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What This Picture Says About My Eating Disorder Recovery

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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!

woman feet in bathroom

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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Photo via contributor.

Originally published: October 9, 2017
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