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9.19.2011

getting to the good part.

before beginning:
this is a continuation.
of a story.
about ned.
ned being my nasty,
little eating disorder.

more info here.







when the impulse for a binge came i could feel it travel through me. a slow, steady, steam-roll of  progression.

first came the thought.

that was all. an idea. a whisper, a promise, a strand of air. the thought: binge, it would say. go ahead, make your way to the store, get what you will, and eat it. all of it. 

and that was it. the thought was the beginning, middle--the end. i was helpless against it. it would slip down my throat effortlessly, burn a little as it passed through my neck and across my shoulder blades, and then it would sit heavy and pulsing at the pit of my stomach.

i was a woman possessed. there was no defense against the thought.

it was a helplessness that i'd not experienced before and God willing, never will again. it was consistent, relentless, overwhelming and at one point, near daily. and it was stronger than me. it was real and nearly impossible to describe to others.

if it's just a thought, why not ignore it? 

if only.

how to explain?

to ask me to ignore it would have been like asking the waves to ignore the pull of the moon. to stop their continuous and steady progression along the coast line.

impossible.

the very first time i met with tom (head of the eating and weight disorder program at one our new york city hospitals) he so clearly and calmly said to me: it's called thought action fusion. right now your brain can't distinguish between the though and the action that will follow, the binge. it's physical and it's science. 

life raft. that information was the first life raft.

have the thought to binge. wait five minutes, and then go ahead. 

next time, give yourself ten minutes between the thought and the action.

then fifteen, then twenty, and on and on. that will strengthen that muscle in your mind. it's exercise. and it will allow you to separate the two. 

the thought is the thought. the action, the action. they are separate. apart. different. 

and so it began. and i began to accumulate life rafts. little bobbing boats that pulled me from the great, unforgiving, unrelenting tidal wave of blue.

it has been such a long, slow road to finding my way back--much of it chronicled here, peppered through the now three-year archive of this blog.

an eating disorder is a disease. an addiction. but you don't get to swear off the substance you so like to abuse. and while you, like so many others need to lose weight, every lick of leading diet information and advice will not aid you, it will not only serve to make you far, far sicker.

take a minute to imagine that, will you? if every piece of good medicine or leading nutritional information or common, popular dogma only served to make you worse, immeasurably so.

for me, the process of getting better has been one very grand experiment. and as with any scientific study failure is necessary--it provides some of the most valuable feedback.

i pretty quickly figured out some basic things: counting calories doesn't work. cutting out carbs doesn't work (but don't think i didn't try both those thing many, many, many, many times just to be sure).

the long and short of what i've learned is this: if i can't do it every day for the rest of my life, it just won't serve me.

i learned to make food bigger than myself. i became a vegetarian because it's good for the environment. and what right do i have to place the human desire for meat over the welfare of planet earth? that's not to say i encourage everyone to cut out meat. or eggs or cheese or any of that. though i do implore others to eat locally. to support restaurants that employ the farm to table model. to buy from road stands and refuse the plastic bag when you can carry the container of blueberries and bottle of water the short distance of the corner store to home without it.

i learned that (for myself) i'm happiest when i delay breakfast, when i don't worry about five square meals. a late breakfast and three do me just fine. i like eating lighter in the morning and heavier at night. i do that and i lose weight--how bout that for going against the grain?

i also worked out that sometimes going to the gym just isn't in the cards. and so i get a massage instead. because there are a million different ways we can be kind to our bodies. and because when i'm ready i do return. and the pulsing and the squats and the pain of it all--well, my body likes it, even if i don't.

i learned that exercise is best when i engage the mind.

and that the further away i get from that abysmal period in which i starved myself (six years now) the more forgiving my body is of those moments i over eat. because my body knows me now. knows i won't ever withhold again, so there's no need for it to hold onto the empty calories.

as well as i am now, and i am, i'm very well, there are pockets of time when i slip into old habits and old ways. these pockets don't usually last so long but they are unsettling and difficult nonetheless.

these last three weeks i've eaten little more than entenmann's doughnuts and ben and jerry's ice cream.

there i said it. my two great accomplices. donuts and ice cream. and of course these two things make themselves visible on my body. because those can't be your two main food groups and you not see a change. and in the throws of something bigger than myself i look in the mirror and voila! i am as big as i've ever been (not true), but so the feeling goes.

the thing about this go round, this little battle with the gods of health. well...this go round life continued on. and life was good. despite the difficulty in getting out of bed. despite not feeling beautiful. despite feeling down and low and wanting to eat just to eat, i went out at night. went on dates. sojourned out with my best gal pals. i would wake in the morning and have my coffee and play the music and attempt to live normally. and all in all, life was pretty good.

better than pretty good.

and as i separate life from the eating disorder, as the two things begin to live in different spheres, i am reminded of though action fusion and the strengthening of the muscle that separates the two.

i am strengthening the muscle of life and the more space--the more distance i can put between my life and my struggle with food, the weaker the struggle with food becomes until eventually it is eclipsed, outrun, overrun by the bounty of my desire to live well and truthfully and with integrity.

most people say that those who struggle with eating issues will do so for the rest of their life. it's a lifelong battle, a lifelong struggle. a chronic disease.

i say, what a grim diagnosis. what a shortsighted, but easy to propagate media sound bite.

i'll be damned if i deal with this for the rest of my life.

there are few things i know with great certainty in this world, but this i know (in my gut, in my toes, in every fiber of the purest form of me) i know this: i will not struggle with an eating disorder for the rest of my life. i will not even struggle with eating issues for the rest of my. because i'm dealing with it now. because i'm challenging it on every level at this very moment and so it will pass and i will pass on to better things. because i am armed with invaluable tools and immeasurable amounts of (the correct) information. and because i am slowly regaining an inner confidence stronger than any amount of weight, any number of donut boxes, any stockpile of mornings in which getting out of bed is difficult.

i'm willing to venture and say that, at this point in time, my relationship with food is healthier than the average american woman's. this is not to boast, but rather to comment on the despairing nature of food culture in this country.

there is a balance that must be struck--a balance between loving the body i have in this moment and a desire to be kind to it. and the more i love my body, the kinder i am. and the kinder i am, the more my body surprises me and the more beautiful it becomes.

i have hips. beautiful, lovely, full hips. and why shouldn't i celebrate them--just as i celebrate the inordinate number of moles peppering my skin and my almond-shaped eyes that nearly disappear when i smile?

dear kate moss, nothing tastes so good as skinny feels? what a sad and constricting way to live one's life. what a small idea to think the two mutually exclusive (dangerous, even). what a lie that's being parceled out by numerous sectors of our society.

i want to live in a world where i don't read magazines in which they suggest the best way to deal with body image issues when showering with a man is to wear a t-shirt--more coverage for you, male-fantasy for him. don't get me wrong, the whole t-shirt thing sounds kind of exciting. but really? really? the men don't care. they don't see the extra weight. they're beside themselves with giddiness. it's not the men making women self-concious--it's the articles suggesting you should be aware, uncomfortable--that there is something to hide.

someone recently asked if i regret any of what i've written on the blog regarding my struggle towards health? if it's uncomfortable to know that both friends and family read it?

i would be remiss if i didn't say there were moments it was difficult or embarrassing or even shameful. but for me it was necessary. so that other's might understand, (especially so my parents might understand) what i'd never have the courage or clarity so say out loud.

but to say i regret any of it would be to diminish the power of this life--not just my life, but the sphere of life in which all things take place. to say i regret any of it would be to dismiss humanity.

so i found my humanity in a box of donuts and an eating disorder? it's a little funny, no? and a little beautiful and little bit just entirely the way life goes.

i don't regret the past or the mistakes or my few extra pounds because they're all part of the story. and the story's still unraveling. and i have this sense that i'm just about to get to the good part.

55 comments:

Jenni Austria Germany said...

i think you're about to get to the good part, too. and i can't wait for it.

Allie said...

I agree with Jenni. This was beautiful and real. Thank you for this and for always being real with us. You're a role model.

Alice said...

Thank you for this. It is so good to see someone so candid about their struggles, with food or otherwise. I think the really good part is about to start :)

jorjiapeach said...

yes.

Madeline said...

"is fat really the worst thing a human being can be? Is fat worse than vindictive, jealous, shallow, vain, boring, or cruel? Not to me." -j.k. rowling

I love this quote, love your post, everything. We should all be grateful for the bodies we have, and do everything to take care of them. Show love.

Madeline said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
stephanie said...

you have such a beautiful voice! it´s so nice to hear you read your posts, i always enjoy it a lot. have you ever thought about joining a choir? it´s really fun ;-) i always thought if/when i (ever) move to new york i could join a really cool one...

somehow unrelated, it would be interesting to hear about your breakfast options... i always find breakfast the hardest to choose (makes or breaks the day), so it would be interesting to hear what you figured out for this!

FeeMail said...

I loved Reading your thoughts! I struggled with Eating disorders for 6 years, first anorexia then binge eating. And i made it through! I'm sure you will too! And my Rating Habits now are just As you describe You're: Late breakfast and heavy Lunch. I'm ok with that and so is my weight. You'll make it.... Greetings from Germany, Fee

kat said...

you. rock.

that is all [not all, but the all].

Laura C said...

Oh, Meg. I love posts like these. I'm a firm believer that eating well means you can eat things that taste incredible but do good things for your body, too.

debbiecutieface said...

thank you. An eating disorder is NOT a lifelong battle. You battle it, yes, you challenge it, yes, and at times you struggle, yes, but there IS a light at the end of the tunnel and there is nothing, NOTHING more beautiful or more worth it.

naomi megan. said...

meg. i just love you so much. i followed along reading this post while listening to your voice and i cannot count how many times i had chills. i just really love you. you're one of the most influential ladies i know. and one of my dearest friends. and this post? you really are just about to get to the good part. i know it. and i can't wait to watch you there.

xo

Claire Kiefer said...

This almost made me get teary (not that it takes a lot to get me teary, haha). You write about this difficult thing so beautifully and so bravely. I admire your courage: both to put it out there in the world, and to resolve to conquer this/refuse to have an eating disorder be "part of your life forever."

When Kate Moss said that dumb ass thing, I wrote to my cousin and said, "She clearly hasn't had our family's macaroni & cheese." HA. It's so sad that she (or anyone) feels that way. More regretful is the impact it may have on girls around the world.

I'm proud of you, Miss Fee!

Caroline said...

Love this, Meg! You are definitely right---you will NOT deal with this the rest of your life!! I, too, struggled with an eating disorder and am fully FREE! God can break the chains that bind us! So glad you write honestly and are willing to talk about things so personal. I love having your blog as part of my routine!

Celeste said...

http://celestesletters.blogspot.com/2010/01/dear-kate-moss.html

I'm with you, and I'm excited for the good part. xoxo

Roxanne said...

This is so, so incredible. I had goosebumps three different times.

sandy said...

what an incredible, well-written article. article, not blog post. not to dismiss blog posts:) you changed the way i think about food and body image and you saved me from an impending eating disorder and now i preach the gospel of diets and counting calories and shame make things worse, not better. thank you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you.
You are not alone in your struggle.

Jessica Lynn said...

I love the paragraph about dealing with it now. that's something that can, and I hope will, inspire me on every level of my life.

Please keep sharing.

Jennifer Rod said...

i appreciate the honesty in every word. you are a trooper for writing this so openly.

Jessica Holly said...

You're an inspiration. I can't wait to see you get to the good part.

Rony said...

This was such an inspiring post. I love your honesty and your strong voice. Thank you for this.

communikate. said...

First off, I'm envious of your wisdom.

I've been down this road of emotional eating for almost ten years, and just when I think I might get a grasp on it, I spiral downwards. For those that say, "just have some self control" really have no idea. None whatsoever.

Needless to say, I'm proud of you Meg Fee. I've been following you for nearly three years, and you can see the difference that your knowledge and life lessons have made. You have a light about you now that shines brighter much brighter than before.

by r. said...

You're such an excellent writer and so articulate about yourself/life that i am constantly amazed by you. And I think you are definitely getting to the good part - and are somewhat there! :)

Sonja said...

I think If I had the choice to meet anyone I don't know... I might choose you over a celebrity or anyone like that. hahaha. Seriously.
I love the way you write and I relate to everything you say (frighteningly enough in almost all posts) all too well. Unfortunately I doubt I would ever be able to express myself so gracefully, truthfully and beautifully. My internet didn't load this post properly so I read it before listening (instead of doing it all at once,..and I didn't mind one bit)

nancy said...

I have the same feeling - that you're about to get to the good part!

I agree with your words and more than that, I relate to them. most of them. nearly all of them. I'm taking the same journey as you and I feel as though I'm at the same place as you, as well. which is a wholely comforting feeling :)

Brittan said...

You sound healthy, wise and satisfied. I think that is the real testament to how far you've come and all the wonderful things that are just around the corner.

I'm in the throws of figuring out the healthiest and most practical way for me to eat long-term. Is it 5 or 6 small meals, 3, 2 (how I would really prefer it but everyone advises against)... I don't know. It's hard figuring out our bodies but I think even trying puts you at the head of the race.

Alissa said...

I'm not sure anyone has described my eating disorder this well. The horror of it, the lack of control. How it shapes you in some wonderful ways, too. I'm one of those people who say my food issues are forever. I never though I'd be binge free, although alas I am these days. So who knows. It's nice to hear from someone who feels so hopeful about it.

ilene @ muchloveilly said...

you are one talented, inspiring author. and you totally hit the nail on the head - i've been down this journey before. thanks for sharing :)

Catherine said...

you are gorgeous...inside and out. i love reading about your life from the other coast in seattle. one day i will be brave again to write about my own struggles...different, but also difficult.

AnDeeBarrett said...

Well Done Meg.
Bravo.
xo

Emily Lou said...

it's hard, isn't it? the whole journey. it's painful. but you give light to it all. you give hope and beauty and clarity to all of us who are fighting the same battle. you save people with your words, meg fee. and somehow, it becomes okay.

Natalie Hill said...

you are perfect right where you are. love you.

fluroescent said...

Sometimes your timing is so perfect it's downright spooky. Thank you for this, and your honesty.

Ramona said...

Thank you for sharing and being honest! You sound full of hope!

Rachel said...

As someone who can totally empathize with the overwhelming desire to binge, thank you for sharing this. You are an inspiration. And you could not be more right about the guy thing. They seriously do not know the difference between 'skinny naked' and 'I shouldnt have had that donut naked'

kate elizabeth said...

I love your way of thinking, I love your voice, and I love that you have made this struggle of yours helpful to others. Thank you for being such an inspirational lady.

I listened along as I read this and got a little bit emotional at the very end. Life is an incredible process! Thank goodness we have so many years to write and enjoy our own stories.

Ana Magdalena said...
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Jessica said...

Meg,
This was absolutely beautiful.
Amazing, amazing, amazing.
I just listened to the whole thing completely engaged in what you were saying.
I love your part about hips, because sometimes I love them and sometimes I hate them. But for the most part, it's easier to love them, isn't it? And isn't that what we should all be doing anyway? Loving our bodies? Being kind to them?

Thanks for this.

-Jessica

Amanda Blair said...

Is it weird to say, I love you for this post? Because I do. I LOVE hearing real stories, about real people, talking about real problems. People tend to gloss over their lives on blogs and everywhere else for that matter, so finding beautiful rhetoric about how it really is, make my soul smile. Keep on doin' what you're doing honey!

emily said...

I hope you don't regret one bit of this. because it's honest, inspiring and so necessary for healing. your story is so important to me (and so many others). i especially liked the media examples of kate moss and about what men really think- so true. it's the influence from media/models/moviestars and not necessarily men that are creating these mental battles and disorders for women.
thanks again.

silbliss said...

i've been reading your blog for a while now and i really enjoy your writing, but today listening to you it made me think. I could feel that what you've written is really sincere & straight from your heart. I'm sure you'll get to the good part of life. I can say (from experience) that everything starts when you stop struggling with yourself and accept who you are. Good luck! & keep writing as I'm sure you're helping a lot of people.
Silvia

Rod and Alex - aka: "Rolex" said...

Thank you for sharing this very personal segment of your life. It has to be hard. But I'm sending all of my good thoughts your way... Keep us updated on your progress!

Laura Marie said...

Oh Meg. Oh MegMegMeg.

Your best.

Your absolute best.

(And yes, I owe you a phone call!)

Jasmine said...

You're very strong, keep that! And go on writing, please! :)

Alex said...

You are so strong, Meg. And a true inspiration. I believe you're about to get to the good part as well. And I bet it's going to be REALLY damn good.

nikki said...

I just wanted to thank you for sharing this. I haven't been following your blog for very long, but I just spent my afternoon reviewing your ned archives because I recently came to the realization that I have this problem too, but I've been calling it other things for years.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I really appreciate your writing so candidly about something I don't understand, but want really want to.

becky said...

There is so, so much beauty in this. So much that I read this yesterday, and again today--and then, finally, happily, listened to it. And there is something so raw and honest about not only your authorial, writerly voice but your aural voice: the strength of your t's and your absolute conviction in your words. Hearing you read your work brings new things to light: makes me see new, enviable spots of beauty.

It is so inspiring to see just how far you have come in your fight against this thing--this oppressive and beligerent force. What I find striking, though, is just how clearly you highlight not only the force of NED but--more than that and with greater and more deeply rooted alarm--the force of society. I think that is quite a contentious thing when anyone discusses an eating disorder. There are those who blame societal and media pressures and those who blame our body and our mind. I always feel that these arguments, however well constructed they are, are too blunt against eachother. You, though, you counter both. The impression I get is that you do not think of the causes--you, instead, think of the path AWAY from it. That is of such great, great importance. Not, so much, to focus on the WHY (although, don't get me wrong: that kind of thinking can sometimes illuminate, then aid) but on the journey of the escape. I like your honesty about how you not only got to here, to health, but also when you fall short. It is confessional, yes. But it's honesty is so, so commendable. I love your comments on society. It turns something so often self-reflected into something bigger--something much more outside yourself. That is such a wonderful and an outstanding and--here it is--INSPIRING thing.

I sometimes wonder and worry over my comments. They do not do your posts the justice I want--because they are so incredibly articulate and inspiring and illuminative and I cannot quite bring to the surface just how inspirational you are. (And, on that note: I'm sorry if I ever should, mistakenly, offend--that frightens me). You are beautiful--and I hope you continue to blog for a long, long time. I feel such a lucky, lucky girl to be able to read--especially the best part. The part that is sure to come very soon.

Holly Bierly Young said...

Love it. love it. Love it. Facebooked it. Reblogged it (and gave credit) :) Bookmarked it. You name it, I did it.

Love it.

Anything else I say would just be a repeat of those who have commented above. ^^^^^

Thank you, Meg. Really. Thanks.

Veronika said...
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ghostmanon3 said...

Thank you for sharing your stories. You are very brave and very inspiring. You present your battle in a way that is realistic.
For some reason, eating disorders have become glamorized without any consideration to the physical, emotional and mental implications. So many little girls just focus on the end result (the whole lollipop look) without knowing the hell that accompanies this disease/addiction. Eating disorders cannot be controlled on a whim. It’s a constant struggle, and the amount of time until you feel “rehabilitated” in no way reflects any aspect of your personality or your desire to be well.
So, you hang in there and seek comfort in the fact that you have family, friends and complete strangers who support you and are rooting for you.

Anonymous said...

Oh boy. This is so beautiful and touched me so much. You are sososo BRAVE. Bless you!!!!

Carrie said...

I affirm that I can easily think of a 1000 things that taste better than being skinny; I was skinny once, and really, for what it took to get to a conventional idea of “skinny” didn’t feel good at all

Jules said...

Your writing is so honest and beautiful. thank you so much for it. I really like it when you do a vocaroo version. keep them coming.

Hope you have a great sunday.

Jules

leah jane said...

You are amazing! You are simply amazing. It's beautiful how you use words to draw your life into a picture. Your parents and friends? Well, they must be so proud. I don't even know you and I feel so inexplicably proud of you. So just know that, that someone out there who you have never met is proud of this distance you are creating, and they way you write about it here.