A step forward

I’ve been farting around in recovery land for years now – and I’m still lost. I know I’ve made progress – and this is a jolly good thing – but change is minimal when it comes to the movement of fork to lips. My progress is more in emotional regulation than eating behaviours.

Why? What the fuck is wrong with me?!

I ponder this endlessly. Along with all the other things I ponder endlessly. I suspect I should spend less time pondering and more time being productive. There’s a big barrier though. I seem to look out into the world of good health and well being through a little portal. I stare longingly at something within my grasp and power. I stand frozen behind a portal I constructed myself.

After much pondering I’ve found some insight into the origin of this obstacle.

While I never experienced horrific trauma, I collected little teeny bits of trauma and dysfunction all my life. Thousands upon thousands of little moments that stuck like glue, coiling themselves around me, carving dysfunction into my core identity. I was unlovable, destined to fail, here to serve, too big for my boots, too fat, too ugly, mean, self-absorbed, hedonistic. And you know what? I have been all these things – for small moments in time. These things were lessons to take on board. To build me into a better person. Not piteous moments to hide behind. To feel sorry for myself and wallow in misery. I’ve frequented a lot of pity parties and really, they’re very ugly. It doesn’t make for a very cheery outlook on life.

When conflict arises, I have always taken full responsibility. This is not helpful. It is as unhelpful as taking no responsibility. But I have made progress. In a recent encounter that led to conflict, instead of hiding in shame I reached out. I said, I feel so upset!, words that have never crossed my lips before. Useful words because they acknowledge how I felt. I then discussed the conflict with friends and established where I had gone wrong, how I could do better, and what issues fell into the other person’s basket. I stopped believing it was all my fault. I contributed to the problem, but it wasn’t all my fault. And you know what? I didn’t binge/purge/restrict once in response to the upset. That is a new thing for me. It’s taken 51 years, but I managed a stressful event in a grown up manner. Apparently old dogs can learn new tricks.

This is just a tiny example of progress I feel I’ve made in emotional regulation. I can’t articulate what a huge step this is for me. Historically, when blowing something out of proportion I have done so silently. In my head. Where molehills are routinely expanding into colossal mountains, and whole cheesecakes are soon devoured.

So moving into the world beyond – a task that simply requires me to take a step – is about emotional regulation. I don’t binge because it’s fun. I don’t purge because it’s trendy or restrict because I care for my well being. I do these things because I lack emotional tools and skills. The answer lies in tearing way every single one of those thousands upon thousands of moments of trauma and dysfunction – analysing  and accepting them. Believing I am who I choose to be, not who I was told I am.

So why is this journey take so freaking long? Because there’s so many little bits. And they’re all torn up and stuck all over me – protecting me from feeling anything. It is an ugly truth, but I find it easier to wallow in self pity about how dreadful I am, than to speak to a trusted friend. It is easier to curl up under a blanket, with a bowl full of ice cream and complain about poor me, than to accept what is, just is. To spend as much time seeking positives as I do expecting negatives.

In order to identify my defects in character, I have to recognise my strengths. I hear again and again, self compassion is essential to healing. We cannot have compassion for the world, without compassion for ourselves. Or as my mother always said, charity begins at home.

My recovery is a long, dreary process because the issue is not the food – it never was and I always knew that. But today, I feel one step closer to knowing what the issue is. Or at least one of the issues. I’m almost ready to step up to that portal with my little toe outstretched.