Ryan and I used to joke when we would visit Penn State, that there was a uniform for all female students.
As we walked down College Ave. nearly every girl we passed wore black leggings, a North Face jacket and tall Ugg Boots.
Working in a school I also notice the similarity in style within the population and it makes me think of when I was that age, I also lived by the “code of cool.” For my secondary education years that meant Abercrombie, Juicy Couture, boot-leg jeans, and whole slew of name brands that have still surprisingly maintained their popularity.
I also listened to rap music for a while, drank before I turned 21 (ha-I haven’t had an alcoholic beverage since then) and did some things that shall remain a secret, just to fit in with my peers.
I am not proud to admit this, and although rap music is ok, I can say now I participated in the cultural fads regardless of my personal taste.
The point is, I never wanted to be rejected by others.
I wouldn’t get too close to anyone, because the chance of getting hurt absolutely terrified me, but I did want to be liked and included by my fellow classmates.
I find myself doing similar things now, or just avoiding social situations, because I am still scared to be the odd-ball.
I felt most comfortable within the four walls of a hospital and even though I only knew some of the other patients for a month or so, most of the friends I made in those places, know ME, the real ME, better than anyone else in my life.
I have two problems right now.
…(ok I have a ton more but there are two I am specifically referring to here)
First, I am a great chameleon. I can morph into whoever someone wants me to be, depending on the environment in which I am placed. This means I essentially change who I am, what I like, etc. to be a part of the group.
And second, I only identify myself as an eating disordered person, or the person I become mentioned above.
Since I have been focused on getting well for the majority of my adult life after college, I never got to form a sense of self outside being a student, or a patient, which makes it very difficult to ever envision being recovered.
Essentially, these two things together are one in the same; I am pretty damn lost.
Like I said, in the years of adolescents, I did things because they were expected or asked, not because I wanted to.
I played a ton of sports I had absolutely no interest in. I worked so hard in school and put so much pressure on myself just because I felt my family would be let down if I did not bring home the perfect grades. And I wrapped myself up in extracurriculars, jobs, time-sucking good-girl things, because that is what I needed to do to be considered a “success.”
Well that did a lot of good, because even though I graduated college with a pretty stellar GPA, I also nearly killed myself because I felt so hopeless on my own; when someone wasn’t always dictating my every move and telling me who to be.
All these ideas came to my mind the other day when Gwyneth left a pretty profound comment on my post; I need to separate CJ from ED.
People have suggested this numerous times throughout my journey but I never really paid attention, because I just thought this is who I am. I am in love with fitness, I NEED to eat “healthily” all the time, come into work early and leave late just so I don’t seem like a lazy employee. I thrive on over-achievement and perfection.
But is that who I am?
Do I even enjoy the treadmill as much as I claim?
Do I ever want to have a hamburger on a bun rather than a veggie patty wrapped in some lettuce?
What does identifying myself as an eating disordered person take away from being CJ?
Well obviously it eliminates a great many things in my life; including going out with friends, participating in physical activity I once truly loved but was unstructured and recently deemed “not enough,” overall it reduces my ability to ENJOY anything.
The hard part is separating the two parts of me, because I am so familiar with the ED voice and all the rules “he” has made me live by.
Essentially, ED was my normal, my reality.
I literally have to sift through my thoughts and choices to determine one from the other and I often don’t even know where to begin.
I have been active in Gwyneth’s challenge of writing things down to help evaluate and decipher CJ and ED and she was spot on when she predicted the unhealthy column is really negative and mean, whereas CJ has some joy inside that hasn’t come out for a very long time.
I like singing to Justin Bieber in my car, super loud and totally off-key, but ED tells me to stop because heaven-forbid someone in the vehicle next to me would think I was weird.
CJ is really sick of plain oatmeal, and totally loved every single bite of her cranberry pomegranate bagel, but ED kept telling her how disgusting it was and how it should never be purchased again.
CJ was totally excited about a day out with her friend, and ED just kept repeating how she would be judged the entire day if she ate a sandwich when we went out for lunch, even though it tastes like heaven on two slices of breads.
Ed wants CJ to do more than 60 minutes on the treadmill, even though she was totally bored halfway through the routine.
There are a ton of examples I could list, and I am hoping the further I progress the more I can decipher one from the other, rather than continuing to mesh ME with the parasite that has latched on inside.
I am not ED, and I have some pretty cool interests.
- I like being outside sometimes rather than alone in my walking-machine room at 4 in the morning.
- I like watching trashy tv sitting-down rather than lifting weights or standing at my desk all the time.
- I like the theater even though I am terrified of being sedentary for so long.
- I crave compansionship even when my mind tells me I need to stay away from others.
And slowly I am learning that when I defy my old sick thinking of “normal” it does not turn out as badly as it may initially seem.
Breaking News: I did not gain 109345 pounds from the tuna-fish sandwich that CJ thought was really freakin’ delicious.
So I appreciate all your comments the other day, encouraging me to challenge myself at an extreme level rather than the miniscule steps I was taking before. I think I, and all of you, were right in saying conquering the big stuff is the only way to break ED down and finally move on with my life.
I hope you all had a fabulous weekend and enjoy your Sunday.
I know I will, as I am headed to lunch and for a day date with an amazing lady 🙂