I think I’m ready for change. I’m ready to take the next step to eating “normally” among society.
I’m ready to get out of this rut.
It’s weird how those feelings suddenly come; when you realize the food you deemed “fattening” was only so because it became a rule in your head. The voice whispers to you day after day that you must eat perfectly, that you cannot mess up, that if you do mess up, bad things will happen.
And suddenly, I dared myself to change, dared myself to face my fear, because as scared as I am to move on, I know I must move on. That the only thing scarier than staying in one place, is thinking that you may stay in one place forever if you don’t do something about it.
This took months. Months and months of the same routine because I felt too scared to move on, but today, I realized, this is it. I might fall back again, but at least I’m making an effort to try something different, and try something I wouldn’t normally do. I told myself I could go back if I didn’t feel comfortable enough, but I encouraged myself to at least try.
For instance, I am eating food on a plate. Like, a regular plate, instead of trying to hide any food I deem as embarrassment in a tiny bowl. Also, I decided I needed variety. As in, I hear about this thing called “enjoying” food, and maybe it’s time to really savor and relish what I am eating. Not to say I’ve never liked the taste of the foods I usually eat, but I do find it a rare treat when I “have” to go out to eat and find myself with a plate of “sinful” food and love the taste of it; tastes as simple as sauteed quinoa and grilled tofu with crunchy, caramelized vegetables, and god-forbid, sauce.
I want to enjoy foods like these all the time. So what is stopping me?
Fear. Fear of taste, of loving or wanting something too much, of feeling like my body will run away with food and I will not be able to slow down. But then I figured, if everyone else can do it, then why can’t I? Why don’t I deserve to eat different foods like they do?
Until now, I never realized how true it is that you have to want to change. People don’t want eating disorders, but they fear life without it. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
From my own experience, I realized I just had to be patient with myself. When my dietician encouraged new foods like pasta or even peanut butter, I couldn’t convert to them right away. I had to want to change, and eventually it came. Something finally clicked in my brain, something finally broke in my emotional state, and I realized I wanted to feel different, wanted to break out of my own prison. It took a lot of thinking and experimentation on my part, but something finally released again and I moved on.
I want more than just oatmeal, tuna, eggs, coconut oil, and vegetables for every meal, every day. I will eat quinoa again. I will add some oil to my meals. I’m going to eat hummus. I may even eat pasta. (Don’t rush me too much, though). Don’t ask why I deem some of these healthy foods “evil.” I think anyone with an eating disorder has their own rules and regulations, and these are just a few that happen to be mine at the moment. They were constantly changing, and I don’t recommend anyone reading this to suddenly see these foods as “bad” just because I had a period where I wouldn’t allow myself to eat them.
I went to the store today and spent nearly two hours shopping for “new” foods. I have never seen so much variety in my shopping cart in years. I felt anxiety and reluctance putting some items in my cart, but I knew at least half of me was okay with what I put in, and I began to think of all the cool recipes I could start cooking up with them. I also began to think about how much more fun food could be with this change.
Yes, change. Many ask what helped me to recover. I say, take the time to keep learning about yourself, to keep thinking over what and why you fear certain things, and allow others (like a dietician) to work with you to move past the fears. You don’t have to rush yourself. You don’t have to stick with it. All I ask, encourage, and support you with is the notion that you at least try.
This is my prayer.
I know the holidays are difficult for those with eating disorders. I pray that you worked through it, that you allowed yourself to enjoy time with friends and family rather than having food rule whether it was “good” or “bad.”
This is my prayer.
We have another year ahead of us—and to you, I wish you good luck, and health, and love toward yourself. I wish you more ease and comfort with food. I wish that you find love and joy in the simple beauties of life—including the delectable taste of a fresh new dish. I encourage you, as I encourage myself, to venture out and try new foods. I encourage you to live more this next year.
This is my prayer.
I wish you to feel the exhilaration of life. I wish you to find yourself, to keep digging. I wish you to uncover the darker parts of yourself, because you are worth digging for. I wish you tears and a bit of heartache, because those are the times where we let ourselves become vulnerable, and we learn and grow. Those bad times help us to understand more about who we are as people.
This is my prayer.
I wish you a happy new year. I wish you luck. I wish all of us courage, strength, and bravery as we tackle the new adventures waiting for us.
It’s a vicious cycle.
No matter how many times I’ve been through this–restricting, and then bingeing–I keep doing it. I keep thinking, but it’ll be different this time. This time, I will change.
I cry because I am overwhelmed by a body that will stop at nothing to get what it wants, even if I think it doesn’t need it, even if I think I did everything right, even if I think I know what I am supposed to do.
The body always rebels.
Words from friends play over and over in my mind as I observe myself: “Looks like you’ve got some good meat on you now,” she says, pinching my right arm. I feel the heat rise in my face. Anger? Frustration? Guilt? Embarrassment?
“Yeah, I thought you looked different from the last time I saw you.”
Do they really see more fat? Do I see more fat? Have I gained more since they’ve seen me? What makes me skinny or fat? With such a gradual gain how am I supposed to know, how am I supposed to see the difference? How the hell am I supposed to know anything about my body anymore if I don’t even know how to eat? I’m scared of hunger, yet I love it. I love eating. I love food. But is it my body that loves eating? Because I feel so detached from food when I am sitting at a meal. I’m scared to feel full, but I feel that my body wants to feel full.
What did the eating disorder give me?
It gave me a ravenous appetite that still has yet to fade. A confused body. I feel like a food addict, stuck in a cycle, yearning to be “like everyone else.” I cherish a “bad day” at school once in a while over the guilt and torment I put myself through at each meal. If I avoid eating, it puts me back in the euphoria of restricting–my addiction–only to fall back into bingeing, when I feel I lose all control of my body.
Guilt. It’s consuming. Guilt is such a waste of time, and I want to get rid of it, want to let it go, and some days it feels better, but most days? Most days–what the hell–every day I have to eat. And if I have to eat, there is always the guilt. If it is not as strong today, it may be tomorrow, or next week, and it will still linger even on the good days, because now I am breaking all the rules I strictly followed in the past. The ghost of the voice, even after the death of “Rawchael,” keeps grasping my arms, whispering, reminding me of all the rules I had before, how I had been so good, so disciplined. Even if my dietician tells me I can do it, sometimes I believe her, and sometimes the ghost of Rawchael whispers that she’s wrong, that I should just try again, that I am so capable of gaining back what I had before…
The guilt is what does it. The guilt, the guilt, the guilt….
How could I have fixed that last meal?
Why do I have to eat so much food?
Why can’t I eat like everyone else? What is wrong with me?
A disorder—is that what I should call it? I feel like maybe this voice doesn’t really live within me. Am I making it up? Am I just over thinking things? I still question it today. Maybe it isn’t a disorder. Maybe I am just broken. Maybe I am just an addict, maybe I just let food consume my life. It’s common, isn’t it? Our nation is obsessed. Maybe I don’t have to say I have an eating disorder. I’m not hooked up to an I-V, merely skin and bones.
I want out. I want out. How many times will I have to wake up and think this? I have a good life. I have an awesome life. So why should I feel this way? Why do I let the past dictate how I feel when I walk, when I try to avoid the mirror, when I am drawn to looking at the pictures of myself in the past and comparing, comparing, comparing…
Because everything is in your head, because you have to choose your meals, what goes into your body, and because we have a weight stigma that says you have all the control of what and how much you eat (never mind the power of the body to rebel), this is a lonely mental struggle no matter who you are.
I know everyone eats. But my mind tells me that I am the only one in the world who eats. So when I walk to the cafeteria, when I pull out a meal in class, if I am ever seen eating when no one else is, I have to battle the Rawchael that tells me, This is shameful, this is wrong, you hoarder, you pig, you glutton.
Sometimes it just means waiting out the bad days, knowing that there is still improvement, that these frustrating times are becoming fewer and farther apart. I tell myself, patience Rachael, patience…
Because I know I have to bury Rawchael yet again.