Or as I would say in my days of one foot in denial, one foot in a lot of people I love around me are really worried about me world, “a problem with food”.
Ha. Let’s dissect that for what it really is, a fair bit of the ol’ bullshit. More accurate would have been: a problem with ____ and you could have filled that with any number of fun options. Among my favorite choices from the days of denial were
a) my job,
b) my London just graduated from college world,
c) all the annoying people who keep watching what I eat.
Or in the days of actual self-reflection and understanding, here’s the scary truthful list you could have filled that blank with
a) never believing I was good enough,
b) getting all of my self worth from anything except my self,
c) just basically that although I’m all shiny on the outside (hey, good degree – I went to Oxford don’t ya know; hey, good job – I work at BCG and I’m nailing it don’t ya know; hey, good looking (sometimes also person) boyfriend – he’s really cute and I’m nailing him don’t ya know), I’m actually hollow and empty inside.
Where the fuck did the damage that lead to those delightful feelings come from? It’s like asking how did I get where I am today. Just how exactly did Ailbhe Menton end up sitting in a comfy big blue chair in her house in Seattle, with a lovely polka dot wool blanket on her lap, fire on, pets nearby writing a blog post?
Well, it all began in 1975 when a man named Brendan and a woman named Linda decided they loved each and would get married. And they had many babies, of which one was named Ailbhe. But wait, how did they decide that? Well, in the 1940s, a man named Brendan and a woman named Anna decided they loved each other and would get married. And they had many babies, of which one was named Brendan. Oh and a man named George and a woman named Muriel decided they loved each other and would get married. And had babies, of which one was named Linda…
There are just too many pieces (good and bad) that are responsible that it’s almost impossible to pick apart one thing and hold it up and say “ah-ha”, this is the slippery fucker that started all of this! Thank God we found it. Let’s put some lovely healing therapy balm on it and off we go.
Realizing that there wasn’t one thing that I could point at in my life and chuck all the anger and blame and then go all healing and forgiving about was tough. I think I confused my therapist with this. Where was the trauma? Where was the really shitty thing that happened to you that we need to go back and “work on” and then it’ll all be better? Nowhere, that’s where. Man, I even sucked at having an eating disorder.
I should mention that my eating disorder was not about body dysmorphia. Body image yes. Body dysmorphia no. I never thought I was fat. I knew I was skinny. In fact, it was a power tool in my belt. Something that made me feel superior to others. I’m sure I scared the bejaysus out of my family with how skinny I did get at points but for the most part I wasn’t the down to 5 stone (70 lbs) and ribs poking you in the eyes girl. I was the hey I’m cute and slim and have big boobs for my size and never get a spot so go fuck yourself girl. Yes, I genuinely thought like that sometimes.
So my eating disorder was more about not taking care of myself, a punishment. You’re not actually good enough, worth it so you don’t get to eat. You get to not eat. That’s what you get. Drink? Yes, plenty. Eat? Nope. Fuck off. Oh and a plus side of this punishment is you stay slim.
Now how did I get out of this lovely mind swirl? I wasn’t able to find the dark monster hiding under my bed in my past that I could confront, turn on the lights and realize it was actually only a cute little puppy that only wanted to be loved and I’d been completely misunderstanding it all these years. But I was able to find ways to change how I think and some of the key fundamentals of how I choose to live my life through the power of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
And you won’t believe the first step to starting the long road of recovery and getting over my eating disorder? The fucking Alanis Morissette irony of it all….actually eating.