I haven’t been writing a lot lately. Actually that’s not true. I’ve been writing a ton in my journal, but not much in the blog. First of all, I lost internet access for 2 weeks because I inadvertently broke a rule. Second, I haven’t felt like I have much to say. I think people are getting tired of my blog, or bored. I’M getting bored. Treatment is a lot of the same thing every day, with breakthroughs once in awhile. Digging through layers and years of garbage and lies and suppressed feelings is exhausting and a very slow process. Some days I can’t even tell that I’ve made a dent.
Today I had something click in my head for the first time in a few weeks. In our Self-Esteem group we were discussing thought distortion. My therapist has been working with me on this for a while. Catching distorted thoughts and replacing them with a more reasonable one. An example might be, “I am not worthy of love unless I am perfect.” The distortion would be All-or-Nothing thinking. I’m either perfect and loveable or imperfect and unlovable. There’s no room for error. There’s no middle ground. A more rational thought would be, “I’m not perfect and neither is anyone else. I am loved by [insert names] who have seen me at my worst and are still in my life.” I’ve noticed that I distort my thoughts like this A LOT. My thinking has become habitual, just like many other behaviors (biting fingernails, picking zits, pulling out eyelashes . . . ). How many of you think negative things about yourself on a daily basis? Maybe you don’t even notice you’re doing it. These thoughts are so habitual that I don’t even realize I’m having them unless I make an active, conscious effort to notice what I’m thinking. Since coming here I’ve been shocked with how many times a day I think things like, “fat, ugly, pathetic, worthless, useless, dumb, dorky, socially inept.” Stopping those thoughts and replacing them with new ones is tough. Usually the thoughts I replace them with aren’t even related to the negative thought. I might think, “I’m fat” and replace the thought with, “look how gorgeous the mountains are today.” But doing that is better than doing nothing, because you can’t hold a negative and a positive thought in your mind at the same time. Seriously. Try it.
ANYWAY, I totally got off topic there. My group was discussing thought distortion. We each shared some of our own. One of mine was, “I’m so pathetic. I should be able to eat like a normal person. This is a stupid thing to struggle with. I am stupid.” A lot of the women related to that one. Therapist interjected here and said that he firmly believes that our eating disorders are not our faults. I didn’t understand or agree with that. I’m an adult. I make my own decisions. Then he made the point that often the roots of our eating disorders lie in something that happened in childhood or early teens. We turn to eating disorders before we were even aware what they were. For example if a child is made to feel like they are “bad”, they might be picked on by other children, or called stupid, or ugly. They might carry around that belief for the rest of their lives. When they are older they start to try to cope with ineffective negative behaviors like restriction, purging, etc. I can honestly say with all my heart that of all the many ambitions I had as a child, being anorexic was not one of them. I did not dream of growing up to be a woman who cried when she ate, starved, binged, purged, and exercised her way out of any happiness or good relationship she might have had.
I want to exonerate my little girl. Little 4-year-old Camilla who thought she was ugly. Six-year-old Camilla who was told that she asked too many questions in class. 8-year-old Camilla who wasn’t funny, 11-year-old Camilla whose tummy was “bigger than her boobs,” and 12-year-old Camilla who was groped and teased and called fat. I exonerate her, because she didn’t know her thinking was wrong. She didn’t know it would be addictive. She had NO CLUE that what she was doing was even unhealthy! And by the time she figured it out, I was hooked.
Last night I cried harder than I have in a LONG time. I could barely breathe and it hurt trying to get air into my lungs. I cried for the pain I’ve had, but MOSTLY the pain I’ve caused other people. If we think we only hurt ourselves with addictions, we are delusional. I exonerate my younger self, but I am so angry at my adult self for NOT GETTING HELP WHEN I KNEW I NEEDED IT. This could have been stopped in 2005, but I quit. I didn’t think I was “sick” enough. Let me just clarify for everyone who has thought that or is currently thinking it. ANY AMOUNT OF DISORDERED EATING BEHAVIORS IS “SICK ENOUGH.” PLEASE PLEASE STOP AND GET HELP NOW. PLEASE. Your future self and your children and family and every other relationship you have or will have with sing your praises.
Our friends and family want US. They DO NOT want an Eating Disorder disguised as us. It’s a parasite. It can’t live outside of you. And luckily you can KILL this parasite. It’s hard, it sucks sometimes, it can feel long and lonely, but I believe it’s possible. If I didn’t believe that, trust me I would NOT still be here. There would be a huge Camilla-shaped hole in one of the walls and some crazy, homeless, emaciated woman living at the gym. And probably dying at the gym.
Frank, today I REALLY hate you.