From my days at an intensive outpatient treatment center, I received a meal plan to aid me in my recovery. I have had tweaks and changes throughout my time in therapy, yet have still always had a meal plan to follow. The last meal plan I received, I wrote down on a small square piece of paper, a piece of paper that I took with me each day, usually folded up in my daily planner (or when I was actively writing down what I ate on a daily basis, it would be paper-clipped in to the little notebook I used). It can’t be any bigger than 4.5″ x 4.5″; just a small square piece of paper.
Each day I’d bring it with me, each day I’d quietly ignore it and not pay any attention to it. Yet, each day it would still come with me. I’d be fully aware that I have it. fully aware of what it contains. Yet, each day I would not attempt to follow it. It would remain folded up, tucked away.
It’s a sad thing to say that you’re afraid of a 4.5″ x 4.5″ piece of paper…but I was, I am. (A 24 year old girl afraid of paper…) I have ignored it for so long, unwilling to try to follow it for quite sometime. Granted, don’t get me wrong, there were moments when I did try to follow it. I wasn’t always actively rebelling against it. Yet little bumps along the road come along, as is expected in recovery, and I allowed these little bumps to derail me slowly but surely. I got used to doing ‘my thing’ which wasn’t really dangerous, but it wasn’t healthy either. I got used to my foods, the things that I liked and would eat almost every day, on repeat. I’d eat during the day, but definitely not enough…I’d eat enough to ward off any pesky hunger pangs, but the minimal amount I had to. That allowed me to “save up” for my “inevitable” night time binge. And again, there were days where I did good and didn’t binge. Or simply nights when I overate (which is VERY different than a binge). But the overwhelming majority of my nights consisted of binging. Some nights much worse than others.
I am not a stupid girl. I get the concept: eat more during the day, binge less (or not at all!) at night. It’s a beautiful idea, a wonderful notion, and it makes sense to the logical part of my brain. I get it. But, the implementing of it…that’s another story. If you asked me why I have such reservations about committing to my meal plan, I could probably give a handful of reasons. I am afraid, would be one. I don’t trust myself, would be another. I know a meal plan like this is geared towards me individually and what MY body needs, yet it’s a hard concept for me. I’ve never reached a point where I ate ‘right’. By that I mean, as far back as I can remember, I overate. When I was young I ate a lot, and ended up gaining a lot of weight. Then, came the gradual slide into eating only healthy foods and then sliding even further into my anorexia. So I’ve never really had a point where I had a balance. I have no reason to believe that my body will find its healthy resting point if I eat ‘normally’.
But, this halfsies thing isn’t cutting it either. I’m not sick but not recovered. It’s that awful middle ground where I have been stuck for a long time. Because the reality is, I am not being healthy. I know that if I don’t get it figured out, eventually it will impact my health for the worse. It’s been on my mind A LOT. The fact that it has is further evidence that this is a problem. If it is going to be so consistently on my mind, I’m obviously not where I want or need to be. So, today, I pulled out that little 4.5″ x 4.5″ inch square of paper that was so neatly folded and tucked into my planner.
I unfolded it, looked it over and found myself thinking ‘this? this is what you’re so afraid of?!?’ This little slip of paper and the letters that formed words that formed the ever-feared ‘meal plan’. I looked it over and found myself thinking, ‘this really isn’t so bad’. It seemed pretty attainable, pretty realistic, pretty standard. There was nothing over-the-top about it. By the way I avoided it, you would think it told me to eat every minute of every day. But when I really looked at it, it seemed balanced, it seemed…normal.
What happens when you continue to stare at something that once gave you fear? Often, yet not always, that fear starts to dissipate. The thing that once caused you endless amounts of fear, no longer holds that grip over you. All throughout the rest of the afternoon, I kept looking at that 4.5″ x 4.5″ piece of paper and thought about what was written on it. It sits within arms reach now, lying on the floor next to me. I have been thinking about it a lot, not avoiding the thought of it like I so often did in the past. I think I’ll continue to think about it and stare down the enemy a little bit more…and hopefully in enough time that fear of taking that jump will slowly fade away. I feel pretty confident that I’m headed in the right direction.
I joined a few online eating disorder support groups in the last few days and weeks and I don’t quite think I’ve felt this way, nor have I been so openly exposed to so many who are either currently struggling or have struggled with an eating disorder as I have now. Hearing all these people share their stories, share their struggles, share their goals and the minor victories they have has created a change down deep in me. I wish I could put it into words for you, but it’s too hard to properly explain. These people, who don’t know the person on the other side of the screen who chooses to open themselves up, offer support, suggestions, encouragement and strength to complete strangers. There are people on the other side of the world who have been my biggest source of strength and support lately. We may not know each other personally, but we do know each others’ struggle…and we all have the hope, wish or desire that all of us can reach recovery.
I will never quit fighting, no matter how many highs or lows I experience. Is it tiring? Yes. Are there moments that just make me question whether I will ever get to a fully healthy and normal place? Yes. But I can’t let that flicker of hope ever fade away. It’s just not the type of person I am. No matter what struggles I face, I know that if I keep going, if I keep pushing forward, I will get to that elusive place of happiness and contentment, the place of recovery.