For the sake of expedience, I usually identify myself as a food addict. In some circles I will go so far as to say that I am a compulsive overeater.
We have a lot of words to describe ourselves: anorexic, bulimic, emotional-eaters, stress-eaters, carb-addicts, yo-yo dieters, compulsive exercisers, body dysmorphic, gluten-sensitive, OCD, anxious, depressed, disordered, dysfunctional, and more. Some of those words refer to recognized diagnoses, but even a multiple-word diagnosis doesn’t explain the cascade of emotional (and sometimes physical) pain we live with on a daily basis.
No matter what we call ourselves or how we define our often unreasonable relationship with food and eating, the bottom line is that we have a scary disease. It is fueled by self-hatred and expressed in actions that, in any sane human being, would be described as a compulsion to self-annihilate. For us, food is not a source of nutrition. For us, food is the Great Satan and an Angel of Mercy, punishment and reward, poison to be avoided and the elixir of life, an occasion of sin and the salvation of hurt feelings. Whether we overeat or starve ourselves, we view food as the enemy: something never to be enjoyed, because enjoying it means we are doomed. And then some of us throw caution to the wind, drowning ourselves in “the evil one” because even though we hate it, we love how it feels.
We are broken, and we hate our brokenness. If Dante had known of this, he’d have described it as one of the circles of hell, worse than any of the 7 deadly sins.
Recovery begins with accepting that we are broken, and that being broken is OK. Recovery begins with accepting that we have no control over the disease. Recovery begins with the hope that we will soon learn that, despite being broken and out-of-control, we are still worthy.
We do not discard a limb because it is broken. We have it treated. We care for it. We recognize that it is not as strong as it once was, and that it will take time to mend.