February 20th, 2019. I’m tucked away, ready for bed. But of course, my mind is not the least bit tired. But not because I cannot stop thinking about calories or exercising, nor what I am going to eat for dinner on Sunday or how on Earth I am going to keep juggling a million and one obligations. No, my mind is wide awake because I have realized just how pointless my tiresome scrutiny over food has been. This struck me as odd because for over 5 years I have identified with being in recovery from my eating disorder. How could I just be realizing this? I mean, it’s not like I didn’t know all of this at a logical level and I have been behavior free for those 5 years, so I thought I was good. But looking back to even a month ago, my relationship with food has been deeply flawed.
I lived my whole life in a state of deprivation. I spent years robbing myself of happiness, connection, and carbs! And because of this, any time I would stray from that deprivation mindset and let myself “indulge,” I would spiral into a black hole of shame and judgment. I feared that I was beginning to binge or that I was “addicted” to food and that all self-control I ever had was just gone and lost forever. I thought of myself as selfish and unlovable. And so, after the shame came more deprivation, which just perpetuated this cycle even further. But since I was eating “enough” and not purging, I thought that this was just how my life in recovery would be.
I WAS SO WRONG! It was literally less than a month ago on that Wednesday night when I realized just how wrong I was. The first thing I wrote in my journal that evening was “It doesn’t fucking matter!” And it doesn’t! It just does not matter what I eat. And more importantly, I realized that all of the judgment I have been imposing on myself needed to stop. So what if I drive thru McDonald’s after a midnight shift? And so what if I eat pizza 3 days in a row? Why does this matter? And more importantly, why the hell am I being so mean to myself for doing what my body needs to do. My body needs to settle and learn to trust food again. It needs to learn that it is not in a traumatic and dangerous environment anymore and that it is safe to eat when and what it wants. And I need to get out of my own damn way and allow it to relearn that safety.
The last few weeks have been pivotal for me and have allowed me to realize just how much mental energy I gave that voice of judgment. Mental energy that could have been used for so much more. And in realizing this, I have noticed the things in my life that really do matter. My yoga practice and the way I help raise 4 little girls; the time I spend with my friends and reading a good book.
I sat in my therapist’s office just yesterday and for the first time in over 3 years, she looked at me and said I seemed “relaxed.” We both had to laugh because my name and “relaxed” historically do not belong in the same sentence. But I agreed with her. It was like we both knew and could feel this weight having been lifted from my life. And trust me, I know this sounds too good to be true or like I am just spewing bullshit at y’all, but I swear, this is real. It is liberating to know that judgment is just not an option anymore. Knowing that my self-worth is not dependent on whether or not I say “no” to a second helping of cake, has been freeing.
And so, I look forward with confidence. And I look back with compassion. I am grateful that this road has been anything but smooth. For it has taught me just how much I am able to handle and still come out the other side.
Written and contributed by Megan Rose.