I had a really interesting journaling experience today. While writing my morning pages, I decided to respond to a pair of prompts from the book on eating disorder recovery I just finished, Life Without Ed by Jennie Schaefer. Jenni learned to separate herself from her bulimic compulsions by seeing her eating disorder as a separate person called Ed. Over the course of her recovery, Jenni talked and wrote to Ed (not to mention metaphorically pummeling him and locking him out). I found this personification of her eating disorder as Ed to be interesting, but it's not something that I ever tried or ever planned to.
But . . . sometimes the subconscious takes over. This morning, I was responding to these prompts from Life Without Ed:
- What does Ed want me to do today?
- What do I need to do today to be in recovery?
Yesterday I responded to these prompts succinctly and found them helpful in setting me up for a healthy day. This morning's response, however, took on a life of its own. Or perhaps my eating disorder finally took on a separate person of its own. Either way, this is what pages of my journal ended up holding (warning -- this could be potentially triggering):
Ed: Okay, here's the plan for today -- either you need to restrict your food in a big way and then spend at least an hour on the elliptical, or you need to binge and sit on the couch. With the first option you'll get thina nd pretty very fast. If you try to "lose weight" any other way (as if there is one), you'll never get there. In that case you might as well just give up altogether. If you're not going to do this my way (the right way), why bother?
Me: Oh. Well, that sort of sounds right, but I know it's not the way to go. I can achieve a healthy weight and fitness level with a moderate plan. If I do it your way, I will never have an awesome marriage or finish my novel --
Ed: You never will have an awesome marriage. Your book, finished or not, is lame. Stick with me because I'm all you can be sure of. I'm all you've got.
Me: That is absolutely NOT TRUE. I've got God on my side, an amazingly supportive husband, friends and family and church family to help me along the way, and I know the truth -- you will never make me happy.
Ed: Yeah, but you'll never be happy regardless. You're a lost cause. At least with me, you'll be thin.
Me: With you, I'll be sick. I'll look old and scary. I'll feel cold and ill and bruise easily and never heal from injuries. I won't be able to run or think straight or love people. I won't be able to live.
Ed: But --
Me: [Smothers Ed with a pillow] Shut up. Today I am going to eat three healthy meals that will nourish me and honor the God that made me. Today I will eat healthy fats. I will exercise moderately. I will meet my commitments. I resume my novel. I will not make food the epicenter of my life. I will seek help and accountability when I need it. I will pray. And I certainly will not let you take me over again.
So, uh, wow. I definitely didn't expect that to come out when I sat down with my journal and pen in hand this morning. But it felt awesome to confront my eating disordered compulsions so directly. Also, it helped take some of the guilt out of my compulsions -- instead of blaming myself for my failures, I blame Ed, the disease, and do what I can to live separately from him/it. Also, journaling in this way left me feeling more hopeful about recovery than I have for quite some time.
Suffice it to say, I will continue journaling in this manner as I feel the need. Have you ever written to your eating disorder/insecurity/depression/insert life block here?
Want to win a copy of Jenni Schaefer's book, Life Without Ed? There are a bunch of ways to enter, and only the first one is mandatory:
- Leave a comment answering the bolded question above by Thursday, March 10. I love to read your thoughts!
- Share (in a separate comment) how you set yourself up for a balanced and healthy day.
- Share this post on Twitter, then leave a comment saying you did so.
- Share this post on Facebook, then leave a comment saying you did so.
- Blog about this contest (linking back), then leave two comments saying you did so. Bonus!