I am rambling and at the end of my verbal vomit, I say, my eating disorder must keep existing because there are hard things it knows I still have to get through.
My dietitian smiles so big I cannot help but mirror it. So there we are both smiling even though I feel simultaneously miserable at my revelation because it has been an entire year of working through trauma.
She looks at me as if to say, exactly. EXACTLY. DING DING DING.
I realize immediately the words that came out of my mouth were and are true. My eating disorder serves a purpose. Even in progress. It makes sure we go slow. It makes sure I know I have an exit. It makes sure if all my skills fail, there is one (poor) coping skill left that will get me through. Of course this is the reason healthy coping skills are supposed to be in place: so it’s not necessary to use poor ones like restricting or purging or over-exercising.
There’s that word again. Skills. When are they going to be more useful than my eating disorder!? WHEN!?
My dietitian, in a magical move of turning everything around, offers up the notion to get curious about why, on Saturday when I was sick in bed all day, I got excited about setting forth a plan to lose weight. I replay the day, my thoughts that accompanied, and how nothing I tried (ie. binge watch Netflix or read a book) was satisfying my need to want to make use of the bed-ridden time in a feel-good way.
I was upset I didn’t feel good and was missing out on things. I immediately felt better about my circumstances when I began spending my time engaging in planning how I would lose as much weight as fast as possible. My eating disorder made me feel so good when nothing else could.
“So this is about your worth and that you value productivity,” she says curiously.
How can I change my value of productivity and the unworthiness that comes when I am failing my own standards? How do I stop that? Do I believe other people are lazy and not worthy humans when they get sick and miss things? Of course not. Do I believe that for myself? No. the eating disorder does.
The eating disorder waits for these moments of weakness and robs me of my authentic self.
I have to start pausing. I have to notice the thought. Let it go. And allow self-compassion to exist for having the thought. I have to talk to myself like I would my own children. I have to let little-me exist in those moments, because I have come to be able to let her be loved, forgiven, and cared for.
My dietitian doesn’t seem worried at all about my 4-day restrictive behavior stint. Instead she seems almost enthralled it happened because now we have more information about how my eating disorder works.
The eating disorder part of me was irritated all of this was happening. I could feel anger boiling deep down, at her, for finding an exit from the trap it had me in.
The rest of me is thankful she found a way for me to exit the trap. Even if I walk away slowly, even if it has some rough places before I completely make it out; giving me space to separate out the eating disorder and myself and the values and purpose of both, was exactly what I needed.