“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your body,” 1 Corinthians 6: 19-20
Have you ever avoided something, skirted around the issue rather than deal with it? All my life I have had food rituals. When living alone these rituals were given free rein and I would eat rice, mushrooms and eggs only. It didn’t seem odd to me, it was normal. As a student I lived with two others, one ate celery only and the other drank single malt only, no food at all. We all thought we were normal choosing to eat the way we did.
Getting married changed my food habits, suddenly I was given permission to eat whatever I wanted, and I did, to excess. And so my life was shaped I would eat my ritual food on my own and in company overeat. I didn’t vomit, or anything so primal but used tablets to flush rubbish out of my system. To me, then there was no problem, I wasn’t anorexic and I wasn’t bulimic. All good
Obviously, food rituals do not come out of the ether, there is something else going on. Last year, all these other things converged into a long time coming drop into the pit. I had been circling the pit since 2007 and finally dived in last year. It was familiar, the blackness was cosy to me, it was a soft pillow against the sharp reality above.
My food ritual crossed a line I had not crossed before. The pain that was inside was manifesting itself in denial of food.
I was in a new realm and it is scary how happy I was, I realised that I had idolised young women who could control what they ate or digested. I had thought myself less than them because although I could ritualise food and regulate the digestion using a medication, I had never thought of myself as having an eating disorder. Now I did, now I wasn’t eating, now I was in control of something and it felt good. Within a month my skin sagged, as muscle was being used in the place of fat, for two more weeks I struggled, I tried to eat, I made really nice food that would tempt most people and it didn’t work. I stood outside takeaways and smelled the aromas, I just was not hungry. I gave up or gave in, and stopped trying again.
Another two weeks passed, I couldn’t function properly, spent most of my day in bed, felt more dizzy than usual and was worrying my family. I didn’t want them to worry about me, that was my job.
A long time commitment to go to Dublin with my family came up, so I drove them up and then on a random street, passing a random takeaway with a random throwaway comment from my youngest son, I ate. It seemed normal, so at the next meal I ordered again and I ate.
I have been eating ever since. No medication. No rituals. No rules.