Monday, November 1, 2010

Out of the Closet

I have mentioned before that I am getting more involved with a community group from my church. I like the people in it and am starting to feel more comfortable and safe revealing parts of myself to them. They still don't know all of the history with my dad (probably going to drop at least parts of that bomb tomorrow), but I made a big step to one person yesterday: I told her that I struggle with food.

That was it. I didn't go into the details (though I later did thank her for her empathy and share with her the link to the blog in case she was curious via e-mail), but it feels good to have at least one person know. Ironically, I told her this after I had been with our group at McDonalds. I had a walnut/apple salad and actually the sight/smell/thought of McDonalds not only no longer has any appeal to me, it totally grosses me out. The circumstances/significance of our being there is another societal rant all by itself that I will forgo for now.

It feels good to have at least one person know my "secret". Now part of me thinks, "Who are you kidding - you wear size 18 and are welllll over 200 lbs; your struggle is no secret!!", but another part of me thinks of the years of shame and secret eating and knows that this is a huge deal to have my "secret" out in the open. I am similarly divided on the significance of this revelation - I mean, the title of my blog states that food will NOT define me forever, so why am I making a big deal of my dysfunctional relationship with food if I don't want it to define me? But the other part of me knows that still I often teeter on very tenuous ground and that I am not yet to the place where I can regularly control my eating; this in fact makes this revelation very noteworthy and underscores the importance of being vigilant about it at all times. Although I don't want food to define me forever, my wrestling with the emotion attached to food is still at the forefront of my day to day life and, as a result, still largely does define me for now.

Revealing my struggle was a big huge step for me. I am not sure what happens next with these people and in how they relate to my journey to have a healthy relationship with food - while I do not want them to change their food-related behavior around me, I will appreciate their understanding when I act weird around food or just forgo a lot of the food choices that are available. Further, trusting people in church-related situations is HUGE for me, and I made what for me is considered a huge step by telling one person from this environment about my problem.

I sometimes think it must seem so weird to someone who has never struggled with disordered eating before to hear that people "struggle" with food, just like I think some addictions are weird (e.g., I cannot for the life of me understand the hoarding thing!). The good news is that, even if the person I told felt like this, she never showed it at all. Could be that she is a counselor. Could be that she has a good poker face. Or, maybe just maybe, it could be that she is kind and trustworthy and genuinely empathetic. Believe it or not, my money is on the last option. I am starting to trust. I hope it is not a mistake.

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