I think I have made a breakthrough! After 25 years of living in compliance or rebellion I have finally found that third place – the neutral ground. I have read Gilliam’s books and in the past I have told myself that I had a choice but I still felt as though I had to make the right choice and it wasn’t okay to pick the unhealthy option, which isn’t really a choice at all. That’s like saying, ‘you can chose as long as it’s the healthy option’. Quite often I would begrudgingly comply with my rules and be in a right strop with myself. To me it feels like an internal battle with myself and I get really annoyed that I can’t have something I want because of rules I have decided to live by. Sometimes I have been in the honeymoon period of compliance and I would make the right choice and it felt okay but I had to make a real effort to avoid that food because it brought up feelings of deprivation so I would distract myself and pray that the offending item was out of my line of sight quickly – I wasn’t really okay with it. I remember one particular day with my family who all fancied an ice-cream on a day out. I was in a right strop with myself as I had told myself that I wasn’t allowed one and I physically turned away so I couldn’t see them and I felt a strong sense of deprivation, like I was really missing out – I was really hacked off that day! All that happened was I ended up binging later, eating much more than the single ice cream that I had missed out on. I felt so bad for breaking all my rules so I gave myself a really hard time, then I tightened the reigns even more because I believed that my problem was that I wasn’t strict enough with myself and it was being too soft with myself that got me into this mess. I wish I could say that this was a one off but this is how I have been living for about 25 years – worryingly I am only 36.
But last night was very different. We went out for tea and I ordered a steak and I could have had chips or a baked potato. I was with my family and they opted for chips. This time I told myself I could have chips if I wanted, I really could and it would be fine. I reasoned that a jacket potato would be better for me and have more nutrients in but the choice was mine to make. I didn’t have to force myself down that route, it was up to me. My other half ordered a pint of lager and I considered getting a gin and tonic and again I reinforced the idea of choice, that there were no rules to follow. I opted for a jacket potato with my steak and a water but this time was different. There was no internal struggle, no reluctant compliance, no strop, no comparison-itis (comparing mine to what everyone else has and feeling short changed) – I was genuinely okay with it. Later on, we had some chocolates, my favourites too and I remembered my freedom of choice and I ate three of them. The old me would have seen this as a violation of my perfectionist rules and I would have made myself feel incredible guilty and I would have ended up eating all the chocolates I could and probably more because my thought process would be along the lines of ‘I’ve already blown it so why not?’. But last night, whilst reinforcing this idea of choice and the freedom to overeat if I wanted to and I stopped at 3 chocolates because I had had enough. I also told myself that I could always get some more tomorrow if I really wanted to and that would be okay. I can’t remember ever not finishing a treat that I was eating – that really was a first. I let the rest of the family finish my share and I didn’t feel deprived or annoyed, I was absolutely fine with it. I feel like that is a huge step forward for me so I am over the moon about that 🙂