I’ve held the belief for a good number of years that the rigid eating patterns surrounding GSD were similar to the rigid eating patterns of an eating disorder.
If you asked, I could quite easily tell you a list of "good" and "bad" foods. I remember the early days of not eating, of sticker charts on the fridge and for every meal consumed I got another sticker on the chart, and when I got to a certain number I got a treat. It was a desperate attempt to get me to eat something, and yet it was possibly the beginnings of my issues with food.
I remember the exact day I started eating. People praised me for it. "Look at you," They would say, "Guess you finally just wanted to be like the other kids. I can tell people there's hope." But for me eating wasn't about being like the other kids. It was about control. Some people stop eating to feel in control and I started. There were times I would wait for my parents to leave just so I could sneak forbidden snacks out of the pantry. I remember the time I cried in front of a turkey and mayo sandwich. I knew exactly how many grams of carbohydrate and protein I should be eating at each meal, and became skilled at calculating in my head the exact number I should be eating. I hid fitness magazines under my bed, idolizing the skinny models with flat stomachs, free from g-tubes and scars. And still they called me a victory.
I also remember the day I stopped eating. The memories stored in my body became too painful. And in a way, it was an act of giving up. No more food, no more mental agony, no more sickness. I felt like a dog who had curled up under a tree to die. I looked at pictures of food on pinterest with envy. I admired the foodies. But for me, food had lost its joy. It had become just another thing that sucked the life out of me. It was always a means to an end, never being able to eat simply to feel pleasure.
We eat the way we eat because we are afraid to feel what we feel
Recently, with my current health issues, I've had to readdress the way I relate to food, and to myself. I knew as I began to work through the things I was hearing and processing that I wanted to write about it, but the moment I sat down to put pen to paper my hands began to shake.
I remember long car rides where I would imagine addressing a room full of people about this issue. I would say that food can be healing, that its not the enemy, that just as important as physical aliveness is mental wellness. I would speak to them as if I had overcome this issue and made some ground breaking discovery. Which leads me to the realization that even at a young age, I knew there was something wrong with the way I was relating to food, and that I still had the small spark of desire in me to fix it.
And.. are you willing to go all the way? To understand that food is only a stand-in for love and possibility and spirit? Because if you aren't, you will get caught up in gaining and losing weight for the rest of your life. But if you are willing, then the portal to what you say you want is truly on your plate
What I really want is passion, and pleasure, romance and adventure. What I really want is a life of spontaneity and indulgence. And I live in a body that feels as if it has robbed me of all of these things. It is a demanding time keeper. I say I have all these issues surrounding food, and what I mean to say if I feel controlled by this force that is both me and not me. There is no joy, no marvel, no intense flavour when I sit down to eat. There is forced, coerced nutrition lacking vibrancy and zest and life. There are rules, and white powders, and necessities. And at times I think this way of relating to food is enough to kill me. It is enough to make me feel uneasy in my body time and time again. It is enough to make me feel separate from myself. When I say food, I mean this illness. Funny how in my mind they have merged into the same thing.
At some point, it's time to stop fighting with death, my thighs and the way things are. And to realize that emotional eating in nothing but bolting from multiple versions of the above: the obsession will stop when the bolting stops. And at that point, we might answer, as spiritual teacher Catherine Ingram did, when someone asked how she allowed herself to tolerate deep sorrow, "I live among the brokenhearted. They allow it"