A Slice of Humble Pie: “But I’m Not Small (Sick) Enough…”

***Potential Trigger Warning: Anything and everything can be a trigger. But this is a forewarning, I do get into my own story here and there is as always the potential for comparisons.  It is up to you to decide if you are in a place mentally in this moment to be able to cope with this. If not, be gentle with yourself and respect that. I won’t be offended. There is no shame. ❤ ***

Happy (mirrorless) Monday everyone!

Oh wait, it’s Monday… ahem… I mean, it’s Monday, FML.

Isn’t that the general consensus?  Actually, for me, Monday isn’t horrible. Probably because for me, Monday is my Wednesday and not the start of the work week.  Ah, the joys of being an adult that doesn’t have a Monday to Friday work week!

So I got this really great response to my last post, and not only does that feel incredible and warm and fuzzy and fantastic, but it gives me great ideas for future posts!  See, collaboration, team work… all that jazz makes the world go round!

Or was that peanut butter?

Peanut butter makes the world go round… yeah, that was the saying.  Obviously.

Distracted… moving on.

So when I get positive feedback, I can never understand it.  Someone says, “Wow, your blog post was really powerful!  I learned so much!” and I’m honoured, truly I am, but I’m like, come on, it wasn’t that great…  Or someone says, “You articulate so well!  I’m touched!” and I feel super uncomfortable and squirmy because I don’t take compliments well, and as fantastic as it makes me feel, I’m like, I’m just a nobody who wrote some rambles on some paper and hit publish.

 

While some people might call this being humble or modest, it poses a problem. See, often we are taught growing up not to “toot our own horns”, for fear of being perceived as vain or arrogant.  Yes, repetitive self glorification is a problem in its own right if it results in the belief that you are ALWAYS right, or better than everyone else, or worst of all the purposeful diminishment of others.  However, to always take the humble road and not acknowledge your own strengths or accomplishments often leads to many other problems, such as a lowered sense of SELF worth, value, or significance.  AKA, low self esteem, but even more so, a sense of not being good enough or worthy enough of any type of positive reception or caring actions.

Ah, self esteem.

I love (hate) to always come back to you.

Let me translate:

Come on, it wasn’t that great =  I don’t have the skills or the smarts to create something meaningful or worthy of praise

I’m just a nobody who wrote some rambles on some paper and hit publish = I am insignificant as a person, and my thoughts are so small, foolish, and worthless that I can’t understand why on earth you are lying to me and just trying to stroke my inflated ego.

Need I mention that the whole first half of the sentence basically proves that the inflated ego part isn’t very accurate?

Now, it’s not a direct translation- I didn’t write a self esteem dictionary.  But if you peel back all the layers of crap that you’ve built on top of it, that’s basically where you end up:  your core beliefs about yourself.

I believe:

  • I am worthless
  • I am insignificant
  • I am not good enough
  • I am stupid
  • I am ugly
  • I am undeserving of love
  • I am boring
  • I am lazy
  • I am selfish

Whew! What a list.  Now, don’t go getting all concerned and teary eyed for me.  Do I believe all of these things at the same time?  No.  At least, not anymore.  But, do I still struggle with all these thoughts individually at one time or another?  Yes.  Do many of them come up on a daily basis?  Yes.

Do I let these core beliefs about myself dictate everything I say or do? NO!

Not anymore.

I can guarantee you for those who suffer from eating disorders, this list of core beliefs rings true on most if not all points.  You would be hard pressed, if not unable, to find an eating disorder sufferer with good self esteem.  Poor self esteem is like the eating disorder’s peanut butter: it’s what it lives off of, feeds on, and manipulates in order to get you to listen and heed its vicious call.

Except unlike peanut butter, it definitely doesn’t taste delicious.

Here’s the thing: when you feel like crap about yourself, things lose meaning and purpose. You no longer enjoy things you once did.  You want to run away and hide.  You want to cut yourself off from the world, and at the same time find something to fill the void where your positive self should be.  And you’re so desperate to find some way to make yourself feel better, feel happy, feel like you have worth.  You need that! It’s a basic necessity to feel a sense of value, purpose, and worth. The thing is that what enters to fill that space, while tantalizing and seemingly promising, doesn’t fit the bill.

Enter the eating disorder.

Not-Thin-Enough

image source Running with Spoons

I would feel better about myself if I lost 5 lbs…

It didn’t work.  I still feel like shit.  But I’m getting some positive feedback from other people, and that feels good.  So another 10 lbs will work for sure!

My pants just fell off.  But I still am worthless!  I’m still ugly!  If only I could get rid of my muffin top, then that will be enough!  Then I’ll be thin enough that everyone will love me and I will love myself!

What happened?  How did I end up on the floor?  I’m bleeding and I cut open my chin… I don’t remember falling?  Last thing I remember was being on the treadmill… Pinch an inch.  Shit.  That flab is still there.  I need to lose at least another 5 lbs.  5 more lbs and I’ll be done.

Hint:  It’ll never be enough.

I struggle with posts like this one.  I never know whether sharing my own personal struggle in detail will be helpful or triggering.  The eating disorder is based on comparison, and the reality is that comparisons, particularly from a starved and malnourished state are NOT ACCURATE!

Now, let me iterate, STARVED AND MALNOURISHED DOES NOT MEAN UNDERWEIGHT!

It can mean underweight.  It can mean having a body fat percentage so low that your brain can’t function properly.  It can mean that you have whole periods of your life that you don’t remember because your brain didn’t have the energy it needed to create a memory.

I don’t remember the week before I was hospitalized.  I have journals that I wrote that tell me what happened, where I was mentally, and the people that I was with that describe it to me, but in my own head, it’s a black void.  I remember the car ride to my Grandma’s house, and about three quarters of the way there, that’s where the memory stops.  The next thing I remember is lying in a hospital bed with a bowl of soup in front of me- A WEEK LATER!  A WEEK!  I remember nothing.

I don’t remember a few weeks this summer.  I managed to stay out of the hospital.  I remember what I did to do that, deceitful and tricky things before weigh ins that I WON’T list here because I am NOT PRO-ANA.  I remember working, but it’s a blur, a mix of fuzzy images that aren’t a total void like the first time, but still nothing concrete.  I remember using my breaks to exercise, and eating a ton of dry cheerios and carrot sticks.  That’s it.

But that’s me.

As I said, STARVED AND MALNOURISHED DOES NOT MEAN UNDERWEIGHT!

You can be a normal weight, and still be just as sick as someone who is underweight.  You can be a normal weight and still be not eating enough, or purging it, and your body doesn’t get the nutrients it needs to function.

I repeat.  You can be just as sick as I was.

But regardless of whether you are underweight or overweight or normal weight, your eating disorder will always tell you you are not small, or sick enough to deserve help.

Remember, you are starved, you are deprived, you are malnourished, and your body and brain are not functioning properly.  Your eating disorder is feeding off of your low self esteem, throwing tantalizing, seemingly true ideas at you about the next 5, 10, or 15 lbs you can lose.  Your eating disorder is distorting what you think about yourself, inside, outside, and all over.  You are NOT seeing clearly, you are NOT thinking clearly, and you have such a low opinion of yourself that you take a slice of your humble pie and minimize your suffering.

Come on, it wasn’t that great = I don’t have the skills or the smarts to create something meaningful or worthy of praise

I’m just a nobody who wrote some rambles on some paper and hit publish = I am insignificant as a person, and my thoughts are so small, foolish, and worthless that I can’t understand why on earth you are lying to me and just trying to stroke my inflated ego.

Find your thesaurus:

I don’t have the skills or the smarts to create something meaningful or worthy of praise = I am stupid and insignificant I’m not enough = I’m not small enough = I’m not sick enough

I am insignificant as a person, and my thoughts are so small, foolish, and worthless that I can’t understand why on earth you are lying to me and just trying to stroke my inflated ego= I am selfish, insignificant, and worthless= I am ugly (as a person) = I’m not pretty enough (external/internal) I’m not thin enough = I’m not sick enough

It all comes down to the same thing. You have low self esteem, you believe the lies the eating disorder says, and you don’t want to appear vain or selfish by admitting that you have a problem or that you need help.  You don’t believe you need it because you can’t see it, because your eating disorder is showing you all the ways in which you are fine, by distorting your perceptions.

This was me, a week before I ended up in the hospital:

Photo on 2012-08-15 at 12.55

I didn’t believe I was thin enough, or sick enough.  I can’t remember anything starting the day after this was taken.

This was me the day I had the soup in the hospital:Photo on 2012-09-02 at 10.57 #2Side note: See those electrodes?  Yeah, they knew my heart could stop at any moment so they wanted to be on top of it.

Double side note:  I still didn’t believe I was thin enough, or sick enough.

This was me this summer:

Photo on 2015-06-14 at 12.34 AM

And believe it or not, there was only about 6, maybe 7 lbs difference between the top picture and this one… baggy clothes cover things up, but they don’t hide everything.

Again:  Still didn’t believe I was thin enough or sick enough.

This is me at this very moment:

Photo on 2016-01-11 at 9.46 AM

Almost weight restored.  Same sweater as above for the win!!

But yet again: Still don’t believe I’m thin enough.  But I do believe I’m sick enough to need help, and to pursue it.

Like I said, I struggle to be this overt with my own story.  I don’t want to encourage comparisons, and that is not the purpose.  The purpose here is an illustration:  It doesn’t matter what picture you pick above, what I see in the mirror is still the same:

anorexia_HR

And chances are the next time you look in the mirror, what you see is similar, and it’s not what is there.  It feels like it is, it looks like it is.  It’s as if I we were standing in front of a chair and I’m there trying to tell you that the chair isn’t there.  You don’t believe me, because you can see it.  Dear Lord, I know you can see it!  I can see it too!

But this is the one time that I’m going to be on this site and tell you not to eat!  DON’T TAKE A SLICE OF HUMBLE PIE!  Don’t minimize yourself.  Because you are sick enough. You are thin enough.  You are worthy.

And you’re enough.

 

 

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