There is an Asshole Living in my Head.
I’ve got an asshole living in my head. Ed, the voice of my eating disorder, still inserts his ugly comments into my life sometimes and recently he has been particularly loud. I find myself comparing my body to other women’s bodies and to past versions of my own body. I think about wanting to lose weight and feel myself judging every curve of my stomach. I am anxious about wearing bathing suits and certain dresses. If I just work out more and lose a few pounds before my trip to Nicaragua I’ll be happy, right? I shouldn’t look like this. I didn’t used to feel this uncomfortable in my own body so I must be failing, right? Ed’s voice can be so convincing…and the whole thing pisses me off.
No! My body is not fat, Ed! No! I do not need to have six-pack abs to have fun at the beach. My body should NOT look like my anorexic eighteen-year-old body. I do not need to compare myself to other women with their own body types and body image issues. I am twenty-five-years-old with the body of a twenty-five-year-old woman who does not have the time to look like a fitness model and who finds fulfillment in other areas of life than only the physical. My happiness is not determined by the size of my body! I am beautiful and sexy and gorgeous and amazing…and I am tired of thinking that I am not. I do not want to live my whole life looking back at old pictures thinking, “I looked so good back then and I didn’t even believe it.” I’m done listening to Ed, the asshole.
Yet, sometimes it is really difficult not to listen. I find myself confused about my own motivations; mental illness sucks. Is it Ed, the eating disorder, motivating me or is it my own passions? This confusion has touched all aspects of my life at some point and recently the turmoil has centered around exercise. I want to be fit and capable. I want to climb hard. I want to ski hard. I want to feel strong. I want to trail run until my lungs burn from the effort and high altitude. I want to be able to go on any adventure. That is me! That is my motivation! However, I often do not let myself workout or push too far physically because I’m afraid that it all might be motivated by Ed. Is it just his voice wanting me to lose weight? And if not, will he come back if I allow myself to prioritize fitness? I feel trapped. I want to pursue my passion for fitness in the outdoor world but I am also terrified to do so. Whatever I do or do not do Ed tells me that I am failing. Asshole! He is such a mean asshole! (And, I’m not one to cuss often).
I am done listening to Ed. I am determined to listen to my own inner voice and follow my own heart. If I want to work out, cool! If I want to ski all day, cool! I know that I feel better when I am active not because Ed thinks I’m getting skinnier but because I am more in my body and I am filling my soul with challenge. I do not want fear of Ed to run my life anymore. I WILL feel good about myself and my body. I know it will take hard work at times and I am committed to that hard work because I care about myself.
I am a list maker. I have made many lists of things to do in order to take care of myself and move away from Ed. I’ll meditate every day. I’ll dance at least once a week. I’ll work out five times a week. I’ll eat balanced meals and less sugar. Recently, I’ve noticed that these lists of hopeful plans and new beginnings have become my downfall. The moment I do not do everything on my list–I don’t meditate 6 out of 7 days or I don’t write a blog post at least once a month–Ed tells me I am a failure. He does not discriminate his judgment and comparison to only my body, he also critically (very critically) analyses my activities, behaviors, emotions, relationships, lists, and accomplishments. He is a jerk but sometimes I listen to him. He knows where to poke me to get the biggest unconscious reaction. My list of “new ways to take control of my life” are not working.
Therefore, I have decided to write a new type of list to combat Ed. This list will not be of things I have to do but rather of things I can do. It is a resource list for when I become aware of Ed rearing his ugly head. It is a list of things I know help me move away from Ed, connect to myself, help me feel beautiful and sexy, and give my life meaning. When I notice that I am comparing, being mean to myself, avoiding feelings, judging my body, listening to Ed, or engaging in any other eating disorder or self-defeating behavior, I can look at this list and do one of the life-affirming things on it. That way if I am having a hard time differentiating Ed from myself or getting confused by where my motivations are coming from, I can step away and reconnect through my Zoe Things!
- Dance! Go out dancing or just turn on my favorite tunes in my room or in the car to dance, dance, dance.
- Play Piano. Let myself get lost in music.
- Call my Mom.
- Time alone in the mountains.
- Physical activity: running, skiing, climbing, yoga, dance, NIA, workouts, PT, or anything else that gets the blood moving and and gets me into my body.
- Breathing exercises.
- Grounding exercises.
- Phone a Friend: tell them what’s going on or just chat.
- Read a good book.
- Write a gratitude list. Aim for 100 things and go until I feel better.
- Write a list of things I love about myself.
- Write a love letter to my body.
- Take a long hot bath or shower.
- Make myself a beautiful meal.
- Take myself out and dress up.
- Engage in other fulfilling activities such as my work, philosophical conversations, volunteering, etc.
- Write a list of things I’m doing really well.
What would be on your list? What things help you to ground in who you are and step away from the negative voices in your head? When do you feel your best? Make a list and keep it handy for those moments when you feel yourself getting off course. No matter what the voice in our head says, we have a choice of how to act in our lives! No matter how busy our lives are we can always grab five minutes to take care of ourselves!
Although I do have bad days and weeks, I am still constantly grateful for the journey of continued recovery that is my life. I am a process of constant growth. I always have the opportunity to make changes in order to love myself more fully. I am everlastingly challenged. Thus, I am continually grateful for an un-boring life!
I am also proud of myself for writing about my current challenges and hopes. The vulnerability feels real even if I do not have it “all figured out.” I can already feel the small percentage of my life that Ed tries to occupy getting pushed out by excitement for life and my Zoe things!