So are you ready for a novel? This is a bit of the nitty gritty truth about me. I've not been officially diagnosed with an eating disorder and I'm not sure how I would be. What kind of dr does that? How do you get help without being forced to for severe medical side effects or something? Because the thing is, I'm pretty certain I have binge-eating disorder.... or rather, I go back and forth with saying I do just because it is hard to do and feels like a failure of will. Sometimes I'd rather be in denial. Sometimes I think having an actual diagnosis from a medical professional would help with that- like a smack in the face- but I'm mostly too ____ (ashamed, scared, nervous?) to seek that out. Besides, would it do any good anyway beyond the help I know I can utilize through support groups and the various ARP or other resources I have access to because of my husband's pornography addiction?
I once asked my therapist if he thought eating disorders and food addictions were one in the same. He said yes. Sometimes it's easier to say one over the other. Food addict sounds so socially unacceptable. Are anorexics really food addicts? Does it just mean I don't have enough self-control? Sometimes I tell myself the lie that it would be better to be anorexic or bulimic because that would be more socially acceptable or at least then I would look more socially acceptable, but that I don't have enough willpower for that or something. But I digress...
Food. Addiction. I remember once when my husband was going to 12-step ARP for his pornography addiction, I was reading all kinds of stuff, and I was about halfway through a 12-wk intensive for 'survivors of traumatic experiences'. We were on our way home from a family vacation, having some discussion, and it suddenly dawned on me that I used food in the same way that he used pornography. I clearly remember telling him that- but, like sex but worse, you can't live without food. So what do you do? I remember feeling some empathy for him at that point. This was 4 years ago. I would feel stressed or sad or whatever other uncomfortable feeling- and I would eat (or want to eat) to the point of feeling so much physical discomfort that it would make me forget my emotional discomfort. That was our first family trip since the s$%& hit the fan, and I had eaten too much, and continued to do so even when I felt lousy. I either couldn't stop or didn't want to stop. It didn't matter. Recognizing that at that time was pretty big for me. At least that's what I thought.
I continued to work on my trauma and codependency recovery and found that I began losing weight. However, that proved to be a trigger in itself. Suddenly I felt sexy, vulnerable, strong, pretty, and it was all terrifying. My therapist had said that most people with eating disorders have suffered abuse- they either don't eat so they will 'disappear' and not be noticed, or they eat to 'pad' themselves and make themselves undesirable so that they will not be hurt, used or taken advantage of. I increasingly saw just how very true this was for me. I especially realized it when my husband's recovery hit a wall and we seemed to be going nowhere. I received a strong impression that I had done my part and that the choice was entirely mine whether to keep trying to save the marriage or to enforce boundaries and file for divorce. I very quickly put on 10-20 lbs that month that I was processing those feelings. I didn't see the spiral right away, but when I did I recognized that the thought of that independence scared me. I unconsciously was trying to make myself undesirable so that I would feel stuck and wouldn't have to make that decision whether or not to leave. Plus, it was easier to deal with feeling sick than whether or not to end my marriage. Also, I didn't want my husband any more attracted to me or making advances when I was trying to figure that all out (he really has found me attractive and desirable at all sizes, even when we dated in high school so I've never felt that need to be a certain way for him). That was all pretty enlightening to see how quickly I went from a healthy place (mentally & physically) where I was easily losing weight, to self-sabotaging without even thinking about it.
So now here I am 3 or 4 years later and I actually weight more than ever. The truth is, I don't know if it's physical or mental or a combination of the two. I recently was reading a book (I think it was "In His Eyes" by Virginia Pearce) and there was an exercise where you essentially clean out the closet of your mind. You write out ALL your thoughts, good and bad, just to get them all out of your head. Well, when doing that I was surprised, and saddened, to realize just how much negativity was still there and how much was an addict voice in my head. It was a little bit paralyzing actually. I'm a Beachbody coach and I help inspire others to live healthy, reach goals, have healthy body images, dream, etc. I've been eating well and exercising really regularly for 2 years. I've done multiple triathlons and other races. I've been surrounding myself with positive, like-minded people and dumping toxicity from my life. And yet all that crap is in my head?! I went back to our therapist (my husband's and the one we'd seen together- mine moved) at the beginning of last year. I was frustrated then with the lack of progress I'd seen after a year and I recognized myself regularly pulling back from success in other areas. What we continually ended back at was trusting self. I've been working on that over the last year (listening to the prompting to write this being part of that), but it takes time to rebuild that trust and he tells me it is the hardest and last thing for those who've been victimized.
Here's the thing- I feel like the longer I remain here and keep feeling like a failure, the harder it becomes. Lately I feel like these voices just keep getting louder, when they should be quieting. Sometimes I don't eat or I forget to eat or I don't feel like eating because I'm too busy or too whatever else. So I don't. Or it's really hard to get myself to. Which will of course generally result in a binge later- even if it's a week later. Sometimes it's just so tiring to always have to think about making good choices! I fight it and do good at it...but I think that if I'm being entirely honest, I'm not so consistent as I'd like to let on. I dunno. I recently looked into a treatment program (after a particularly trying month). It's similar to LifeStar- I think it's called LifeStyle if I remember right- but I was too ashamed to tell my husband I'd emailed for info, even though he knows I grabbed the brochure and it's not like it's a taboo subject around here. But it was a year-long commitment and several hundred dollars per month. I just couldn't do it.
Lately I've had some health problems and I've found this voice in my head that tells me if I just did something drastic to lose a bunch of weight fast then they'd go away or at least I'd be able to tell if they're weight-related (like I tell myself but no doctor has actually said) or something else. If I was skinnier then drs would listen to more of my concerns. If I was anorexic or something then at least someone would help if I needed it. I feel myself mentally being pulled to some line, thinking I can be that exception of a person who can walk that tightrope & not fall off. I KNOW I have an addictive personality. I know I have the capacity in me for a lot of self-harm. I hear the voice that says I can just 'try it' until I get the results I want, and then I'll be able to stop and be a perfectly normal person who has no problem eating healthy etc. Gosh, I hear what a lie that is! But it's hard for me to admit I'm even struggling with those thoughts and the extent to which I am lately. I see other women drop a lot of weight quickly and I either get insanely jealous wondering why I can't, or I wish bad things on them (like the weight I immediately gain back when I stop whatever VLCD I've done that's actually given me results). It's only like that for those ones who 'aren't even doing anything' or who are doing something extreme and losing at an extreme rate (like one friend doing a shot regimen & dropping 20 per month, or the ones who've had surgery).
I feel like I am really great at helping others. I find a lot of joy, satisfaction, and purpose in doing so. I feel so much hope for them. I'm totally genuine in what I say to them & authentic in what I share publicly. And, yet, there is this struggle going on in me! I feel like I was in a really great place but that the longer I go with nothing to show for it, the harder it becomes to maintain a healthy attitude & habits. AND as I write this I realize that perhaps that is the very point--- that I need to be willing to dig in my heels to fully face the monster and involve the Lord in a way that I haven't- in a way that my husband DID, to have what I seek & to learn the lesson I need to learn. Because that's the other thing... It's like this is the last piece of the puzzle in healing my marriage. How can I believe, REALLY believe & trust that my husband's change is real (and it really is!) and lasting, when I don't seem to think the same principles apply to myself? So long as I think that way I live waiting for the other shoe to drop. Or when I keep feeling like I'm failing to change my own eating disorder or food addiction or whatever the hell I'm calling it? The more I have delved into this recently, the more I have questioned him thinking his is slipping or lying when I have no proof & when his reactions really do show me otherwise. It makes me feel crazy and it's totally my own doing (really, I only feel normal again when I admit that). Is it just one of those things that I have to accept as getting worse before it gets better? Is it Satan trying to keep me away from my own path of recovery? I've felt on the one hand that I'm not consistently using all the tools at my disposal...but on the other like I'm missing some 'tool' that I need but don't know what. I'm hoping this private support group I'm now in is it. I know I haven't involved the Lord as much as I need to, not as regularly as I need to anyway. When I start to really dig the 'junk' out, I get scared & pull back because I recognize the increasing triggers and myself unfairly taking it out on my family. So I figure it's best not to 'go there' or something. But I know what I would say to me: It's better for your kids in the long run to have a healthy mom even if they get hurt a bit in the meantime- they're a lot more resilient than you think. I thought it would be helpful if my husband wrote me a list of ways my problem affects him or the family, but he never has even though I did ask. It's my problem to fix though, not his. It just feels like it didn't use to be such a rollercoaster for me. Or I didn't feel like such a split personality about it. Maybe I just wasn't 'FEELING' so much then. Maybe this is that demon being exorcised? I dunno. But that's mostly me.