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.

7 Replies to “A step forward”

  1. Not sure if it’s deliberate, but I find your writing style simultaneously charming, funny and genuine. Your opening line had me laughing out loud on the train!

    Lovely written piece. The charity starts at home line is something that has really helped me over the past two years.

    Wishing you all the best with your recovery!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You have triumphed again Simone! This is exactly how I feel! Undoing all those traumas and the way you dealt with them over the years is like unpicking a piece of knitting where you know you slipped a stitch about 243 rows down but have to carefully unravel the lot to get to it! I’d like to know your opinion on something: How do you know if you are in recovery? Are you in recovery from the day you realise and accept that you have an eating disorder or from when you have been so long in abstinence from (in my case) binge eating? I have been searching for the solution to my eating disorder for around 5 years now and taken many positive steps towards recovery but go through periods of intense bingeing usually as I am getting closer to tackling it head on. It’s like my ED is holding on for dear life. I feel like I am just on the cusp of kicking it out of my life once and for all at the moment but something keeps me holding on – I think it is because I just can’t imagine my life without it. Who would I be without my ED? What would I do with myself for all of those hours that I spend thinking about food, bingeing and beating myself up. I’d like to think that I would be ‘living’ but it’s still a scary prospect as it’s all I’ve known since I was 9 years old. I am delighted to be on this journey with you Simone and look forward to your next installment. xx 🙂


    1. Oh wow… How do you know if you’re in recovery?! I am no expert, let me tell you! But I guess I feel I choose to see myself as being “in” recovery because I am actively seeking (regardless of the level of success) to change my thoughts and behaviours to overcome the eating disorder. I am not sure I’ll ever be “recovered”… I would consider recovered to be (good grief… this sounds like fantasy…) eating healthy foods when I was hungry, not thinking about food unless I was hungry or planning the shopping for the week or something, and having treats or whatever as desired but not continuously. More importantly, recovered would be healthy emotional regulation. So dealing with stressful events by dealing with them – not binging/purging/restricting or using self-harm or spontaneous shopping trips or all the other numbing methods I’ve perfected!

      I totally get the identity thing. I still struggle with that. I struggle with that a lot. I don’t have an identity any more… I’m not parenting small children, I’m no longer a teacher or a musician. Everything I’ve ever been or desired is gone. Except for the eating disorder. That has always been there to some degree.

      Next installment coming soon! xx

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for your perspective on recovery, that makes sense totally. I’ve just started reading a book called Life Without Ed by Jenni Schaefer. I don’t know if you’ve read it but it’s really helping me to differentiate my ED voice from my own by making Ed into an abusive partner. I’ve started to write about how I met Ed, right from the beginning and basically he groomed me. He met me when I was 9, saw my vulnerability and gave me a way out of difficult emotions. I’m just starting my story about him, I’m up to my teen years now and it is eye opening and I’m really catching him talking throughout the day and can hear who is Ed and who is Victoria. If you’ve not read the book, it’s well worth looking into. The writer divorces Ed, I think I might kill mine off!! I know for a fact that I would never let a man treat me this way so likening him to a controlling, narcissistic b*stard is possibly the way to go – it’s worth a try!! I’ll let you know what I do with him in the end. Much love fellow warrior xx


    1. That’s awesome Victoria! I have a pile of nine books I’m getting through at the moment, but will add that to the list! I look forward to hearing how you terminate the rotter 😀 xx


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