I eat, and the food sits like a rock in my stomach, and all I can think about is purging. Or cutting. Or cutting and purging and bruising and running and hurting myself in every way possible. But I’m working on it, I really am. I started working the twelve steps – which really means I downloaded a file from EDA and I’ve read step 1. But at a meeting today, a woman asked what to do in those 7-15 minutes it supposedly takes for a purge to pass. I’m not breaking EDA confidentiality, but I’ll say that some suggestions were helpful [puzzles] while others were a little absurd [coloring books and crayons for your inner child.]
I realized that when I can think straight, when my mind isn’t “high” on restricting and I can actually take a breath, I do one of three things.
I reconnect with my body.
I reconnect with my mind.
I reconnect with my love.
Because those are all of the things I want to disconnect from when I restrict and do other “inappropriate compensating behaviors” – I really have to think of a cool acronym for that. For my body, I’ll take a bubble bath and massage my very dry skin with fragrant oils. Or I’ll do a few yoga poses, or go for a walk. Occasionally, when I’m in a good space, I can even run, or shoot soccer balls. I drink hot tea – the warmth is comforting to me, and it feels safe.
For my mind, I do puzzles – word puzzles, crosswords, diagramless, logic problems, kokuro. Or I play cards or a puzzle game on my iPad or iPhone. I mix mind with body by knitting, trying to perpetually teach myself how to crochet badly, sketch [badly], play piano. I write – a lot – my blog, my journal, fiction, whatever inspires me. Little snippets, bits of ideas – anything to get my head out of my stomach and back where it belongs.
For my love, I call a friend or family member whom I trust. I reach out to my husband [rarely, but I’m working on that]. I pray and meditate. I hang out with my kids. I write a letter. Generally I try to stay away from TV [mindless] and books [not engaging enough to avoid the feeling]. I try to stay away from the internet, because I know I’ll find some thinspiration or something stupid to waste my time. I stay away from the kitchen and the bathroom. I try not to engage too much with others because I’m in a delicate spot. I try to honor myself to the best of my abilities. I try to think about what I WANT to do instead of what I’m supposed to do.
I don’t know where you are in your recovery, if you’re doing EDA or another 12-stepper, or if you’re just curious or you have a loved one who is fighting ED. It’s a really shitty disease, because it is mired in self-disgust, and self-hatred, at image and dissonance with who I really am, with self-doubt and indecisiveness. With a drive for perfection and an unwillingness to accept nothing less than perfect from myself, while cutting everyone else in the world some slack. It is narcissism but not because I feel I’m better – because I feel I owe more. I need to do more to be loved. What I do, and who I appear to be, determine if I am loved and accepted. The image, the mask, becomes so real I cannot pry it off.
We all need a break – a break from stress, and a break from the constant drive to be better, to learn, to grow, to expand, to develop, to be promoted and recognized, to be more than we are.