With the holidays looming a weird pressure has developed inside me, a drive for perfection that woke old feelings of inadequacy. I’ve been here before, self-doubt creeps in slowly at first but unchecked will consume every waking thought. Recovery has never been a straight line for me and I have learned to accept that fact, rolling with the punches as much as possible. Freaking out is not my best option even through my brain is doing just that. Life is about peaks and valleys giving way to new discoveries as well as valuable insights. The roller coaster is something I have worked hard to embrace, the difficulty is keeping the negative feelings at bay and quieting my inner voice so they do not change my behavioral patterns. This tough takes exceptional focus, energy, time. All of which are in short supply during this time of the year and self-care ends up often at the bottom of my “to-so” list. Rationally I know that my disordered thought process is not the reality of what is happening or that my self-worth is not tied to number on my scale at home, but being rational is not always easy. Frankly eating disorders don’t take holidays or breaks, they grow in strength surrounding these times of year.
I’ve been asked what this unraveling process looks like. So I will do my best to give you a a peak into my brain. I’m embarrassed to admit I get caught up in the “idea” of holiday perfection. I want to create an experience for the individuals I love that they will not forget. Striving to make it a social media quality event is not in my wheel house. I am not crafty or skilled in the kitchen to say the least, but that does not stop me from trying. I shop like a mad women to find the perfect gifts and decorate the house to match the spectacular images on IG. In my prepping I worry about things like what I will wear to church. Will I look ridiculous next to my attractive husband and beautiful children? Will people think I am a lazy mom for being out of shape? Will I embarrass my family? Crazy, right! Silly as it is that is where my brain is at which prompts me to dig through my closet. Feverishly looking for something, anything that would cover what I now have concluded is a huge, fat, ugly body. Long story made short, I will find nothing that my brain will be “ok” with. Now for reference my closet is pretty damn amazing and filled with beautiful options all of which would look great, but that is not how it works. At this point the storm has started and the strength of my inner voices is building. Not being able to “find” anything I will triage the situation. Do I have enough time to get in shape? Can I lose the weight I’ve gained over the past few months before Christmas hits? No matter how much time I always think there is enough to give it a try. Truth though is the amount of time dictates how unhealthy my methods will be to achieve what I view is perfect. To remain calm, centered, in charge, I need perspective but my tendency is to shut down and pull away. It is very hard for me to ask for help or admit I am struggling. It is embarrassing to stumble and have the control you once possessed begin to slip. To many when an individual has recovered from an eating disorder and are back to a healthy weight they see it as a victory. One is never truly free from an eating disorder, you always fight the urges, thoughts, feelings – difference being the intensity, coping strategies, and support you have after treatment. I’ve slipped a few times in the past 20 years, but no two stumbles are the same and each time I have bounced I have learned how to do so more quickly, as well as what the triggers lead to the slip.
2018 has been a year of accepting my flaws. I was in a good place. At the start of this month I slowly succumbed to desire to fit the imagine I had in my head of what I should be and lost hold over who I had become. I began to build up what a perfect Christmas would look like and wanted to achieve that. At first it was all outside of my physical being…presents, decorations, food, ect. As the reality that I would have to be social set it my habits changed, I started cutting back and depriving myself. Which then evolved into guilt and shame because I know better. At first I ignored the struggle, embracing it as a test. One I had been given before and conquered. I did honestly believe that I could regain my grip on my inner voice and stop the craziness I was partaking in. Easier said than done.
A few days ago I finally admitted to myself that I had lost control. I have been excessively tired emotionally and physically. I knew why, I knew I was to blame, I knew exactly where I was again. With less than a week before Christmas I was not going to develop slim figure I felt I needed. I am wrestling with the thoughts of “why” I feel that is important. Currently I am at the stage where I can logically understand that a few extra pounds will not make or break the holidays. My kids are not going to remember what I looked like or what my weight was, they will remember how they felt during this time of year. Now to match that up with my heart and act upon that. I don’t want to be that person from my past anymore who strives to be something unattainable and frankly silly. I refuse to waste my time on the voice that tells me I’m not good enough. It will not be easy to get back on track, but it will be worth it.
In working to identify the trigger from this episode I realize I stopped taking care of myself. I used busy and stressed as an excuse to abandon the activities that keep me well. That cannot continue to happen as I now realize the consequences of lack of self-care. I used to mock the idea of “self-care”, viewing it as a vanity item made popular by millennials. Boy, was I wrong! Self-care will be a top priority moving forward in 2019.
#BeKind #BeHappy #BeActive