HEALING MY RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD
Definition 1 : subject to giving an account : answerable
I said I was documenting this journey in order to have some accountability. Today I feel the need to account for myself. I also have answers, just sadly no solutions yet. It has been a week of ups and downs as the title suggests but to be fair, mostly ups. I’m going to start with today before reflecting in part b on my observations and more detailed food and body experiences from the week up til now.
Today has been a struggle against unexplainable hunger and constant desire to eat that could not be satiated with normal food or healthy options to bad food. This left me grazing every hour. I never graze. I never eat much normal food and I never bother with healthy alternatives although this week I have been using them.
My therapist asked me yesterday “What does food mean to you?” and I speculated. She is a temporary, tide me over therapist, a gift from God or rather a gift from someone I know high up in a hospital who is tired of receiving my emails as she cannot answer them but does in fact care for me.
I am trying not to do anything TOO deep with her as it hurts too much and then I feel too bad and immobilised for the 2 weeks until I wait to see her. I need to wait for my specialist trauma therapy. But it happens. I have to talk about some of the stuff that’s happened that’s preying on my mind, I need this support to reflect on the nature of what has happened to me or on bad weeks more what’s happenING, survival related chat. It just keeps me going and she’s good and has plenty of relevant experience and expertise.
It was an upbeat session. No tears, unusual, there is normally release of a few. I filled her in on the situation with my food issues and the dietician and we also spoke about how I am finding it hard to understand and accept the good and bad of living with an abusive Narcissist without questioning my own knowledge and judgement. Realising that whilst the good times may have been ill intentioned on his part, my experience of them was real and that was all that mattered and could be held onto amongst the bad. I’m still struggling with that concept.
I’ve been thinking alot about “What matters?” today after yesterday being focused on this and also on “What is real?” in the early hours when I wasn’t sleeping. I’ve become aware that when it comes to me it seems I do not matter to myself. This abuse history would be shocking and horrific if it was coming from someone else and I would be making efforts to understand, support and at least validate that person. The sense of detachment that has come over me makes me feel like it didn’t matter what any of those men did to my body or how my husband behaved. It’s in the past. Move on.
I am showing myself no compassion. The compassion I would show another person. I’ve also imagined societal pressure from others that I should move on which annoys me, it wasn’t their experience so they cannot judge. But I also wonder, if it’s something that doesn’t matter then I don’t have to really ‘feel’ it. So it’s less painful to wipe it off as unimportant.
But the reality is, I am occupying a very difficult mental space and all this stuff I am telling myself shouldn’t matter, is having a profound effect on my mind, my body and my ability to live. It can’t be anything else. It is ‘mattering’ of it’s own accord deep within my brain and the core of my heart and my soul even if at a conscious level I am ambivalent. And that is exactly what it is, a conflict. And the last thing I need when I am trying to recover from depression and manage cPTSD, is an inner conflict. I spend alot of time frustrated and confused.
It’s like it is mattering within me but it’s not conscious anymore. Everything has been sucked up and drawn inside since I stopped music therapy. The flashbacks were at least getting it out and ultimately healing. Being in that more acute phase had at least some catharsis albeit distressing. Tangible observable symptoms about why life is so hard everyday. Even dissociation I could bear. I seemed to understand what was going on better when things were like that. I’m still having random expressions of grief but I don’t know what they go with half the time. It’s difficult to express this state but I certainly feel trapped. It’s like I want something to show for my distress.
Whether things matter is a significant theme as it is not just the actions of others upon me which don’t seem to matter, it is my actions upon myself. In the past anyway. Eating disordered behaviour being most relevant here but also a history of significant abuse of drugs, self harm, repetitive overdosing and poor self management.
Today I realised why I eat, as it is the first day I’ve really struggled with food this week and the day my mood was low, emotional and I was feeling tired and sad. Remember the dietician has given me free reign to continue eating excessive amounts of high fat, sugary food. I have just not wanted to and made a subconscious decision to do more work than just have lunch. In a week I have pretty much quit nocturnal eating with the exception of cornflakes, milk and sugar at 5am and 6am the last two days. A little bit of a stretch on breakfast but a marvellous turnaround from where I was eating at 2am and 4am.
But today I wanted something and it wasn’t coming from standard low fat low sugar alternatives or regular meals. I wanted to feel love, comfort, soothing, Understanding. Clarity. I wanted to erase the past, the pressure of just doing simple tasks in the present. There may even have been some low level anger that needed taming too. There was too much hurt today, I felt like nearly every single cell inside my body were frozen to stone and that all those particles were the things that mattered. I could not take it anymore. The stone contained a just discernible pain and the sense of unreality that this was my life became too much.
That’s alot of things to heal with a cake or a bar of chocolate. But I tidied my surroundings a little in anticipation of the treats. Got things a bit more organised in the kitchen. And piggy backed off my daughter leaving the house for a rehearsal to get out of the door with her. I’ve not managed to get out today. The trip to the local shop was calm. I bought milk and a loaf and some fruit which we needed. One double chocolate super sundae (reduced from an initial two as my first choice always) and a 200g bar of chocolate filled with jelly beans. I would have bought 100g but they don’t have it.
This was clearly not going to be a massive frenetic relapse. I did not buy anything extra for the fridge. I still do not plan to eat in the night. So I ate the sundae and for those moments I did feel happier, I did feel soothed. To be love and understood by a chocolate sundae would be a stretch for anyone I think! And of course it didn’t erase the past but it did make me stop thinking about it for that time. Whilst I was eating the sundae my body was not inhabited by the cold cells of sadness. It was warm and sweet and soft. And then something remarkable happened. I didn’t open the chocolate. A single sundae was enough. A single sundae has never been enough. Instead I came on here and typed. To account for myself. I may still open the chocolate but if I do it will be a few squares only. Not to be restrictive, just knowing.
So I do eat for emotional reasons and harm is a by product. I don’t consciously eat to harm I eat creamy, milky comforting things to be soothed. Reflecting on my battle with Bulimia I can say with that I sometimes ate for comfort but mostly for harm, destruction and because I was totally out of control with life, drugs, and food and had a fear of gaining weight. You don’t eat multiple pieces of chicken or giant pizzas and then purge them for comfort.
When I was bulimic I had alot of distress around food. It was a frenzy to eat it and a panic to get rid of it any way you could. My disordered eating now is calm, damaging on the inside and ugly on the outside, I’m fat. My disordered eating then was frantic behind closed doors but I still looked beautiful on the outside and presented with a good body. I think a little bit of me will always be a bit sick as I reflect I really liked the bleeding and calloused knuckles and kind of missed it now. I think I’ll always long for a tangible sign of my distress on my body, something to show for it, even though I have for a very long time been able to refrain from acting on the desire to inflict it.
I feel like it’s gone a bit dark now when overall the ups and downs of a dysregulated eater are mostly up. It’s just been a dark day I guess. Fear not, part b is brighter and I regain my clarity and power. I guess sometimes things matter and sometimes they don’t. That’s what allows us to live. Perhaps this state is self preservation even though sometimes it hurts and containment can be frustrating and feel overwhelming.
See my other posts on Bipolar Disorder, Grief, Childhood Abuse, Rape, Domestic Abuse, Living with a Narcissist and recovering from Eating Disorders. More every week!
Love Alice X