arjai101 asks: I went to a family reunion that was triggering. I finally finally get what people mean by “triggering” in the non-ironic sense of the word. But it wasn’t the family that did it. That was fine. It was the food. I was actually doing pretty fine with everything. But as the reunion wore on, I worried more and more. And then I started eating more, and making myself throw it up. Now, I can’t personally speak for everyone. But, the thing about making yourself throw up is that moment right before you get started and you’re staring down into the toilet is one of the worst parts. No matter how stuffed you feel or how determined you are, you will never want to do it less than in that very moment. When you march off to the bathroom, it seems like the best idea. When you’re in the midst of it, it’s uncomfortable but not that bad. And when you finish, most of the time, you don’t feel all that bad, it varies. Sometimes, you feel shame, sometimes like God, sometimes like I deserve this. Either way, you walk out there head held high, shoulders tilted back, sip your diet coke like nothing ever happened. Just like you taught yourself when you were little, convince people you were untouchable, invincible. Make them love you or make them hate you because they weren’t you. But, I guess I was never really invincible or untouchable from my own doing, which is the ironic thing about it all. Anyhow, this time I was coughing a lot, and I felt every single thing leaving my body in grave detail. Yet, I still just kept jabbing and jabbing down my throat. Cause, I knew I just had to fix it. I just had to fix everything I’d ever done and ever was. The bathroom was empty. But at one point, one of the little cousins roamed in and used the bathroom and God; I felt like such a loser hovered over the toilet clutching my stomach waiting in silence for her to leave. I said to myself, this is the last time. This is it. I can’t do this anymore. And you know what I did, the literal next day? The same exact thing. I can look at a plate and calculate the calories, the grams of protein, the grams of carbs. Tell me your weight, age, height, and activity level. I can probably give you your Basal Metabolic Rate. I can tell you how long it takes for you to deplete glycogen stores. I can tell you what percentage of your calories we’re used up in thermogenesis based on their macronutrient group. I can debate the intuitive eating lifestyle vs. chronic diet culture. Etc etc. etc. I’ve become quite the nutrition and fitness savant. And also, a complete neurotic bore to talk to most of the time. I’m trying to pinpoint why I’ve become so obsessive about it lately. I feel like I’ve really been disappointing everyone in my life on the down low for years. Or that, eventually, I will. Honestly, I don’t know. I just wish I could make it stop. I wish I could it make it all stop. This is going to sound cheesy. But sometimes, I wonder if being loved by someone you didn’t lie to in the slightest way about who you are makes it stop, at least for the briefest of moments. But that’s a dangerous and indefinite way of making it stop, waiting for some girl to “save” you. Nope, I’m just going to have to get together and eat like a normal freaking person. I was doing fine before. And now I know, what triggers it. And I, just have to think ahead and prepare. Addendum: It’s about six days later, and I’m doing great. I think. Think, I finally started getting into a pattern that works for me. And I guess, I’m just excited for the future. To leave it all behind, you know. I really am a blast most other times.
Hi arjai101 –
This is one of the most powerful and meaningful letters I’ve ever received.
And I hate it.
I hate it because it horrifies me. I hate it because of what you’ve been doing to yourself. I hate it because of the self-loathing and impossible-perfectionism it shows.
I hate it because I love and care about you so much, and it’s like reading about someone beating you up – except that the beater is you.
So of course, I like the last paragraph though. If it’s still true after a few days, I like it even better. And if it stays true, then we’re great – I got a letter that paints me a picture of a hell I have trouble understanding, and you’re moving on to a free and strong life.
But if it doesn’t stay true? If you fall into the behavior again? I’m going to insist – you absolutely HAVE to
get some help.
My friend, the problem isn’t the vomiting. Though the vomiting could kill you. The problem is what’s behind it – why the stress of your family reunion made you want to do THAT ONE THING, and made you want it so badly that you did it even though most of it felt awful to you.
You have an addiction. And just as if you were addicted to alcohol or drugs or gambling, I want you to talk to someone, sign yourself up, whatever works, but get involved in attacking that addiction! There are therapists, clinics, programs, all over the world. I’m sure there are perfectly good ones near you.
YOU DESERVE TO BEAT THIS. You might not feel it at a particular moment, but some part of you has written me this and other letters – that part wants to live. And to live without this behavior.
I like that part!
I can help you if you like, or you could even write one of the people in that video I sent you. No matter how far away from them you are, they could help you find someone to help get you through this.
But you’ve always got me.
Which reminds me, you made a great point about how “being loved by someone you didn’t lie to in the slightest way about who you are makes it stop, at least for the briefest of moments.” That’s absolutely true.
But it doesn’t have to be a girlfriend or boyfriend. In fact, that can be really hard to achieve, since romances often include a lot of secrets.
But I know just who you can find who you’d never lie to, and who’d never lie to you. And will love you so much it’ll be hard to argue that you’re unlovable ever again…
A DOG! One of US! We are so much better than humans at seeing how wonderful you are, without a lot of silly nonsense getting in the way. You’ve put on some weight? WE DON’T CARE. You slipped last night and didn’t stick to the behavior you’d vowed to keep? WE DON’T CARE. You got a poor grade on a test or grew a blemish on your nose? WE DON’T CARE.
What we care about is you, your essence. Your love, your heart, we even love your smell if you haven’t showered in a few days. We don’t mind you eating. But we HATE you hurting yourself – we love you and we count on you!
So my biggest advice to you is just that. Sure, keep looking for romance – why wouldn’t you! But give a thought to letting one of us into your life as well. Because we’ll never leave you once we attach to you, and at the same time we’ll never judge you. And I think you could use someone like that.
With all my love,