My Own Personal [Unintentional] Southern Smash
***I try to keep my posts short, but this one is longer than my usual posts. ***
Eating disorder recovery is full of surprises. Especially since much of it is counterintuitive to cultural norms like diet culture. Diet culture makes it easy to justify small behaviors. As with any kind of recovery, it is like peeling back an onion, layer by layer, and trusting those around me. At least, that has been my journey and my truth. I spent 20 years lost in the psychological, emotional, spiritual, and physical torment from Coach (the name of my eating disorder). With this torment came dangerous behaviors and thoughts I believed were making me a better person. I was morally superior by the amount of movement and “good” foods I ate. If I ate “bad” foods or didn’t move, I was morally a disgusting person. In secret, I would have to fix myself by engaging in eating disorder behaviors. The ultimate goal, was always to lose weight and then once I got to that goal, lose more.
My eating disorder started consciously with watching the number on the scale (and many other different factors unconsciously). Making the number move, depending on what I thought I did or did not do with food and movement was exhilarating. I was able to control something, finally! I found the secret, so I thought. Diet culture promoted my lifestyle-it doesn’t matter how you do it, just keep losing weight. Diet culture enforced the dangerous life I was living along with the daily compliments about my body. I was spiraling out of control and getting sicker each day while believing I was being “healthy”.
These “results” led to obsessively weighing myself multiple times a day. If I ate, drank, moved, didn’t eat, drink, or move, I was on the scale. If I was bored, I weighed myself. Then the number began to have even more power. The number dictated everything in and out of my body and how much I moved. These thoughts are what took up all my brain space 24 hours a day. Even when I was sleeping, I was dreaming about numbers.
During my recovery, especially early on, there was NO WAY I was giving up my scale. I needed to know that the meal plan really worked. My weight was the evidence I needed. Really, it was just more false control. I did try to give up the scale. During one stint in treatment, when I was discharged, I wrapped my scale up as a present and gave it to my RD. I thought I was truly over the scale. Then, a few months later, bought another one.
The past three years or so, I have weighed myself on average once every two months or so. I am in a spot where the number doesn’t impact what I do during the day. I don’t change what I’m eating or my movement. For me, I think it’s been something to still feel some sort of control in the chaos. The number is a fact or truth. Any number is soothing and makes me feel like my world isn’t too out of control. So, silly, I know. I’ve thought about it again and again--getting rid of this scale. I just haven’t. Truly, I forget I even have it. So, you ask, why didn’t you get rid of it? I think having it, is like when I kept my “sick clothes” for years. That thought of what if I need it again or get there again. I threw those out years ago and felt so much better. I cried too.
I’ve reflected all day on why I just didn’t get rid of it earlier. I’ve thought about why I even weighed myself today or have in the past? I think it has become a crutch. A “just in case I need it again” like the sick clothes I used to have in my closet. Which really means, “what if I feel so out of control that I need a number to dictate my life”? It’s a crutch I don’t need! I have never needed it! Honestly, for me, it is playing with fire to semi engage in any eating disordered behavior, even just a little bit and especially in one that is socially acceptable. I think I’ve also used diet culture and society to justify having the scale.
This morning, as I put my scale under the sink, I somehow hit it on the shelf. It literally shattered into a million pieces. My first reaction was shock because it scared me when it shattered. Then, I started laughing hysterically at the irony! I think it’s so funny! I’m sure soon down the road, I will cry. I’ve often had a grieving period for my behaviors when they leave. I remember when I stopped purging, I cried. I knew it was the best thing for me, but it worked, I had learned to like it, and helped me for so long (until it didn’t). I feel that way about the scale. It hasn’t impacted my recovery (at least I think that), but it has impacted my thoughts by giving me a false sense of control.
My friend, Kendra from @howtobeinabody said it best in a text to me:
“Sometimes the universe intervenes, but I understand the desire, for a sense of groundedness that feels like certainty. It’s such a funny thing, our weight. I think when we’ve spent many years using that number to try to metabolize all of the events of our lives, which are dynamic and always changing, it’s hard to let go of. But I also love those tiny movements when I recognize what the spacesuit really is. Why limit it?”
So, folks, there you go: My own personal [unintentional] Southern Smash!
Feel free to smash your scale – intentionally!
Loves and big hugs!