My life, up to this point, was something I regarded as a string of accomplishments and mess-ups in no determined order of priority or relevant impact to my own existence. My unique forays into excellence and my individual tragedies have often been co-opted (rather than empathized) into my peers’ graduation speeches, or my colleagues’ credentials, or even my supposed loved ones’ dating profiles.
I’ve lived with the knowledge that my exes and ex-associates have been using my byronic fanaticism and my academic achievements as *their* selling points in half-baked pick-ups.
Years before that, I learned what while my parents’ love was unconditional, there were some obvious lapses in the honest continuum of maintaining that truth. The unconditional love was considerably more loving when my excellence was above average.
But then along the way, I’ve had smatterings of friends who haven’t gone the way of the dodo who have certainly not been hollow in their praise of my excellent qualities. However: 1. most of these friends have only been acquired during or after the foundations of critical self-loathing have been laid, 2. most of this praise is perceived as acting in defiance of my put-upon circumstances, rather than the actual result of them.
Someone in my life recently praised me, telling me that I’m the most humble person they know, “even though [you] try not to act like it.” That was mortifying. Compliments to my supposed humility in this nature terrify me. They blatantly smash the life lessons from the Kanye School of Self Esteem that I try to implement in my day-to-day presentation—the ones that I put into practice to specifically scare people away from the horrible truths that 1. I’m not actually a god, and 2. I identify with this sequence more than anything else in the history of cinema.
Obviously this isn’t so simply said that “I have zero self worth and that’s why I can justify abusing/neglecting/actively sabotaging myself.” The problem is that I have worth, but that I don’t deserve it and it doesn’t belong to me, because while I’m some kind of Post-Modern Prometheus, it’s infinitely preferred that I’m a decidedly Bound Promethean.
If you are inclined to continue after the cut, please be conscious to the frank discussions of self-harm-inflicting behaviors that will follow and do not subject yourself if you can be potentially triggered by the implications! Safety first! [to bypass all of the ED-talk, please hit ‘ctrl (or cmd)+f’ and search for the sentence ‘And that’s where the line needs to be drawn’]
My Bad Relationship With Food has been a lifetime issue. Admittedly, its starting phase/stage was/is relatively innocuous: a rejection of foods and food groups based on their synaesthetic connotations. Not privy to the science of it, my parents just chalked it to picky eating and catered to my discerning palate. Bless them, no issue here.
However, the freedom to be able to choose and reject certain foods in a household where every other asset of my conduct was under rigorous surveillance proved a playground for pushing boundaries, executing control. I started to ascribe foods, even entire food groups, with moral connotations. When I left my parents’ house and their vigilance, ideally this could have permitted me the freedom to embrace food.
Spoiler alert: It didn’t.
In many aspects, the scenery had changed, as had the players, but many of the controls had carried over from the 17-year-running lab experiment that was my pre-adult life. No. *My* empire only expanded. The capital to exchange for food only meant keener discernment in what foods I would allow into my pantry, and from there what foods I would allow into my stomach, and from there how long exactly those foods would be permitted to stay.
Restrictive and purging behaviors were exciting assets to my abuse cycle. They could be punishments, they could be goals that would yield rewards for achievements of excellence in my body’s endurance and/or resistance–but most importantly they were mine and mine alone.
But after some time, even assets of my personal control fell out of my control (financially and psychologically). The involuntary lapses in eating, the unanticipated nausea…
The, just before going to my most recent therapy session, “I ate a full, healthy portion of a decent meal” followed by the “during therapy, my lovely counselor and I spent a good 30 minutes specifically talking about my past/current history of issues with food” followed up with the “after therapy, I ate again” only to be succeeded by
The “I came home and proceeded to involuntarily purge everything, because it was the first time I had eaten more than a few handfuls of granola since Thanksgiving (and had eaten two full meals, at that!) and my body didn’t want to/know how to even handle this sudden intake.”
My body has been in a state of starvation ketosis. Though I’ve been eating consistently since the day of the afore-described episode, the tangy, metallic taste still twangs in my mouth whenever I’ve gone past four or so hours without some kind of sustenance, indicating a transition back into fat digestion. My own body doesn’t trust me to take ownership of it anymore.
And that’s where the line needs to be drawn.
When I met Johnny Marr and he asked me to describe myself, my dialog was 60% stammering, sputtering and insecure fumbling trying to navigate who I was and how to portray myself to someone who I could not comprehend actively caring, who in the briefest of instances validated my career, my gender identity *and* expressed a legitimate concern for my and my new companion’s safety in getting home to the degree of following up with me after the fact.
If Johnny Marr, perfect stranger, multi-accomplished human being, can muster the ability to care about me and to associate my person with my accomplishments in a brief encounter after an intense concert performance, then I, the person who actually has to live with myself on a day-to-day basis, can manage an equal effort.
It should be directly noted, however, that this isn’t me merely investing all of my self esteem into Johnny Marr’s gracious output. This isn’t a surrogate project. That in itself would not be conducive after 23 years of ranking myself to the standards of others and letting said others co-opt the fruits of my labours.
The process is such: I need to eat. I need to eat consistently. I need to eat a balanced diet consistently to support my fitness goals so that I may pursue my life-affirming transitional changes and ultimately validate my sense of self as an authority in my body, my knowledge, my presentation–all uniform.
The decision to go vegan is self-affirming in that it’s a fulfilling dietary structure that lacks the complexities that will aggravate my body into nutritional shock (as attempted force-feedings of meat and dairy have proven way, way too heavy to risk) and an ideological perspective that validates the socio-economic beliefs that motivate my mundane and academic cores.
All of the above decisions operate on the core that I need to be my own priority, right now, and to work to erase what I’ve learned about myself from others. In short:
It’s cute and convenient that my Major Life Adjustment correlates to the end of 2013/the start of the New Year, but this goes beyond a 2014 resolution. This is the lifetime devotion to the undoing of decades of damage that I’ve wrought upon myself and the injustices I’ve done in lacking the support of my achievements.