The New Path to Safety

Today’s post is something I’ve been meaning to write for awhile and I get more and more ideas for it the more I read awesome posts like this one, published this week by Alex. I’m at a point at which I’ve been able to do more than I have ever been able to do before in terms of food, and NOT do more than I have ever been able to do in terms of fitness. And as I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been happy about it, and that scares me. It’s almost like my eating disorder has gotten me used to unhappiness and hatred of myself as signs of safety. When I don’t wake up the morning after a restaurant event feeling the urge to skip breakfast, or when I don’t skip wine with dinner the night after an evening out enjoying several cocktails with friends, I get freaked out.

ALL the cheese.

On Wednesday night I had a dinner out at Millwright’s with coworkers, during which I partook in the cheese plate, little foodie gifts sent out from the kitchen, almost my whole entree, and some dessert. I soaked up the good company, felt thrilled when we all got to go back to the kitchen to say hi to Chef Tyler, and excitedly talked up the food and drink to my parents upon my arrival at home. Only when I got into bed to read did I start hating myself for what I’d eaten and drank – because I was confused by the lack of panic I’d felt on my drive home, the lack of fear over the calories I’d consumed. Only then did I begin to create the hate and unhappiness that seemed to me at the moment to be the path to safety.

Bourbon Smash for me (bottom), Mai Tai for my co-worker.

The (irrational)¬†thought¬†pattern is this – happiness leads to eating whatever I want without abandon, skipping workouts left and right, and gaining weight. Unhappiness leads to overexercising and/or restricting (of course an ED would call it “being good”), which leads to not gaining weight – or losing weight, which I have caught myself thinking about the more I start worrying that being at a healthier weight means not having that “safety cushion” I used to have. (What an ED calls a safety cushion is really an unhealthy low weight.) Therefore, I become tempted to go backwards into that unhappiness, because it’ll eventually result in the tempting happy light at the end of the tunnel – the safe zone.

I remember how many photos I deleted from my camera after this night, because I knew how unhealthy I looked.

But I know that’s a lie. I know realistically that having the stomach of a VS swimsuit model is not realistic, and is not attainable. Even at my lowest weight I didn’t think I had it. There was no real light at the end of that tunnel. It went out before I could reach it because of the damage I did to myself. Each time my mind tells me that damage will make me happier, I have to consciously tell it to shut up, and let me live. The path to safety is found by living life, not stifling it.

Let me eat a cupcake every now and then, dammit.

The bottom line here is that a huge part of recovery is not being tempted to literally put yourself down to feel better about yourself. I fight that temptation every single day. I want to skip breakfast so I will feel the hunger that tells me I’m safe. I want to skip seconds of dinner because I want to go to bed feeling “light”. But whenever I give into those thoughts, I do not feel happy. I feel ashamed, and weak, both mentally and physically. I do NOT feel safe like the ED told me I would. When do I feel safe? When I have seconds of dinner and feel perfectly satisfied after. When I go out and have a cocktail with good friends because I want one. When I kick ASS in a workout because I fueled well that day. Getting to those points takes bravery but once I get there, I don’t regret it, because I’m safe from the ED.

Mmmm PB, another zone it’s been hard to learn is safe.

Phew. Really had to get all that out and writing this felt good. I hope to take this attitude into the weekend with me, no matter how shitty the weather may get (come ON New England), and I hope that anyone reading this who needed encouraging words can use mine to lead you toward the path to safety.

Have you ever had to “re-learn” what’s healthy and what’s not?

Do you ever find yourself tempted to bring yourself backwards in progress, whatever the reason?

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