This was maybe one of the most surprising things I wrote (and allowed Bea to read) on Monday. This is all about eating disorders, and why I don’t want to talk about it. Bea has mentioned it a few times, casually, but I am aware this is the year she wants us to at least have more of a conversation and bring the eating disorder out of the shadowy land of make believe and into the real world. I feel the need to place a trigger warning on this, because I was more honest than I’ve ever been, and it could be triggering if you have or have had an eating disorder. Please read safely. Xx
Which brings us to the whole nutritionist thing. I know I said something about it Thursday, and we had somewhat of a conversation…..but I wasn’t so here and grounded. Gah. I want her to get better. I do. But then. I don’t know. It just feels very threatening. Like if she gives up her eating disorder, then I can certainly give up the odd eating habits I have. Ugh. I don’t know. And I know you think I should be able to talk about it, but I don’t even know what to say. And I know my eating stuff exists in this shadowy not real place, but I sort of like it that way. I don’t want it to be real to anyone but me. Because then…..I don’t know. I can say there is nothing wrong. That I have quirky habits, am a picky eater. I don’t know. I only know I get very afraid to talk about it all, and I feel like just talking about is it going to mean someone taking it away, that I won’t be in control anymore. And that brings out this very defiant teenager feeling part in me, and it makes me want to grab onto the eating issues with both hands and never give them up.
“Yeah. Of course you want to grab onto this with everything you have and not let go. With all that is going on in your life, all the upheaval and changes, how could you not? I’m not taking it away, I don’t have that power. I only want to bring it to the light, so you can make informed choices.” Bea says carefully. I can feel how carefully she is treading, she is so aware how touchy this subject is and what a big deal it is to be talking about this at all, and I’ve been so honest…ugh.
“I am making a choice.” I mumble, whisper, the sentence. I’m not sure I even want her to hear what I’ve said. It feels a bit sassy, a bit like teen me is peeking out, testing the waters.
“It feels to you like you are making a choice. From the outside…it appears, at times, that it is controlling you.” It’s said kindly, and gently.
“No, not at all. I make the choice.” This time, I’m firm and bordering on rude. I hate the way I sound, but I can’t really control it, either. How do you explain that you can’t stop your reactions, even when you don’t like them or want to react differently?
Bea accepts the anger in my voice, and lets it go. She isn’t going to win this argument, and I don’t think she warms to fight with me about this; she warms to support me, help me.
And that defiant teenager feeling part of me is not nice. It’s not even just sassy, or difficult. That part is mean and cruel and easily angered over nothing. And really, bulimic behaviors are gross. Like seriously gross. I’m not sure I can actually talk about that. Because it’s gross. And embarrassing. And…this is seriously uncomfortable to even try to put what I think I into words…….it’s the whole…weight thing. I assume, I feel, like anyone who is discussing food with me is judging me and my weight, thinking I just shouldn’t be eating at all, that I’m too fat to eat. I don’t know. I think that discussing eating draws attention to my body, and I can’t…I don’t like that…..it’s just not okay. I don’t know. And then I think anyone who knows about the eating issues must think I should try a little harder….like be a better anorexic or something. And I can’t….I don’t know, discussing bulimic behavior is as intolerable to me as actually saying the words of things that happened when I was a kid out loud. Not okay. Disgusting, and anyone who hears it will judge me as gross and bad and want nothing to do with me. ……….. So, I am scared to talk about eating stuff because I don’t want to not be the one in control, and I’m afraid I’ll look crazy because of the eating issues– the rules, behaviors, I don’t know…I’m afraid to show just what a control freak I am– and I’m afraid to have this angry, mean part of me show up. Because I don’t know what will happen then. It’s scary. And all the eating stuff is really so twisted in with so much of my life, where in the world do we start? It’s messy. And I don’t like messy. And maybe there really is nothing wrong and I am just a very quirky eater. Maybe none of it is even a big deal and I’m making a deal out of nothing. So there it is. All the reasons I’m afraid to talk about this.
“You,” Bea says, “have been doing some very hard work. You have been doing a lot of processing, haven’t you?”
I nod. “Yeah.”
“This is big stuff. This is what I have been saying, giving it shape, color, making it real. You made the fear of talking about this real. I can tell you, I can handle the angry teenager when you are ready for me to see her. And I’m not thinking anything bad about you, nothing at all. I’m not going anywhere.”
I let a few tears of relief, of just too much pent up emotions, slide down my cheeks. I’m shaking with nerves, and with relief. She can handle the angry part when I’m ready for that part to be seen. Not now. But she says she can handle it.
“So many people have control issues. Especially if trauma is involved, because trauma is a huge loss of control. Of course you are looking for control. And this is a very big way you can have control; a very concrete, here and now way. It’s not crazy.” I think Bea is reading back over the paragraph I’ve written, and is now addressing other fears she is noticing. “We can talk about this more as you are ready. I’m really glad you are looking at it, and sharing this with me.”
“I’m not…not changing…this..” I say, slowly.
“You don’t have to.” She reassures me. There is no panic or worry in her voice. She might not like what I choose to do, but I think she understands it as much as a person can, and she accepts it for where it is at the moment.
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“I think you are in the thinking and processing and writing about it stage. And that is right where you need to be.”
We sit in silence for a moment, and I’m afraid Bea has moved on to reading the last part of my messy list. I have one more thing I need to say. Really, I think it’s the defiant angry teenager who needs to say it, because I feel afraid and silly and embarrassed to say it. But I do. “I’m in control.”
“What?” Bea asks. She didn’t hear me, I mumbled it and had this sarcastic angry edge to my voice that isn’t common for me at all. For a moment though, I think she is saying ‘what’ in a ‘I can’t believe you said that’ sort of way, and my feelings are beyond hurt. “I didn’t hear you,” Bea clarifies, after I don’t say anything else. Maybe she realizes I was hurt.
I shake my head, feeling so dumb for not realizing why she said what, and repeat myself. “I’m in control of the eating stuff. And I don’t have to change or stop. And I’m in control of talking about it. That’s the rule right? You can’t talk about it?”
“Well…if you need that rule, then yes. But I really hate to have things I can’t bring up at all in this space. I’d rather bring it up and have you make the choice, tell me you don’t want to talk about it.” She says softly.
“And then you really won’t talk about it?” I double check. Angry teenager does not trust anyone, and believes everything is a trick. Who can really blame her, though? That’s been her experience.
“I really will listen. If you say not right, not today, I’ll listen. And I won’t talk about it.”
I think about this. Maybe I am trying to convince the teenager it’s okay.
“And you are in charge of when or if eating changes.” Bea adds.
“Okay. No rule that you can’t talk. Okay.” I say. I sort of feel like saying ‘you win.’ except I know that’s the angry teen, so I hold that inside.
“This is good. It’s hard, it was a lot of hard work. But I am glad you shared it, and that the eating has some reality to it for me, and maybe for you, too.” Bea says.
I nod. I mostly feel pretty numb. I really can’t believe I have shared the reasons why I won’t talk with Bea, and she took them pretty okay. It’s a lot, but I’m glad Bea knows. I feel okay about that, which surprises me.