One of the first things that anyone tends to learn when they start to take a closer look at eating disorders is that it’s not really about the food: it’s about emotions and control. When everything is upside down and feels twisted inside out, sometimes it feels like the only thing that you can control is what you do or do not eat – and in what quantity. Part of recovery is recognizing that there are other ways of taking control in life and learning “more effective coping mechanisms.”
When I’m not writing here (or in one of my other personal blogs or working on building the ED Recovery Blog Community – and if you haven’t yet, remember that you can sign up for your own ED Recovery Blog community blog), I’m a ghostwriter. Well, in a tough economy, a lot of people are cutting their marketing budgets. What that means is that, well, I went from eighteen paid gigs to eight in the span of two weeks.
In other words, I lost more than half of my monthly income and it’s fair to say that I’m panicked about it. If ever I’ve felt like I have lost control of the way that things are going in my life, it’s now.
In the past, there’s a really good chance that the panic that I’m feeling would have led me to lose it a bit. One of my first thoughts probably would have been about saving money and, when I was using anorexia to gain some (however false) sense of control, I would have decided to quit buying groceries. This time, I’ve decided that I’ll go to Costco to get produce in bulk and buy other food at Trader Joes and, worst case scenario, give up my Diet Coke addiction.
It’s interesting to me the way that things change over time. Do I feel like I’m losing control right now? Yes, absolutely. Do I feel like I have to spiral out of control and run away from taking care of myself this time? No, not at all.
I’m not sure when the lesson was learned, but somewhere along the line it dawned on me that I couldn’t keep hiding out and turning to strategies that gave me the illusion of control when things went to hell. What I’ve learned over time is simply this: I can’t always control what happens to me, but I can control my responses and take actions intended to change the course of things. As terrifying as it is, I know this is for the best.