Please tell me this gets easier. I texted to Katie, a woman I had met in my recovery group the first week in treatment. Although twenty years younger, she was light years ahead of me in the recovery process.
I had reached out to Katie in despair. Sitting at my kitchen counter eating lunch, frustrated, and disgusted by the way the waistband of my favorite jeans were cutting into my slowly expanding stomach. I was trying to choke down the other half of half of a turkey sandwich. It sat staring back at me from the plate, daring me to eat it like some schoolyard bully, and I desperately wanted to get away from it but I had made an agreement with my dietician earlier that week that I would not stop eating my meals until I was uncomfortably full. And I hated it.
Thoughts of my great turkey escape plan were disrupted by the ping of the phone, my hand brushing over my eyes to wipe tears of frustration that were blurring my vision. It gets harder then it gets easier, Katie’s response read. It sucks, and I’m sorry.
I dreaded the feeling of being full. I spent over a decade of my life, avoiding it. I can count on one finger the time I let my guard down; the details stick out in my mind like splotches of black paint on a white wall. It was Thanksgiving , a night traditionally known for overeating, sitting back in your chair, loosening your belt and complaining about being full. Well, for most people, not me. That year we had decided on an extended family dinner at a lovely seafood restaurant in town. I was wearing black Tribal pants, a bronze crepe blouse, and our server was a single mom named Teresa who was fantastic. The restaurant was loud but the view of the city was spectacular. I had passed on the traditional turkey dinner they were offering and opted for grilled halibut and steamed vegetables. Comfortably not full after my light dinner, I had no plans for dessert. We all agreed to share several items amongst the table. Some pumpkin pie, pass. A piece of berry cobbler, pass. A slice of key lime pie, OMG. The oversized creamy, tart confection was so tempting I caved and had just a bite, unraveling any self control I had managed to maintain throughout the meal. I ate the whole piece before I even had a chance to stop myself, leaving the restaurant full and distended and numb. I woke the next morning full of regret and disgust as if I had a one night stand with the bartender not a slice of pie.
I strived for hungry. I craved hungry, like I imagine a heroin addict lusts after their next hit. There was something about feeling hungry, that made me feel euphoric. Even if I had a shitty day, felt disconnected from my husband, lost a tennis match, or had an ugly argument with my son, in moments of hunger, those bad feelings floated away, kind of like being slightly drunk. The buzz leaving me believing that I could do or be anything. I love my life; I am so lucky, the world is great and I am perfectly fine. I would find myself lost in the rituals of making meals, drawing out the process allowing the chopping, weighing, and measuring to consume me, my stomach rumbling with the anticipation of eating my plate of roasted vegetables yet hesitating not wanting the feeling of happy lightness to end. I was an addict, and hunger was my drug.