Reassurance or kidding myself?

[eating disorder, food]

I wrote last week, “I need to find other ways to make myself feel safe that don’t involve false reassurance from a number on the scales. I have no idea how to do that or where to start.” I’ve got nowhere with that. Instead, I weighed myself not one morning, not two but three mornings. I have been incredibly lucky once again.

I am 0.6lbs up in the five weeks I have been eating intuitively. That is nothing; a normal fluctuation. In other words, I am maintaining my weight. I stood in my kitchen and said out loud, “I could live like this” and burst into tears. It is an overwhelming relief to know that it is possible that I might have found a viable and sustainable way to eat and manage my weight after the years of desperate fighting. I don’t feel that confident that I can do it but it at least feels possible. Or maybe I do have some quiet confidence when I actually examine my thought. I certainly have some quiet hope. To paraphrase Terry Pratchett, “Hope is heady stuff except heads aren’t often involved”.

Of course, since this time two months ago I was in the depths of my eating disorder (I have been very lucky and have only had mild to moderate symptoms compared to many people), I have also had some thoughts like “if I can maintain my weight eating all this crap [value judgments on food are bullshit but one battle at a time] then I can lose weight if I cut it out” and start having little daydreams of losing weight. One of the essential tasks when learning how to eat intuitively is to “put losing weight on the back burner” which I have pretty much done, though fuck me, was it tough giving that up. If I am still aiming and working towards losing weight then I can’t eat whatever my body asks for because, at the beginning, when I’m healing the feelings of deprivation caused by dieting, I will most likely want my previously forbidden foods. When I ate those freely, while trying to let go of guilt, those foods stopped being so special and powerfully appealing. They became just food. I thought that sounded impossible but it has happened several times now. I discovered that I genuinely don’t much like most sponge cake or muffins, etc, when I ate them mindfully and as much as I want and that was a bit of a surprise considering how much I used to lust after them. Now their appeal and their power has gone. I still find other foods powerfully appealing sometimes (icing!) but I will work through healing those feelings of deprivation too and they will just be food that I like to eat sometimes. If I go back to deciding what to eat based on calories then these foods will regain their power and I will be launched back into the binge-restrict cycle. I will certainly not lose weight then. More importantly, my mood will be damaged by the disordered eating and I will feel like crap.

I felt safe this morning when I weighed myself and the number was ‘good’. Relieved. Happy. Lightened. What if the number had been ‘bad’? I’d be feeling despair and shame and probably very unsafe. I can’t seem to keep track of my body and what it looks and feels like. I am using these numbers as the ultimate arbiter because I know my own judgment when looking in the mirror or even just looking down at my body is rubbish. I can’t tell if my clothes are looser or tighter or I’m just imaging it. I can’t do objective or realistic. I don’t know why. Maybe since I lack these abilities and weighing myself reassures me then it’s okay to continue weighing? That reasoning is just me kidding myself. I have been lucky so far with the numbers I’ve got on the scales but that won’t last. There is so much potential damage to be done by ‘bad’ numbers: it could derail me entirely from intuitive eating and throw me back into the binge-restrict cycle and all the pain that would cause. It’s too risky. I will have to find another way to reassure myself.

How do normal people make themselves feel okay about their bodies? There are lots of people who hate their bodies and even more who are just dissatisfied and indifferent. Do they just put up with these feelings and go about their day? Are the feelings just not that strong so easy to ignore? I see so much disordered behaviour around me in my family and friends now I know approximately what ‘normal’ counts as. A big reassurance seems to be having a partner and the privileges that brings. But I don’t have a partner and don’t think I ever will again so that route isn’t available to me. There’s CBTing the thoughts but while that helps in the short term, it never seems to stick in my brain and my ‘distorted’ thoughts bounce right back. Affirmations or trying to overwrite the ‘distorted’ thoughts with new thoughts. Again, doesn’t seem to stick. I feel so hopeless that I will ever feel okay about myself outside of mania. Which is why I am drawn to the false reassurance of the scales. It is something to hold onto in the maelstom of my head.

Another post with me saying I don’t know what to do. I suppose at least I answered the question: weighing myself is false reassurance. It was nice to feel okay, to feel safe, for a little while this morning but it doesn’t last and is too risky. I’ve no idea what to do next.

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