I know who I am, but I don’t know if I really know who I am. I am me, but am I the me from my childhood? Am I the me I was in high school? What about the me that left for Nicaragua in 1999? I don’t think the me that went there is the same me that came back in 2003. Where did the high school me go? The 1999 me go? Who am I in 2017? Who is the 40 year old me? Was I me for the last 17 years? Did ED change me? Did I change to make ED happy? Did I allow ED to decide who I was rather than staying true to myself? Did ED squash my personality or just dampen it? Am I confused or am I becoming unconfused? And now you know a lot of my thoughts for the past 7 days.
After I meeting with my therapist last Monday, I began to figure out a lot of the reasons I had had a bad week with ED. I had my eating disorder for 17 years. That sounds like a long time simply stating the number, but for the first time I subtracted the years. I was 23 years old when ED flipped the on switch. Twenty-three. Everyone changes between the age of 23 and the age of 40. I shouldn’t be the same person I was then, but I did not grow and experience life as a “normal” person should have. All of my thoughts and actions were filtered by ED. I realized the change almost immediately at treatment. I kept getting lightening bolts of realization that facts about myself I thought were true were actually ED’s lies. Friends from pre-ED have told me that I am different, like they remember me. Friends I met during my ED years have said that I am different from how they’ve ever known me. I took a Meyers Briggs online personality test a few weeks ago and when I hit click to get my results, it told me my test was inconclusive. It told me to read the combinations below that could possibly be my personality and choose the one I thought fit best. It gave me 17 combinations to choose from.
When I talked with my therapist last Monday, I began to realize what I had been struggling with. How do I know when my thoughts are ED thoughts or when they are “normal” thoughts? What are “normal” thoughts. I honestly don’t know. On Easter Sunday, I didn’t eat dessert because I wanted to save my dessert tally for later that night. I started second guessing myself – was it ED telling me to restrict from eating dessert right then or was it me making a decision that I didn’t want something sweet at that moment? Should I have eaten dessert because everyone else was and I should be social or can I not eat if I don’t want to? When I’m not hungry at snack time do I have to eat snack to meet my tallies or am I at the transitional space when maybe following my tallies ins’t as important as following my hunger cues and trusting myself more? Will I let ED win if I don’t get in absolutely every tally each day or can I begin eating more intuitively? Is the fact that I want to push myself on the treadmill a little faster than normal or a little farther than normal mean that ED is making me burn more calories or is it me – the me that likes to see what she can do, the me that pushes herself to be better, the me that likes to set a goal and reach a goal. Is that me or is that ED? When I don’t feel like going out with friends is that ED isolating me or is that me feeling like being alone? Does being alone mean that I’m trying to hide? Should I always accept every invitation to prove that I’m social again? If I don’t stay after church to talk to people, does that mean I don’t like small talk or does that mean ED doesn’t want me building relationships? And the kicker – is Benj married to the person he knew from high school and college? Our marriage didn’t grow like a normal marriage – did I change how a marriage relationship should develop or did we grow as we were meant to grow and now simply have a new phase? This is why I had a bad week. Who am I and who is ED?
I have spent 5 months pulling the two of us apart. This may not make sense to a “normal” mind, but it is the biggest struggle for someone dealing with ED. Way back in treatment my therapist began doing this with me – unravelling ED from me. I began the basics there, the lies ED told me vs the truth I needed for recovery. I am not fat. Fat is a feeling. Running 5 more minutes is not going to burn enough calories to make me skinnier for that day. Eating meat is not going to make me gain weight. I made that list of Rules to Not Live By in an earlier post. It’s pulling the stitches out of ED’s bad sewing job. I need a new stitch, a new pattern, new material. Or am I restitching the old material and using the old pattern but simply finding a new tailor?
Confused. I am confused; I’m not afraid to admit it. I am not 23 years old anymore. ED has given me life experiences that make me unique in my 40 year old self. Each day is becoming a discovery of who I am without ED. It’s hard. Everything about this journey is hard. But now I’m at the point where it’s not so much about getting in the tallies anymore. Now it’s getting down to the nitty gritty. This is where the rubber hits the road. I want to fully recover and now ED is getting desperately desperate. He’s pulling out his deepest embedded lies to try to keep me from completely shutting him out for good. He’s trying to convince me of who I am. It’s a new kind of fight. Now it’s a fight for a new reality where I know my thoughts and can trust that they are my own. It’s about not second guessing because I have nothing to second guess. It’s about me. My fight isn’t about ED as much anymore. My fight is about finding, truly finding, me. So guess who I’m calling in to start taking my measurements and to start going over patterns and to start picking out material? Guess who my new Tailor is? He’s the one I tried to fire 17 years ago when I gave ED the job instead. Good thing my Tailor is so persistent. He knew he could fit me better and help me design my own style more accurately. He knew who I was and he knows who I am. My life is in the capable hands of my Tailor.
My Tailor. My God. Remaking this me.