Recovery – the great unknown

I’m in a weird place. My depression seems to be better, and yet my anorexia seems to be getting worse. I feel lost, confused. I’m trying to envision what recovery looks like for me, and I realize that I have no idea. That’s just bizarre. I started on this path when I was 15/16 (I don’t remember exactly when or how)  but I know I didn’t really stop until my DH and I were trying to get pregnant. I’d never thought of myself as bulimic, just a woman who liked to purge now and then to keep my weight under control. And then I did it – for ten years – I rarely purged, and I didn’t restrict. I ate normally, I didn’t obsess about food, but I was fat. Fat to me. Fat as in size 10/12, spanx, appetizers and desserts. Fat as in tankinis, “thunder thighs,” cellulite, and flab. “Chubby cheeks,” “chipmunk cheeks,” and all of the other derogatory phrases my family used to describe me.

So why is it now, when I’m trying to get healthy, when I’m trying NOT to obsess about food, that I can’t imagine recovery for me? Just thinking about it makes my head cloudy and confused, and so like everything else these days that is overwhelming, I ignore it. My biggest worry is that recovery will mean getting fat again and then I will have to buy new clothes and I won’t be pretty. I want to be recovered and stay thin. Not crazy thin – I’ve never been there. My BMI right now is 20.4. At my fictional ideal weight, it would be 19.5, which is still well into the normal range. Technically, I could drop 12 pounds and be just at the border between underweight and healthy, although I know that if I dropped more than 6 pounds (my fictional ideal), I’d be looking too thin.

And that is how I know I’m not close to recovery. Food freak-outs aside, it’s this obsession with my weight that is a clear sign to me that I need help. It takes too much energy and mojo from my life to plan out every aspect of my eating. And I know deep down that it is wrong to be happy when my stomach is growling. That normal people eat when they are hungry instead of celebrating feeling empty. And that no one should fantasize about being that thin.

What I don’t understand is how this has happened now. Even when I was starting, when I was 15, I didn’t obsess like this. I just tried to purge whatever I ate, but I didn’t count calories and fat grams and have safe foods and get upset when my safe foods were getting low. I didn’t have such a tight restriction on what I could and couldn’t eat. Even a year ago, when a colleague asked if I was anorexic and I laughed because it was SO off the mark, I was just thin because I ate healthy – I couldn’t have imagined how much deeper I would be in this eating disorder. I have so few foods that I’m comfortable with eating. I’m afraid of things I used to eat all of the time – like pasta. I understand less about myself and this disorder now then when I started therapy last year. I have no idea how I got here, and I don’t know where I’m going. I know where I cannot go – any sort of hospitalization – and I cannot get worse. I cannot have my sons see me wrapped up in this illness, and no one can ever know. I will force myself to get better even if I don’t know what that means, because the alternative is unimaginable.

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