*Note: I didn’t intend for this to turn into a confessional but that’s what happened when I started writing so here ya go…
It’s happened again. Is it winter? I’m not sure. Somehow, for most of the past six months or so, I’ve been able to buy ice cream, bake cookies, create fabulous, fat-filled meals and NOT overdo it on eating (for the most part.)
My former roommates (all 15-20 of them) will tell you I’ve always had a problem with leaving ice cream in the freezer. It doesn’t belong there — it belongs in my tummy — even if it’s not mine! Somehow, I got a handle on the issue in my life but lately, it’s been rough and I blame Mr. Winter. Actually, I saw this yesterday and thought it described my former ways to a T:
In my rainbow variety eating disordered past, there were times when I wouldn’t allow myself to buy ice cream — or cheese of any kind, or even crackers or white bread (I went through a phase where I only bought that really healthy Ezekial bread which even the best binger would have trouble justifying stuffing the sandpapery stuff down their throat.)
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Anything that could be used for binging, I steered clear of at the grocery store. Of course, this just meant I’d end up binging on something even more disgusting, like an entire box of Fiber One cereal (do NOT do that!) or using old box of pancake mix to whip up some carbs I wouldn’t taste in my sugar-addict haze. Or…jumping in my car in a ravenous daze to order triple time at Steak n’ Shake, wolf it down in my car and pray no one would notice me in the parking lot. Yep, that happened. Quite a few times.
My drug of choice. Sad.
I can laugh about the binge (sometimes) because it’s not a part of my life anymore (though it has been known to sneak up on me once or twice a year). Anyone who has suffered from bulimia or binge eating disorder (or anorexia) knows how controlling and life-sucking it can be. There are days when your mind can think of nothing but french fries and hot fudge sundaes and every high fat, sugar loaded food you can dream up. It was like a backstabbing best friend sometimes, to be honest — or a toxic lover you kept going back to. Believe it or not, that’s how intense the emotional highs and lows were sometimes. Again, you cannot understand this unless you’ve been there.
During my freshman year in college, I’d avoid my self-consious, friendless anxiety by grabbing whatever I could from the “free” cafeteria and eating in my room to the point of nausea and passing out from food. In the morning, I’d wake up feeling a “food hangover” and hating myself. I’d wake up wanting to get through the day without eating because the minute a morsel passed my lips, the small semblence of control I thought I had seemingly vanished. The world was out of order again. The next thing I knew, it was 8am and I was eating 10 donuts. The sugar high was a very real feeling — and just as much of a depressant n the down spiral as alcohol. The depression following a binge was the worst of my life.
A photo of me six years ago smiling, but I remember how removed and full from a binge I was here.
Truth? In my worst days, sometimes I’d be driving my car, shoving food in my mouth barely paying attention to the road and think to myself — someday, somehow, food is going to kill me. I watched shows on TLC like “The 700-pound Man” and empathized deeply with the addiction to food. A good metabolism, an unhealthy preoccupation with working out and periodic days of eating nothing were the only reason I didn’t balloon up — though I did gain about 20 pounds despite all that “prevention.” Those were my bits of “control” that felt like anything but. I see photos from that time period today and though I’m smiling, I remember in certain photos when I was so full I could barely breathe, when my body was teaming with the abuse of thousands of calories and wracked with the self-hatred that came with trying to eat my fear away.
The holidays are often the hardest…food sitting out all day, bored, reverting back to my youth. I’ve never had a Thanksgiving or Christmas where I didn’t feel completely sick by the end of the day. I gaurantee I have a fake smile in this photo.
The worst days were sad. I had no self-confidence, was painfully intimidated by guys and thought things in life would be so much better if only I were skinny. I wrote brooding poetry and listened to sad, heartbreaking songs feeling like I’d never be good enough, pretty enough, skinny enough for someone to fall in love with me. I would stare at Victoria’s Secret model catalogues, desperately dreaming I could look amazing if I only had some discipline, some self control. It was literally just a few weeks ago that was paging through one of those magazines and realized that I could care less if I looked like one of those chicks. It was a moment of joy, too, to realize I am free from those bonds.
There’s a lot more to this story but you can see now why when the old demons “sneak up” on me, I struggle. My mind can revert back to those old days of recklessness, those long nights of sadness and hiding from myself and everyone else. It’s an ugliness I don’t want to relive — even for a few moments. So I’m gearing up for another holiday season. Maybe this Thanksgiving, I can come hungry, eat well and leave feeling satisfied instead of sick. For now, though, I’ve got to keep the ice cream and chocolate cookies out of my cabinets. There are some things that will always be hard — especially when winter kicks in.
*Just to note, I developed eating disorders at the age of 13 and began recovering from them when I was 21, though it continued in its various, lesser forms until about 4-5 years ago, so none of this is very recent. However, it will always be there, a scare of sorts that flares up on occasion…but that is something I can live with.
Love that these days, I feel more like this most of the time!