Eating disordered or not, control is something we all strive for in one aspect of life or another. Whether that control is over major things, like money or jobs, or minor things like folding laundry before putting it away, everyday we make decisions that ultimately direct our lives. Some people are lucky enough to have a good sense of the things they can and cannot control; while some of us, unfortunately, aren't so lucky.
In most cases, eating disorders are all about gaining control. As a child, I often felt like I was unable to live up to certain expectations; I wasn't athletic enough, smart enough, outgoing enough, funny enough, pretty enough. My younger days were spent with a never ending sense of inadequacy. Who set such ridiculous standards for my life? My parents? Teachers? Coaches? Nope, none of the above- it was all in my head. No matter how hard I tried, the person I saw in the mirror was never enough. I felt powerless and out of control of my own thoughts.
Whether we realize it or not, most situations in life we are absolutely powerless over. In my perfect world, everyone would react to all situations in a kind, friendly manner, long lines wouldn't exist and slow drivers wound never set a tire in the passing lane. Too bad my perfect world will never exist. The likelihood of any of those things happening is probably a negative three on a scale of one to ten.
Weight loss on the other hand, is simple science; burn more calories than you consume and boom the number on the scale goes down. While everything else in life seemed to be chaotic, my weight remained my go-to safe haven because I knew if I worked hard enough that number would remain constant. Finally, I had discovered something that I was "good enough" at and by taking it to extremes, not only could I be good enough, I could be best. I was in control.
Now that my brain has returned to a healthy state and functions properly, I am starting to see how OUT of control my life had become.
After mastering the art of throwing temper tantrums as my treatment team began taking away any means of control my eating disorder had over my life, I began to feel exposed. Without my eating disorder, I felt like that powerless little girl with no sense of self worth. I was and still am at times, incredibly vulnerable. What will people think when I take off the eating disorder mask and become my authentic self? How will I cope with anything if I am not in control of at least one aspect of my life?
Today, however, I have finally come to realize that I am more in control of my life than ever before. Somehow by letting go of the need for control, I've found a way to gain it in return. I cannot live my life worrying about what others might think or not being true to my beliefs; trust me, I've tried.
“How would your life be different if…You stopped worrying about things you can’t control and started focusing on the things you can? Let today be the day…You free yourself from fruitless worry, seize the day and take effective action on things you can change.” -Steve Maraboli
I love this quote. Think about it for a second- how different would life be if we really could let go of the things we can't control? The only thing in this crazy life that we have the power to control is ourselves. It has taken me months to accept the fact that my treatment team is completely in control of my weight; but in the process I have been given the opportunity to let go and begin to find myself in return.