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When Eating Disorder Recovery Means Surrendering Control

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You used to not eat because there were just too many options and too many calories. You could never make up your mind, so you always chose what was “safe” and “good.” Even now, it’s easier for you to pick the “healthier” option rather than what might actually taste best.

When it comes to making decisions, you often deflect the question of “what do you want?” You tell them you don’t care, whatever is fine. And most of the time it is true, isn’t it? Any food is going to taste pretty good, and you know you have to eat anyway, so you might as well keep it open and simple, let them make what they want.

Except when you’re at the coffee shop, and you used to work at a coffee shop, this coffee shop in fact… but you can’t make up your mind on what drink to try because you’ve only ever had brewed coffee or iced coffee. So your sister chooses for you, and she must have the same taste buds as you because the caramel macchiato is delicious and so creamy and good.

Except when your husband asks you what sounds good for dinner and you have no idea what really sounds good and he throws out options and you think your mind is made up but then you remember you had a big breakfast (like you always do) and you don’t know if you can handle having a sandwich with meat and mayonnaise and you tell him that wait, actually you might not know what you want and might not be able to handle that and maybe you should just stay home and not eat. And then he reassures you that he’ll take care of it, and not to worry, and surprisingly, you feel calmed and just fine, even though you know dinner is now out of your hands, out of your control.

You see a woman eating a cupcake and she leaves some behind on the plate, which you can’t even comprehend. It’s a cupcake. One does not simply leave half a cupcake on a plate to be tossed out. And yet obviously, this woman does. Lots of people do. Because they have had enough, because they are full, because the food is rich and filling. This is when you start to think… How hard it is to know when to start, and how hard it is to know when to stop. You worry you might become bulimic, because the food is so good, and you’re supposed to eat now, and there are no limits except for the ones your eating disorder has put up and what if he changes the rules?

You are getting better. I can see it, in everything. In how you talk, how you eat, how you interact. You still have a long way to go, but you have come so far. You have never eaten this much. You have never weighed this much. But it’s OK, you’ll be OK. Because you have to do this for yourself, to live. And you don’t want to live in hell and despair anymore. No one should have to live like you were, and yet they do. Even if they don’t realize it. They say they’re doing it to be healthy, they say they just want to lose a few pounds. And yes, for some people, this is necessary, possibly a good thing. But you know that it is often so much more than that. But you can fight it for yourself, and maybe if you can do that, others will see how sad their diets and restrictive eating patterns are. Or maybe they won’t. But at least you will have made the right choices you need to make for you. And everything is going to be OK. 

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Originally published: April 18, 2016
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