I’ve been turning many things over in my mind this week, not least what to do about the food and weight issues I blogged about recently.
Writing about it was transformative because it felt the first step to progress. And after I wrote, I felt I’d opened up the door marked ‘Honesty’ a little crack, allowing myself a peek behind it and eventually, taking a brave stride into that room.
I was keen to take action. I did two things- I went to my first OA meeting (Overeaters Anonymous, which caters for a whole range of people with the spectrum of eating issues) and contacted my old therapist. It was interesting, because I imagined I needed to buckle down and get on with some hard work again, but the results were very surprising.
When I went to OA, I had the overwhelming feeling that it wasn’t for me. I don’t want to write it off in on meeting, as I think that’s a closed minded approach, but I had a strong sense of intuition that throwing myself into a second 12 step programme isn’t the best solution for me right now. I need to do less inward looking and be more outward looking. One of the things I dislike about my weight obsession is that it makes me self-centred, and re-doing the 12 steps in a different programme doesn’t feel the gateway to progress for me right now.
I called my old therapist and as we talked, I realised that if I went to see her, I would have to be 100% honest about where my weight anxiety was coming from. AndI realised that I already knew the answer. It was staring me in the face…
So… Here it is. In Feb/March this year, I started seeing a man, let’s call him The Epitome of an Alpha Male, or ‘EAM’ for short 😉
He said to me, back then, in no uncertain terms that in order to be beautiful to him, I really should lose some weight. That I was pretty and he was attracted to me, but that shifting some pounds would make me truly beautiful.
THIS HAS ALARM BELLS WRITTEN ALL OVER IT. And yet I ignored them. Just as in drinking we ignore the voice that says ‘this is hurting you, you must stop’, I ignored the disaster klaxon and took these words to heart. I couldn’t quite believe this man was interested in me, as he is strong, beautiful, intelligent, funny and has incredibly high standards of the women he has relationships with. I have seen pictures of his exes, and I felt like a clown in a Victoria’s Secret model line up in comparison to them. But somehow, he had chosen me. My ego took over and my desire to please ran riot. I will do anything to keep this man, I thought. I know. I know.
The months went by and I didn’t lose any weight. The stress of the notion that I wasn’t doing well enough was perfectly encapsulated by this image, which I have referred to in this blog before, but it never fails to make me smile:
When he saw me, he would often make me stand there (sometimes even naked) while he ran his eyes over my body, decided whether it was fit for him. He would berate me for my lack of effort, and tell me that my lack of progress was indicative of a lack of commitment by not meeting his standards. I KNOW I KNOW. THIS IS JUST SO WRONG. But in the hands of this particular man I felt at home- his dominance suited me in some respects, and I fell in love with many aspects of his personality and incredibly strong character. So I pushed down that voice and told myself: ‘maybe he is right, maybe I have let my weight get out of control.’
But the whole time this was going on, I had a lingering and quite powerful sense of ‘actually, I think I’m ok.’ I knew this was a power game, and bordering upon emotional abuse. I once challenged him on it and he accused me of not being strong enough for him, and too sensitive. That he was helping me to grow to be the most perfect version of myself and that I was self sabotaging.
Until I met him I was, contrary to what I may have expressed in this blog in my darker moments, feeling good in my body 70% of the time. But his comments filled me with doubt. Just as I once believed I was fat when I was thin, I wondered whether I had engaged in some reverse body dysmorphia, believing I was thin when I was actually huge.
When I was having a particularly low day, where I’d been swimming with him and some friends and had the horror of wearing a bikini in front of his appraising eyes, I decided to confide in one of his female friends who I really trusted. She’s incredibly straight talking and quite harsh, actually, but in a sassy way that I admire. I knew if I told her what he was asking, she’d tell me straight whether my weight needed addressing. She has a loyalty to him that is absolutely unwavering, and I knew she would defend his viewpoint if it was factually accurate. To my relief, she said to me, and she meant it, ‘I honestly think you look fantastic as you are. You’re not skinny but you’re so shapely and slim. You look great.’ Hearing it from her planted a seed that maybe HE was the one that was being unreasonable here, not me, trying to quietly argue that maybe I’m ok as I am.
What baffles me as I write this is that I consider myself to be a strong, intelligent woman. WHY can a man like this manage to get right under my skin again and convince me I’m not ok? How, in the light of all the warning signals flashing in my brain can I walk blindly towards the darkness, knowing that only danger lies ahead? It’s the age old story and I cannot believe I have fallen victim to it.
Last week’s mini meltdown was prompted by a series of binges after being very restrictive in the hope it might please him to see the ‘effort’ I was putting in. ‘Being very restrictive’ the words that only lead to disaster for me and yet time and time again I give it a go. Hoping this time it will be different.
But, dear reader, there is a happy conclusion to this (frankly embarrassing) woeful tale.
On Monday, I sat alone in a park and thought quietly “it doesn’t have to be this way.’ I decided the only food rule I would set myself is that I wouldn’t binge, that I’d deal with the emotion in another way. And that I’d ditch the man, which I promptly did. With no emotion, no regrets or anger and my head held high.
It has been like the most enormous weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I have had a full week of eating entirely normally and healthily. I have learnt innumerable lessons, and one again have turned a corner in my sobriety and self development. I feel that there were two key things that helped me:
Giving in to my intuition: burrowing deep inside myself and listening to the voice that said ‘this is not ok.’
Knowing that there is another way– the relief that the thought ‘it doesn’t have to be this way’ brought was increible and set me on the path to freedom.
So today I have taken myself out of the bustling city in which I live to write, reflect and that my intuition for giving me the bravery to get my freedom back. Yes I have been stupid but harsh words do not need to be said here; I’m embracing the comfort of knowing that if I trust myself, I will eventually find the right path. And if that path is alone, so be it. Farewell EAM!
Happy Sunday, FFF x
(*panics as she presses publish!*)