So I was thinking about something last night….
I’ve been listening to a lot of Christy Harrison’s podcast lately (and reading her book) and hearing a lot of talk about how families and medical professionals and even eating disorder treatment centres inadvertently feed eating disorders by making fat phobic comments, encouraging people to diet, and just generally being unsupportive or misunderstanding how to deal with someone who’s trying to recover from a restrictive eating disorder, particularly if they’re not showing obvious signs of poor health (ie they’re not the stereotypically emaciated anorexia sufferer).
It got me thinking – there have been times in the last few years when I have lamented (to myself) what I’ve felt was a lack of support from my wife. At no point that I recall has she ever really said that she appreciates my efforts to be healthier and set an example for our daughter, at no point has she ever expressed any feelings one way or the other about the changes to my body, nor has she ever encouraged me in any way that I can think of. At times this has felt like a bit of a kick in the guts, because my wife and daughter are a big part of the reason that I started and continue to go through this process of getting stronger and healthier.
But over the past year or so since I have really started to focus more on dealing with my relationship with food and finding a greater sense of balance between weight training sessions and family life, I’ve begun to realise that actually, she’s probably been more supportive than I think. I mean, there’s the obvious, big financial thing that she allowed us to refinance so I could build my home gym. But in more subtle ways, she’s actually been extremely supportive without actually making a big deal of it.
When I was at my worst, she (almost) never complained about my compulsively weighing and measuring foods, my making ‘special’ low calorie meals for myself, my fasting, my lack of desire to go out and eat at restaurants. The only thing we ever had conflict about was my moods and constant anger, which to be fair, was well deserved.
Conversely, at no point in any of my episodes of extreme hunger has she ever got in my way and attempted to make me stop. She has sat there quietly on the couch watching me eat multiple desserts without so much as a raised eyebrow.
At no point in any of this has she made any comments about my body – positive or negative. It’s clear to me that my body is not the reason she married me – and even after gaining a lot of weight back I’m still not as big as I was back when we first met.
The reason this hit home last night is I suggested we go out for dinner, I’d been keen to go to a cafe that does a special burger night on Friday nights. Now in all honesty, she said that she didn’t feel like a burger, and we did spend an hour or so discussing whether we’d go there or somewhere else, but in the end we couldn’t come up with an option that pleased everyone so I got my way. I’ve expressed in the past that I think it’s really important for me to eat the things I feel like eating and not restrict in any way so perhaps this was her way of humouring me. So despite her wish to eat something else, she took one for the team without complaining. We ate burgers (which were mediocre, but that’s OK!) and then went somewhere else for ice cream afterwards and she let me indulge my wish for some less than ‘clean’ food.
I had some minor voices in the back of my head afterwards encouraging me to go off the deep end and eat a ton more, but honestly, they were pretty easy to ignore because I ate plenty. Some hot chocolate when we got home and I was as full as a goog.
It got me thinking, if that was me and I didn’t feel like a burger, how would I react? I think I’d probably put my foot down and refuse to go unless there was an option I’d eat. At least that would’ve been the case a while ago, I’m not sure now.
Anyway, my point being that she does support me in these ways and I am very lucky to be married to someone who doesn’t have her own issues with food or body image and is willing to let me eat and drink whatever I like (within reason) and let my body be whatever size it needs to be. And I’m grateful for that. And on a related note, I really do need to be more disciplined about incorporating some sort of ‘gratefulness’ practice in my life.
In other news – I’m almost 2 weeks since my last episode of uncontrolled eating – I haven’t skipped a single meal in that time, I’ve enjoyed quite a few treats (even some unplanned, like a couple of work morning teas) and feel like I’ve been as close to fully unrestricted in my eating as I’ve ever been. Long may it continue.