hips and birthdays and forgetting and getting through it

laughingbw (1 of 1)


I was feeling so very much two Sundays ago. And emotions are such tricky little things they're not always easily placed. I was pacing my tiny apartment, my insides alight with like a hundred and one crummy feelings and I sort of stopped for a moment, caught my breath, cocked my head, and wondered, did I binge today? Was that to explain for this maelstrom of emotion? Because certain things print themselves on your body and it sure as hell felt like I binged.


I really had to stand there and think for a moment: what had I eaten, where had I gone, what had been the day?


It’s been nearly a year since I’ve binged. But last Sunday, for a split-second, I thought I had. And then I didn’t know. And once I did (I remembered I had last eaten a half stack of flap-jacks while at brunch with my parents before getting on the subway home and having a massive cry), it took a moment to trust what I knew to be true.


The thing about eating disorders is that we think they’re about the body. We talk about them as if they’re about the body, we speak of flesh and bones and extra weight as though that’s the point, but, truth be told, for six years my mind was not my own. For six years my mind betrayed me again and again and the pounds piled on--the weight a symptom of deep inconsistencies in my life--my mind not matching up with what was real and tangible and known. My eye flipping the image, as it’s meant to, and my brain then flipping it again and again and again so when all was said and done, I didn’t know which way was up, which way down, or if I was ever actually on solid ground.


There were stages of course. The first being the thought to binge. And my helplessness against that thought. It was so clear then. Straight lines. Black and white. The binge, and it’s before and after.


But as I began to recover, things became less clear. The binge didn’t always follow the thought. Sometimes it did, but sometimes it didn't. And then, sometimes, it was much delayed. There’d be days when I was convinced I'd already binged, but really I hadn't; and so confused was I by this, I eventually would.


Then binging gave way to overeating, which is a totally different thing--not nearly so frenetic or scary or possessive.


I am so well now. So totally free of the thing, but for the occasional confusion by my own tangle of emotions which has nothing to do with an eating disorder and everything to do with the daily struggle (and blessing) of this human existence. But such confusion occasionally stirs the silt, dislodging forgotten pieces of the thing.


Which leaves me on the occasional Sunday afternoon feeling the rip-roar of loneliness and thinking I've binged. Because for so long the only explanation, the only release, for such an onslaught, was food.


But I no longer know how many calories are in a cup of coffee. And I know longer know how many calories are in a glass of wine. I no longer know how many calories are in a serving of quinoa or a tablespoon of olive oil. I definitely no longer know how many calories are in the pint of Ben and Jerry’s I had the other night, but my guess is, quite a few.


I used to know. But I forget. I patiently and systematically went about forgotting.


And the act of forgetting, where calories are concerned, is one of the very best things I’ve ever done.


Because it's been nearly a year since I've binged.


Thoughts have to be fed. And I stopped feeding them. I fed my body instead. And what that means is I can look at the photos from my 28th birthday with great affection for the woman I am now--the woman who got through those six years, the woman who can look at the photo above and see she's happy. Before anything else I can see I'm happy.


And then I can see the curve of my hips. And actually love the curve of my hips.


Because damn if it isn't a lovely thing to look like a woman.




(This week is mental health awareness week. Seeing Tom (a therapist specialized in eating and weight disorders) has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. He's helped me navigate something no one should ever have to navigate. But life is hard and life is tricky and frankly it should be. We'll all one day navigate things no one should ever have to--and we'll probably do it more times than we care to count. While I'd never wish an eating disorder on anyone, it has proved an incredibly rich training ground for all that comes after. So I suppose this is the point where I add my small voice to the mix and say, take care of your mind. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Friends and family will see you through much, but sometimes you need the objectivity and talent of trained professional--and how lucky that there are people out who are just that. For more on this subject I've got a ton of posts under my food and health tab on the left-side of the blog.)