I had a major personal breakthrough about a week ago while I was listening to my favorite podcast, HOME. The hosts, Holly and Laura, have both dealt with disordered eating in the past and it comes up as a topic on the podcast. During this episode they interviewed a woman who also struggled with disordered eating. I was shocked at how much I could relate to what they talked about. Here is a list of things I never thought were that abnormal (but it turns out they are):
I can’t eat or drink anything without evaluating it’s degree of healthiness or unhealthiness
I have always felt a fear of scarcity around food
I am hyper aware of how much others eat around me and how much I eat around them
I get anxious when there are too many people eating in the break room at work
I constantly think about all the food I eat before, during, and after I have eaten it
I have felt angry at myself for being hungry when I think I shouldn’t be
I have done very intense workouts in anticipation of eating a lot or as a result of it
Food was my first drug. It’s that simple. It’s also something that I’ve always known but now I know. I have always had disordered eating patterns and thoughts. Now I see that many of my behaviors around food are the same as those I had around alcohol. One bite is too much but then I can’t get enough. The same with alcohol. I would constantly monitor how much everyone around me was drinking and making sure I wasn’t drinking more than them even though I desperately wanted more. When a bottle of wine was ordered to share I would make sure I somehow got the biggest pour without being detected. When eating family style with friends I have an inner struggle between how much food I want to take and how much I allow to end up on my plate.
Growing up, eating dinner in my house was a competition. Who could eat the most before the food was gone. There were no leftovers. It’s not because we were poor and couldn’t afford enough food it’s because no matter how much my Mom would make it all got devoured. My Dad is a fast eater. There was no such thing as not taking seconds. To this day I portion out servings at dinner so I can go back for more even though the total amount of food I eat could fit on my plate at one time, I have to go back for seconds or I don’t feel satisfied.
I tired to become anorexic. I learned about anorexia and bulimia in middle school and while the idea of throwing up turned me off I was very interested in the concept of just not eating. In high school I would skip breakfast and then eat a bite or two of a sandwich at lunch. As I left school I had every intention of not eating until dinner where I thought I would eat a small portion. But as soon as I got home I would eat everything I could. I would graze on everything that was in the house. By eating small amounts of everything I could I avoided being detected. After my binge (because I was starving, no shit) the shame would hit me and I would sink so low. My stomach would hurt and I’d feel sick but I never made myself throw up. I wanted to sit with my pain and discomfort because I deserved it because I was failing at being anorexic. BECAUSE I WAS FAILING AT BEING ANOREXIC. I was ashamed that I wasn’t strong enough to starve myself.
So it should be no surprise to anyone, including myself, that I fell in love with alcohol. Considering my anxiety, depression, low self esteem, and intense need to fit in it’s no wonder that alcohol took the place of food in my life when I went to college and drank for the first time. Alcohol was even more effective than food. It was the thing I had been searching for, clawing for, to use to change how I felt.
I have been dealing with addiction for much longer than I first thought. I have been an addict my whole life. My first drug was food.
I need to be easier on myself, kinder to myself. I need to treat myself gently because I’ve been living in a way that has been tearing me apart for a long time.
I have an app on my phone called Thoughtback. You record a thought and save it and the app randomly sends thoughts back to you. I love it. I use it mainly for motivational quotes. Every once in awhile I’ll get a really weird random thought, those are from when I was still drinking.
The thought I got sent today was “you’ve worked too hard to give up now”. This applies to two areas of my life: sobriety (of course) and weight loss.
Yesterday was my 11 month anniversary and I feel like I’m cruising right along. One year will be here before I know it. I don’t feel like I want to give up on my sobriety but I’m starting to feel like “isn’t this enough?”. I haven’t drank in a year isn’t that amazing? Can I just be done now? I confided in a coworker that I no longer drink and she couldn’t believe it. She said “even if you decided to start drinking again right now I’d still be so impressed with what you’ve done”. And I guess it’s true, what I’ve managed to do is impressive. But is it enough to be impressive? That’s not what I started out to do. Being impressive was not the end goal. The end goal was to live a healthy, happy, and balanced life without alcohol because I just couldn’t keep it around any more. I don’t want to give up but I want to know when it’s over. When is the learning and struggling and the meetings and the work over? I know the answer is never, it’s never over. Dwelling on that thought is overwhelming.
My weight loss journey has been going great, Omada is really working for me. But I’m getting back to the weight I was at around my 30th birthday which is great to be back down there but also a little terrifying. When I push past a certain number on the scale I will be entering unknown territory. I will also reach a point where I have no clothes in my closet that will fit me. Haven’t I lost enough (86 pounds) already? I’m no longer obese, I look good and I feel good, my friends are noticing and giving me compliments, can I just be done? I know the answer is no. My goal was to be at a healthy weight, being overweight was never my goal. If I continue to lose weight at the rate I have been, which is a 7% loss over 16 weeks, I will reach my goal by November 7th. Of this year! Nine months from now!
I better start saving money for new clothes or it’s going to be a cold winter.
This past Saturday marked 10 months of sobriety for me. It feels like so much and nothing has happened since the last time I wrote. My most important accomplishment was going through the holiday season sober for the first time in a decade. Maybe I’ll share more about it at a later date. All I want to say for now is that I spent New Years Eve alone in my apartment and it was fine.
Here is what moved me to my keyboard and got me typing today: I want to become a yoga teacher and use my skills to help people in recovery. There it is, I have set my intention.
Last night was the first night of the Great American Beer Festival. I have either attended or volunteered at this festival every year since 2008. This has been a do not miss event for me every year. Two years ago I chose an expensive flight home for a wedding just so I could squeeze in two sessions. I used to base much of my identity on my knowledge of craft beer and the industry itself. I prided myself on who and how much I knew.
I could never have guessed where I would have been last night instead. When I decided to get sober seven months ago I would never have thought I’d be at an Y12SR meeting instead of GABF. But I was and I’m so grateful that I was able to be there and I was actually happy to be there.
I shared last night about how much life can change in just a short amount of time. Sometimes these seven months have felt like the longest stretch of time and then it can also feel like a blink of an eye. It was nice to look back and reflect on how far I’ve come. I started and still maintain a regular yoga practice, I’ve cultivated relationships with my home LifeRing group, I’ve lost weight, I experience less anxiety, I’m more active, I ended a relationship that wasn’t working, and I’ve saved up a significant amount of money which makes me feel more secure.
Sobriety is fabulous.
March 7th, 2016 was SEVEN months ago so happy anniversary to me! I will celebrate by going for a run, maybe yoga if I can get there in time, not drinking, planning tomorrow’s day hike, eating a healthy dinner, and getting to bed early.
I’m been struggling with depression since breaking up with Dave. I was ok the first two weeks or so but now all of a sudden this week the loneliness and depression have hit my hard, seemingly out of nowhere. I don’t want to drink because I know it will only make the situation worse. I don’t want to drink because my sobriety is so important to me. But at the same time I am grasping for something to make the way I feel go away. I don’t want to sit with these feelings. At the same time I don’t want to talk about it either. I just want to be alone. I know that’s not going to make me feel better but it’s what I needed this week. I’m really glad I dragged myself to LifeRing Wednesday and went to Y12SR last night because I am feeling a little better today. I’m going to be ok, I know I won’t feel like this forever.
I’d like to end this post with a quote from Holly Whitaker:
“Dealing with the world straight up with no numbing is hardcore. Not the other way around.”
I broke up with Dave a week ago. I spend every unoccupied moment feeling depressed. I feel generally depressed, lonely, tired, bored, sad, anxious, and irritable.
That sounds terrible but honestly I don’t feel as bad as I thought I would. I put off breaking up with Dave because I was terrified of how bad I would feel. I was scared I would start drinking again to deal with it. I thought my friends wouldn’t be able to support me. But none of that has happened. I’ve been ok. I don’t think I could have done this much sooner though. I think the strength I’ve found in my sobriety enabled me to make this decision and handle what came from it. Like I said in my previous post, I am handling this break up just like early sobriety. Thankfully I’m eating less ice cream thus far.
This isn’t the worst I’ve ever felt. I’ve gone through periods of depression so deep and dark that I never thought I would get out. I felt worse this past winter before I got sober. I spent a lot of time in the relationship feeling unhappy. I’ve already mourned the loss of this relationship because it was over a long time ago for me.
Should I feel worse? Is it weird that I can get out of bed and go about my day? Last Thursday was tough but since then each day gets a little better and a little easier. I know the up coming holidays will be tough but Dave and I never spent them together because I was always home.
New Years Eve. That will be hard. Sober and single.
I broke up with my boyfriend last night. He wasn’t surprised. Neither of us had done anything terrible to the other person. We weren’t going to move forward. We both cried, me more than him. He admitted he would never have been strong enough to end it. We could have been together forever. I couldn’t fake it any longer.
I’m going to treat this break up just like sobriety.
Stay active by going to the gym and hiking
Reach out to friends and family for support
Find new activities to do without him
Try my best not to eat my feelings but if I do that a little it’s ok
Say nice things to myself
That’s really all I can write about it at the moment. The word single looks like it’s spelled incorrectly.
I’m climbing Longs Peak on Saturday and Sunday. I’ve had a boulder field camping permit since March. I’ve wanted to do this hike since before I even got into hiking, before I even climbed my first 14er. I’ve wanted this mountain for so long, for years. Dave and Kara are coming with me. I almost wish I was going by myself.
I am freaking out.
Why am I so nervous? Ok here we go, I’m going to take a huge feelings dump:
Unpredictable weather, Kara and Dave will want to “sleep in” Sunday morning, we have to get the ranger station before noon on Saturday, no parking at the trailhead, bad weather in the boulder field, we’ll be stuck in our tents, there will be snow, one of us could get altitude sickness, Dave’s sleeping bag isn’t warm enough, Dave’s shoes aren’t good enough, this is Dave’s first 14er, Dave will not have fun.
I’m mostly worried about the weather because it’s out my control. Worrying about things out of your control accomplishes nothing. I need to stop.
Maybe I should worry about whether or not I’ll have fun. Backpacking is my jam, my thing, my favorite. I’m like a pig in shit when I have my pack on. I just need to hit the trail. Once my boots hit the dirt I will feel better.