For weeks I have been reading memes on social media diligently reminding me that this time is a blessing; our air is cleaner, we have been gifted quality time with loved ones, we are all appreciating family members just a little bit more in their absence, we’re getting more rest – so on and so forth- While I whole heartedly believe all these things to be true and beautiful in their own right, I also find myself carrying around a significant amount of shameful fear in the acknowledgment that I feel extremely triggered.
I am making a conscious decision to sit with these feelings and evaluate, as opposed to doing what’s always come natural for me: running, avoiding, frantically reaching and searching for something to make me feel better and less uncomfortable. In sitting with these feelings, I can’t help but wonder- Could struggling to stay at home be triggering to those who have always struggled to feel at home in their bodies?
People with eating disorders are typically very disciplined and pride themselves on accomplishments and productivity. These qualities are like the socially acceptable equivalent to perfectionism. While many of us are finding comfort in regimentation and strict routines, this can run parallel to our disease and cause an unhealthy sense of Déjà vu.
Addictions across the board can have many common denominators. One of these denominators is isolation. So, while here I am speaking directly on eating disorders, this can apply to any addiction- be it drugs, alcohol, food, sex- and I must admit, in this new strange form of seclusion, I sense some previously dormant feelings becoming re-activated. To me mandatory isolation reminds me of being sick. It reminds me of completely being solitary, not connected and innately different than the rest of the world. Isolation is a place where it can be extremely easy to get “stuck in your own head.” It is reminiscent of days that seemed pointless to partake in and were obsessively centered around food. In our isolation we can feel cut off from support systems or even worse- be closely confined to unhealthy or even toxic situations.
Having teenagers, my days are yet again, largely centered around food. Usually the first question anyone asks is “What’s for dinner” and the next is –Is today a day I need to venture out to the grocery store? And here is where I realize that small successes are now new quests to conquer.
I considered myself to have been in recovery for 17 years and still to this day the grocery store is source of major anxiety. Its too much. Too many lights, too many people, too many choices. Too many questions – am I being healthy this week? Am I succumbing to the fact that I am raising teenage boys and need to stock up on shit food because they are, after all, growing boys and I don’t want them to be weird and not eat boxes of Oreos? Am I doing all organic this week? High protein low carb? Maybe Vegan?? Its overwhelmingly distracting and chaotic for me. For someone with an eating disorder, having to push past hundreds of people with all your food choices glaringly on display is like a humiliating walk of shame. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve wanted to make a sign to stick in my cart that says, “IM NOT A GLUTTON – I HAVE A BIG FAMILY – THIS ISNT ALL FOR ME!” As if this thought process wasn’t unhealthy enough, all of a sudden we now have actual signs to remind you to take only what you need.
Do not take too much.
Do not be greedy and leave others without.
To many of us still trying to intuitively just know and trust what we need, this can be a daunting task filled with uneasiness and shame.
Then there is the issue with Social Media and the newest pop culture catch phrases. Sayings like: “Netflix Binge” (insinuating that watching television is comparable to some overpowering, savage act of debauchery) and “Quarantine 15” (suggesting that we have no restraint and will all gain 15 pounds just from being home) Not to mention the Instagram influencers squatting their dogs and re-enacting TRX moves with silk scarves slammed into door jams because now you have absolutely no excuse and isn’t a global pandemic the perfect time to get into shape?!
We are existing in an environment where all the outside signals are telling us – CONTROL THIS! Control your snacking. Control your anxiety. Control your fear and your anger. Control your weight gain. We are getting mixed messages from ourselves and the outside world that this lack of routine and control is what’s going to eventually lead to our demise -but for us it was always our routine and control that were the hands of death holding us under.
Maybe what we need to do is fight to be ok without it. To be just as beautiful and strong and empowered sitting on the couch as we are out there crossing accomplishments off our lists. Maybe we need to hold onto the same amount of self-acceptance during our third episode of “Tiger King” as we have after we finish a competition. Maybe we need to dig into the grounds of our home and make peace with the roots the same way we need to dig into our center and make peace with our hearts. Maybe our vulnerability in saying, ‘I’m not ok’ is where our loveliness and strength resides.