I won’t insult you by trying to cheer you on or up or out.
I spent forty years dealing with what you’re dealing with. Four decades. Someone the other day wrote about how she’d spent fifteen years with an eating disorder and you know where the brain went: sister you have no fucking CLUE. As if, you know. Like this is a fucking competition, I had it longer than you did, nyah nyah nyah. Shit, what stupidity. The mind is a dumb bitch sometimes.
All I can tell you is that first, because mine developed because of rapes, for me it was a lot about trying to dissipate anxiety. Back in the 70s, you presented your eating problem to a counselor and you should have seen the looks I got. The mindless reactions (why on EARTH would you do that with FOOD?) Fuckwits. So I healed solo. Perhaps that’s why it took so long.
The beginning of my healing was when I found a way to frame my worst possible days with humor. First time I was able to see one of the most embarrassing days of my life through Robin Williams’ eyes, I knew I was on my way out. Still took time. But the absurdity of it, the reality that it had nothing whatsoever to do with food per se, but the dissipation of pain, anxiety and the terrible inability to sit with the thoughts and the stories, was the beginning. I wouldn’t pretend to tell you what would work for you. All I know is that a few days before my 58th birthday, after four decades of this shit and having lost all my teeth, I just got up and walked away forever. Never looked back. It really was just that simple. No angelic blowing of horns, no thundering horses, no Hail to the Chief playing in the background. I got up. Walked away. Done for the rest of my life.
These days I hardly even remember that relationship with food. It’s that distant. I can speak of it, write about it, but the compulsion is gone.
I still have some of those anxieties. All I did was learn to redirect them, which it sounds like you’re doing.
It doesn’t make fuck-all difference how we get to where we need to get to. It is meaningless to try to advise or consult or suggest. I don’t know shit about anyone else’s path. I do know your world as it relates to how food becomes the only thing. I have studied the architecture of more toilet bowls than the original designer. You and I both know logic has no place here. You and I both know that reason, and trying to negotiate about our teeth or our hearts or our organs are meaningless. It’s not about that. We know that. And still, it’s about the food. I could sit and chew through fifteen dozen Krispy Kremes every night. I did, in fact. They owe me a fucking bronze statue at their headquarters. Or, at least a free dozen hots. They can’t replace my teeth.
I get it about the food.
When I got back from the trip where I walked away from my eating disorders forever, back in January of 2011, a dear friend said, simply,
You chose life.
When you choose life, you will know. It really is that simple. It does not matter how long it takes. What road gets you there. It only matters that at some point, you choose life.
I don’t know how that will look for you. Some folks are forever in recovery. Forever teetering on the brink. Two years ago I drove to a KK and got myself eight donuts. Ate them all on the way home. I probably won’t do that again. Made me sick as a fucking dog. Good. I am highly motivated to avoid that feeling. One won’t kill me, but I know how much I think I love them. And my body lies to me. It doesn’t\ love them. We evolve. I haven’t been back to the KK since.
I wish you grace on your journey, Elle. I have walked that path. For what it’s worth, you will be ready when you are ready, not a second too soon nor a second too late.