In general, I’m pretty satisfied with my life. But like anyone else, I have my own set of bad days. What I realized in this most recent of bad days is that in the past, my eating disorder made my bad days even worse. Bad days would lead to binges, and binges led to overwhelming feelings of frustration and guilt. And that shame made me hate my life.
Without my eating disorder, bad days don’t make me feel that way anymore. Instead of hating my body, punishing myself with food or lack thereof, and feeling ashamed of who I am, I’m able to separate myself from my circumstances. I can have a bad day without feeling that I, myself, am bad. I can see my circumstances for what they are…unfortunate…without turning against my body, neglecting self care, and turning a mess into a disaster.
The day didn’t start out blah. I actually woke up feeling great. But by the time I’d finished my morning coffee, things changed. For starters, my favorite pair of glasses spontaneously broke. Literally, I was sitting on the couch, reading my bible, and I felt a pop by my cheek. The bottom part of my frame just randomly cracked, loosening the lens and causing it to fall out.
As I shared on Instagram, I consequently had to resort to my backup glasses, which are clear frames that I really don’t love. (I liked them on the face model on EyeBuyDiect.com but did not like them on my own face.) But alas, when my regular glasses break, the backup becomes my new normal. Realistically, a pair of glasses isn’t a big deal. But my feelings about my glasses are similar to the other types of body image struggles we deal with, too. In my case, I have no choice but to wear these glasses. I also have no choice but to live in the body that God gave me. This is just my body. This is my face. These are my glasses right now. But despite whether or not I feel like my glasses (or body) match up with society’s (or my own) expectations/perceptions of what is beautiful, it’s the vessel I have for carrying out my purpose in life. I have no choice but to use these glasses, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to see. I have no choice but to live in this body, or else I can’t do what I want to do in life, or carry out the tasks that God has for me. I self-soothed with an ice cream cone on the way to work, and I have no regrets.
In the past, something like an unflattering pair of glasses would trigger a cascade of self-condemnation about the way my face looks, as well as other parts of my body. But my journey through my own recovery has equipped me with the skills I need to set aside my feelings about my reflection, and see my life as worth more than appearances. It’s easier said than done, but getting to this place has been so worth it.
The badness of my day didn’t end with my glasses. I also dropped my brand new phone (I had owned it for 6 days) and cracked the screen. Then, I drove my car over a parking lot median because it was in my blind spot, got stuck, and broke a part of my wheel. I was thoroughly annoyed, to say the least. When all of this happened, it was 8 pm after the world’s longest day, and I was starving, cold from the clinic A/C, and just tired. And so, so frustrated.
In the past, my frustration might’ve spurred me to skip dinner altogether, intensifying my feelings of anxiety, sadness, and self-condemnation. (Yes, I was very mad at myself for breaking my phone and my car in the same hour…the two most expensive things I own…ugh.) Or, I might have self-soothed by emotionally eating, then felt guilty for doing so, probably triggering a binge. And with a binge would come all kinds of self-hatred.
Instead, in recovery, I did choose to self-soothe with food. But first I paused, and I prayed. I called my sister. And then I stopped my haste and I chose self-care. I walked to Chipotle and ordered a burrito, and I enjoyed my dinner. It comforted me, stabilized my blood sugar, and helped me think more clearly about my phone and car situation.
Yes, it was a bad, bad day. But it was okay. It would’ve been so much worse if, in addition to all the bad things that happened outside of my control, I’d neglected to care for myself, or indulged in harmful eating disorder behaviors, or condemned myself. There’s a world of difference between bad days in recovery and bad days in my eating disorder.
I won’t lie, there are far worse things that can happen in life than a broken phone, glasses, or car. But no matter how bad it already is, disordered eating will only make it worse.