***This post may contain material that might be triggering for some.***
Too much is sometimes not enough, and not enough is sometimes too much. This sounds like a tongue twister, a spin on words conjured up by dark-suited advertising men with slick hair and thick cigars. I’ve found it to be mind-bendingly true, though, now that I’m shining the light on it a little.
I didn’t stop eating all at once, or even consciously. It happened in a series of moments, entirely separate and contained, that somehow compacted like a rock gathering speed down a snowy slope. When first set in motion, a rock rolls aimlessly, and slow, as an art-lover walks among museum paintings when an entire day lies before them. As it continues, however, the rock’s course becomes smoother, aligned; it is hard to catch the shift in speed until it is careening, with wild and precise abandon, downhill.
So when exactly I stopped eating enough is impossible to pin down; it happened gradually and all at once. I didn’t notice, or want to notice, at all, and those around me didn’t notice until the rock was going full force, collecting flakes of snow and bits of pine needle to form a growing, evolving mass, impossible to catch.
At this point, enough for me was a fluid word, a feather blown about erratically by gusts of wind. Some days enough meant breakfast and that was it. Others enough was a calorie count, or three Diet Cokes, or as much gum as my aching jaws could chew. It shifted rapidly and almost unconsciously, though the word repeated in my head rhythmically like feet slapping on a treadmill.
Simultaneously, too much became fragile and without shape. It was ice cream and peanut butter, then any kind of bread, then red numbers on a scale. And then the two concepts become almost intertwined, vines ensnaring a trellis, until not enough became too much, and the control that had seemed so concrete and logical crumbled like old brick in my hands.
Family and friends and doctors told me the amount I was eating was not enough, that the weight I had lost was too much. What they couldn’t see was that notenoughtoomuch was the rolling rock, a new word with its own muscle and grit, a force howling along with its own cruel agenda. And this entity was no longer external, but inside me; I was notenoughtoomuch, and I was the only one that seemed to see it, seemed to understand that the way to conquer it was to embrace it with bony arms.
It’s strange, looking back, how much I deeply understood my eating disorder in some ways, how I befriended it and protected it and cradled it like a small child. Even before treatment I recognized it for what it was, and that was not the calorie counts in my notebooks or the rigid exercise routines I followed daily. It wasn’t even an eating disorder, at the core of it; it has manifested itself as cutting, and drinking, and binging, and “risky behaviors” that are hard to put a diagnostic code on, like trying to please others, desperately attempting to fit neatly into Labels placed upon me, at the expense of loosing Myself. If I were writing the next version of the DSM, I would put notenoughtoomuch as a spectrum “disorder,” because if a doctor really wants to help me on my path to wellness, asking me about notenoughtoomuch would be the best place to start.
That is probably too much to hope for, though, because notenoughtoomuch is so frightening, so hairy and hard to look at, that it scares people who know me well and who don’t know me at all. Even as I write this, I tremble with the fear of sharing these notenoughtoomuch Words. And yet, what I can do-must do-is allow notenoughtoomuch to manifest itself in healthier, Shinier actions and Words. Hold on to the Faith that, while I am notenoughtoomuch for some people, there will be others for whom that is not their Truth, and rather than fearing the vulnerability, I can gather them as part of my tribe.
Notenoughtoomuch is a force, something within me, of me, is Me. I can’t escape it. And I have glimpses every now and then of not wanting to. Because I can train my Brain not to fear it, and maybe someday even love it, and allow it to be loved. My toomuchnotenough Self will always have a wild, speedy course, but now it will be on a path that I blaze for Me.