So this weekend has been rough. I was flying high on Friday still feeling so proud after the cupcake. Honestly the result of my Friday weigh-in helped with that feeling because my numbers...well they definitely did not go up....in fact that went the other direction. It made me somewhat happy that this happen but also thoroughly confused. I tried to pinpoint what made my weight do that. I mean this is the FIRST TIME ever I have been outpatient and not restricting my portions....I just couldn't figure out what had caused the loss. I just couldn't accept that maybe, just maybe, my body needs more. That maybe, just maybe...it's okay to eat a cupcake. I couldn't open myself up to thinking that maybe what ED has been telling me all this years, the things about foods I have believed...they are all lies.
Anyway...the day continued on and somehow my motivation all the sudden disappeared. Well...actually I think I know how. I committed to not weigh myself on Saturday. After that everything seemed to just not matter. If I pushed myself how would I know it was okay? Without a weigh-in to tell me what I had done on Friday was good/bad why did it even matter? I realized in that moment how sick my relationship with my scale was. I honestly let this lack of motivation get the better of me and ended up delaying meals and snacks way too late. This was made worse by some unexpected things happening while I was on duty for my job that basically made it so I had to cram a bunch of my snacks in at 2 am. It was not enjoyable at all.
Then Saturday came. Usually I jump out of my bed on Saturdays ready and pumped to get to do yoga...this day....nope. I literally had no motivation for anything. I didn't know how my day was going to go on without the scale there to comfort me. How would I know how to feel? How would I know if I was bigger or smaller? How would my day go on? Again...I realized just how sick and twisted my relationship with the scale was. It has become my only reassurance that recovery is safe and possible. It is my quick go-to motivation to challenge myself. It's like..yes you can eat this or that today Jess because tomorrow you can weigh and see whether or not it's okay. Then when I weigh-in it's a reminder that recovery is okay. That my body can be trusted. It's becoming this weird way to give myself permission to eat. So Saturday...without it...I was lost.
It really did make for a rough day and I had to rely on others a lot more than I wanted. But i actually ended up realizing I had played it way too safe that day. That ED had made way too many decisions and that I missed the anxious/nervous/excited feeling that challenges bring me. So I did end up challenging myself that night. And then came today.......and today....well....it's been strange.
You see I woke up and immediately jumped on the scale expecting it to be up a ton. And then I got hit with some scary news. It wasn't up. It was down yet again...and now down to a number I promised myself, swore to myself, I would never get to. And all the sudden I got scared. All the sudden I felt the desperate need to discover what I was doing "wrong." How I was losing weight. I replayed the past few days over in my mind, searching for answers. But I haven't restricted portions. I haven't cut corners. I've done my plan. I haven't overexercised. This has NEVER been my experience outpatient. I am always using some sneaky way to restrict or burn off what I eat. And then...when I lose...I blame it on that.
But now...now the only answer is that maybe I need more food. And for some reason my brain just can't accept that. So it wrote it off as water weight and I continued on my day.....but the number still haunted me. And then I snapped. Right after church I got frenzied. I realized all the fears I had to face today and that I had altered one of my snacks in an attempt to make it "safer" but with this weigh-in....it just didn't feel right to cut corners anymore. I realized how sick I was physically and wanted to do the right thing with my snack and challenge myself. But I couldn't give myself permission. I had to sent way too many text to one of my strongest supports, Sarah, and eventually just had to give her all control and ask her to tell me what to do. I feel like such a baby doing this...but honestly...I am in infancy with recovery and sometimes all these decisions get to be too much. Then I had to commit to what she told me to do. Easy I thought....I mean I had this fear of my new low weight...this was sure to get and keep me motivated...WRONG!
You see this weekend has shown me motivation doesn't last. I mean it makes sense why it doesn't. If we had a spark of motivation and all the sudden jumped on the recovery bus...ED would easily disappear. It would just take one scary medical visit, one scary weigh-in, one "aha" moment, one dream to cling on to and ED wouldn't matter. But our EDs they are like pestering kids and if you don't give them attention they are gonna try their best to distract you and get it back. Easiest way to do this....steal motivation. So my motivation based on fear of my weight...it disappeared as soon as I was faced with lunch.
It was in this moment as I reached to text my friend and get consoled into eating that I realized maybe I am capable or regenerating some kind of motivation. Of consoling myself. So I tried something new. Instead of forcing myself to jump into the meal and just get it over with (something that usually leads to ED behaviors being used and then me having to undo those behaviors so I get full portions, or causes me to send 10 trillion text in a desperate attempt to get forced to do it, or causes me to send the 5 millionth e-mail to my N to get motivated).....I stopped. I gave myself time to gather MY mind....not ED's thoughts...just MY mind. I took a step back. And here is what I did.
I said...Jess...right now you want to tear and leave behind parts of your lunch. Let's think about it....if you do that it will make this meal so much easier to get through, but tomorrow...it will make lunch so much harder. Also....you will cling onto this one restriction as a judgement basis if/when you weigh tomorrow. Also, the guilt of restricting here will creep into your other meals and you will restrict again.
Now let's go to the other option you know you have...finishing this meal. Okay...your anxiety will go through the roof yes. This meal may be less enjoyable (but frankly....at this point you don't tend to enjoy meals all that much anyway). But if you finish this meal...it paves the way to continue finishing meals. And that means one day not even having the thought of leaving something behind just to "be safe." Finishing this meal even though you don't know exactly the weight of everything here and are having to trust pre-portioned things means when you are home....you won't have to use a food scale. It means your family can see you make normal meals without weighing everything. It means you can actually enjoy meal time with family and even friends because the focus won't be on the food and portions, but on the company. Finishing this meal means staying out of treatment because let's be honest....if your weight is going down now...and if you are at such a scary low weight....restricting isn't the "healthy" or "safe" or "outpatient-worthy" option. And frankly Jess....you should finish this meal because you know it is the right thing to do. You were about to text the people who you know will tell you its okay (trust me there are people in my phone who would let me restrict)....because you don't trust yourself enough to tell yourself it is.
Now all of this happened in a span of like two minutes (my brain runs quite fast.....at least this time with positive thoughts). But those two minutes....they made the next 30 minute meal one I conquered on my own. Did my anxiety still shoot through the roof? Yes. But I didn't restrict. I didn't give myself the option. You see I realized surrounding restricting was just momentary relief with long-lasting consequences. Plus, even being in the mindset of restricting being an option made my mind close off to my future. But when I opened up to the possibility of finishing the meal....I began to think about my future. About hope...about things other than weight. And it made eating seem (because it is) okay.
Did this last? No. And at dinner (my big challenge meal for day) anxiety was through the roof and I immediately text my support. She kept texting me to help me through but I just wasn't taking the help. I was so torn because I wanted to do the right thing but nobody had sparked my motivation....no one had said the right thing to make it okay....so I just kept walking away and back towards the corner of my dorm room I deem my "kitchen" (it's literally just a counter). And then I remembered lunch and I did the same thing. It didn't even take as long. It was short and sweet. I could restrict this bean burrito (a family favorite that happens every time I go home but I always have restricted the portion or used food scale both of which I am not allowing myself the option of anymore). Yep...that would make the meal easier...but it still wouldn't make it easy because I would be scared I didn't restrict enough. Or...I could get full portions and then next time at home when I do this...I could get full portions then too. I could make my burrito like the rest of my family. I could enjoy the experience of being with them. So I snapped back into motivation and pushed through that meal picturing sitting there with my family one day doing it too.
So this weekend has taught me two things:
1) My relationship with the scale is completely unhealthy. I mean....it's not as horrid as it has been in the past but it wasn't as "normal" as I thought. I still judge myself, my recovery, and my day based off a fluctuating number. And even then....if it's up I blame food and if it's down....I blame water weight and fluctuations instead of accepting that being down for four days in a row may mean I need more food. Either way...I won't change plan till Wed at my N appt so why even weigh?
2) You can find motivation and reason in recovery even when it is not present. I mean honestly...if I know something is the "right" thing to do or just know that my N or team would want me to do it...there has to be a reason. With how anxiety prone I am....my team wouldn't push me to do anything unless it was needed for my recovery. And I know the reasons I need to do the things I do. I need to do sweet treats so I can enjoy desserts with friends. Finish portions so I can learn what it's like to eat normally and can eat normally with people. I need to listen to my cravings because that's normal. I need to be willing to change my food plans when something isn't available because that's a part of life. I need to not obsessively measure because it keeps me from eating with people and eating out at restaurants. See...I know these reasons...and in the moment when they all fade away...I need to push past ED and see them. Sure it takes a little time...but a few minutes here is worth a whole day of headache and depression listening to ED. This joy I feel now because I haven't listened to ED today....it's been worth all the time spent bring out my motivation. My motivation has been bullied to hiding and I just need to let it know it's okay to come out...that it is welcomed in my life and that ED is who is being picked on now.
It's nothing mind-blowing. This isn't some philosophical post....it's just the reality of my recovery today and a tool I am using to make it happen. I know my full-blown motivation will come back if I stick on the course of recovery. I know when it comes back I can go back to dining with Daddy before the ED thoughts come. But on days like today....when my motivation is as far away as summer break seems right now...on those days I need to just pause. I need to take a moment and remember my motivation. I have to actually work for my recovery. And maybe it's days like today that show I really am motivated...that I really do want this. It's days like today when my motivation is nowhere to be found and I actually have to fight tooth and nail to just get through a meal.....it's these days that show I want to and am committed to recover. That I can fight and I can do this outpatient. That the strength lies within me.That same voice that got me to do a cupcake....that voice can get me through days like today. That voice is that part of me longing for recovery...probably the Holy Spirit if I think about it. It's that part fighting for me, my health, and my future. Sometimes I just need to pause long enough to listen.