Tuesday night I found myself sitting on the rug in my bathroom scarfing down any food that I could get my hands on. Previously, in between doing dishes I was opening the cabinets and searching for all of the forbidden foods that I don't normally allow myself to eat. I wanted everything and at that moment didn't want a single thing to stop me. I was hungry, starving actually after days/months/years of restricting yet I was so full of shame this felt like my only option.The fact that in that moment I needed help and more food was too much for me to handle. I was so hungry yet angry about the fact that I was hungry, that eating in secret seemed like the answer. I didn't want anyone to know that I was hungry or eating (two things that equal being needy, selfish and too much in my mind), so there I sat huddled on the bathroom floor in tears, eating all that I could, while John sat in the other room. After this I immediately went to bed. I had to. I was so full of self hate and paralyzed by shame and fear. I wanted to forget and pretend like the entire thing didn't happen.
The next day I decided that the solution to last nights "problem" was to go back to restricting my food intake and just keep the entire thing to myself. Even thinking about it brought up so much shame, that I couldn't imagine sharing it with anyone, even my nutritionist. Around noon I took my lunch break at work. I didn't plan on eating. I repeated over and over again "I don't need food", a very well known thought in my head, yet I couldn't hold back how I was feeling. I couldn't hold back the tears; the sadness that I felt for denying myself what I truly needed, the pain from all of the self hatred and the shame from all of the secrets. For a brief moment, in between a lot of negativity and eating disorder thoughts, I decided that I couldn't continue to live like this. I realized that my life was being destroyed and consumed by shame. It wasn't just around food, it was around everything. I felt ashamed for needing things, for wanting others to like/love me, for having an eating disorder, for struggling to take care of myself, for needing to ask for help, for being good at my job, for my personality, for having likes and desires, for being too much etc.Although incredibly painful and hard to swallow, this thought forced me to pick up my phone and call John, who was also on his lunch break. Through a lot of tears I told him what had happened the night before and asked if he could talk to me while I attempted to eat lunch. It was difficult but at the same time relieving.
Tonight I am writing this post and sharing this painful story in attempt to eliminate some of the shame. Although it was quite an eye opening experience, I have easily fallen back into the same patterns over the past few days. After restricting and not following my meal plan for a few days I was overwhelmed by hunger yet again. Although I followed my meal plan today, tonight I had the same urge to eat anything and everything, in secret. The entire night I have had the eating disorder screaming in my ear telling me that I am needy, selfish and too much for needing/wanting more food and being hungry and a failure because I can't even eat like a normal person. I have had many moments where I want to give in and not in a healthy way, yet tonight I refuse to allow shame to win.
Even though I can realize that a lot of my beliefs are illogical and even wrong, I can't instantly ignore or erase the things that I have been telling myself for years. I can't just "snap out of" using eating disorder behaviors to cope. My hunger and fullness signals are still very messed up and I have no concept of "normal" eating. I have no clue how much food my body actually needs and most of the time I am too scared to even begin to experiment to figure that out. I am constantly consumed by shame and anxiety for needing things and even more so for asking for help. I don't know how to separate my feelings and problems from my relationship with food. On most days I feel like I am stumbling around in the dark yet I am learning to use my treatment team, John and friends for guidance. I don't have all or many of the answers yet I refuse to give up. I have read stories and know personally people who have recovered from eating disorders. Although I can't even begin to imagine it, especially for myself, I continue to hang on to the possibility. Shame will NOT win.