In my previous post, I began addressing the things about my upcoming (date remains, unfortunately, tbd) bariatric surgery about which I'm most excited, as well as some things I fear. Today's topic hits both of those categories in equal measure.
Before I say more, allow me to take a moment to speak to those who already know Ed. I see you. I love you. If you've ended your relationship with Ed, congratulations. May you have daily strength and self-love to keep Ed at bay. If Ed is still in your life, read carefully and slowly ahead. I hope you can trust me when I tell you Ed is a liar. You have inherent worth just as you are; God made you that way. You can find that worth and confidence and break free from Ed. I hope my story helps along the way; but, a blog is not replacement for professional help. If you need it, find someone to help you begin your detachment from Ed. Unsure how to find someone? Send me a message and I'll help you get started.
So, as I was saying, Ed.
Ed is a condescending, lying, word-twisting, jerk who sneaks in and then settles in to the point some never again make a decision without Ed. It doesn't matter if the world around them crumbles; it doesn't matter if Ed steals all of the joy and all of the color and all that is goodness and purity and hope. Ed is that good, a master at manipulation and smooth talk. If Ed has never visited you, this won't make any sense and you'll struggle to understand the people in your life who do know Ed. Ed loves that, too. When Ed gets in there and tears apart relationships, people always choose Ed over friends and even family; at least when Ed is most present.
I met Ed in middle school. I don't remember a lot of the details because that is how Ed works--tunnel vision isolation. If a client now would describe to me what I experienced, I would go so far as to call it a dissociation.
You see, Ed lures you in with promises and delivers on them. But then keeps going until you are trapped.
I'm putting these details together based on snippets of memory because, again, it is all a blur with significant blank sections of time. What I do know is this: in every time of life I 'succeeded' in losing weight, Ed was a primary factor. Controlling my thoughts to the point of removing my appetite and keeping me on a path of such deep thought control that I struggled to break out.
I knew Ed was no good for me; but I also liked the reactions I received when I lost the weight. But Ed stole even that from me. I know this because I see pictures of those times and realize just how few memories I have of pure joy. Or even enjoyment.
As I was saying, I knew Ed was no good for me. But Ed was prepared for that. So Ed, showed up in new, more creative ways. In the 'salad only' approach to my freshman year of college. In the 'points' approach that kept me trapped in a cycle of good vs bad and constant weighing; in other words, obsessed. I could not break free of the constant thoughts that plagued me: what am I going to eat? how much will I gain if I eat it? what if I get hungry? I'm not losing weight, so why not enjoy this treat? exercise, but not too much, because you don't want to become that person, right?
I could go on. And on. I said Ed is a jerk and I'm not lying about that.
Ed has been in my life far too long. I've made more progress in the last two years of freeing myself from Ed than ever before; and yet, as an extra kick, I've gained enough to get me to my highest weight. That's how Ed keeps trying to lure me back in: 'Come back to me, listen to what I say, and you'll get back what you want.'
I need to remember Ed is a liar. I am more than my number. I am more than my body. I have thoughts in my mind too important to be clouded by obsession about food and exercise and the scale.
But Ed is pesky and does not easily retreat.
So it is both my greatest fear and my greatest hope of the gastric sleeve surgery. My hope is that the changes it will trigger will truly allow me to be free of Ed--once and for all. My fear? That it won't. That these six months of mandated food journaling prior to surgery and months of particular food choices after will keep Ed around.
90% of the time, I can't wait to have surgery. The other 10% comes when Ed's voice comes in louder. I've grown stronger. I know how to beat Ed back. But, being free of Ed without that effort? That sounds even better than the expected surgery results.
There's a lot to say goodbye to with this surgery. Some of which I'm already preparing, some I know I'll need to take the cold turkey approach, and then others I cannot wait. There will be a bit of grief along the way, and I'll need to choose to stick with a focus on what I will be able to welcome into my life rather than what will be left in the operating room; but saying goodbye to Ed? That is a day I look to with eager, hope-filled anticipation; a hope so great I trust God will empower me to leave behind the fear.
Ed. A jerk who doesn't let go but can be peeled off and pushed away. It often takes herculean effort and will, but it can be done.
Ed, consider this the beginning of my goodbye letter.
To the rest of you, thank you for sticking with me on this long road (and long post!). Eating disorders are very real and men fall prey to them as completely as women. I guarantee there are people in your life who are now, or who have been, in the grips of Ed. Be kind and patient with them. Tell them they are strong and worthy and capable and have value.
Questions? Comments? Leave them below.
Also, remember the Suggestion Box is waiting for your suggestions of future posts; drop me a note with a topic about which you'd like my thoughts--you never know when it might appear!