Warning: Well-deserved cursing ahead!
She sucks the common sense right out of me.
There is no escaping the murmur of indescribable falsehoods that she mutters. There is no muting by the conventional sense. There is no turning up the radio so the bass bounces her monosyllabic nonsense out of my head. There is no switch to shut off the utterance of “fat,” “bad” and any other horrific word describing how “she” perceives my body.
Some days, it seems like there is no end to it all.
Anyone who has struggled with an eating disorder may find it as difficult as I do to explain just what it’s like. We talk about the voices and the tapes.
I refer to the “Bitch” as my voice. She isn’t a hallucination. She doesn’t exist outside of me.
She is me.
She is the me I yearn to leave behind, she is the me that has robbed me of innocence and life. She is the me that continuously wishes to make me feel pain. She represents my guilt. She makes me relive my trauma.
Muting her has always been a challenge. I’ve put her on ice for years on end. I muzzled her well with the cries of a new infant, and then a second one. I rearranged my thinking to make myself believe that my purpose here was higher (and still believe it is), than the number on a scale or a days worth of caloric consumption.
What somehow got lost over time was what to do when troubles arise again, because they always do.
So what it is? How do we do it? How do we make sense of the absolutely non-sensical? I mean, a substance addiction is easier to comprehend, for most. There is some chemical component they keeps people wanting to experience the same high.
How do you explain the high of hunger?
How do you elicit a clear depiction of what it’s like to not cave into the insatiable craving for sustenance. Conversely, what it’s like to cave in to the natural desire to eat, and have to deal with the mental ramifications of the simple act of consuming food.
Shit, I’ve been dealing with it for years, and I still struggle to carefully explain my irrational thoughts to well-meaning people who really do care to know. I think that’s the point though. It’s inexplicable. There is a reason, but it’s meant to confuse. It’s meant to make us feel helpless and at times hopeless in quandary.
So do I accept that the utterance of untruths pertaining to my body, and more importantly, my self-worth, will always be there? I suppose. For now, but accept is not the word.
Deal with, fight against, argue, stand up against. Those terms are far more appropriate.
I choose to push myself out into the world, to create my own feelings of self-efficacy through motherhood, through service and by being an example of a “real” woman in recovery. Maybe one day “she” will fade away, just as she wants me to.
Maybe one day I will look in the mirror and before I even have to fight off the self-loathing thoughts that are evoked by the image, and I will see myself for who I am. Cognitively, I am aware that I AM a good person. I am a good mother. I am a good social worker. I am beautiful beyond any reflection, in any surface, simply because I am me.
Honestly, I hate making “resolutions” for the new year. I’ve deemed them as a set up to fail. This year I vow to invoke a revolution. Join me.
Toss out the scale. It is a useless measurement of your quality as a person. It tells you nothing of substance about you as a person, and as author Steve Maroboli so eloquently states, “the scale can only give you a numerical reflection of yourself and gravity.”
So screw it. Smash it. Trash it. You don’t need it. Mine left about a year ago.
Mirrors. I don’t mind them. Quite frankly, I don’t want to look like I’ve rolled around in literal hay mixed with cat hair, glue and feathers blown about with an industrial fan. Solution? Cover them.
Place a sheet over them that states, “prior to peering at your everlasting beauty, take a moment and reflect on your internal greatness.” Then lift, smile and primp accordingly.
Omit negative self talk. This is the hardest. I squeeze the extra junk in my trunk on the daily, trying to think of ways a poor girl could suck it out with a six hundred dollar Dyson. What I’ve gotten better at doing is not verbalizing it. And for the moments when I can’t help myself, I’ve created the “NST (negative self talk) Jar.”
I picked my charity, and plop a quarter in every time self-hate oozes through my lips. So far the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society have received a pretty hefty chunk of change.
It’s time to up the ante on that I think. I’m not cheap, but I can think of better ways to raise money for them. Maybe a dollar a remark will help me curb my sharp tongue.
Get out and do something for someone other than you. Volunteer. Call up your local animal shelter, hospice or cancer center and see what they need.
Foster your own sense of self-efficacy. Live outside yourself for a day, a week or month. Trust me, one of the best things I have ever done is becoming a volunteer. Perspective has taken me places I never thought imaginable.
Probably the most important aspect of your new revolution should be, go easy on yourself. We are all human, we all make mistakes. Sometimes two steps forward turn quickly into a mile backwards.
Truth is, I am my own worst enemy. What good is that though? Reliving certain miles for me just meant I wasn’t paying attention to the lessons I was supposed to be learning the first (or second) time around. Going backwards feels like hell, but to be quite frank, it is always a blessing.
Nothing is fail-safe.
Life is life. It’s meant to be easy and beautiful.
If we could spend more time enjoying the changing colors of the leaves, the falling snow and warm winds, we might just be able to conquer the complexities that most humans make out of every situation. As I like to say, we can “escape the human condition,” if only for a little while and begin to mute that bitch that lives in each and every one of us.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Danielle Fogarty
Editor: Emma Ruffin
Photo: Mason Masteka/Flickr