In that moment, when I’m about to do it. On a good day: I’ve fought it all day, likely knowing all the while, despite my best efforts, that I’m going to cave. On a bad day: I’ve been secretly craving it all day, knowing I’m going to push everyone and everything out of my life for that glorious hour to succumb to it. But, I know I’m going to feel like total shit when it’s done, questioning yet again why I keep doing this to myself. Why I keep dancing with this demon? So, I promise myself this will be the last time.
How many times have you done that?
And when do you most often do it?
For me, it was just as I decided to binge. I can promise anything … then. In that moment, I am on such a high—knowing I’m about to shovel hordes of food in, greasy, cheesy heaps of it, sugary, cakey mounds of it—I can promise anything then, with even a mild belief I might actually keep it.
What’s that ED? You want me to promise I’ll tell someone the next time I do it?
Fine, yeah, no problem.
You want me to promise to put $100 in savings anytime I do it again?
Sure thing, I’m made of money.
You want me to promise I’ll keep it down if I ever do it again?
Absolutely. I’m totally trustworthy.
You want a second mortgage on my house?
My left arm (cause I’ll soon be needing the right)?
Of course. They’re yours. Why didn’t you ask sooner?
In that moment—when my mind is careening down that slick, black slide—I can promise anything. It’s all justified. There’s a valid reason I do it. A reason that I’ve magically discovered in that moment, that I now magically know I can control. And this assures me I will never do it again … after this time.
Then I do it, and I’m on my sick, twisted high for an hour. Then all feelings of euphoria are gone. All hope that I can control anything is gone. Any tiny sliver of optimism that I can just be normal, just eat normal, and I will never do this again is entirely obliterated. I am a sad, lost loser.
Who am I, if I can’t even keep a promise to myself?
Afterward, I know I don’t understand the reason I do it. I also know I cannot control it. And, I know—I am 100% confident … then—that I will do it again. Maybe that same day. Tomorrow for sure, if not this week again. It’s going to happen. And I am stuck on this warped promise-break-promise-fail cycle. Who am I, if I can’t even keep a promise to myself?
These were the thoughts that ravaged me for years when I was a full-blown bulimic. I was so confused and distressed by my own behavior—my own uncontrollable behavior, which was the most infuriating part. Thankfully, now recovered, I know I can keep a promise to myself, not just to quit fighting food and abusing my body, but to do so many other things as well—like challenge myself to write a book about my recovery.
I am not all good or all bad, or all healed (to where food gives me zip, zero anxiety) or all broken (where I can’t eat a single bite without an agenda and reaction plan), or all satisfied and zen. But, I’m at least not all dark and tortured anymore.
I also know that—for me—keeping my promise meant finding forgiveness, sympathy, and hope when I did slip, rather than immediate, unforgiving punishment and penalty. Mine was a long, very hard but very rewarding promise, in ten different beautiful shades of grey, because my recovery could not be all black or all white. I am not all good or all bad, or all healed (to where food gives me zip, zero anxiety) or all broken (where I can’t eat a single bite without an agenda and reaction plan), or all satisfied and zen. But, I’m at least not all dark and tortured anymore. I was … then.
I’m just me, all the good and the bad that was there before my ED took over, and all the good and the bad that survived it. And, I hope, by sharing my story, you all can start to believe you can keep that promise to yourself, too, no matter when you make it: first bite or fiftieth, famished or full.
Trust me, you’re much stronger than you think.