The following is part of a message that I wrote in reply to a very special friend's email to me. The beginning refers to her own fears about the harmfulness of certain foods. Here is my reply:
OK...I eat a LOT of processed foods. I didn't use to, but I do now b/c I know the calorie counts, I know I am getting adequate fat grams, and because ANY food is now LEGAL. I am NOT unhealthy. If I were not eating these foods...if I had not begun to allow these foods, I would now be dead. Period.
When it comes down to life or death, eating processed foods is the favored choice. ALL of my food is not processed to death. But I am not afraid to cook a frozen Stouffer's meal when I want it...or if it's easier. I have learned that it's OK to do things the easy way sometimes. I never would allow that in my sick existence. I had to be in pain in order for my days to be worthwhile. Familiar? Historically, my 'safe' foods changed a lot. Usually that meant 'plain', no added fat, ALWAYS DIFFERENT from what others were eating. The only 'safe' foods were 'my' foods. During recovery, a motto for many of us was 'a calorie is a calorie is a calorie'. In other words, you eat x number of calories a day to survive. In the long run, what they consist of doesn't matter. Now, I realize that 'balance' has it's importance, especially for growing children and those with special health needs.
BUT, recovering from an eating disorder IS A FUCKING HEALTH NEED!! So..you can take that mantra and argue it to death, or you can simply smile and realize what's at stake here. Please remember, I am NOW coming from a very different perspective...I know how far-fetched all of that may sound. However, it is true.
This next 'free writing' ramble answers her inquiry as to whether I thought my eating disorder had a component of 'punishment', and what that may have been based on.
What did I punish myself for, or think I needed to punish myself for? Hmmm....I punished myself for being alive...for being fat...for thinking 'bad' things...for never making my parents smile (they never did anyway)...for being fat....for saying stupid things...for being in the way...for causing my parents to spend money....for not being 'good' enough-although I was told often how 'good' of a baby I was.....for being fat.....for causing trouble...for asking for things...THEN....for being 'bad' when I sneaked around, had sex in the alley, lost too much weight....caused them to worry....THEN...couldn't have babies...cost too much money on therapy....COULD NEVER DO ANYTHING RIGHT....wasn't a good enough housekeeper....not a good enough Mom.....had to go to the hospital....killed my baby b/c I didn't take care of myself....he died over and over as I bled for three solid months....THEN...for losing weight again, despite all that I had to live for...b/c my Mom had to take care of both boys when I went back to the psych ward....for being an embarrassment.....for costing too much money...for not getting well...for hurting my boys...for not being there for them....for hating my husband.....for hating sex.....for wanting things......for killing myself over and over....THEN..for going to nursing school b/c I WANTED to......for not making good enough grades.....for wrecking 5 cars in two years traveling back and forth to Nursing school....for not being there for my boys.....for making my family sad and embarrassed.....for never being good enough....THEN....for costing so much money to go to treatment in AZ....for failing once again..for not really wanting to come home.....for always being confused.....for never being the 'best' nurse (in my mind)...for not being happy.....out of fear that I would hurt a patient.....THEN...for having to go back to Remuda.....for not doing better....for being depressed.....THEN...for Timmy's death....for not being there for him.....I can't go on right now.....
At that point I was FEELING deeply. I didn't stop writing to stop feeling, but rather to fully devote my energy to feeling. When those moments come, whenever, or for whatever reason, I must stop and allow myself to fully experience whatever is happening. I owe that to myself and to the memories of my son, or whatever the issue pertains to.