In theory, the choices we make every morning when we get out of bed seem like obvious choices: should I choose to be happy today or choose to be sad?
The one time I went to see a therapist for more than 3 visits, around the 5th visit she told me it was up to me to choose to be happy or not. I left her office, blood boiling.
There was no way I was making a conscious choice to not be happy. Was she inferring that? It was impossible for me, at the time, to fully comprehend what she was saying.
I get it now. If I am totally honest with myself, I’ll need to admit some things:
1. I have an eating disorder.
2. In March 2007, I made an effort to recover, but didn’t have much success until the summer of 2008.
3. I have been in recovery since then.
4. For the past year, I have been really struggling. I think the amount of time I spent thinking about it warrants use of the word “relapse” though I am not currently underweight or purging. If nothing else, I did relapse in March, and have spent April through now trying to recover from that and not find myself there again, despite some pretty gnarly urges to kick everything I have learned to the curb and isolate myself so I can engage in eating disorder behaviors in peace.
I have to keep admitting it to myself, because I lied and denied those truths to myself for far too long. And the problem with that is this: If I continue to pretend that I don’t or didn’t have an eating disorder, every time I am triggered I pretend it isn’t real. None of it is real, so I can easily coexist with eating disorder behaviors and pretend none of it is actually happening. I do this a lot. If I don’t actually have an eating disorder, then skipping lunch isn’t a big deal. A lot of healthy people skip a meal during the day.
What I am finding is that I have to make a point every single day to choose to be happy. And that entails being present and not listening to the thought-chaos that tells me I have to weigh a certain number in order to be happy. That I have to look a certain way, eat certain things, exercise everything I ate off, and most of all, not talk about any of this to anyone. Essentially, I have to acknowledge that I have these thoughts, that they are destructive, and that I would prefer to only act on thoughts that make me happy. Every. Single. Day.
Every day I have to wake up and consciously choose to ignore those thoughts and replace them with: I am enough exactly as I am. Only then am I able to seize the day. I can look at the sunrise on the way to work and actually see each color. I can run and not calculate how many miles I need to hit in order work off every calorie I digested. I am more confident, less anxious, and less worried about what every single person is thinking as I walk by them.
The tricky part is when I decide that I cannot possibly be happy today because I look completely disgusting. Often, I honestly am not sure if I am actually fat or not. Some days I really believe I have somehow tricked myself into thinking I’m not fat, and panic ensues. I am not totally sure why some days I wake up and say fuck it, I want to be miserable today. I don’t purposely choose to not be happy, but I cover it up by telling myself I can’t keep enjoying things if I’m fat. I ignore the fact that I have choices. Alas, I do have choices. Everyone does.