In my struggles with food and body image, I have made a lot of realizations about myself. Of these realizations, one that has possibly the most importance is this:
I am not very good at taking care of myself.
(I have to be very careful when thinking about this, to not turn this realization into an opportunity for self-flagellation. Another realization I have had is that I tend to turn tools for growth into weapons against myself—this is probably tied into the realization above.)
I’ve been thinking about the idea of taking care of myself a lot, particularly as the last week or so has been especially rough, due in part to some stresses at Mr. X’s job, on top of all the usual IF pain and the uncertainty about our future. I have found myself EATING a lot (as opposed to eating, which is simply ingesting food to provide your body with energy to function). EATING (for me) is more about hiding from my feelings, finding a way to be numb, and in the post binge-aftermath, giving myself something else to think about—in particular, “how bad I am for EATING.”
So this EATING is a less than ideal form of self-care, which I have known for a while, but the more recent development is that I am aware that I EAT in part because there is a lack of good self-care in my survival toolbox. As I have been working through Why Weight?, I am realizing how much I EAT simply because it’s easier. I’ve been noticing that I’ve had cravings for salad and stir fry and other yummy, nutrition-rich things, but I just haven’t had the energy to get it together. It’s much easier to just grab some ready-made, no-cooking-necessary chocolate than get my shit together enough to eat what I really want.
Part of this comes down to the fact that I’m not listening to my body. My body is telling me exactly what it wants, exactly what it needs, and I just say, “Nah, not this time. How ’bout some chocolate?” And it’s not just with food. So many times I hear that little voice “I’m tired,” or “I want to journal for a while,” and I respond, “No time. How ’bout some chocolate?”
So here’s the challenge—taking the information from these realizations and not using them to damage myself further with endless self-chastisement. The challenge is using these realizations to actually find new ways to take care of myself, and not just new ways to punish myself. As I am learning:
Self-contempt never inspires lasting change.*