly re-injure myself? Or am I…”rehabilitating” myself? Who am I trying to kid?
However, I really, really, really want to go to the track tomorrow morning.
My therapist talks about the 3 D’s and SOS. The 3 D’s are Discern, Disagree, and Disobey. SOS stands for Send Out for healthy Support.
Discern means to discern between what is my eating disorder and what is me. Disagree means that I am supposed to disagree with what my eating disorder is telling me. Disobey means that I am supposed to not do what the eating disorder wants me to do.
I told my T, first of all, that I wanted to do these things, that I didn’t want to disagree or disobey. She said that I was still immeshed in my eating disorder and wasn’t yet able to Discern. She said my survival was dependent on being able to do this.
Well, who wants me to go to the track? It sure feels like it’s me. Who wanted me to only eat one meal a day for the past three days? It sure felt like it was me. Who wants me to lose weight? Well, that, I know, is my eating disorder. So now, I’m confused.
My T wants me to tell her the things that my eating disorder told me last week. I told her that I had a particularly hard time with it. I’m going to tell her that my eating disorder didn’t tell me anything. My eating disorder isn’t a person.
I have had the experience, in the past, of having thoughts that I felt weren’t my own, thoughts that I felt were put into my head by someone else. I think it’s called “thought insertion.” But this doesn’t feel like that. It feels like I am the one thinking the thoughts.
In 1980, I was the one who stepped on the scale and declared myself “fat.” I was the one who, July 1st, 1980, started my first diet. I was the one who chose what to eat and what not to eat. And that was the beginning of what has turned out to be a nightmare.
I have been choosing ever since. Or, should I say, the choices have been made for me.
No, I don’t feel like I have control anymore. I don’t feel like I have choices. I don’t feel like I have chosen this path. I don’t feel like I woke up one day and said, “Gee, I think I’ll develop an eating disorder,” and “I think I’ll keep this eating disorder,” and, “I think I’ll keep this eating disorder for a long, long time,” and….It seems like I have no choices anymore, not now, not ever. Because once I stepped on the scale, and started my first diet, there was no turning back.
When I left the hospital, I was feeling fairly certain of my willingness to work toward recovery. This past week, I had a really, really, really hard time, and I wavered on it. I am scared of “recovery” because it means “gaining weight.”
Today, I told my friend that I had gained three pounds. I told her this over the phone. It sounded like she was jumping out of her seat for joy. This made me feel like shit. I wish people wouldn’t jump on it like that.
Whenever I tell people that I eat now, which I sort of do and sort of don’t, they want to talk with me about food. They want to talk about recipes and various cuisines. They want to talk about what goes with what and what tastes good and how to cook different things. It is almost like I have sparked other people’s addiction to talking about food. We just go on and on, and I get kind of bored talking about it.
Food it just food. There are deeper issues. I didn’t realize that in 1980. One of the problems, I thought, was that I was getting selfish. I was concerned that I was praying to God for the wrong things. I was literally getting down on my knees and praying to God to help me lose weight. After a while, I replaced God-obsession with weight-obsession. I think I stopped praying to God and started praying to the scale. “Please, please be one pound lower, please!”
Weight-obsession was just covering up what was deep inside that I couldn’t face. Some of these things I have yet to uncover, even now. Some of these things are best left covered, I think, just smothered in the past and forgotten. But I do know, partially, what these things are.
In my old T’s office, there was a duck-lamp. This was a lamp which had a bottom that was shaped like a duck. Where I sat in her office, the duck looked right at me. One day, I decided to move. I especially didn’t like the way the duck looked at me. I didn’t like the duck’s face. I moved, and asked my T to cover the duck, so that it wouldn’t look at me. From then on, my T obliged, and covered the duck’s face with a book every time I came into her office. I didn’t look at the duck. The duck didn’t look at me.
The duck represents many things to me. In part, it represents the issues I don’t want to deal with. I suppose I use my eating disorder as a way not to deal with these issues, because it hurts too damn much. The duck made me very, very uncomfortable. I couldn’t bear to look at it and I couldn’t bear to look at it looking at me.
My current T wants me to talk about the duck–or, rather, I told her I’d talk about the duck a little. I never told my old T what the duck meant, or why I wanted her to cover it, just that this was my request. I have told my new T that the duck was very important.
I see my T Monday, two days from today. She will expect me to tell her what my eating disorder has been telling me. Will I tell her that today, the eating disorder told me, on Puzzle’s evening walk, to go to the track tomorrow and walk seven laps? But this was not my eating disorder, this was me, of course, my desire, my desire to cut back on food the past few days, my desire to abuse laxatives a few days ago (I told her I did this–the first time since 1997 to my recollection), my desire to pretend everything was okay when it wasn’t.
And deep inside, I need to keep the duck as far, far away from myself as I possibly can. Maybe I have been putting my eating disorder between myself and the duck for a long, long time now. I think I have been doing this for survival. So when I want to do these things, like going to the track with a sprained ankle and a shin splint, it’s for my survival, because I simply don’t know any other way to keep the duck away.
Survival….You can look at it so many ways. An abused child does certain things to ensure survival. Locks doors. Listens carefully. Hides. Stays alert. Always on guard. This is survival. You learn certain patterns and you stick with them. And it’s hard to unlearn those patterns.
It’s hard to unlearn those patterns I’ve learned to ensure my survival, even if it means I need to unlearn them to stay alive. I know this makes no sense, but it’s true.
Actually, this is one of the many reasons why eating disorders make no sense.
So when I go to the track tomorrow and walk my seven laps, will I be thinking of all this? Will I be thinking of the three D’s–Discern, Disagree, Disobey…and SOS? Maybe.
Who knows what I’ll be thinking of. I could be thinking of anything. Anything at all. Maybe I’ll be swept away by the music I’m listening to. Or maybe enjoying the fresh air and the sun rising over the track. Maybe I’ll be thinking about nothing.
Maybe, on the other hand, I’ll be promising myself better days to come. Maybe I’ll be remembering that I am striving to have a strong, healthy body. Maybe tomorrow, I’ll eat three meals and treat myself well. Maybe tomorrow I’ll remember that I am on this path, the only path I can possibly be on in order to survive, the path of wellness. Maybe tomorrow, I’ll treat my body with respect, and cherish it for all that it’s worth.