It has been years since my relationship with food has been reflecting my relationship with my own-self and the world. Take a look at these statements:
– I either do this perfectly or not at all. It’s either black or white
-It’s either all the plate or nothing at all.
-If it’s not entirely perfect I failed.
-If I didn’t eat the entire chocolate bar I am restricting myself.
-If I only eat one piece that’s nothing.
-If I only go to the gym once a week that’s nothing. To be successful I have to go three times, otherwise I am not committing. So I am not enough… In order not to deal with my negative feelings, let’s just forget about going to the gym overall.
For years, skipping a meal for me was a sign of willpower. I always knew it was wrong to think so and never encouraged my friends, neither my students to do so, unless their body is full and there is no need to fuel themselves at this moment. For me however, it was a constant battle. Like lots of teenage girls who get somehow trapped in eating disorder cycles to keep up with their skininess, my body ended up taking its natural course and changed. By the age of 18 I didn’t meet the required ballet shape anymore no matter how I tried. I used to be crazy about ballet. But most of all, I was extra-dedicated and hungry for perfection. I didn’t really care about not looking pretty if I was too skinny as long as I could do my pirouette or my jump lightly. This is a very big topic and require a separate article.
Back to our onions. Since then my body was never perfect for me, it failed me by not sticking to the standards I wanted to maintain. Skipping a meal even when I am hungry became a sign of willpower over time. I would feel guilty and unworthy if I ate when I could skip the meal.
Today again I felt hungry for breakfast. I rarely ate breakfast for the past couple of years to be honest and if I did I would often have a quite heavy one when I physically didn’t want so and would feel like my whole day is screwed up and my whole being is a mess. Or I would just make myself fakely busy to have »no choice but skip it ».
Today I had breakfast. My judgemental me was blaming me and willing to punish me for just the idea of thinking of having one (you used to do ballet, you know you are supposed to eat like a bird, you know you have to suffer to get what you want. If you want to perform well on stage and look like a dancer (how twisted are my thoughts and how mean can I be to myself gosh) you have to stick to coffee and a piece of banana etc etc. If you eat now you have no willpower…Do what you want, you can even »stuff » yourself). Meanwhile, my body was asking for the food because he needs it and my heart was aching owing to emotional ups-and-downs (and hey who doesn’t have those!). In most cases the judgemental side would win. Today my brains and my rational and my objective approach opposed it and won . Today my neutral side won.
I had a light and nutritious breakfast. Why? I was hungry, it’s breakfast time and scientifically speaking it is not wrong to eat at this time and there is no harm. It is actually good for me. Why I am reticent at accepting the idea that I is a good thing to feel yourself gently and merrily?
I did feel a pinch of guilt for feeling hungry, I did feel a pinch of sadness, I did miss my ex and felt like crying, I did recall my skinny ballet body, I did judge myself for not punishing myself this time. And all that after feeling rejuvenated and physically better once I ate… What’s the matter?
This time I forgave myself for all the feelings I got and I intend to keep on doing this exercise.
Today my recovery started with my breakfast and the journey is still going on.
I just wanted to tell all those girls and boys, men or women who struggle with eating disorders: It is more than your plate and it is not about this extra pack of cookies. It is about a multitude of things (self-image, self-compassion and self-judgmental issues etc) that lead to this (or these) pack or/ and starvation strategies. And it is shit scary to face them all. But don’t give up on yourselves. If needed face them with someone but mostly dare to look at them on your own at first, then seek help and support. You are more than worth the game hang on <3
PS: I will be writing more posts about this topic so stay tuned and do not hesitate to comment and share your stories.