My recovery is not going at the speed some people would like. I’m too slow. Not making enough progress. I’m not doing enough work or making changes quickly enough. Apparently.
It is absolutely true that many people who commence recovery – from anything – progress at a faster rate. They make changes and those changes stick, perhaps with some small relapses, but a fairly linear recovery process. That’s awesome – I wish I was one of those people! But I’m not…
My faulty relationship with food started when I was three weeks old.
It’s hard for most people to imagine what that is like – to have never, ever experienced a healthy relationship with food. To have no healthy memories to call upon. To have no trust in the experience. To have known nothing but obsession with wanting to eat and using food to numb every aspect of my being. And to have that coupled with severe body image issues.
I have no doubt I’m not alone. We live in a society that places an enormous amount of emphasis on body image and we’ve done this for decades – generations. I am also the product of generational eating disorder behaviours – my grandmother passed her unhealthy relationship with body image and food on to her only daughter, my mother. My mother had an even more unhealthy relationship with body image and food, and she taught these values to my sister and myself. I am a little bit relieved we both had sons and have – hopefully – broken the pattern. That doesn’t solve my problem though.
I’m not recovering fast enough.
I’m frustrating people – people I really respect and care about. But you know what? I’m doing the best I can. I refuse to give up. I have made progress and implemented changes that are slowly becoming more habitual.
When I slip and slump and slide in the wrong direction, that does not negate the changes I’ve made. If I’m crawling along at a snail’s pace – that means I’m moving. Snails move – continuously.
What I need, is patience and support. For acknowledgment that my journey – like everyone’s journey – is unique. I have a lot of similarities to others, and a lot of differences. That’s how things work.
At the start of my recovery there were some very major roadblocks I needed to push through, and probably the biggest three were, get rid of the bathroom scales, eat regular meals, loosen my lap band.
The bathroom scales keep me focused on weight and body image. I got rid of them in May.
Eating regular meals will help reset my hunger signals and assist with reestablishing metabolism – teaching my body that food will be available on a regular basis. I started eating regularly in June.
Now I need to loosen my lap band. The band is too tight and it is just so easy and tempting to purge constantly. I have made an appointment for an adjustment on 23 August.
Making that appointment has been highly triggering and I am struggling to stay on top of things now. I am in fact doing very poorly – anxiety pretty high and feeling a need to lose as much weight as possible before the adjustment.
For anyone wondering why this is such a massive step, I’ll see if I can articulate it…
The lap band reduces hunger and slows down food consumption. For someone like me however, it can also be used as surgical bulimia – eat fast and you’re forced to purge. It’s just too easy.
So loosening the band means I will feel more hungry and I’ll purge less. In my head that translates into weight gain. And while a looser band means I can keep down healthy food more easily, it also means I can keep down unhealthy food more easily – and that is my fear. I fear if I eat a little bit, I’ll eat it all. Because historically that has been the case.
I also acknowledge that loosening the band is essential for my recovery. I know this. It has to happen sooner or later and relapsing in anticipation is almost inevitable as well. This too shall pass.
In the meantime, I’m sorry I’m not progressing as fast as you’d like. I’m also not progressing as fast as I’d like! But I need to do this in my own time. Any faster than that and I’ll just go backwards. I can’t be forced into changing five decades of habitual problems overnight. I can’t even force myself.
I need you to acknowledge my progress and gently nudge me to the next step – because there is a lot of fear of the unknown. If you’re already living in the land of healthy food relationships, keep reminding me what it’s like over there – because I have no idea! But I will get there – I’ll join you in that magical place. And I’ll do it in my own time.