I weighed myself.
I weighed myself. This pains me in ways that I didn’t expect.
Everyone always asks, “What is the function of engaging in such-and-such ED behavior?” And for this, I don’t have a great answer. I have wanted to know my weight forever…at least it feels like forever. The compulsion to know has waxed and waned and I try to roll with it. The day I weighed myself, I started in the morning asking my dietitian about my weight. I wanted to know if I was “healthy.” I didn’t quite phrase it like that to her, not that I was trying to be deceptive, but more because I felt kind of awkward for asking. We discussed it briefly and then moved on to the next topic, but my dietitian told me that we would go back to the weight discussion at the end and that I should remind her to do so. I did remember, but I felt really embarrassed about it, so I didn’t ask.
Later, I still had my weight on my mind, but not in an obsessive way. I was reading my old blogs and looked at where I was a year ago. I was blown away by the changes I have made in the past 12 months. Seeing how far I have come and how different I am gave me the impression that I could know my weight and handle it.
I went to the closet and pulled out the scale. Honestly, it felt surreal, like I wasn’t connected to what I was doing and I wasn’t quite in my body. I tapped the scale with my foot to see if it would turn on. If the batteries were dead, I would have just let the whole thing go. But they weren’t. I gingerly put one foot on the scale and watched the numbers change. I shifted my weight more and watched the numbers. Then I just put my second foot on the scale. And that was it. The numbers scrolled by and then stopped. The number was not at all what I expected. I felt like throwing up. The disconnected feeling got worse and I felt hollow in my stomach.
And then it hit me. Fuck! What did I just do? All the time and work that I have put into not knowing my weight…I just fucked it all up. By standing on that scale and looking at my weight, I just did something that I could not undo. My eating disorder perseverated briefly on the number. But the overwhelming feeling I had was a profound disappointment in myself. And fear…fear that I let down myself, dh and my team here, fear that I couldn’t fix it, the number was in my head. I couldn’t un-see it
It was pretty much time to leave for programming and this was the only chance I would have to talk to my therapist about it until after Christmas. As I drove to IOP, my thoughts went from, “The number can’t be right. The scale must be broken. Yes…that’s it, the scale is broken,” to “I have to exercise, I need to exercise,” to “It’s just a number. My worth is not defined by a number.” The thoughts were scrambled and competing. And I just kept telling myself that all the scale did was give me a number. It’s not who I am, it’s just a number. Even if I didn’t like the number, I have been happier in general the past few months and becoming more tolerant of my body. My body hasn’t changed just because I weighed myself. Number or no number, next time I look in a mirror, my body won’t have changed.
At the end of the day, I wasn’t thinking about the number. I am thinking about how much I disappointed in myself. I am disappointed that I caved and made a choice was not at all a recovery based choice.
At dinner that night, I felt like a fraud. We were peer posting and I didn’t have high ED urges but I felt like not saying something about my huge slip up was not being honest with my peers. We stepped to the art room and I told them what I had done. They were amazing and supportive. We went back to the table and I said that I needed more support so we actually went to the group room and talked some more. I explained how I felt like I had disappointed people and myself. My peers reminded me that I don’t have to be perfect, that some of them had weighed themselves too, that some of them secretly own scales, that weighing myself doesn’t have to derail my recovery, that I am okay.
And you know what, I felt better. It is nice to feel understood.
I did not tell my dietitian, I am too embarrassed to tell her about it.
So…that’s the story. But what does it mean?
That day, I ate my dinner, I ate an evening snack. I went to bed and didn’t perseverate over my “failure.”
I got up the next morning and was looking in the mirror as I hooked my bra. I turned left and right, looking at my body. It looked the same as the day before. Probably it was the same. I had an urge to weight myself to see what the number was in the morning before I had eaten. I mean, why would it matter? I already blew it by weighing myself. But I knew that I can’t start the habit of daily weighing. That is a slippery slope that I don’t want to slide down.
And yes, I can’t un-see the number on the scale, but I can “fix” it by doing exactly what I did the next morning, which was to acknowledge my urge, counter it, and then just let it go. I know that this will not be the last big mistake I make with my eating disorder. Rather than obsess about it, hate myself and descend into a shame spiral, I am going to see it for what it can be…which is a “learning point”. Just because I make a mistake doesn’t mean everything is ruined. And no matter how disappointed I feel in myself, I am not a bad person.
I did not fuck up by weighing myself. I did not ruin everything. And how I am dealing with my choice is evidence to me that I have strength of self that I didn’t have 4 month ago, because I am accepting my mistake, not letting it derail me and moving on and doing the next right things. I think I kind of like this person who does not let a mistake drag her down into hatred and self-loathing.
12-27 About the Second weighing
Why did I do it again?
So, a week after the first weighing, I did it again.
This time, when I did weekend check-in at programming, I admitted to the group that I had weighed myself again and that I had weighed myself last week. Again, I got questions about what function the second weighing served. I don’t really know. I feel like partly, I weighed myself because I could. And I also know it was totally ED related. But ultimately, I don’t even know if I cared about the number.
I don’t know if weighing myself was about control over what has been happening while I have been in treatment or about managing the feelings when dh left (I didn’t let myself cry after I left him at the airport) or about my obsession with knowing my weight. I am just kind of at a loss as to what function weighing myself a second time served.
I am not happy about my choice to weigh myself again. This not a path I want to go down.
I plan on moving the scale to where I can’t access it easily and I plan on utilizing peer support, journaling and containment to get through the next urges to weigh myself. When I get home, there won’t be a scale in our house. Of all the ED things I am giving up, the scale is actually the hardest thing. I need to put more thought into why.
Moving the scale to where I can’t see it is not a viable option because I would still know where it is. I can’t get rid of the scale, because it is not my scale, it belongs to the woman I live with. It is not her primary scale as she has one in her bathroom. I can respect her space and not weigh myself on hers. So, what to do with the scale outside my bathroom?
I took the batteries out and threw them away.
In order to use that scale again, I would have to make a very deliberate effort to get new batteries and put them in the scale. That extra step is enough to slow down the impulsiveness of the urge and give me a chance to catch my breath and deal with why I am having the urge vs. just giving in to the urge. I think it is a good solution.
And yes, the two weighings have spiked my urge to weigh myself. I am getting lots of opportunity to explore what is behind the urges.
Today, I see my dietitian. I still have not told her face-to-face about the weighings, but I sent her the first two parts above. Plus, I am sure my therapist told her. I will not get judged by my dietitian. However, I am still really embarrassed and will be judging myself. It will be an awkward appointment for me.
Recovery is a messy process.