Hunger is… okay.

It’s funny… prior to recovery, I spent so many years vacillating from bingeing and purging to starving myself, intentionally trying to feel physically empty. Yet, in recovery, I’ve become afraid to feel that which I used to crave… hunger. It’s not the type of thing where I’m afraid to feel the grumbling in my stomach before a meal; actually, now that I’m writing, I’m not even sure that it’s fear…

At the treatment centers I so humbly crawled to in the summer of 2001, we ate in an extremely regimented way (of course), being served up breakfast, lunch, dinner… and meta. Meta, or metabolic, went against the grain of every eating disordered bone in my body. Eat a snack before bed to regulate blood sugar? Moreover, it went against the dogmas of the most popular diets, which told me not to eat past eight in the evening, or no carbs past the afternoon. Dogmas that even Oprah buys into.

I’d always prided myself on going to bed on an empty stomach, hoping that I’d wake up (and feel) one more pound lighter. Just one more, and I’ll feel okay about myself.

Ever since my discharge from the rehabs that saved my life, I’ve eaten meta every night. It’s a great plan. That said, the compulsive eater in me sends warning signals to my brain if I don’t eat meta, or if I don’t eat every 4-5 hours the way I’ve been conditioned to eat.

So, yesterday, after some probing questions from my therapist, I found myself at another level of honesty in my recovery. What I know is that I don’t have to always eat something just because my brain tells me I should. Now, DO NOT get this confused with some type of anorexic cognitive distortion—this is hardly that. This is me being honest with myself about the fact that I still emotionally eat, in small doses.

I’ve been complaining (for years) that I just want to eat cleanly. I’ll eat cleanly for the entire day, and then at the end of the night, I’ll eat something—that “thing” that I’m hoping will make me feel “whatever,” but in actuality makes me feel guilty and increases my self-loathing—I don’t really need, just to sabotage me, mentally.

Well, I’m happy to report that last night, I, finally, went to bed without sabotaging myself! It was a little uncomfortable to go to bed without the maladaptive comfort of knowing I screwed up my perfectly clean abstinence yet again. But today, I feel so happy that I honored self-honesty.

This has triggered many thoughts and questions… I’d like to be able to not have to rely on “perfect” abstinence in order to feel good about my recovery. That’s very black and white, eating disordered thinking. I wonder if anyone reading this has come to a mental middle ground with their recovery? More next post…