|Compulsive restricting, attacks of shame, and awesome ideas
||[10 Jan 2007|12:12pm]
So, I spent the first couple of days of this week totally acting out around food in very anorexic ways.
Also, let me quote you from ABA about this. This is from the standard meeting script for Anorexics and Bulimics Anonymous:
"In this group we discover that our insane eating, starving, exericse, and [or] purging behaviors are addictive in nature - that is, out of our own control - and that we actually use these behaviors, and the inner physical changes resulting from them, to numb our emotions and escape from ourselves. In doing so, we also fall out of touch with others and out of step with the universe of which we are a part, and we deprive ourselves of the opportunity to be fully alive in our present time and space.
"...The first action of this cunning and baffling disease is to cast us into a state of unawareness [the dissociation that comes with overeating or undereating or any addictive behavior], in which we fail to recognize that we are in mortal danger when we carry out its insane commands. We learn that the payoff we receive from this disease for our obedience to its demands is nothing more than a mirage: an illusion of control over our lives and our future.
"...We tried many... half-measures, while still clinging to little vestiges of control to avoid that most fearsome state: geting fat! Or, if we were already 'overweight,' we clung to these control measures to lose weight. Some of us appeared unconcerned about our weight and instead engaged in controlling behaviors to avoid feeling our feelings. We learned through all this experience that the intoxicating 'drug' to which we are addicted is not the act of starvation or exercise or the binge/purge cycle itself. Rather, the 'drug' of anorexia and bulimia is the feeling of being in control of our food and body weight and shape. This sense of control is generated in us through restrictive eating practices, or through purging after we binge, or through exercise."
In other words, any kind of undereating or overeating or other unhealthy eating patterns (and in fact, the only requirement for membership in ABA is a desire to stop unhealthy eating practices) results in dissociation, and is a tool for numbing feelings and trying to control things out of fear. It's not useful to be like, "well, I'm not anorexic because I'm not skinny enough, or because my undereating comes out of something besides wanting to lose weight, or because I also eat compulsively (what is undereating besides compulsive?), or because after I undereat I eat a ton to make up for it, or because I think I'm getting healthier around it, or...."
There are lots of ways to have unhealthy relationships with food. Stupid boxes from the DSM don't work for anyone - just ask the queer community. I'm much more in favor of defining anorexia, or anorexic behavior, as any unhealthy restrictive eating pattern. I go to ABA meetings all the time and hear people who have been hospitalized for anorexia or bulimia talk about how much they love food and how they eat compulsively and how no matter which end of the pendulum they're swinging at it's about control beyond any weight or body image issues that may or may not be involved.
So this week, I was totally acting out in my own anorexia. I was doing my old trick of not eating breakfast at first because I didn't feel hungry, or wasn't that interested in it yet, and I didn't know what I wanted to make, and then I would start playing around online or something, and then I would put off dealing with food for longer, and then decide that I didn't want to have to stop and eat until I was undeniably hungry, and then by the time I actually made food my blood sugar tanked and basically I wouldn't get anything done for the first half of the day because I didn't have any energy or motivation to because I hadn't eaten yet! And then I would be hungry for breakfast AND lunch and it would eat up even more of my day - trying to get enough food in me to not be hungry anymore. Plus I would freak out because I didn't think I had enough food in my fridge and I would totally decide, mostly subconsciously, that I should try to eat less so that the food could last longer and all this insane shit.
And I realized that this is my way of punishing myself for declaring, this weekend, that I am going to focus on making a living doing things that are fun and bring me joy. And then, on Monday, going even farther and deciding that I'm going to let go of all these fantastical ideas I have about what East Bay Energy Therapy is going to do and instead doing the things, like writing and workshops, that I am really called to do and that are a lot of fun for me. OMG THE INSANITY.
So of course I must be stopped from doing any work and punished for being a failure and berated for not having any money because I'm not driving myself to do things that don't work for me because I think that's the only way to make any money. I should focus on doing things that suck and are all corporate or bureaucratic or abusive or jerk me around or deaden my soul or underpay me and don't respect my contributions, right? That's what people are Supposed To Do! If I'm not doing that, then I will never amount to anything or make any money! I should freak out about money! And food! And impose shame and deprivation on myself because there is no one else who is going to do it!
And that, shockingly, DOES NOT WORK FOR ME. The very simplest way of looking at it is that I decided to do things that are awesome and then immediately used all my dysfunctional behavior around food and all kinds of crazy subconscious ideas about myself and food and money to make sure I didn't do any awesome things or anything at all. Which I could then use to "prove" all the dysfunctional ideas about how I will never pull this off and I am a failure and blah blah blah. So that then I could punish myself some more.
Which makes me CRAZY. And it's funny 'cause I shared this with annathebean and she was all "you are so awesome!" and that wasn't my reaction at all - my reaction was to be mad at myself for doing it!
And I can be really proud of myself because I whipped up a bunch of mini-quiches yesterday morning. Even though I didn't eat them till they were cold, at least I am at the point where I can make good food for myself and have it be easy and interesting instead of a huge psychological burden that never gets done. And then I went to help Sessa pack and I brought food for if I got hungry, even though it wasn't food I wanted. And on the way, I recognized the ways that I was shaming myself and I stopped and instead thought of ten things that I was proud of myself for over the past week. And then I gave myself love and compassion.
And that felt way better. And then when I got there we talked about getting food, and I went with her to get Chinese fast food. And I thought the kids in here probably needed something to reassure them and help them feel good and so I asked them to pick out food that they wanted. And they got fried pork chops and chow mein and a soda. And then Sessa paid for it because we were helping her pack!
And it was all such a huge relief and I felt like we'd done all the right things to make things better again. Plus I had the genius idea of doing laundry at her house, with her kind permission, because David STILL HASN'T FIXED THE WASHING MACHINE or answered my latest message about it.
Ironically, I realized that in normal conditions if he took this long to fix that and the fence and wasn't replying, he would have just crossed my "I'm moving out" line. But instead, I am trying to get to stay here for as long as possible and unsure about what my next move is going to be. And I guess that's okay. Well, maybe realizing that means that it would be a good idea to look at other houses for rent while I wait to see if I can buy a house and work toward being approved for that.
So I shared all this in the ABA meeting, and then after I shared I had two genius insights from the Goddess that baaaarely make any sense to me. Well, one of them makes more sense now.
1. That I could start structuring my days so that everything I do is about celebrating myself. And making sure that I start out with the bottom of the pyramid of needs and get my basic needs met before I try to move up to all the things my brain wants to do in the day.
2. That (since part of my problem with breakfast is that I think I need to eat different, breakfasty things, not like what I normally eat - and I don't know a lot of breakfasty things that I like) I should treat breakfast as a time when I get to eat all my favorite foods. And let that be the shiny sink of my meal plan.
It seemed like it might be sort of possible to think of things I liked and make them be for breakfast. I thought of persimmons and fruit salads and other salads and that I could make breadstuffs that were better than the muffins I had been doing. Maybe I could make breakfast cookies that did not have sugar in them or something.
And I thought that if I had enough money, maybe I could take myself out to eat for every breakfast. But then I thought that I don't really like going out to eat for breakfast, because generally places just have the same eggs or whatever that I could make myself. I don't want to go out and eat sugary pancakes every day or something. But then I thought, you know what I really like that I only get out at brunch places?
Especially the ones at La Note.
And then I realized it:
I LOVE the breakfast and brunch food at La Note. LOVE IT. And I could TOTALLY go over their menu and learn how to make all of that stuff at home! And it would be so much cheaper and so much fulfilling!
So I am excited about this idea. Right now I still have a bunch of little mini-quiches to eat, which is good because I need to get clarity around how much money I have and when I last bought groceries and sort out my current meal plan before I do anything rash like, you know, BUY FOOD. But it would be soooooo nice to go out and get things to make myself any of that. And I have potatoes and garlic to make home fries! And I live right by Arizmendi's, where I could get french bread and stuff! I could have a baguette with Brie! And fruit salad! Oh, the many fabulous options!