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Feeling Ashamed

Disclaimer: This post contains potentially triggering content, including details about my stupid eating disorder thoughts. Read at your own discretion.

I’ve made so incredibly much progress. I restored my weight. I learned to eat every few hours. I learned to stop weighing myself. I learned to be less upset by my hands-down biggest trigger: GI distress. I learned 2000 calories a day is not enough for me. I got used to eating many foods I would have once rejected. I got my period back.

A recent breakfast

That should be it, right?


I got to the farmers’ market on Saturday at about 9:30 a.m. hungry, despite having eaten a usual-sized breakfast of pb&j toast, fruit and an egg. A woman at a gluten-free baked goods stand was selling cinnamon rolls, so I got myself one. Fresh cinnamon rolls at the farmers market were I special treat I remember my mom and I getting a few times when I was a kid. ?

I started with half of it and kept walking around the farmers market–but I was still quite hungry–so on the bus home I ate the other half.

It wasn’t so much the particular food. More than anything else it was the timing–knowing how much I’d eaten in a fairly short period of time. Like I have in my head–okay, my “normal” is much more food than it used to be, and it’s okay to deviate from my “normal,” too, and also it’s okay to have any food. I’m comfortable with all those things. But then I have these weird caveats floating around in there like “A great big cinnamon roll two hours after breakfast is too much food!!!!!!”

The timing of my meals were thrown off for the rest of the day, but I did keep eating when I was hungry and stopping when I was full. But I also probably said to my boyfriend like 18 billion times “I think I ate too much” to which he very patiently responded “no” every. single. time.

A recent lunch. Recipe here.

I’m in a good place recovery-wise. I really am. But it never ceases to amaze me, after all this time, how I think of myself as completely recovered and then, out of nowhere, have these moments.

In truth, I don’t really like to share these moments on the blog. I get so ashamed; ashamed that there’s this part of me that’s still so invested in what I eat. I’m ashamed to think of myself as someone who needs support when I want to think of myself as someone who supports others. I’m ashamed because I fear that people who have never dealt with an eating disorder will associate me with stereotypes about anorexia (shallow, only cares about her appearance, etc.) and I’m ashamed because I fear that people who have been through an eating disorder and recovered will think I’m not trying hard enough. I’m ashamed that I had the eating disorder in the first place, and ashamed that I’ve built this blog to share that fact with the world.

I almost didn’t share the cinnamon roll story on my blog, no matter how relevant it might be to my readers, because I didn’t want to admit to having this level of anxiety over an effing cinnamon roll!

These are my bad moments, of course. In my good moments, I’m very proud of this blog and all the amazing people it’s allowed me to meet.

A flower for all you lovely people!

But I wonder: is this an feeling others have experienced?

Do you ever feel that way–ashamed by what you’ve been through or where you are in the process? And if so, how do you cope? What do you do if and when that shame bubbles up? Bloggers–what motivates you to keep blogging?

Interested to hear your thoughts on this one.

Sorry for such a downer post. I’ll have a Caterpillar Crawl for y’all on Thursday!

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  1. Cora says:

    Joyce. I understand feeling all sorts of shame/embarrassment when writing posts like this. When we are our most vulnerable and honest. I feel it a lot and always go back and forth between what to post. But, this post changes absolutely nothing about we all know about you – in terms of you being a huge supporter and source of strength for those struggling in recovery. Even those who are most “recovered” – in whatever way – still struggle from time to time. I wouldn’t trust someone who didn’t… ya know? This way I know exactly that you understand what I go through and that when I come to you with these stories of how something affected me, I know you will know exactly what I mean.

    I had a similar experience this weekend at my friends’ wedding. There was a massive buffet with all sorts of options, and – as a surprise to even myself – I chose to go with the rack of ribs. It was HUGE. Bigger than my plate. I was happily chomping way through and then when I was about 3/4 the way done, the girl beside me looks at me and says, “Whoa. You ate that?… Did you share…?” To which I just shook my head no. I was so happy before that moment, and I hate to admit that it totally crushed me. My mood immediately flopped. For the rest of the night I went over and over in my head trying to figure out how much I ate and if I was “out of control” and if I should have stopped earlier and if what I did was unhealthy etc etc etc. It sucked. I hate that her comment affected me so much. I hate that she made it but I hate that it actually affected me more.

    Anyways. I’m proud of you. And I know its hard. No matter how far down the road we get.

    1. Joyce says:

      Thanks, Cora. I really appreciate it.

  2. Oh Joyce. I’ve definitely felt the same way–recently. I had a cookie and then thought, “oh no, am I letting myself go? Did I even really want that cookie? I shouldn’t have had it. I wasn’t hungry. I didn’t need it.” Cue minor freak-out.

    I don’t know why it happens sometimes and not others, but I know it does. You’re not alone. Our society is so ridden with diet messages, OF COURSE we’ll sometimes think those thoughts/feel that way. The important thing is that you stuck to what you know to be true–that your body will tell you what and when to eat and that you can trust it. We aren’t our thoughts. Those are the things I try to remind myself on the occasions that thoughts like that come up.

    And just because you have times when trusting your body is a struggle doesn’t mean you can’t be a support to others. If that was true, no one could support anyone. I’m just one example, but this post helped me validate things I’ve felt before.

    Remember the progress you’ve made. You’ve come so far. It might feel like the cinnamon roll incident was a backslide. But it wasn’t. You’re still going further on your recovery path, still making progress. Love to you!

    1. Joyce says:

      Thanks, Naomi. I really appreciate the kind words. I agree–it’s always nice to know we’re not alone.

  3. Alyssa says:

    oh love I get this feeling so much. it’s kind of like you feel phony.. for feeling ashamed and having those thoughts around food and your body. i have been there. but i just know we are all imperfect creatures and we have minds that like to play tricks on us. instead of feeling ashamed recognize the fact that you’re human and have some bad thoughts here and there and move on. i always remind myself to do that. give yourself compassion

    1. Joyce says:

      Phony is a good word for the feeling. Thanks for the kind thoughts, Lyss.

  4. Not for a single moment did reading this make me feel like you were shallow, only cared about your appearance and food or anything along those lines. And neither did I doubt how far you’ve come or your ability in helping others in recovery. What it sounded like was simply the thoughts and occasionally surprise ‘flashbacks’ I figure pretty much every single person who’s ever experienced an ED will go have. Also – and this isn’t meant in a negative way at all – you haven’t been recovered for –that- long, right? I’d liken it to getting over a break-up. Not sure about you but from my own and friends’ experiences I can say those can take some time to truly get over and
    Long story short: you are so very allowed and even welcome to share moments and thoughts like that. Because it’s so much more relatable for all of us reading that the – exaggerating here – story of the girl who boom! was recovered and never struggled with overthinking and obsessing about food, amounts and times eaten at again. Viewing it that way, this is by far not a downer post but in fact encouraging for any of us still struggling. As in: “slip-ups” are a normal path of the ongoing journey.

    1. Joyce says:

      About two to two and a half years, although it depends on what “recovered” means. And thank you for your encouraging words. This is why I decided to share it; I like me readers to know I’m a real person and I still have tough moments.
      Gah! I need to email you back. I’ve been meaning to do that for ages. Look for an email from me soon. <3

  5. Kaylee says:

    Cliche and overused for a reason but the path of recovery is not linear. It’s awesome that you have the courage, strength and compassion to share this with us all. I know I’m a tad late to responding to this but I hope you remember to not judge yourself for your feelings. Feel free to message me if you ever need someone to talk to.

    I get what you mean about the timing with eating. With a meal plan there comes a sense of structure, and I struggle with deviating from it around timing. Sometimes I’ll use it as an excuse to not honor my hunger. Let’s say, I’m “supposed” to eat at XX o’clock and so I “shouldn’t” eat because I need to have my next meal soon to be on track. Siiigh. All this to say, I get you.

    I have definitely also been feeling shame around the stagnant nature of my recovery right now. I just don’t know where to go, what changes to make, who to turn to anymore. I feel I’m dealing with the same problems over and over and over again. What makes it even more frustrating for me is that I feel I was ‘in’ my eating disorder for a shorter period of time than I have been in supposed recovery. So there’s definitely shame for me around that too. That somehow I “should” be more recovered by now. As my dietician says, stop shoulding on yourself. In terms of coping with the shame, I’m learning to investigate the reasons behind the shame: what are my feelings really telling me?

    1. Joyce says:

      Oh my gosh, I’m the same. I had disordered eating for a number of years, but I only had anorexia per se for a summer, which sometimes makes me feel like how much I still struggle is somehow invalid.
      Thanks so much for the encouraging words, Kaylee. I really appreciate it, and it’s a comfort to know that I’m not the only one feeling this way. I’ll try to stop shoulding on my self–easier said than done.

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