I have come to the conclusion that Goldilocks is not an addict.
It’s not a difficult conclusion, really. It’s not that she is without issues, most notably a lack of personal boundaries or respect for those of others. But her behavior is clearly abnormal when observed from an addict’s perspective.
Come on–she samples two bowls of porridge and and finds the third one to be “just right.” She eats it. Satisfied, she goes and finds a nice place to take a nap.
What’s wrong with her? Why isn’t she rummaging through the bears’ kitchen, trying to find more of that perfect stuff? Or trying to mix the hot and cold porridge to capture that “just right” again? Or just gulping down the hot and cold porridge, because it’s better than nothing? How is it possible that she is moving on?
As I write this, I’m several weeks into a food plan I’ve been resisting with the mental equivalent of kicking and screaming for many months. You see, in the past year I’ve alternated my very low-calorie weight loss plan with episodes of uncontrolled binge eating…and, after a lot of suffering, I weigh almost exactly what I weighed last January.
I have longed for sanity…but I wanted it on my terms. I wanted to take off some of the weight I had gained in the previous year, and then eat sanely. In early December, I admitted it wasn’t working. No matter what I want, I have to hear what my body is saying to me: I demand to be accepted and dealt with exactly as I am, and every time you starve me I will torture you with cravings until they bring on a balancing binge.
So I gave in. I wrote down a plan every day, involving specific amounts of healthful food. Real food, not weight loss shakes and artificially sweetened protein bars. I ate what I wrote down, no more and definitely no less.
In a week, I was virtually free of cravings. I felt stronger, calmer, my body ached less, and I seldom thought about food in between my planned meals. I had found the circle of grace…and it has lasted for nearly a month now. My body and mind have continued to send me messages amounting to “About time, dumbass!”
Great news, right? There’s just one problem–I am nothing like Goldilocks. The concept of moderation, of just right, of enough…my addict brain squirms in discomfort.
No quick gratification from fast weight loss? No resolutions to starve virtuously after the latest episode of overeating? No “tomorrow will be different?”
I’m not new to this idea. I’ve written often about how foreign consistency feels to any addict, let alone one with bipolar disorder thrown into the mix. Acting too normal for too long; struggling to keep my self-care away from any concept of virtue or vice…yeah, that’s my strong suit.
Embracing, again, the severity of my eating disorder and my need for structure and surrender without discounting or sabotaging my other recovery…yeah, I’m great at balancing acts. My brain doesn’t ever whisper that food would be less of an issue if I took painkillers again, or that I wouldn’t be hungry at night if I took sleeping pills.
Accepting that this process will never end, and loving myself anyway? Sure, I don’t have any critical voices shouting that I should have done this years ago and stuck with it.
Being willing to write honestly about this aspect of me, no matter how much I am sick of dealing with it and no matter how much I fear being boring or repetitive? Sure, I don’t have any egotistical qualities urging me to make my struggles look cool or edgy.
Who am I kidding? There’s no way I can do this alone.
Oh, wait, I remember now…I’m not alone.