Monday, February 4, 2013

Finding Control or Being Controlled

Today I got hit with the reality that ,as free as I feel with eating them and as much as I crave them, I am still terrified of dining hall bagels. As much as I think I have "control" over my fear of bagels....the fear is controlling me. Why? Because of my portion obsession. I am obsessed with not going over in portion sizes. Whether that is measuring things over and over again with measuring cups. Or, back when I had it, measuring every morsel on a food scale....I was/am obsessed. I don't have a food scale, but I still have measuring cups. And, the problem is, I have to use them because when I don't...the portions just get worse. Then there is the problem when I don't have them in the dining hall and have to trust the measurements my N tells me the bowls are.

Now cups and bowls help with some things...but not bagels. These bagels I used to obsessively weigh and tear so they only weighed the "appropriate" amount (most times less). Well...when I told my N about this and just how much I used food scale....and when I showed I couldn't have food scale and only use it appropriately (for meats or things that can't be measured otherwise NOT for pre-packaged items, breads, things measured in cups)....I had to give it up. So then....I stopped eating the bagels. N quickly caught onto that and added them back to my plan. So then....I started to tear them and not eat parts "just in case" they were too big. When N got a hold of that information she had me agree to not tear them. So then I got a ruler and started only eating the ones that fit dimensions I find acceptable....making a stockpile in my room of "safe" size bagels...and that's where I am at now.

And until today I was living in an illusion that I was not afraid of the bagels. In fact, I crave them (something I feel guilty about). But how normal is it to have to measure bagels with a ruler (you can't even find a pic on google of this)? How normal and non-fearful is it to "rule out" bagels based on size? How normal is it to hold up the line at the bagel station as you sort through the bagels trying to find smallest one? It's not normal at all...and definitely are all behaviors led by fear. But I was oblivious to that till today.

You I packed some of my safe bagels and went off to class. What I failed to realize, until it came time to do my bagel, was that my bagel had spoiled and was covered in the white dots of bacteria. This is how crazy my fear of portions were...for a not-so-brief moment...I actually debated eating this. I actually wondered just how sick it could make me. Eating a SPOILED BAGEL seemed a better option then having to go get an unmeasured one from the dining hall. Oh...and even more ED behavior....this bagel I had smuggled out of dining hall I now smuggled back in to dining hall where this dilemma was occuring as I sat between classes. That's right....I brought a bagel back to the place I had taken it from, just because I was afraid of not being able to measure a bagel. This would be like going to a bagel shop, buying a bagel and checking it's size at home, just so you could go back to the bagel shop and eat it. If that's not fear and ED...I don't know what is.

Luckily for me and my stomach....I decided it was best to not eat the spoiled bagel and e-mailed my N in a frenzy about what to do. Here's the thing about when I write in a frenzy though....I forget to filter. So in this frenzy I confessed just how obsessed I was with measuring and my use of the ruler.....completely oblivious to the fact that I was confessing something she didn't know the extent of. Well...then her response came and I was instructed to go and get the biggest bagel and that I needed to bring my ruler to her office and give it to her. WHAT?!

Okay...I kind of expected her to tell me to go get the bagel....but the ruler...why did she have to take the ruler? But I didn't have time to worry about that yet as I had to go face up to bagel selection. Well...I was doing my usually sorting through the bagels when on of the employees asked me if something was wrong. I'd never had anyone comment on my bagel selection process....but in that moment I snapped out of my ED-trance and realized how disordered this was. I couldn't look at this woman and tell her "No...nothing's wrong...I'm just looking for the smallest one so I can eat it and not have too many calories." So I made up the excuse that I was making sure they didn't have the poppyseeds from the everything bagels because I can't have poppyseeds. As I quickly selected a bagel and went to sit back down and hide in hit me.....all these things I did to feel "control" they are controlling me.

Here I've been sizing bagels and measuring them and tearing them and all these things to gain some sense of control. To get some reassurance it was okay to eat them....but all it's done is trap me. I have not gained control a single time I used these behaviors....but instead have slipped further and further into a prison. A prison ruled by a RULEr and by ED. So getting this bagel big as it was...and as long as it took for me to finish it...and as much guilt as I am still's getting me one step closer to getting out of this prison. But this is something I have been struggling with for over a year now and it's gonna take more than one bagel. Which brings me to my task for tommorrow....turning in my ruler to my N.

This scares me more than eating the bagel today because it means I lose any way of measuring my bagels. It means that when I have the overwhelming urge to measure....I have no way of doing it. It means I have no way of measuring any bagels ever again. I lose the option completely....and that scares me. Because as much as I say I want to be able to not measure a bagel....or at least I think I do....I also want the comfort of knowing I can. It's like I want to learn how to ride a I want my training wheels taken off....but I want access to them so I wan put them back on the bike if I feel too unsteady. But turning over this's another way of turning over control. It's turning over my "training wheels" that have kept me with comfortable anxiety having the bagels.

And I can't done like I have in the past and not have a bagel either because they are mandatory daily. So this means every single day I will HAVE TO face the bagel without my ruler by my side to bring me comfort. I know this probably sounds nuts.....I rely on a little wooden stick to bring me comfort and peace. Instead I guess I should rely on God. Rely on trusting my meal plan and N. I should cling onto my dream of a "normal life" instead of clinging onto the bagel. Instead of fighting against the freedom not measuring the bagel will bring I should fight for it. But right now, tonight....I am freaking out. I can't believe I ate the huge bagel and I can't believe tomorrow my ruler will be gone. Literally...I can't accept the ruler fact. When I think about's just like brain shuts down. It refuses to accept I'm not sure what is going to happen when the ruler goes from my hand to my N tomorrow. I honestly think I might cry....over a damn ruler. And that, my friends, that's what an ED will do to you.

You see ED will tell you if you follow him you will feel more control. In the brief moments using symptoms bring you a very brief sense of peace he will tell you this peace is impossible without your behaviors. Then something else will get scary and another symptom will be invented to ease that fear (again briefly). And this cycle will continue and continue until you get to the point that you can't fathom a life not measuring bagels with a ruler. Till you can't eat something unless portions are guaranteed. All of these way to "find control" will find you being controlled. You won't be able to function without the symptoms and will have to fight each and every one to regain control of your life.

So, my friends...for me that means giving up my ruler tomorrow and not clinging onto any other behavior to replace it. I am going to have to feel the fear and reach inside for comfort. I am going to have to reach to my motivations for a normal life, to the strength from my God, and from my growing trust in my team. I will probably have to reach out to friends for support as well. But what I won't reach to is my ruler...I won't reach to ED....I won't reach to anything to control the emotions. Because anything I reach in order to feel in just ends up controlling me.

What do you do to feel in control? Now take a second and think about that thing not being their tomorrow.....and ask yourself: is this bringing me control or just controlling me?

It may be scary to feel you are dangling and there is nothing to hold onto. But remember you at least have me here cheering you on....creating a support net underneath you. I won't let you fall. Neither will your friends, your family, your team, or God. Just hold on...feel the fear...and in the end...I think we will all realize just how strong we are :)

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