Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Hi! I'm Sarah, I'm new out here in the vast sphere of the interwebs. I'm surprised by how quiet and echo-y it is...
Lonesomeness aside, I'm here on a vendetta of sorts. I have decided, after careful consideration, that it is time for me to stop binge eating, and to lay down my arms and wave the white flag in my life long war against my own body. That's right folks, I just admitted to about ten million pairs of eyes (none of whom are actually reading this I guess, so there is that) the unspeakable-I binge eat. Were not talking having 10 Oreo's when I planned on having three, we are talking full on shoveling food in my mouth until there is no space left in my body for the food to fit. Perhaps more shocking, I am publicly refusing to hate my body any longer. I am relinquishing the time honored female tradition of body loathing, and forging a new path of self acceptance. I have this strange idea that there might just be more to me, and to life, than the size of my ass.
I developed the lovely habit of bingeing roughly 12 years ago after a stint of anorexia in high school. When I do the math I realize that means that I have been caught in a cycle of binging and restrictive eating nearly half of my life which is pretty depressing. As one might imagine, my eating disorder did not spring fully formed into the world when I turned 14, I have hated (I know, I know, strong word, but likely it is too weak for this application) my body for as long as I can remember. In the third grade I would look at my thighs when I sat in class learning times tables, and fantasize about using a carrot peeler to slowly remove layer after layer of fat from their childish expanse. This early disdain for my body has followed me through my life as an unwelcome, yet impossible to escape companion.
I was admittedly a plump kid. Not overweight, but not skinny either. In middle school I began to loose some of my excess weight, and by high school I was by all accounts a normal sized pre-teen, but that early self hatred had planted itself in my mind. The simple fact that I no longer needed to loose wight did not deter me from embarking on an all out war against my body as soon as I discovered the exactly how to do so. That first diet quickly spiraled out of control, and by Prom my sophomore year I was just over 105 pounds. Eventually starvation got the better of me and I began to eat large quantities of food in private, and then forcing myself to starve for day's afterwards to make up for it. The bingeing took its tool though, and I soon gained back all of the wight I had lost and then some.
Now here I am, 12 years after my first binge, and I am still using food, and my ongoing obsession with my wight as a way to avoid living my own life. I binged yesterday because the pants I was wearing were too tight. How is that for backwards logic? "I feel fat so I am going to sit down with a jar of chunky peanut butter and a loaf of bread and eat until I feel sick." Brilliant. I woke up today with a migraine forcing me to stay home from work. My whole body felt like it was full of cement, I was covered in sweat, and all I could think of as I was laying in bed hating myself was "I can't believe I have to start over with another day one. " I have always counted day's between binges. Day one being hell, day's 2-4 purgatory, and anything past that representing sweet success. This cycle has dominated my entire adult life.
I have tried in the past to let go of this way of life, in particular I have read a lot of Genee Roth's books on forfeiting the war on your body and practicing mindful eating and living. I believe in the idea of quitting dieting, accepting myself, and believing that out of that will bloom a new way of life where I will no longer feel the need devour an entire box of Wheathins when I get home from work. But sadly, believing something has proved not to be the same as living it. Try as I might, I find it almost impossible to give up the idea that I will one day miraculously wake up with the body of a J-Crew model and no longer struggle with eating. Nice as the fantasy may be it turns out torturing ones self does not make dreams come true, as far as I can see, all of this self imposed madness has yet to accomplish anything other than making me miserable.
I know that I am far from the only person that suffers from this problem. I have heard a number of statistics concerning the prevalence of Binge Eating Disorder (BED) in the U.S. stating that anywhere from 1% to 5% of the population grapples with this disease. I personally am inclined to believe that the numbers are likely higher than that. Despite being one of the most prevalent eating disorders, BED is rarely discussed, and those living with the disorder generally suffer alone and feel ashamed of their affliction. I am well acquainted with the loneliness that comes with BED and the shame that it can build up around the rest of your life. By most general accounts I am a normal, well adjusted and happy 27 year old. I am married, I have a job that I enjoy, I have a wonderful community of friends, and despite torturing my body for years on end, I am in good health and at an acceptable BMI. I often am rarely able to enjoy these aspects of my life because so much of my time, energy, and my self worth is tied to my body and my eating disorder, a fact that is not understood by others around me. I know that I am not the only person out there in this position, and I am hoping that sharing my journey will provide some measure of support for others.
I'm done hating myself and my body. I am finished with waiting until I reach a specific weight or body size to live my life. I refuse to hurt my body any longer, force feeding it against its will, punishing the one thing that tethers me to the earth because it does not conform to society's arbitrary idea of perfection. I want to be healthy, I want to live my life fully, to love others openly, and myself unconditionally. I wan't today to be the last "day one" that I wake up to. I know that letting go of old beasts and living a new and changed life will be difficult to say the least, but I am ready to try because I refuse spend the rest of my life wishing myself away.
From here forward I will eat when I am hungry, allow myself to eat what I choose even if what I choose is a grilled cheese sandwich made with full fat cheese and butter. I will stop eating past the point of being full (easier said than done I imagine, but you can't fault a girl for trying) and say no to foods offered to me when I don't actually want them. I am going to stop hating my body and spending each moment of my waking life plotting ways to force it to change size. This will most likely be the hardest thing I ever do. Even as I type this I can feel an all out panic building in the pit of my stomach. How am I going to ensure that I won't turn into a giant balloon if I don't spend each hour of every day on the offensive against fat? I don't have an answer for that and it totally freaks me out, but so does the idea of spending the rest of my life as miserable as I am now.
I have no idea what to expect from this journey, and I know it will be a messy one, but I hope that it leads me to a life that is fuller than the one that I am living now. I hope that some of you out there will join me, walk along with me through this process, and realize a more true version of yourself as well :)