Happy Easter everyone, regardless of your spiritual beliefs. Welcome to Spring in the Northern Hemsiphere, Autumn in the Southern.
This Easter has been a bit rough on me. Oh don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a good time and had some lovely celebrations with friends over the past few days. But at a time when chocolate is so central to many celebrations, among other foods, I’m feeling a bit worn down by all the food is morality and disordered thinking/behaving that is swirling around me at the moment.
You see the Easter Bunny brings more than just chocolate. He brings the all the strings that are attached to food.
It is no secret that I am recovering from eating disorders. It’s taken me years to retrain my brain to think of food in a different way to how I have done over the first 30 something years of my life, and it’s hard work to keep thinking that way. I have to keep very conscious of the thoughts around food I have and pull up those that are disordered very quickly, to prevent relapses into disordered behaviour.
So it’s very difficult for me to be around others who have disordered attitudes towards food and eating.
From the woman who sits near me almost every day at lunch time with her diet shake or “meal” (I hesitate to call those things food really), staring longingly at my lunch and going on and on about how good she is being to stick to her diet products. Yet she is miserable and asks me things like “Is there chicken on that sandwich?” and when I say yes, sighs longingly “Oh I miss eating chicken, but I’m being good.”
Then there were those starving themselves and repeatedly justifying how they could go to an Easter chocolate buffet that was to be the celebration of a 50th birthday. I sat amongst this for about two weeks, listening to how they wouldn’t eat anything in the lead up, or “I’ve been so good for weeks, I can go along.”
I went, though on looking at the menu beforehand noticed that there was NOTHING savoury, so I had my lunch beforehand and went to it as a dessert, as I can’t bear the thought of all that sweet stuff for a meal, my tummy protests just at the thought of it.
I probably shouldn’t have gone, not because of the food, but because of all of the disordered behaviour around me. The hardest to deal with of those being the ones that starved themselves beforehand then binged when they got there.
I felt terrible all afternoon, despite having a lovely lunch and then some nice dessert afterwards. It wasn’t the food, it was having to deal with and process all the feelings that other people brought to the fore in my mind. I had a whole mix of guilt, shame, anger, depression, anxiety and simple exhaustion swirling around in my mind all afternoon, that I am sure I would not have had if I hadn’t been in the company of some people who have really messed up attitudes about food.
It doesn’t help that these people are far less fat than I am either. I can’t speak up because if I do, I know the thinking is “That’s why she’s so fat, she must be a pig, I don’t want to get like that.” Some of them have even said so, in less harsh terms.
I was lucky however with Good Friday, I spent the day with friends by the bay, talking over a barbecue lunch and the day spent in good company. Nobody had screwed up attitudes towards food, or none that were apparent anyway, and I could feel my soul floating back to where it should be, and my mind at ease and comfortable. Being around people who do not beat themselves up about food was very healing.
However I will confess there was a hangover from the disordered talk of the day before. The friends who I visited on Friday happened to have a set of scales in their bathroom… which, despite my promise to myself that I would never do so again unless it was medically vital, I weighed myself on.
And I survived. I surprised myself by not hating myself for the number I saw on the scale. I saw it, thought about it for a bit, and let go of it. So I am getting better, I am recovering.
Of course Easter is still here, still happening. On Twitter and Facebook I am seeing status update and tweet over and over again of messed up attitudes towards food. People are “pigging out” and hating themselves for eating chocolate. There are all kinds of crazy bargains being dealt, where one can have chocolate now if one does something later, or has “been good” up until now. Then there is the remorse after eating the chocolate, or the hot cross buns, or whatever else they have deemed as “sinful”. Talk about how they’ve been bad, how the chocolate was evil for tempting them.
I just want to scream “It’s just chocolate people! It’s not the anti-Christ!!”
I have got a ton of chocolate in the house. People have been so kind giving me Easter gifts. I am being very conscious of reminding myself that it is not Kryptonite or nuclear waste, it’s just chocolate. It won’t hurt me, and I am not a bad person if I eat some. I can have some any time I want some. Strangely enough I don’t want it much, I prefer cheese to chocolate any day.
How do you cope when the people around you are displaying disordered behaviours and attitudes? Do you struggle with it? What are your coping mechanisms?