What This Picture Says About My Eating Disorder Recovery
Editor’s note: If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741-741.
See that picture? It’s a picture of my toes. Pointing at a blank spot. A blank spot where my scales have sat since we renovated the bathroom about 12 years ago.
For as long as I can remember, I have weighed myself first thing every morning — day in, day out. Like clockwork. A special, comforting routine. I’d climb out of bed, empty bladder, strip naked and stare at the fateful number.
And for as long as I can remember, I have known this is a terrible thing to do. When the numbers go up I panic and make stupid decisions about my eating. When the numbers go down I fear they’ll go back up then I make stupid decisions about my eating. There is no win. There is no time when I look at the numbers and think, Awesome! There are definitely times when I look back and wish I’d appreciated numbers, but I never appreciate them at the time. They are always a stepping stone to a magical place that doesn’t exist — the skinny “equals” happy land…
When I started my recovery course about five weeks ago, I made a commitment to drop from daily to weekly weighing. I couldn’t cope with the thought of getting rid of them at the time. I had only in recent months contemplated the thought of not weighing myself daily. Many tiny baby steps!
This morning I weighed in. I’m still not happy with it, but I didn’t feel particularly bad about it. I then jumped online and caught up on all the recovery group chat overnight and noticed a lot of discussion about scales. There was some very tough love tossed around — in a beautiful, gentle, empathetic manner — but it was still tough love. And while I hadn’t been the original poster of the scales question, I knew everything being talked about related to me completely…
I can’t be dragged over the finish line. I can’t be forced to use the tools. Nobody else can do the work for me. I already know what I need to do. I know I need to get rid of the fucking scales. I’ll never feel good about getting rid of them. Why do I want to weigh myself? What do I hope to gain? What happens when this eight weeks is over? Will this course be something else I tried and failed at?
So while I had the strength to do so, I sent my husband a message asking him to hide them away when he got home from work. I could have taken them outside and ceremoniously smashed them to bits, but that seemed very wasteful for rather expensive scales, and also a bit unfair on the rest of the family who do use them from time to time — usually to weigh luggage.
I felt a lot of angst about it all day and weighed myself again at lunchtime. And then when I got home after my appointment this afternoon, the scales were gone. A big empty space where they used to sit. No more weighing…
People have said they are proud of me for doing this. I don’t feel pride. I just feel angst. How will I know if I’m getting fatter? How will I know if I’m not? What will my new morning routine look like? How will I know what to wear each day? How will I know how much to eat each day?
But I also know, this was a really, really good decision, and it is a decision I will become more comfortable with over time. Change is meant to be uncomfortable. I hear that again and again! So this is hugely uncomfortable, and I’ve roped my husband into it and now made a public declaration, so I can’t just unhide them from myself or go buy a new set tomorrow. The longer I go not weighing, the more normal it should become. I guess the answer to the questions above (probably utterly absurd questions in other people’s minds) will become clear over time.
Throwing away the scales is the end of a monumental era for me. But more than that, I think it indicates really powerfully I have found the path I am supposed to embark upon, and I have started moving forward. I have traversed many roads in the past, and none of them led to anywhere near this kind of improvement — for me they were the wrong road. Or perhaps they were just the little back roads that eventually brought me to the highway. But everything I’m doing now, feels like I am heading in the right direction.
I am making progress. I can’t do it all at once, but I can take each little success as it comes. Has my day been flawless? Not even a little bit. Is my eating disorder in remission? Hardly! Is the removal of my scales a huge step in the right direction? Absolutely!
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Photo via contributor.