You know, I’m learning a lot from this blog. Sometimes I learn things just by writing them down, and other times I learn things from the folks who comment. But always, I find myself with stuff to think about.
Lately I’ve been feeling very “labeled.” Not by anyone, except maybe myself. I’m watching myself sort of embrace the label of Eating Disordered, and I’m not sure I like it. There’s a lot of baggage that comes with a label. Certain things that are supposed to be accepted as dogma. If you are Eating Disordered, they say, you’ll never really get better; you’ll always be “in recovery.” You’ll never have a normal relationship with food, they say. You’ll always have to be vigilant, they say. For the rest of your life, they say, you’ll have this funky head and the neuroses that go with it – it will be a part of you FOREVER.
Pardon my language, but what a load of victimized bullshit. Honestly, that whole mentality just pisses me right the hell off. And frankly, I find it counter-productive. Why bother trying to get better if I CAN’T EVER get better?! Why not just eat compulsively or starve, or hell, just take a razor to my wrists? Because LIFE IS NOT WORTH LIVING IF I CAN’T GET BETTER. Seriously. (No, don’t panic. I’m not even remotely considering suicide. I’m just pissed off.)
And here’s another thing: what if the reason you “can’t” get better is because you’ve bought the official party line? What if the reason you “can’t” get better is because you BELIEVE you can’t?
I just . . . *splutter* There are no words for how angry this makes me.
And I KNOW there are brain chemicals involved, and some studies are now indicating that there might be genetics involved, as well. I’m not supposing that we should (or could) all just snap out of it tomorrow. But . . . I think of it this way: imagine driving down an old, rutted dirt road. The kind of road that makes your teeth vibrate in your head. A zippered road, even. Now imagine that there is a set of old, well-worn tire tracks down the middle of the road. It would be far more comfortable to drive in those pre-worn tracks, right? But suppose that the road is really your brain. Suppose that those tracks were put there by behaviors and/or habits. Suppose that they were put there by genetics. Whatever. Of COURSE you want to drive in those tracks: having your teeth vibrate out of your head is not comfortable, right? But those grooves would be SO MUCH MORE comfortable. But those, of course, are ED tracks, so you have to stay out of them, and on the uncomfortable road. Here’s the thing, though: while that road may be uncomfortable for a while (maybe a long while), eventually, your tires will wear new tracks in that road. A while after that, those tracks will get deeper. Your teeth will eventually stop vibrating as you drive down that dirt road. The “new” tracks will become deeper and flatter, and eventually those tracks might even be deeper and flatter than the old, ED tracks. Eventually.
Now that’s not to say that the old tracks will go away. They won’t, and that’s ok. But I DO think that we can get to a point where we don’t really notice them anymore. Where once in a while, we glance out the window, and say, “Oh, yeah, I remember when I was driving in those tracks. Huh. I haven’t thought about them in a long time. Anyway, eyes on the road!” I don’t think the road will always be so bumpy. I refuse to believe that I am permanently broken. REFUSE.
But naming something is different. Sometimes it helps to name something, to call it out, to identify it. In some traditions and cultures, people pick their own names when they reach adulthood. It’s considered a statement about who they are, and a claiming of their own power. A name is a powerful thing. But I have to be vigilant about keeping it from becoming a label. A name (in my opinion) is an identification of an Other, something apart from me and who I am. A label tends to be something I use to define MYSELF. It is something I live up (or down) to, and accept as gospel truth about myself, and it is unchangeable. I will always be an ex-dancer. I will always be a good actor. I will always be smart. No matter what I do or don’t do in the future, those things will always be true. That’s my definition of a label.
So. I HAVE an Eating Disorder. *I* am NOT Eating Disordered. Does that make sense? I can get rid of something I HAVE. If I have a cold, I get better. If I have a VCR, I can give it to the Salvation Army. If I have a dirty house, I clean it. If I have an ED, I can get better. (Even the act of writing that: “I have an ED,” makes me uncomfortable. Not in a good, I’m-facing-my-demons way, but in an I-don’t-want-to-own-that-term-and-let-it-be-part-of-how-I-define-myself way.)
That’s vastly different from claiming the statement: “I am Eating Disordered.” Different verbs and everything: the verb “to have” and the verb “to be.” Try swapping them out sometime, and see how it doesn’t work: I HAVE a red hat/I AM a red hat. Weird, right? I AM a tall person/I HAVE a tall person. Doesn’t work, does it? (Unless you happen to have a tall spouse/partner. I guess that might work although it still implies a weird sort of ownership . . . um. Sorry. Random tangent. My brain, it does that sometimes. Well, all the time, really. ANYWAY.) I AM smart/ I HAVE smart. (Ok, that one cracks me up.) I HAVE an Eating Disorder/I AM an Eating Disorder. Ooooo, that one is scary, isn’t it? I am NOT an Eating Disorder. Neither am I Eating Disordered. (I’m starting to get really annoyed looking at those words capitalized, too. I know it’s considered “correct,” but it looks really pretentious to me.)
Anyway. I have no way to wrap this up. Names=good, labels=bad. End of rant.