Redefining "normal"

For so long, I've had skewed definitions of so many words I've associated with food. Words like healthy, good, safe, and phrases like back on track.

Cait and I were talking a few weeks ago, in a continuation of what we'd talked about in my last post. We'd just walked to a great pizza place near our apartments and had a yummy dinner, but the entire time we ate, I couldn't stop saying things like, "I have to get back on track. I have to get back on track. I have to get back on track."

Which, in my mind, means going back to severe restricting during the day (coffee, a yogurt, maybe a piece of fruit) followed by a "safe" dinner that evening (low-calorie, low-fat, low-flavor). And that also meant that any time I broke those rigid rules, I'd need to purge. Without question.

But Cait, in the patience and wisdom she's gleaned from fighting her own demons, said something that's stuck with me. As we walked down the sidewalk, each of us carrying half-full pizza boxes, me panicking about what I'd just eaten, she said:

"Here's the thing, though, Hal. You want to get back on track, but all that means is that you're getting back on track to scary, dangerous eating patterns. You're not getting back on track to health, you're getting back on track to the eating disorder."

She's right, of course. And in retrospect, I can't believe that concept hadn't come to me. But it hadn't. I was so blinded by the desperation to lose this weight that I've gained that I was willing to do anything — anything — to get there.


I'm also so tired of puking.

I'm so tired of chugging coffee all day trying to give myself a little bit of energy because I haven't eaten enough.

I'm so tired of being a slave to this eating disorder — unable to relax and just enjoy life and food and good times.

After that talk, I realized for the first time that I was finally ready to give up my eating disorder. It's not going to be easy, no, but for the first time, the thought of not having my eating disorder as a crutch and a coping mechanism doesn't fill me with panic. I want to do this. I want to get past this.

I can, and I will. And I'm trying, again, for the millionth time, but this time is different. This time, I'm not secretly (or not-so-secretly) holding onto the paralyzing fear of what I would be (or how much I would weigh) without my eating disorder. This time, I'm done. I want it gone. I want it out of me, out of my head, out of my body.

So I'm trying again to eat. And then stop eating. And then eat. And then stop eating. Normal eating patterns, normal healthy food...I'm trying.

I can do this.



There are lots and lots of changes going on in my life right now. Good, hard, sad, exciting...lots. I mean, it's typical, right? I'm now a college graduate (still — cannot believe that), and I've got my life in front of me. And, given that it's me we're talking about, I'm all nostalgic and melancholy and oh, y'all, there's so much running through my mind.

One thing's stayed the same, though, amid all of these changes. I still struggle every day with food, with eating, with bingeing and purging, with restricting, and with enormous hatred of my body and the way it is. I haven't written about that in a while.

For months and months, I tried to pretend I was okay. I was still having unhealthy behaviors, but I had managed to convince myself that I was doing better, that this was just something I was going to live with for the rest of my life. But it was okay, right? Eating massive quantities of food and subsequently sticking my fingers down my throat one day, and the next not eating much of anything at all was okay. Right?

I was consumed with feeling so, so self-absorbed with regards to my eating disorder. I felt so guilty for drowning in thoughts of me, myself, my body, my food, my weight, my my my MY everything. I pushed those thoughts away as best I could, and took comfort in the knowledge that even though my behaviors were still unhealthy, at least my weight was remaining the same — a weight that I didn't love, but was something I could deal with okay. As long as I maintained it.

And then I started gaining.

I've put my body through so many roller coasters over the past few years. And long periods of severe restricting, followed by periods of bingeing and purging, have really caught up with me. I'm seeing it now. If I restrict now, my body goes into hyper-overdrive. It's like a biological pull, a drive, that I have to then eat. Eat. Eat. My body is so afraid that I'll go back into severe restriction for a long time that I just can't anymore. If I don't eat for a bit, then my body slams into the opposite direction — and I can't stop eating. Which leads to puking. Which leads to more eating. And puking. It's an endless cycle of wearing a path between the kitchen and the bathroom that always leads with my head in the toilet.

I've been dealing with this for long enough to know that the best thing for me is to establish a normal, regular pattern of eating. And I try. But that scares the shit out of me. Especially now that I've gained some weight back...I'm just terrified to eat 'normally.' So I plod through the days trying to balance eating enough that I'm not starving, but not eating so much that I can't stop eating (oh hey, compulsive over-eating disorder).

Cait sat me down for a come-to-Jesus talk a few weeks ago. I was in serious denial about my eating habits. And she calmly, firmly made me see what I'd been trying not to see for so long.

It was hard.

I feel enormous. I look in the mirror, and I see fat. Cellulite. Blubber. Every bit of me is just. too. damn. CURVY. On top of this all, I'm going to be in a bathing suit on the beach for the next week — I'm going with Clara's family on vacation. That scares the living shit out of me.

But. I have to keep remembering what's most important to me in life: becoming a mother myself. Sooner rather than later. And if I'm going to do that, I have to get to a point where I'm healthier. Not just so that my body can be physically healthy enough to grow and birth a child, and then nurse that child...but so that my future children grow up with a good role model in regards to food, weight, and our bodies. I want my children to know that our bodies are sacred, they are special, and they should be cherished and treated well.

I need to get there myself, first.

I think of myself with my own children down the road, and I want to be healthy for them. I want to get healthy for them. And so I begin a renewed effort to fight back these demons. If I can't do it for myself, I can do it for my kids.

I have to.