Yesterday I ate two bananas. Which is just bananas. Crazy good bananas. Bananas have been banano-nos for quite a while now. Gloria hates them, for an undisclosed, and quite probably irrational, reason. But I needed to eat (!) and that’s all there was. And instead of listening to her, pushing through the hunger and ruining my day, I ate. Wrapped in a red rug (go Red House!) chatting to a friend at the kids’ cross-country, surrounded by people. And IT WAS GOOD. The even better thing was silencing her attempts at guilting me in to restricting later on in the day. I reasoned with myself that I needed to eat, I needed the energy to be able to accomplish all I had on my list. And so I did. And guess what. I did not go berserk and eat the whole world, as Gloria has so often told me I would. I ate what I needed to. No. Big. Deal.
And today, I am PROUD of myself.
It totally helps that I’ve had two nights running of decent sleep. Which is just another thing to celebrate. Like the chill in the air of autumn. The laughter and fun of our family dinner table. My health and strength.
I am running towards the day when:
Gloria is not me.
Recovery is so terrifying. Or rather, Gloria makes recovery seem so. It’s like I’m standing on one cliff, looking at another. I want to get to the other one. But there’s no bridge, and it’s way too wide to jump. But everyone tells me I have to jump. I’m all ‘but it’s too far’, and they’re all, ‘jump, jump, jump!’ Don’t they know how impossible it is? Especially as they’re already there. And in between the cliffs there’s a swamp with crocodiles, piranhas, lampreys, leeches and vampire bats. R.O.U.S.s. Lava pits. Zombie-pig-men. I wish this were hyperbole.
These past few weeks I’ve been struggling again. Trying to walk the wire between relapse and recovery. Too scared to take the jump and trying to downplay the pain and danger of going backwards. I ended up taking the path of least resistance again, started restricting and losing. The allure of the falling numbers is so hard to resist. The feeling of strength as I push through the hunger, light-headed and empty, is beyond belief.
Today I attended the funeral of a truly great man. A man who knew how to live. The legacy of faith and love he left behind is inspiring. Inspiring enough to show me if I continue in this tiny, constrained and fearful way I will never leave anything of worth behind me. Gloria will rob me of my inheritance and my legacy.
I’ve reached out for help, I’m trying to follow the plan again. And today I was surrounded by crowds and food laden tables. AND I DIDN’T HAVE TO ESCAPE! I was able to be an almost normal person catching up with friends. Sure I wasn’t fully comfortable. But I sure wasn’t an arming-rubbing, skin-pinching, deep-breathing, eye-darting crazy-pants either. I even ate a couple of pieces of fruit. I cannot tell you what a HUGE step forward that is. It may seem so little, but it is bigger than any I’ve taken for a while. I might even start yelling ‘jump, jump, jump!’ with the rest of them.
Gloria is not me.
When David wrote Psalm 23, the bit about walking through the valley of the shadow of death, HE DIDN’T MEAN THE EASTER EGG GAUNTLET OF AN AUSTRALIAN SUPERMARKET. And neither should I.
I should not have to plan a grocery shopping trip with battlefield tactics. I should not feel like I’m about to jump off a cliff to my certain death because the fish I had chosen to buy was sold out and I need to choose another kind.
I woke up this morning determined to be okay today. Determined to be a normal wife, mother, person, relaxing and holidaying after the first round of uni assignments have been finished and submitted.
But here I am. Shattered after a trip to buy milk and bread and fish. Staring at my scheduled morning snack like it’s poison. Dreading the chocolate that’s coming tomorrow. Throwing cheese away when Tony’s back is turned.
I am angry. And I’m angry at the right thing. Gloria. I refuse to be held hostage any longer. This is just too much. I have had enough of this stupid cruel disease.
There is so much more to life than this.
Gloria is NOT me.
How do you keep going when winning feels like losing? Gloria screams ‘NOOOOOOOOOOO!!’ when I can get myself to eat. She makes me so anxious about and around food I have collapsed trying to choose an avocado. I collapsed because WALKING PAST a fruit and veg shop was too much. Two more ambulance rides. I now have to do meditative breathing exercises just so I can go to the shops. Just because she can make me faint rather than choose food. She made me feel a congratulatory pat on the shoulder (for gaining) was more like a slap in the face, so much that I actually flinched as if it were.
Cheese was a huge deal again today. I just want the cheese to stop. So. Much. Cheese.
When will this end? When will winning actually be a victory? When will giving in to Gloria feel like losing? I tried the gold stars again. But according to Gloria I’m such a whining, stupid, pathetic sub-par excrescence I have no right to believe in myself. And there is definitely no point in trying to encourage myself.
I’m not fishing for compliments. I am fighting this with as much as I have in me. I am trying to just trust that it will get better. Trying to explain just why and how it is so difficult to ‘just eat something’. I have been sticking to the plan (mostly), even through all this. Tony has helped a lot. So has this song.
One day, food will be energy, not the enemy. One day, I will no longer believe her. One day, when I can say:
Gloria is not me.
I want to be free of this. I think. But I keep making pro-Gloria choices. Like skipping breakfast this morning. I’m wanting peace without the fight.
I think I’m still in denial. I am not completely on board with the idea that I have to gain yet more weight. It’s just cruelty. I don’t need to be any bigger than this. I shouldn’t even be this big. I hate it. And it’s so constant. I hate the whole ‘fat is not a feeling’ rubbish that’s going around. That is spoken by people who have no idea what is meant when it’s said. It’s true that ‘fat’ is not an emotion, and when I say I feel fat I’m not talking about emotions. When you say you feel hot or cold no one mistakes your meaning. You mean it physically and so do I. It’s a very physical, if irrational, feeling. When I say I’m feeling fat I am aware of the fat stores on my body like they’re add-ons – not actually part of me – and therefore unnecessary and to be eliminated.
Have you ever read Life, the Universe and Everything by Douglas Adams? If you haven’t you should. Anyway, I liken my hatred, or rather Gloria’s hatred, of the fat on my body to how the people of Krikkit reacted when they discovered the rest of the universe – ‘It’ll have to go’. Then they began a systematic, detached and brutal campaign to obliterate the universe. All while writing beautiful songs and generally being agreeable and lovely. Also unaware they were ultimately about to destroy themselves as well.
Sound familiar? Yeah, I get it.
Gloria is ruthless. Entirely without mercy. She would have gone straight over that student in Tiananmen Square. She goes straight over me. Passive resistance is futile. I just get steam-rollered.
Time to become a freedom fighter instead of a freedom conscientious objector. I’ll post myself a white feather as a reminder:
Gloria is not me.
The Mighty were kind enough to publish one of my posts on their site. I’ve enjoyed reading the inspirational stories they tirelessly put together and I’m thrilled to be featured among them. Thanks guys!
And if you came from there, welcome to my journey. You might like to read from the beginning to see where I’ve come from and where I’m at now.
I don’t know how to write all this. I’m still dragging my feet slowly. Still feeling stuck in mud.
Actually, it’s more like smothered. That’s how I’m feeling.
I have Gloria in my head, sneeringly telling me what a failure I’ve become. Constantly. In every area of my life. Because I am now a healthy weight. So I’d better restrict, exercise and lose it all before I really am just a fat nothing. How pathetically weak to feel and acknowledge hunger.
I have Tony outside my head. He’s being so supportive and protective it’s just as smothering right now. I know he’s trying to look after me, help me recover. But I feel so helpless. Dependent. Worthless. Labelled. That what I think and feel and believe don’t matter.
I hate how stupidly hard this is. I want to be free of it. Gloria tries to convince me (and so far, she has) that I will never be able to be free. And if I manage to escape, I’ll be nothing, no-one and nowhere without her.
I am fighting. I have been doing my best to stick to the plan. I have been trying to be independent in my choices. Making the right ones for recovery.
I am wondering if this smothered feeling is what a sprouting seed feels just before its leaves burst out into the light and open air. That gives me some hope. If I keep going soon I will reach the sun and wind and rain. And freedom. I will be able to say:
Gloria is not me.
Ok. I fell down. I stayed on my face in the mud for a bit, totally discouraged. I didn’t want to get up. It’s humiliating. I was running and winning and dancing but I tripped over.
It’s ok. Get back up. Choose to eat for health and energy. Choose to rest. But keep on going.
The only one in this race is me. I can only lose if I give up.
Oh, it’s frustrating and discouraging. Embarrassing sure.
But I will remember that God is the lifter of my head. He is the keeper of my soul. He loves me. As I am and for all I am. He knows my weakness and promises His strength. I will trust in that.
I read this Psalm and it was just what I needed to be reminded about:
Is anyone crying for help? God is listening ready to rescue you. If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, He’ll help you catch your breath. -Psalm 34 17&18
So. I’m catching my breath. I’m wiping the muck off my face. It’s ok. I fell down. But I’m getting back up.
I can do this.
I CAN do this.
Not only can I do this, I will. Got my fight back. So watch out:
Gloria is not me.
Last week was challenging. It was my first back at uni, I’d gained yet more weight and we had predictions of wild weather to make my boy’s life misery. Oh, and our car kept breaking down. Perfect storm for Gloria to try to trip me up. Trick me into thinking restriction and weightloss would get me in control of it all.
BUT SHE DIDN’T.
Oh, she nearly did. It was just a little blip.
BUT I DIDN’T STAY DOWN.
I was able to be real about what I needed to achieve. I had to get my head around my new units for study. I had to cope with feeling and being bigger. I had to be strong, physically and emotionally, so I could support my boy and I had to deal with mechanics not fixing our car the first THREE times they had it. This needs energy. Energy means food. Food means guilt and shame. Guilt and shame I just didn’t have time for. So, as hard as it was at times (food still is hugely evil), I ate. I chose to eat to give myself the energy to live.
I got through last week. And not by the skin of my teeth.
I ROCKED IT. Hannah-style.
I’m starting to realise Gloria cannot compete with real living. The counterfeit existence she offers is such a poor imitation. Like 97% fat free mass-produced mayo poor.
Uni looks achievable, Tim survived, and I think actually grew, and the car is now fixed (at no extra cost). Just thankful and prayerful.
Gloria is not me.
So many good, good, good things to write about.
I think, though I know I have thought this before, that I am definitely firmly on the road to recovery. And I, Hannah, am making the choices, taking the steps needed to keep going. The road is still a hill. I can see places where it will be steep, but I do believe the road is straighter and more solidly marked than it has ever been before.
I want to celebrate the wins I have had these last few days. I have taken over making my meals and I am STICKING TO THE PLAN. My choice. I felt hungry today, so I ATE SOMETHING. My choice. I made a new coconut and mango ice-creamy dessert, and I TASTED IT AT A NON-DESIGNATED MEALTIME. My choice. It has been so long since I have been able to choose to do that simple little thing. So long since I have let stray calories in.
What has happened to me all of a sudden?
I have come to the realisation that I, Hannah, am worth recovery. How? Three simple words: handcrafted with love. That’s me. Made by God to be loved by God. My value and worth to Him far outweigh any hate that Gloria (who is really myself) has for me. Suddenly Gloria finds herself de-clawed, hoarse and at a loss. I have finally been able to see her lies as lies. Oh, she still tries. I still have to fight her, it’s just my weapons are so much stronger than hers. Love beats hate. Compassion triumphs over despair. Truth overcomes the lie. And I, Hannah, can see myself living again. Not just not-dying. LIVING. LOVING. A fully functioning member of the community as I am meant to be.
If you are struggling with recovery, DON’T GIVE UP. TRUST YOUR TEAM. If you haven’t yet sought help DO IT. It is never too early to seek help for this, or any disordered eating. Yes, it sucks. Yep, it’s hard. There are times when you will drag yourself unwillingly through the motions just to shut your family up. Let their love for you speak louder than the tyrant in your head. That tyrant offers nothing but pain and emptiness, and leaves you a dry husk of potential unfulfilled.
My heart is full and I am so close to truly shouting:
Gloria is not me.