Yes yes, my favourite of subjects again (feel the sarcasm). The binge-monster, but then the bin-ge one this time. This is where my internet-personality differs from my daily-life personality, because this is not something I will easily and openly discuss with anyone in real time. I can, however, share some of it now in real life too, yet I rarely ever do. Unless someone would specifically ask me. But, how often does one encounter someone who randomly asks; did you ever eat from the trash? So yeah… But with other ‘ED-people’ (I see ED-people!) or people extremely close, I can share some of it in real life now, too. This took me years however. I cannot stress the shame surrounding this subject (or, all of the subjects in my WAMM-series, actually). I understand if you guys, too, would rather not talk about this (and the other post subjects) yourself, but just know that if you ever want to, feel free to comment or email me whenever. So here we go, part III.
What anorexia made me part III; A bin-ge eater
As I told last time, after the ring-stealing incident, others incidents followed. The new incidents were always food-related though (which is why, in hindsight, they make me feel less guilty. I am still hugely embarrassed by the fact I stole things I could easily afford, but it was the only way to survive at the time).
I stole food because I needed food, but I was not allowed to spend money on myself.
At first, it were the bare necessities I stole. But when eating becomes extremely sporadic, you will end up bingeing because your body will switch into survival mode. However, I only binged on foods I ‘wasn’t allowed’ or that did not like. Later, when my bingeing lead to more and more fasting, and the over-fasting led to more intense binges, I would not just steal food (like, from work or from shops), but I would also eat from my roommate’s groceries (but always replaced it before she noticed). It was either to survive on or to binge on, but at that stage, they both meant the same thing anyway. Sometimes I even binged at work when no one was watching, either stealing from the kitchen or secretly scoffing up the food from customers plates if they hadn’t finished their food (I was working as a waitress in a cocktailbar Mediterranean restaurant back then).
I sneaked out food from work, from stores, from Uni. Even from friends’ cupboards or bags! They were never expensive things, but only things I ‘could not’ buy for myself. The more hungry I was, the more anxiety I experienced, the more off-limits it became to buy things for me. I felt ‘off of this planet’. I wasn’t really present.
Taking food was most of the time the only way I could allow myself to eat, because if the food wasn’t ‘mine’, it did not ‘count’.
This is how my bin-ge eating started. Bingeing itself started through pure desperation of my body. But my bin-geing, as in eating from the trash, has a different origin. When I ate from (whoevers’) trash, it wasn’t ‘real food’, and therefore it didn’t ‘count’. Eating from the trash was the only way to fool my anorexia sometimes, because trash didn’t count as food. People do not eat from the trash. Maybe some animals would, and anorexia, sometimes, would allow me to identify with an animal. Most other days I would not even consider myself to be of the animal ‘hierarchy’, but sometimes being an animal was acceptable and then I could eat from the trash. This was also the reason why I forced myself to sleep on the floor most nights, either in a random place in the house or, if I had visitors, next to my bed. Simply because animals don’t sleep in beds, humans did, and I did not count as human.
I ate from the trash for months and months and it was the biggest secret surrounding my illness. At first, while deep in ED, it was the sheer panic and anxiety (caused by hunger short-cuts in my brain) that led me to do it. Simply because anorexia had made food so off-limits and surrounded by secrecy and shame. Later in recovery I ate from the trash because I was so torn between the ‘AN-voice’ and the ‘please-eat-voice’. Eating from the trash was the middle ground; my AN would sort of approve because it emphasized how messed-up, worthless, nonhuman and dirty I was and my recovery-ninja-part would approve because at least I was eating something.
I only told my mother about it once, and it made her cry so bad. I made her promise to never tell anyone. I’ve only (multiple times) been caught by our dog and it truly upsets her too. She will start barking or howling or cuddling up against me. It broke my heart but I would not stop, as I knew the moments I was ‘allowed’ to do it were rare and they were the only moments I could get anything to go in.
To this day I am fascinated by how humiliating this illness really is. And I feel deeply infuriated when people suggest it is a ‘vanity’-disease. I see no vanity in secretly shoving days-old, smelly food, covered in milk gone bad from the trashcan into the mouth of an emaciated 22 year old girl. I see no vanity in sleeping on cold, hard wooden floors next to a perfectly made, soft and empty bed because you are considered (by yourself!) to be too worthless to sleep anywhere else. I see no vanity in deliberately keeping yourself awake night after night (while already being helplessly tired due to malnourished-insomnia) because it is just another way to emphasize your worthlessness. I see no vanity in anorexia, as I see no vanity in any (lethal) disease. So I would, hereby, like to dump that ignorant belief, indeed, into the trash.
And I will not eat my words.