Forum: Arts / Diaries

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re: Living on the Upside Down
By TheMidlakeMusemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Wed Jun 05, 2019 12:31 PM
NB: I posted this on Facebook and thought I'd throw it here as well. CW: eating disorders.

If I can talk really personally for a minute...

I have engaged in disordered eating for my entire adult life and a good chunk of my teens--first severely restricting, then binging. I've been in therapy with an amazing eating disorder specialist that's helped me untie some of the knots I've wadded myself up into over the years. Recovery is so hard, and elusive. If only there was some magic formula for what I could and couldn't eat in recovery, I thought to myself. If only I had those rules, I could do it.

The other day I read something that really resonated with me: anything worth doing is doing poorly.

Black-and-white thinking really plagues American society in particular. Children need to be at the top of their game at their extracurricular activity to get into the best schools, and anything short is failure. If you're not doing your hobby or craft professionally, or making money off it, it's a waste of time. If you're exercising and you're not losing weight, you're doing it wrong. It's why we burn out so quickly when starting up an exercise routine. It's why we have such a messed up relationship with food--because the rules are food is either bad or good, and there is no in-between. Ice cream = bad. Salad = good. We ascribe moral judgments to the things we eat.

In the past, when I start exercising after a long period of inactivity, I would throw myself into doing things for hours 5 days a week because that's what people who are athletes do. You know what else it is? A fast track to burnout. In my mind, if I couldn't keep up with this, it meant that I was weak, or wasn't committed enough, or there was some other deficiency in my character that made it impossible for me to do what others manage to do. The same went for food. Well, I had this one "forbidden" thing so I'm a failure. Might as well be great at being fat and useless.

The fact that I wanted there to be rules about recovery shows how scared I was to leave that black and white dichotomy, and it kind of makes me laugh now. Recovery is about living in the grays. It still makes me pretty uncomfortable, and I have bad days and good days. Another byproduct of that black-and-white thinking: initially I believed if I was TRULY recovered, I'd never feel bad about my body again, so having a bad body image day meant I'd failed at recovery.

Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly. Because even one vegetable is better than none. Because getting your body moving, even if it's not in service of making the Crossfit games, is better than nothing. Giving yourself a little bit of compassion is better than never granting yourself that grace.

So I've been walking. Not running, just walking, enough to get my heart rate up and put in some miles because being active makes my body feel good. I can feel myself getting stronger every time I lace up my shoes and head out the door.

I've been eating. I haven't been making certain foods off limits or making rules (which, don't get me wrong, is still TERRIFYING), I've just been trying to balance everything out and that includes getting a slice of pie every so often in addition to the asparagus. I've been trying really hard to be present and listen to my body's hunger signals when it says "ok, we're cool now." I'm not trying to punish myself, or count calories, and I refuse to feel guilty (look, it's a cupcake, I didn't murder a family).

Some of the fog has lifted, and the elements of recovery I've learned over the years are finally connecting. Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly. And I'm happy to be doing it poorly now.
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