Rien ne pèse tant qu’un secret.
Nothing weighs more than a secret. – Jean de La Fontaine
Listening my way through Tommy Tomlinson’s memoir, The Elephant in the Room; the story of his struggle with food addiction, obesity and a desperate affair with choosing comfort over the effort it takes to live more and exist less. He holds nothing back except for an explanation as to why some of us settle for the short-lived amusement of cheap, albeit profitable tricks.
This morning I listened to him talking about the diet industry, Oprah, Weight Watchers and The Biggest Loser; all of which boils down to human suffering as both entertainment and enormous monetary gains.
He refers to Oprah as a human accordion who vacillates between maddening contradictions of self-acceptance and assertive ascension, feeding or depriving herself depending on what she’s been positioned to sell that month.
Which brings me to this quote about the traits of abusers.
“Psychological abusers set out to trick people, they know exactly what they’re doing. They know better than anyone the lies they tell, games they play and the entertainment they derive from controlling other people”- Shannon Thomas, Healing from Hidden Abuse
Seems abusers have a lot in common with the traits of successful Capitalists. High five Kraft. Good on ya, Coca-Cola. Cheerio Nabisco. You get the idea.
Having written my undergrad and graduate research on media images of women, I ended up studying marketing for several years. Advertisers know what makes us tick as good as, if not better than myself and my clinical peers. The primary difference being a set of ethical codes and general compassion for humanity. Therapists, for the most part, sincerely want to help people. Meanwhile, the CEO of Arby’s wants you to believe that grayish sludge ‘roasted’ in a plastic bag and sliced ‘fresh’ for your order is actually roast beef. Moooo.
Aside from being foolishly seduced by lies and inundated with neurologically highjacking ads, we’re expected to immunize ourselves against food products engineered to mimic the effects of coke, morphine and orgasms. If all that fails to fracture the resolve of saintly convictions, there’s the guilt-ridden, codependent choke hold of oppressive, western traditions like Thanksgiving (stuff our face, then go to a casino and buy matching wolf t-shirts) tailgating (chug 80 beers and watch dudes plucked from the projects get concussions while we scream at them till our team wins), 4th of July (pig intestines smothered in denial) Xmas (Christ has nothing to do with gorging on chocolates in the shape of Santa Claus) vacations and anything else Hallmark turned into some heinous form of programming. It’s called programming for a reason.
“We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.” Tyler Durden
We don’t need any of it. It’s an illusion. But until we decide to See it, as Tommy says, it’s the elephant in the room.
After twenty years of living with an eating disorder I’ve learned to anticipate comments about my weight but still struggle to craft an elevator speech on the ideology of recovery that doesn’t come off sounding like an insult. I took the blue pill, maybe? I joked with my hair dresser about using my most recent lab results as a placemat. They’re great. My triglycerides are 42 and I haven’t needed an iron infusion in over four years. Woot. Woot. I like my food plan, for the most part. Every year I fantasize less and less about calorie free pizza. I like eating healthy, working out and taking really good care of myself now that I can. Maintaining my health means sticking to the plan as if the quality of my life depends on it; it does.
Recovery from an eating disorder, like substance use, gambling, porn addiction or any other worldly waste of time we adopt to fill the holes in our soul which only serve to rob us of inner peace, is the daily commitment of saying no to the polluted creations of The Man and say yes to the memory of paradise; just like it says on my favorite lip balm, the plants remember paradise. So do I, as long as I’m eating those plants, drinking water, exercising, mediating and doing at least one devotion every morning…after I check my email, Instagram, Marco Polo, What’s App and Facebook. Sometimes I have weird dreams and have to decode and journal those first.
I’m occasionally reminded by associates, my husband and the rare human who happens to catch a glimpse of me eating despite of my protective efforts to avoid opinionated spectators, I sprinkle the organic, dark chocolate equivalent of M&M’s into my morning cup of non-fat Greek yogurt. Sinner! Glutton! Ha! I’ve learned to ignore the inner, twisted voice of humiliated retaliation-nothing makes me want to starve myself more than the sound of someone else’s fragile ego reveling in claiming to witness the biological weakness of me needing to feed myself, let alone the pathetic celebration in discovering I feed myself something other than kale chips. You say you don’t eat processed food but that’s processed. Oh really? I said that and you thought it might be helpful to…what? Well I just lost five lbs. Ta da! I don’t do that anymore. But it’s still hard sometimes to ignore the ignorant things people say about food, bodies and weight. I’m only human.
My recovery isn’t a spectator sport so over the years I’ve also learned to drop the rope and eat fries off my husband’s plate in public, on date nights (9 is where I draw the line) dip the occasional cracker in melter butter or humus and I will have a bite of his wedding cake this weekend. A bite because any more than that makes us grow infinitely taller or smaller in proportion to the white rabbit and there’s no sense wasting an otherwise good life chasing frosted illusions. We are not hungry for sugar, approval or fries. We’re only victims until we See it and choose to be the one who loves first.
Pardon my French but j’en ai marre de leures mondonges. You cannot abuse me if I’m awake, alive and choosing Love. I’m awake, alive and choosing Love; it’s the only sustenance.
ps: the Fight Club picture is a screenshot from a YouTube video. Not my art. Dear Antipodean Sister, Tyler and the white rabbit are both for you.