There was a time when I was incredibly unhappy. My husband would ask, “what’s wrong?” and my answer would always be “I just feel so fat” or “I’ve made myself throw up the past few days.” So often was this my response that my husband didn’t really need to ask, he already knew.
That was, what feels like ages ago…a different-person-ago. Now when my husband asks “what’s wrong,” my response has more to do with parenting or friendships or family or running injuries.
Last week when my husband asked “what’s wrong,” I hesitated. I almost didn’t want to respond because the truth more than surprised me, it scared me. “Honestly,” I said. “My weight. I’ve been really preoccupied these last few days with my weight and the fit of my clothes and what I’m eating. I really don’t know why.” It wasn’t that I didn’t know why. It was almost that I didn’t want to acknowledge why.
Last week I found myself critical of my appearance in a way I haven’t been in years. It all stemmed from the fact that if the weather was really hot for Sunday’s race I wanted to wear just a sports bra and shorts, but I didn’t feel “lean enough” to do so. It’s the twisted vestiges of a once disordered mind. One of those last hang ups: I can’t because I’m not “enough.”
And that feeling of not being “enough” was starting to affect what I was putting in my body. I found myself trying to restrict my food, not in a drastic way as in the past, but putting rules in place: no carbs, no desserts, smaller portions, no snacks after dinner.
The preoccupation, the rules…that was the old me: the disordered, unhappy, obsessed, addicted and depressed me. It’s not a place I want to be.
“What’s the purpose?” my husband asked.
“What do you mean?”
“For what purpose are you thinking that way? What are you trying to accomplish?”
He had me thinking. Thinking to the source, not just the symptoms. Sometimes we focus on the symptoms of our unhappiness and we try to adjust the behavior, when what we really need is to ask the tough question. To get at the source. To figure out our true motives.
The more I thought about it the more I realized that the purpose was uglier than I thought. I was trying to guilt myself into action. My mind was taking the dissatisfaction I felt when looking in the mirror along with the rules I had created surrounding food and twisted it into guilt. And that guilt was supposed to prompt me achieve the result I desired: loose weight, look leaner.
That kind of guilt, though a distant memory in some regard, is all to familiar. At the height of my eating disorder it became a powerful tool, one that I wielded with skill. So much skill that it took nine years to untie the twisted thinking that got me the results I desired.
The guilt and that feeling of not being “enough” as I am really have no place in my life now. There’s just not room for those lies. I don’t want there to be room. I have to be careful and aware and honest. It’s one of the things that keeps me from slipping back into my disordered past.
Do you ever feel “not enough?” Do you find you guilt yourself into action by setting up “rules” for yourself? Have you ever asked yourself “for what purpose?”
You can read more about my struggle with anorexia and bulimia and my recovery HERE.