The Body Enemy

I’ve long viewed my body as “the enemy.” It started as a child, to be fair, when I was basically told that the things that were happening to me were my fault. I’d never asked for those things to happen, but since they were happening to my body, childish logic deducts that it’s the body’s fault. The body is the enemy.

I’ve written before that that’s when my struggle with food, disordered eating and weight began. It was both a survival mechanism, a stress response and a coping mechanism.

And there is nothing wrong with that.

Nothing.

I was a young child who did what she had to in order to survive.

There is nothing wrong with that.

That being said, it’s probably no wonder that I still “struggle” with those things, and still have moments of feeling like my body is the enemy. Logically–as an adult who’s gone through therapy, even–I know that my body is not the enemy. My body does not hate me. It does not have an agenda other than to function and survive. It’s easy, though, to blame the body rather than the mind.

Then again, I don’t know that my brain is the enemy, either, or that my brain necessarily hates me, either. Some days I feel as if that’s the case, but logically (again with that word) I know that’s not true.

And yet I struggle.

I struggle with self-acceptance. I struggle with loving myself. I struggle with simply being ME and being happy with whatever body I currently have. And yes, I still struggle with food.

The funny thing is that the struggle has changed. Used to, the real struggle was with eating too much, especially of things that most people would deem to be “bad” or “unhealthy.” These days, the struggle is in balance between protein and carbs, and between my brain and my body.

The first one is easy to address: eat more protein. I know I’m not getting enough, and as a result my body isn’t burning fat. Yes, I’m gaining muscle, or at least strengthening what’s there, but I’m not losing fat. And I should be. I’ve been doing Crossfit since February. At this point, I should most definitely be losing fat. Protein is the key. As is moving my body more when I’m not in Crossfit. That, too, is honestly something I struggle with. Not because I don’t enjoy moving my body, because I do, but partially because I would rather watch a baseball game or read a book, and partially because I always feel like there’s no time. Granted, I feel like there’s no time about lots of things–like cleaning. 😛

So on the surface, the solution seems simple, right? Move more. Eat more protein. Eat more fruits and vegetables (I’ve honestly been sadly lacking in that department–after Medifast it’s been a real bitch for me to eat veggies, even though I actually LOVE vegetables). Start cooking again (I haven’t been cooking much  here lately due to Phillip being so sick to his stomach–I’ve had the mindset of giving him/getting him whatever he wanted just so he could get some food down and hopefully keep it down). And stop eating so much gluten, because it really does seem like my body just doesn’t respond well to it (even when my stomach’s okay with it, it’s like I feel not 100%).

The problem, here, is my brain, and the…I don’t know if it’s a disconnect or a love/hate relationship that my brain and body have with one another. I battle what I call “ED Brain” (eating disorder brain) A LOT. I think it’s ED Brain that’s partially keeping me from getting enough protein, too.

For example, I’ll often have phone calls and webinars stacked back to back mid-day, especially since most of the team I work with is on the west coast. So I’ll eat breakfast around 9 or so (it varies, honestly), and it’s usually something fairly small since large amounts of food in the morning will more often than not make me feel sick. Thus, I’m usually hungry again around noon, maybe 1. But I’m on calls and can’t step away until the calls are over. Next thing I know it’s like 2 o’clock, I’m starving, and ED Brain is whispering in my ear, “Eh, what’s the point? You have to go pick up Phillip in an hour, and if you eat lunch now you won’t be hungry again til like 8 and you know that eating that close to bed time makes you snore worse.”

At times, I think that this “starve yourself” message from ED Brain is new. But then I think about it and remember that, no, it’s not necessarily new, I’m just AWARE of it now. I’ve always been a restrict/binge person, meaning I would restrict and then it would get to be too much and I would binge because, hey, my body honest to God needed fucking food. When you’re being abused, especially sexually abused, you kind of want to disappear and be invisible. What better way than to make your body smaller? The problem is that you can’t sustain restrictive eating like that. Your brain and body KNOW when something’s up, and they know when they need food. And you can only ignore the signals for so long until everything goes batshit crazy and next thing you know, you’ve put down an entire bag of Doritos or an entire gallon of Blue Bell ice cream.

That was my M.O. as a kid and a teen, and to an extent in my early 20s. I honestly try not to do that now, especially since now I’m AWARE of the behavior. Try as I might, though, I can’t seem to reprogram 25 years of self-destructive thoughts and behaviors. So I’ll catch myself thinking those things. Some times I give ED Brain a big ol’ middle finger and go eat something. STAT. Other times, though, I honestly don’t do as well.

So then it becomes this stupid rabbit hole of negative thoughts and ED Brain. I’m not eating enough protein, and probably on some days not eating enough calories, to sustain myself. So even though I’m working hard in Crossfit and even getting stronger, my body’s just not catching up. Instead, it’s kind of freaking out and storing fat because stupid ED Brain is trying to make me go back into the restrictive rabbit hole.

I’ve known something was wrong for about a month, probably. It’s been a niggling feeling in the back of my mind. I’ve been trying to be happy with myself and love myself the way I am and tell myself that changes will start happening soon. And some changes have happened, both good and bad. I know where I’ve gained muscle, and I know that I’ve gotten stronger. But my midsection just seems to be expanding, and it shouldn’t be. The fact that it’s my midsection specifically that’s expanding, though, is yet another indicator that there’s a stress response going on.

Sure, I’ve been super stressed and worried about Phillip, so some stress response is normal and expected. But not to the degree I’ve been having a physiological stress response. My back hurts constantly. I stretch it and roll it out daily. I work it. But instead of getting better, it seems like it’s only getting worse, and it hurts the most when I’m standing, which points directly to that increasing midsection. It’s frustrating for me, it’s frustrating for Phillip, and I know it’s probably really frustrating for my trainer. I’ve wanted to point the finger of blame and anything and everything other than my weight, but after my workout on Friday I couldn’t hide it from myself anymore–something’s got to give.

So logically, I know what I NEED to do. The problem is with my brain–ED Brain to be specific. Oddly, even though I went through like a year of therapy, we never really talked about my relationship with food. I think at the time it was fairly decent, so it wasn’t something we spent a lot of time on. At least, not in the sense of how to deal with current disordered thinking. We DID talk about the relationship between abuse, food, and eating disorders to an extent, especially since that WAS a coping mechanism of mine.

To think that I somehow need to rewire 25+ years of disordered thinking, though, feels like a daunting task. I think I can do it. Hell, I know I can do it. I just don’t know where to begin. Maybe I should see a therapist that specializes in eating disorders, but a part of me also feels like I have the tools–from previous therapy sessions–to figure this shit out.

I don’t have to “fix” myself, or even 100% banish the thoughts all together. I know that better than anyone, considering I still struggle with stuff related to the abuse. I just have to figure out how to address the thoughts and make them quieter so that I don’t hear them as frequently or as loudly as usual.

And yeah, remind myself over and over that my body is not the enemy.