This week is National Eating Disorder Awareness week. A week where I should have been heading to speak on a panel at the Binge Eating Disorder Association conference.
I like bringing awareness to the evil monsters of disordered eating. And since I can’t blab about my experience in Philadelphia this weekend , I think today calls for my final installment of the Stuffed With Emptiness series. Let’s take a not so pretty look at my final binge…and where I’ve ended up since that day 2.5 years ago.
My Final Binge and Where Am I Now?
I remember a lot about my binge eating journey. It made such a huge impact on my life that I vividly recall many details. I can feel the shame, guilt, and nausea in the pit of my stomach as I think back to my first binge. I can feel the determination that set in me after the final one.
I started binge eating in March of 2005. I finally began taking steps to truly move past it in the fall of 2007, after that fateful day in a public bathroom. I got pregnant in February of 2008. I learned balance and loving my body even more during the pregnancy and afterwards. I reached a truly happy place for my body by summer of 2009. I hadn’t binged since getting pregnant, for over a year and a half.
Then, I competed in the fitness competition.
The intense workouts and required low caloric intake to reach the body fat levels for the show took their toll on my body. The stress and fatigue took their toll on my emotions. The entire week following my competition was one huge binge. Not simply eating more because I was “allowed” again. I stuffed myself sick all day every day. I snuck to stores to buy whatever looked good in the bakery section (cream cheese brownies, donuts, and icing cookies I know were consumed). My show was a week after Halloween, so I stocked up on the clearance bags of fun-sized Halloween candy. I ate three full bags in one day.
Friday, November 13th 2009. My last full binge. << you think I’m joking it was Friday the 13th??
That day, I rushed to the store with my palms sweaty and my heart racing. I was like an addict looking for her drug. I had Makenzie with me…just over a year old. I ripped into a bag on my way home with shame filling me as I saw Makenzie staring at me in the rear view mirror. With the most innocent smile on her face.
I still couldn’t stop myself. I brought her home, set her in her high chair with some sort of healthy snack while I proceeded to eat eat eat. And there she was just staring and smiling. The thought sickens me even now. I felt like a failure more than I ever had in my entire life at that moment. I hadn’t binged in so long…and feared I wouldn’t be able to crawl back out now that I had slipped back into the habit. I had a beautiful baby girl who I loved and wanted to set an example, yet even that couldn’t keep me from eating.
At that moment, it hit me.
I was not immune to my previous struggles. But I also was not defined by them.
I still binge ate the rest of that day. Then, I cried myself to sleep in Peter’s arms pouring out all my fears and desperation to him. I think he even took off that following Monday from work to be right by my side for a few days helping me get back into a healthier routine. I knew the challenge, but I knew the pain of living in binges outweighed the pain of pushing past those urges.
I have not binged since then.
Does that mean I’m immune now? Over two years later? No. No. No. No. No.
I still have very strong urges to emotionally eat when I get stressed or overwhelmed. Heck, I even still emotionally eat at times in the sense that I choose certain foods solely for comfort despite a lack of true hunger. I don’t classify them as binges since I don’t lose control nor do I eat way past the point of comfort to punish or numb myself. But I will be honest. There are times even now that I want to. That I want to get completely lost in an entire pan of brownies to stuff my emotions and have the “freedom of not giving a damn” that I used to equate with binges. Yes. I still do have that desire at times.
I still fear that I will find myself in a place like before. That I won’t be strong enough to keep saying “no” every time the call hits. If I drive past certain stores or see certain foods, it’s still like a Pavlovian response to want to grab said food or visit said store to hit up a binge. I still have times I call out to Peter and need him to hold me more accountable because I feel myself on a slippery slope.
But I do all I dang well can to limit those urges.
I focus on balance and not what I “can’t or shouldn’t” eat. I honor cravings with reasonable portions. I follow passions and interests that help me feel strong and encouraged and love myself. I admit when I’m struggling. I call on God. I forgive myself when I do have minor slip-ups, so I don’t feel like a failure and say “to heck with it”. I open myself to all of you. I share my story.
I can’t say I will never binge again…despite the 2.5 year distance between me and my last one. But I can say I will live my life with the passion to help keep myself from that destruction and hopefully play even the smallest role in helping another do the same. That, my friends, is the end of this series…but just the beginning of the rest of my life. It never ends, but it never has to end my joy again either. That is all I need to know.