*Trigger warning: mention of bingeing, purging, disordered eating, specific diets, body image and losing weight
Last Thursday night, I had an epic yet completely trivial victory in my binge-eating disorder recovery and I shared my stream of consciousness about it on Facebook. For those struggling with binge-eating, or any fear around food, I share this with you to remind you that you absolutely must celebrate the tiniest, silliest, weirdest victories along the way or you will literally go insane. This recovery thing? It fucking sucks. Am I right? So when we can, we have to spend time appreciating the hills we climb along the way, because that’s the only way we’re going to get to the top of the fucking mountain.
I also share this because, if you don’t get it, if you don’t get your friend’s struggles with disordered eating, you need to read this. You need to look at the nitty gritty so that you can be there with them along the way to tell them how badly it sucks, and that you don’t understand it, but you fucking love them and you are there for them in whatever capacity they need you for. Sometimes, that’s shutting your mouth and letting them vent. Sometimes, it’s being a provider of a case of wine. Either way, this is something to give you a glimpse into our very I-can’t-believe-this-is-my-life world.
If you are reading this and you are struggling, I just want you to know how amazing you are, and how much you truly deserve the life of freedom you are seeking. It is not impossible, my friend. I promise you that. It sucks, it’s really hard, but it is possible and I promise you that even on the darkest days, the journey is worth it. The half gallon of freezer burnt cookies and cream that I just threw away is a little baby bit of proof of that. It does get better.
And now, onto the Facebook post:
Hi. So, two things happened tonight after work. As you may know, my best friend in Hawai’i is a badass chef, annnnnnd she happens to literally work next door to me. Like, on Tuesdays at 5:30, there is literally ballet music, hip hop music, Frank Sinatra, and Ray Charles all playing in the same vicinity because that’s what you get when a dance studio and a restaurant share walls. I digress.
Tonight, I was fucking starving. I was jarred awake at 7am by a blog post, poking at me to be written, and I’ve been going like a nut ever since. I didn’t eat enough all day, and next thing I knew, it was time for work, so I left the house with like, a Babybel and wished myself luck.
I was moody and edgy all night, which I hate, but it’s part of life and I do my best to manage while I’m teaching. At 7:50, when my last adult student finally left, I went next door and said to Amelia, “I want to kill everybody.” I don’t know if it’s PMS or lack of sleep, but I was just, done. I went back to lock the studio, and Amelia started making me dinner.
When I came back to the restaurant to hang in the kitchen like I do every night before the longass drive back to my place, I opened a tupperware of julienned carrots and celery that Amelia had made for me. And I just started chowin’ down on these cold, raw veggies like it was Nutella on a brownie. And I was like, so into it. I was starving, I was literally like, dude though, my stomach was aching, and I could have asked Amelia for a pizza, pasta, curry, sandwich, it doesn’t matter, she’ll make it for me. And I was like, I just really need these celery and carrots right now.
On the way home, after she made me dinner to go, I grabbed a cookie off the cooling rack. I literally, could not get it in my mouth fast enough on the car ride home. The chicken, rice, and veggies Amelia had made for me was like, not on my radar at all because this cookie had suddenly become my life force.
And then I started crying. Not because of the cookie. Because of the celery and the carrots.
It might not make sense, but every time I have ice cream for lunch, or cake for breakfast, I feel like I might trigger myself into a relapse. A binge, a purge, another fear of food. I quite literally, terrify myself. But what I’ve finally let sink in, after friends like Olivia and Johnny say it enough times, is that eating ice cream for lunch is actually something that many, many humans do. Because sometimes, making a sandwich is simply an impossible task. Because exhaustion. Because grocery stores. Because empty wallets. Because life. And when I eat ice cream for lunch, it’s normally a few spoonfuls before I throw it back in the freezer (or the refridgerator depending on how tired I am), and then I rush to work. Three years ago, I would have finished the entire carton and thrown it away and gone out for more just because I thought that would be the day I would give up ice cream forever and I would finally stick to my Atkins/WeightWatchers/nosugar/cleanse for the final time. And then I’d probably throw up, not necessarily as a purge, but because I literally made myself sick from eating two half gallons of cookies ‘n’ cream WITH sprinkles.
I cried tonight because I ate celery and carrots for pleasure. I don’t know. Not pleasure. Just because like, I was hungry and they were there and I didn’t think twice. Actually, it’s THAT. It’s that I didn’t think twice. I just started inhaling them because I was so hungry and they were so crunchy and watery and cold and good and I didn’t have a thought process around the fact that they are “good for me” or “low-cal”, I just like really needed them right then as my dinner.
Am I making sense? I am very excited right now, can you tell? I have, terrible body image days. I look at pictures on TimeHop at my once slim face and my heart breaks into 14,000 pieces. I try dresses on that fit me a year ago and I can’t even get my left boob into it. I advocate for young girls and women to appreciate their bodies, and I work very hard at appreciating mine, but there are days when I simply want to never eat again and also get lipo and also a tummy tuck and give up drinking and do a cleanse and get a personal trainer. Like, I have not fully gotten there yet, nor do I know if I ever will. I also have days where I look in the mirror after my fifth hour of teaching, sweaty as hell, and think that I literally should go on a date looking exactly as I do in that moment because I look so damn sexy. When I actually wear a bra, and throw on a pair of jeans, I look smokin’. But I have to be in a place where I can even put those things on without hating what’s underneath.
I try to tell people what it’s been like. Conquering fear around food, eating at a dinner table with people and actually LISTENING to what they’re saying, actually tasting food instead of inhaling it, not being afraid of a brownie, anxiety in general like, just, anxiety in general though, not obsessing over salad, not hating salad, not really feeling anything about salad other than when I want it, I want it and when I don’t, I don’t, and that’s like, what humans feel normally about salad basically and now, I FEEL THAT WAY TOO. And in a bittersweet, what the fuck, is this real, what is my life, why do I weigh this much when I dance four hours a day, sorry for fucking up my metabolism for the last decade, any man would be lucky to have me, I have overcome mountains higher than Mauna Kea, I live in Hawai’i, I get paid to tap dance, I have great hair, can you believe one million people on the internet have seen my ass, I write for a living, I have great eyelashes, why has my Nutella jar gone bad oh yea because I haven’t opened it in a year except for a photo shoot last week… like, in this holy shit way, I just, wanna say, recovery ain’t easy. It’s a daily, a DAILY struggle, but the tears streaming down my face right now as I write this mean that I am still deeply moved by my own, I don’t know, what do you wanna call it, journey? Life? Like, my own life moves me? Is that a thing? I guess for me it’s a thing. Tonight, I didn’t cry because I ate the cookie, I cried because celery and carrots were food and like had no meaning other than they were food. I could have let the cookie throw me into a whole debate in my head but instead I just feel like I need to clink someone’s glass and celebrate. LIKE BASICALLY I WANT TO MAKE A TOAST TO CELERY AND CARROTS. And I think the tears also mean that, life is hard, but in the times where it feels easy, I am blessed in many ways, and I would rather be struggling through the celery/carrots/pizza/how can I have so much cellulite if I dance for a living/blueberry muffin obsession, than living the life of fear, torment, depression, and self-hatred that I lived from the time I was 15 up until I turned 26. I’m just here to say, hey, it’s possible, and, you can do it too, and it really sucks, and it also rocks, and there is a whole life to be lived when we’re ready.
I’m so ready. Like I’m sooooo ready. Like, mahalo for all your time and like, cheers dude.