What’s been my biggest security blanket/enemy in my relationship with Ana?
The scale. For nine months, JJ and my best friend, as well as my treatment team, have begged me to get rid of it and I refused. Today, I told Jesse to get rid of it, and here’s why.
For months, I weighed myself methodically every morning. I did not eat or drink after 8pm the night before. I woke up, got myself ready to give a few more minutes to lose weight, gave my best pee and poo efforts, and stepped on the scale. Twice. Okay, usually three times. Just to make sure it was accurate.
The number determined my entire day. My mood immediately shifted depending on whether I was happy or not with the number. I felt sorry for JJ, LK, our dogs, and any drivers on the road I would encounter. The number was a banner in my mind all day long, informing me of what I was allowed to eat and when.
It was because this number didn’t move for 2 months that I started restricting more and more. The number started falling again and I felt immediate relief. Somewhere around here, LK started calling me “MommyScale”.
Then I went to treatment.
In the daytime program, they will weigh you with their little scale reading facing them and away from you. They weighed us after lunch, causing enormous outrage, fear, and anxiety for all of us. There we were fully clothed, having eaten their enormous meal plan for breakfast, snack and lunch and NOW they are weighing us?! They didn’t tell me what my weight was but I still weighed myself at home every morning so I wasn’t too worried about it. The number was still there, keeping me safe and secure.
Then came residential. You don’t get to know. No way to weigh myself. All I could do was check my body repeatedly, standing on the bench in the bathroom so I could see my lower half which is always the half I’m most concerned with. I imagined the number climbing. The banner number in my mind that kept me going sounded with alarm bells six times per day, for every meal and snack, to remind me that I was completely out of control and getting fatter by the minute.
I begged my therapist and dietitian to tell me the number. Finally, I wore down the nurse practitioner, who gave me my weight within a 5 pound range. I assumed I was at the top of the range, which broke a scary new round number (no pun intended) that freaked me out.
I had to balance eating only enough to keep earning weekend passes without gaining anymore weight. I managed to stay in that same 5 pound range for a few weeks.
On my second weekend pass out, I weighed myself at home. The number came back in full force and beat on me like a boxer on a punching bag. I harassed my treatment team every time I met with one of them to give me the number.
Finally, my last week at residential, they told me the number. I thought about how I could undo it when I got out soon.
After leaving residential and returning home, I went back to weighing myself everyday. The number regained even more importance as I had known what it was like to be without it. Safety. Security. Snuggles. Punches. Anger. Fear. It gave me all of them.
About a month ago, when my breakthrough hit, I had JJ hide the scale and bring it out once a week. LK looked at me a few days ago and said, “Mama, where scale go?” I responded, “Baby, Mama doesn’t need the scale anymore.” She said, “Okay!” And ran off. I was glad she didn’t know where it had gone and noticed but knew I still did “need” it once a week…just to stay safe.
This week, a family member and close friend experienced tragedies. This year has been fraught with one tragedy after another for my good friends and family, and if you count the tumultuous experience I’ve had, that too.
Today, the most recent tragedy hit. And I realized, my scale can’t save me. The number can’t make any difference to help those I love who are suffering. It’s those beautiful qualities I aspire to comprise my self-worth pie chart that make a difference.
Today, I told JJ to throw out the scale. And I say welcome love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. May God make His light to shine in all the darkness.
P.S. JJ, LK, and I are fine. Please don’t ask what’s wrong. These things have happened to those I’m close to, so they are not my stories to tell but have propelled me to another important point in my recovery. That’s the point.