One of the sponsors at work sent over enough donuts and donut holes for close to 500-600 people two weeks ago. On my way in that day, I stopped at the local Dean & Deluca at 7:30AM and stupidly paid $4.63 for a Glazed donut from Doughnut Planet simply because apparently Dean & Deluca think transporting doughnuts from Doughnut Plant’s factory in the Lower East Side up to their 56th Street shop should cost an extra $1.25 + tax (Read: sarcasm. Bitter sarcasm.) Baffled, my supervisor asked me why I had bought a donut when Dunkin’ Donuts was sending us free ones–wait, what? I make a very strict rule of not reading my work e-mail unless I am at work so I clearly missed the memo. When he said it, my chest kind of puffed up. What I wanted to say was “That’s okay, I don’t really like Dunkin’ Donuts anyway” but I responded with a simple shrug and an “I’ll be okay.”
And I was really, until I saw all those delicious little devils laid out on the table. A wonderful sugary buffet. I could not have another donut, I reasoned, so I grabbed two chocolate donut holes to quell the voices in my stomach. Four donut holes and a second donut later I realized I probably should have just accepted the fact that I wanted a second donut. Two donuts would not have been the end of the world. What upset me was how quickly I reacted. Instead of taking a step back and tuning in to whether or not I genuinely wanted another donut, I made a beeline for what I knew would be the more “guilt-free” option. Guilt-free is no longer guilt-free when you eat enough to feel guilty. See the dilemma there?
I spent the entire day trying not to think about the donuts sitting down the hall. I joked with my co-worker about his inability to outdo me in the donut eating contest–I was already up to 6! I waved it off, and explained to my supervisor that I compulsively eat in even numbers–which is true. I have been known to return 1 M&M because there was just no way I could eat 7 M&Ms and asking for an 8th just led to funny looks.
I couldn’t explain that part of my OCD came from a need to eat. You can’t really explain all the nuances of eating even when you don’t want to eat. Eating beyond the point of satisfaction. Feeling compelled to keep to a schedule. I realize an eating disorder is not something you explain. I try–constantly–to put it into words but I find that even in their rawest form, my words do not strike a cord with those who have not experienced an eating disorder. Conceptually, they get it. Psychologically, I draw blanks. I come up with ways to hide it, ways to glaze over and diffuse the situation because me having an eating disorder disrupts what people see– a fairly average body-typed girl who is dedicated to living a healthy lifestyle. My father once commented that he did not understand how people ate out of anxiety. The way he put it, they weren’t anxious. They were just fat.
But at my lightest and leanest, I understood I was not “fat”– though yes I still looked in the mirror and called myself so– I was dealing with something I could not and still cannot pinpoint. So, I realize that there is no point in explaining. People will always stick their beady little heads where they have no business sticking them, but my actions and my recovery need no explanation. I will share, I will try to re-work and understand and delve deep into my disorder but I will no longer make excuses, or feel ashamed for something I did not willingly create. It is mine, and it exists and while I will work hard as hell to let it go I will not allow others to make me feel like any more of an enigma than I already do.
I am not an enigma. And neither are you. When you are questioned, know you do not have to give anyone an explanation. You do not need to make any apologies or have others understand how you eat or why you eat or when you eat. Your disorder and your recovery are yours. You are allowed mistakes. You are allowed to learn what works best for you, and what doesn’t work best for you. But you are not allowed to make yourself the enemy. Forgive yourself, even when you falter. And continue to always strive for better.