Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Don't Eat the Birthday Cake!

It’s my birthday – not a big deal.

I wasn't expecting this day, however, to be a humongous Eating Disorder trigger for me.
I can’t control my height, my hair, and now I realize that my age is in that category too.  When I feel like my life is spinning out of control, I try to control my eating.

When I was in elementary school, I heard my uncle talk about "being fit by 40" or something like that.  Ever since then, I've used my birthday as a measure for my physical fitness.

For a long time, I had this rule that I had to lose a certain amount of weight before each birthday.  I used the mile marker as motivation, kind of like a New Year’s Resolution.  For example, in college, I wanted to be a size 4 before I turned 19.  One year, I decided to lose 24 pounds before turning 24.  You get the idea.

So, every year before my birthday, I would create an eating/exercising routine in the weeks or months leading up to that day.  The tradition became a challenge and a point of pride that I shared with no one but myself.

Today is May 29th, my birthday.  I am twenty-eight.  Yippee.

I’d be lying if I said that I don’t feel weird.  I feel weird.  This year’s birthday is the first time in a really long time that I haven’t beat myself up or punished myself prior to this day.  Today is just another normal day.

I don’t feel like celebrating my birthday.  I don’t feel like I deserve to celebrate.  It’s just a birthday.  I haven’t done anything to deserve cake and ice cream.

I also feel like I’ve crossed that rickety old bridge where I don’t want to be a year older anymore.  My back hurts, I get heartburn, I found a gray hair, and I drive the speed limit.  I am getting old.

These feelings are scary and new.
The default setting in my computer brain is telling me that the only way to feel better about myself is to restrict my eating.  “You won’t feel so bad if you are thin.”

The number one main reason I had a really difficult time getting out of bed this morning is because I think I am fat.  It’s not because it’s my birthday, no, that can’t be the reason.

If I am having those “fat” feelings, there is always something else behind it.  I have to figure out what is really going on and address the real issue.  For example, if I am feeling fat I might be just really tired and need some sleep, maybe my shirt is too tight or immodest and I feel guilty, or maybe I got in an argument with my husband and I don’t know what to say next.

When I did get up, I looked in the mirror to see if the birthday magic transformed me into Blake Lively while I was sleeping.   Instead I saw frizzy hair, dandruff, puffy cheeks, crooked eyebrows, and oh yeah, fat.  I analyzed my butt and my stomach because I am certain it grew overnight.

The only way I know how to cope with these feelings is to return to said E.D.  For years I’ve used my eating disorder to cope with my anxieties and depression.  I can’t control my feelings so I try to control other things.

I can’ control my hair or my height, but I think I can control my weight.  All of my insecurities about myself get piled on my food choices and eating habits.  Because it’s my birthday, I am also realizing that I can’t control my age either.

I’m fat.  My life is over.  I don’t want to eat anymore.  If I can’t try to be stick thin, then, I’ve decided that my life is not worth living.


Deep breath.  Remember, you decided not to listen to those stupid thoughts anymore.  For many years, I’ve believed food was bad.  And for years, I’ve used eating and exercise to cope with all of my emotions.  It is a long-term habit and it will take a while to change.
I have to remind myself that there are other things I want in my life instead of the eating disorder.

Regroup and start over.

OK.  What’s going on today?  What’s the real issue behind my "fat feelings"?

Well, I am 28 now, so I feel like I have to have my shiitake mushrooms together and all my ducks in a row, if you know what I mean.  Shouldn’t I be perfect by now?  I mean, I’m 28.  Isn’t everyone perfect by 28?

Give.  Me.  A.  Break.
Alright.  I feel a little better now.  Thanks for listening to my ramblings today.


  1. I am also 28, and I totally understand the feeling of "shouldn't I have this figured out by now?" I think I panic about the direction my life is taking (sometimes it seems like nowhere!) at least a few times a week. It's a mid to late-20s kind of thing to do. But actually 28 is really young. And I think you're finding a way to help people through your writing talent, willingness to share your experience, and honesty. Could lead to reaching many more people quite soon. Taking a deep breath with you.

    1. Thank you so much! We are really young, considering how old we could be one day;) Thank you for your kind words. Deep breaths are great, aren't they?

  2. Sending you lots of love birthday girl..
    I freaked out when I turned 28 with exactly the same thoughts...shouldn't I have some sort of brilliant wisdom by now, preferred with a husband, child, house and perhaps a pet? ; )
    um no. Instead I am learning to trust more, to rely on God's grace and to be open to grow.
    And to take deep breaths...
    Thank you for your honesty Mary and openness. I think your blog is a real gift. Keep on writing!