** Possible trigger warning for explicit talk of eating disordered behavior **
Learning to differentiate an “eating disorder voice” from your own internal voice is a common practice in eating disorder treatment. Some people consider the ED voice becoming quieter as a signifier of recovery. I usually do too – my ED voice slowly quieted as I advanced more into my personal recovery.
My dad passing away has not been easy for me to deal with. I feel like the universe is testing my sanity quite often and it’s exhausting. During the past few weeks, my ED voice has been getting louder. I hear consistent nagging about my body. I am screamed at when I eat a big meal, regardless of what else or how much I’d eaten prior. While I haven’t given in to that voice in terms of disordered behaviors, I still sometimes find myself testing my recovery and it’s scary.
Last week I went out to lunch with a friend and ended up eating a bigger meal than I’m used to. As we were waiting for to-go boxes and the check, I got up to use the bathroom. Using the bathroom after eating is something I typically avoid doing because I don’t want to tempt myself. I know that day, my resilience was tired and while I literally just used the bathroom, I could not escape the chanting in my head. I wanted to get rid of my food more than I had in a long time. The only reason I could come up with to avoid doing it was because I didn’t want to splash tomato sauce on my white dress.
A big part of me (no pun intended) wants to judge that reason as not being good, true, or valid enough, but sometimes even the smallest reason is good enough. Sometimes not engaging is more important than the reasons behind it. There is no failure or shame in just getting by.
This wasn’t the first time I’ve been challenged. I still struggle with what to do when my emotions are extremely high. Those days, I initially romanticize my eating disorder but eventually, recovery wins. I haven’t engaged in bulimic behaviors for over five months. That’s not a long time but it’s the longest I’ve been able to go for years. Even in that, my recovery isn’t perfect. I have days where I change clothes for an hour because I can’t stand the way my body looks. I have days where I obsess about food or my body to the point where I can’t get anything else done. Do these occurrences mean I’m not in recovery?
I don’t think so. Under normal circumstances, those days are few and far between now and are only correlated to extreme emotional distress rather than any little pique in my emotions. I am able to tell the difference and to fight harder to not engage. It’s tough on some days but that’s life and I’m still committed to being the healthiest person, mentally and physically, that I can be and that means being compassionate about those two factors of my being.
For awhile, I thought I was 100% fully recovered, whatever that means. Today, I understand that I still have work to do but I also have so much knowledge, awareness, and passion to do it with. I am committed to keep fighting, even when it’s the hardest thing to do.