Friday, September 11, 2020
Massive Trigger Warning: Discussion of physical abuse, eating disorder, and self harm and the aftereffects.
I want to preface this with, everyone has an opinion.
This is in reference to the average well meaning person. The ones who tell me not to eat a certain fruit, or any fruit, or only whole carbs, or any carbs, or strickly low fat, or only grass-fed beef and dairy, etc etc etc.
This is relevant, because I am unique. I wouldn't realize I was unique, if I hadn't been in therapy for the last 7 years, being both successful and very confusing alike with my talented therapists.
I have a very "should/shouldn't" "can/can't" "need to/forbidden" function. That in itself isn't particularly interesting, until it means that I can take what others need, and make that happen in me. Which means I can be a marvelous housekeeper, or a perfect employee, or a straight A student, if I believe that that is what is expected of me on behalf of an authority figure. The way I came to this "Ella Enchanted" style personality was through a childhood of torture and a very messy and unhealthy marriage, as well as a slew of bullying students, teachers, and managers.
It also means it is incredibly difficult for me to establish boundaries, express my own needs, or acknowledge the barest of feelings in an appropriate range.
Because of the abuse, I associate a lot of my positive behavior with pain: I expect someone to beat me viciously after I clean house, and when it doesn't happen, it confuses and upsets my brain. This, in turn, means I'm never allowed to *stop*. So, after a day of school, mananging healthy meals, exercise, work, chores---- I am not *allowed* to play a video game, or paint, or read, or journal, or any kind of self care. My therapists have been trying to figure out how to help me incorporate rest, without triggering further trauma. In that sole way, I find myself unique, because they are baffled.
Here is where things get interesting. That was all backstory: this is the point of my blog.
I can't put up boundaries against others because it feels like rebellion. Like it's above my status, a right I do not posses. But brains are funny, and when they can't do an action externally, they do it internally. So, refusing to eat, denying myself sleep, etc are all forms of self harm because YOU CAN'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO, YOU CAN'T MAKE ME EAT OR SLEEP, IT'S MY LIFE
It's dual in my therapy: journaling, coloring, writing letters, meditation, prayer, are all tools that are healthy for me. So, in turn, when I want to feel rebellious and in control, I will not do them, and that feels good. It doesn't help me process emotions or achieve relaxation, and later I will battle guilt and conflict over it, but it feels satisfying to ignore my therapy homework. Until I know I'm procrastinating, and then it's all about "I'm disobeying an authority, and I need to do what they say" which is the opposite of what therapy is trying to achieve.
Let's apply this coping mechanism to SparkPeople.
I love to do what SparkPeople says, even though I absolutely hate the thought of being smaller (except in my face. I want to lose fat in my face. That's it.) I get a rush of obeying the site: give me those juicy, juicy SparkPonits. I will read, i will drink water, I will log ALL THE FOOD, I will EXERCISE THE MAXIMUM AMOUNT OF POINTS, MWAHAHAHAHAHAHA. And don't get me started on calorie counting: it gets---- dangerous. Nobody should be dividing a walnut half into quarters and then logging each 8th.
And with the obedience, comes the rebellion.
But I think I found the work-around.
The first thing I did was make it harder to get so wrapped up in the fight to obey. As I said in a previous post, I widened my calorie count. It have a berth of about 1100 calories to work with; as long as I'm between 1500 and 2600, and I meet the minimum macros, I'm fine. It's a successful day. I've added my exercise to my chores list, and limited it down to only 10 minutes at a time that is actually expected of me. If I go more, it's fine. I have two water bottles that are 3 cups each: as long as I drink one of each, my goal is accomplished.
Next is the rebellion.
And everyone has their opinion.
And I have done a very Bon Jovi "Have a Nice Day" to all of them.
Not only am I eating only the vegetables I like, and not only am I eating fruits in quantities I approve of and a variety that is vast---
I have like, 5 boxes of sugary cereal on the self in plain view. I cook with butter. I had like, 5 pints of ice cream in the freezer, I bought a box of full sized candy bars, I bought several bags of marshmallows and a bag of gummies and several flavors of these Whisp cheese crisps I like so much!
They are still there.
Well, not entirely. This was at the beginning of August and we are approaching mid September.
So, I went through the marshmallows, and the cheese, and like maybe a pint of ice cream.
But I still have the candy bars. The bag of gummies is open in my refrigerator door. And most of the ice cream. The boxes of cereal? I haven't opened them all, the others are mostly full and a little stale, which I don't mind.
I went shopping today. I saw the bags of marshmallows. I remembered how I tore into the first bag in August, devoured them. But I didn't pick them up tonight. I didn't want them.
The only food I crave with any consistency, is Diet Coke. If I feel like I *need* pizza or a hamburger or something, I'll get it on Saturday, but I can't finish my serving. I log it--- my calories are still in range.
Many articles in SparkPeople advise throwing out your junk food. Donate it. Keep it out of eye level.
My candy bars are beside my bed. Perfect for pre-bed snacking. But I don't want them.
I didn't get a lot of food growing up, quantity, quality, or junk. It was bare necessities. We lived on a substance egg farm; in addition to our laying hens, we had a vegetable garden with peppers and tomatoes and egg plants and such. Our Mac&Cheese was literally 5 cents a box, in the 2000s. We were all pretty sure the grocery that sold us meat was marketing spoiled meat, covered in spice. Special food, like pizza and cake and ice cream, was for special occations and gone quickly.
When I moved out and married, I was obsessed with my weight and size. Who could blame me? I was gaining 50 pounds every 2 to 4 years. I went from being 165 at the age of 16, to 200 by they time I was 20, and i was 300 by the time I was 30. But this meant I was always living in a state of diet rules. Eating brown rice even though I didn't like it, eating salads despite hating lettuce, keeping small squares of sugar free dark chocolate, which I don't even like but it was a reprieve after eating foods I hated all day in quantities that made my glucose drop so low I was an emotional wreck (how many times has *your* manager handed you a milkshake because you had a salad with chicken for lunch and now you're inconsolable because a customer yelled at you?). I would get so upset all the time, counting those calories and then having my plans messed up because of an unexpected social event or a manic episode or having my food down right STOLEN. Because I was always starving. I was always miserable.
But I was obedient.
I know this was a long one, and I appreciate it if you got this far.
I know full well that my rebellion wouldn't work for everyone. I'm not asking it to: basic calorie deficits don't work for me, diet and exercise doesn't work for me, seeing my weight fluctuate down doesn't work for me, seeing me get smaller doesn't work for me. So I don't see why this trick would work for anyone but me.
But it does work. It works so well. My period has been on the most steady schedule of my *LIFE*. (And if you've been in my blogs, you know it used to take 20+ weeks to show up, routinely). My blood sugar is just thrilling. My choices are uplifting to me and I am actually taking *pride* in them--- every meal I cook, I take a picture. Every walk I do, I log with a screen shot. I'm being much more aware about things like blue light exposure before bed, and setting a regular bedtime, and my quality and quantity of sleep, and it's really paying off--- I can do difficult tasks like make doctors appointments and do chores daily and reconnect with my family and be friendly and forgiving with my ex and make leaps in my therapy. It's 10 days until I get my labs checked again, and honestly I am SO BLINKING NERVOUS. But I'm cautiously hopeful.
I hacked my brain into functionality. That is so huge. I'm rather proud of me.