I’ve been thinking a lot about recovery lately. Am I recovered, or am I in recovery? I’ve thought I was recovered before, but it turned out I was wrong. For example, I bought a ‘Riots not Diets’ pin a few years ago, and I believed it, but I’ve been on at least 3 diets since then. I’ve thought a lot of shit about myself since then. I’ve had very disordered eating, at times, since then.
Anxiety and depression are problems for me. And when my anxiety fires up, my eating disorder often follows closely behind. It’s a familiar way to feel in control. A familiar distraction. There are rules in diets, and diet culture promises guaranteed outcomes – which is more than life generally does. They’re lies, of course, but they’re so easy to believe. So seductive. Depression whispers (or yells) ‘you are worthless, you don’t deserve happiness, everyone would be better off without you’. Anxiety chimes in ‘what’s happening, you’re out of control, you can’t cope, what’s your excuse‘. At times like that, it’s easy to panic grab at something that promises. salvation. Diet culture promises that if you can just lose weight, everything else in life will fall into place. This is so palpably absurd when I’m in my right mind. But when I’m not? Desperate people do desperate things.
So – am I recovered? Or am I in recovery? A couple of months ago I bought Susie Orbach’s ‘On Eating’, and I finally feel like I have an inkling of what intuitive eating is. How to identify the feeling of hunger in my own body. How to know what I really want to eat, what I enjoy. These things, which should be simple, still come with the force of revelation to me. I’m hungry! That’s definitely hunger! Now I’m full! This is why it’s called an eating disorder. If you can’t identify hunger and satiety in your own body – literally something which has kept humanity alive – you have a fundamental problem.
So, although I’m doing a lot better, I am still teasing apart the layers and issues, still trying to fix myself. To be honest, I’m tired of it. There’s so much else to do, having to spend so much mental energy at (nearly) 35 teaching myself how to eat seems somewhat tragic and a bit self indulgent. But ignoring it would be more so. I’ve wasted so much time and energy on hating myself, panicking over what I’m allowed to eat – I can’t keep that up. I’ve got shit to do. The patriarchy isn’t going to smash itself, after all.
So – recovery is an ongoing process. One step at a time. One day, I’ll get there, but for now I’m just glad to see how far I’ve come.