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.