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To Have One’s Cake and Eat it Too.

on September 26, 2012

The anxiety began yesterday when I asked if I should propose to staff that I move up to level 2. The system works on moving up through levels 1-5. By the time you reach level 5, you are expected to be able to maintain your weight independently in the big wide world. I’ve been on level 1 for the past 6 weeks, but knowing that dad is coming next Thursday, I want to honor his visit by reaching level 2 – where I can go out on a ‘pass’ and leave the house. The condition for being granted level 2 hinged on how I coped with today’s ‘lunch outing’. Tuesday is my least favourite day of the week. We eat out, see the psychiatrist – who decides what happy pills to prescribe, and meet with the dietician who decides how much more I have to eat. Tuesday’s are frankly hideous for me. I knew that I had to perform well today or I wouldn’t be considered for level 2. It’s feels similar to a prisoner asking for parole.

As we walked up the steps to the restaurant I smiled inside as I caught a whiff of the magnificent fuchsia pink flower that spread across the veranda. I could of been anywhere in the mediterranean. I imagined I was in Spain. It reminded me of the many restaurants that Michael my step-father took me to when we were on holiday. He loved nothing more than to take the family out for a meal – it’s sad that it’s become one of my biggest fears. Despite the traffic jam that was building inside my head, I managed to find the slip road and get through it, minus the tears and panic of previous outings. I did what I needed to do. I hope that someday I’ll be able to actually allow myself to enjoy the experience, but for now it is as simple as getting the job done, and that I did. My efforts were rewarded with being granted Level 2! 
As much as I am thrilled, I am also frightened. The next level requires more responsibility and more challenges around food, but I also know that I can’t stand-still and stay in my comfort zone. This leads me nicely onto my comfy track pants that I have barely been parted from since I arrived. I have such a fondness for them that this week I was ordered to have three ‘dress-up’ days, where I have to “actually get dressed”!  I put on some shorts for the outing, but no sooner had I done up the buttons, did I want to take them off. They were tight. You might think that I should of been prepared for this, but I totally wasn’t. My trackies have acted as a shield from the reality of weight gain. Last night I had my first real body image freak-out. I caught a glimpse of my legs and tummy as I got out the shower and was repulsed by what reflected back at me. I admit I have a squiffy perception of my body, but the truth is that I have reached my first weight goal, as confirmed by my dietician this morning. I feel scared – terrified that I won’t be able to live in my body at a healthy weight.
I only had a few hours to digest this before being hit with another brick – another weight goal. I feel so uncomfortable in myself right now, that I’m not entirely willing to commit to anymore. I have decided to take it meal by meal, in the hope that I will adjust to my new found flesh bit by bit, hour by hour, minute by minute. I was reminded this morning by my amazing mum, that on a shopping trip a few months ago, I tried on two armfuls of clothes only to walk out in tears when everything hung off me. I wasn’t happy in my malnourished, cold, tired body either. I guess I have nothing to loose in trying it a different way. Re-routing the SatNav from existing to living. What is remarkable to me though is that in 6 weeks I have gained what I couldn’t do in 12 years as an out-patient. Weight gain is what many treatment centers prioritise. This is the easy bit – the real work comes by strengthening the mind to tolerate it. I could leave here two stone heavier, but with a mind that is as sick as the day I arrived. I’m going to work super hard to change the stinking thinking that landed me here in the first place. I have been told that I need to do this by practicing my healthy-self dialogue. It will probably go something like this…
ED (Eating Disorder): You are fat and ugly now. You are gaining weight so fast, it will spiral out of control. Your legs are rubbing now and your hips are becoming all fleshy like they used to be. You are loosing control – what if you can never regain it again? You are a failure. You need to punish yourself. Remember when your tummy was nice and flat. You will feel such guilt if you continue to gain and you will never fit into your clothes. You will be unattractive to everyone. You can’t trust them here – they will make you go too much the other way. You are dishonoring Michael by eating. Dad won’t love you as much and you won’t get any attention. Noone will know you exist.
HS (Healthy Self): My body needs this food to grow strong and healthy. It will take time to adjust to my new curves, but that is more attractive than skin and bones and misery. I want to be able to feel joy and happiness. I want to be able to have the choice to have children. I want to be strong enough to ride the horses without needing to lie down afterwards for a week. By not eating I am dishonoring Michael and punishing my family who I love so much. The attention I am getting from Dad is only out of worry and concern – it’s not positive. I want to have a life with healthy fulfilling relationships, and they can’t coexist with my eating disorder. I can’t have my cake and eat it!
It’s hard to talk back to the c*** that my eating disorder rambles on about 24/7. It’s not only tough, but incredibly exhausting. This though is the only way I am going to be able to open the door and knock on the next. I also know that if I were to leave here tomorrow, I’d be back to square one. As scared as I am, I’m going to continue banging on the door until my healthy-self is the only voice I can hear.
“Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it.”  Oprah Winfrey
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4 responses to “To Have One’s Cake and Eat it Too.

  1. Claire Daly says:

    Great quote from Oprah – and so true – the only real failure in life is lacking the courage to give it a go. You have already proved Laura that you are no failure. Be proud of every step you take – including the ones where you fall backwards – they are all necessary and will help to make you strong and bring back your healthy self. Claire.x

  2. Muriel says:

    Well done Laura. Another hurdle completed. You reached level 2 by sheer courage and determination. You should be proud of yourself as we all are. Love x

  3. lizorford says:

    Hey sis, you rock! Well done – am really proud of you. I feel one step closer to that relationship we talk about and I can’t wait. Remember, pushing the boundaries is great and doing these things for yourself as well as others will help you ensure the changes last and stick. We all have ‘bits’ about us we would rather were thinner/flatter etc but it is embracing those and knowing they don’t really matter that is the key to your freedom from this food nightmare. I love you heaps xxx

  4. A says:

    Your post actually left me in tears! You are doing so so well, and it is wonderful to hear that you are well on the way to beating ED! Good luck on Level 2 – I’m wishing you all the strength in the world to keep fighting! X

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