There is half a boiled egg hiding in my wardrobe. Actually, that sounds like I am blaming the egg. Like it engaged it’s little eggy brain, got up, waddled along on it’s soft yolky legs, clambered off my plate and nestled itself in a tissue bed amongst my hoodies and jeans. Like it left me with my eyes closed, counting to ten, in some strange eating disorder version of hide and seek.
Unsurprisingly, that isn’t quite what happened. I suppose a more accurate title would be: I have hidden half a boiled egg in my wardrobe.
Because that is what I did. I took the half a boiled egg (this week’s addition to my meal plan) off my plate, wrapped it in tissue and hid it inside a bag in my wardrobe, where it will reside until such time as I can sneak it out of the house and dispose of it away from prying eyes.
I am often guilty of hiding food. There is nothing I will not say or do to avoid eating something I consider ‘too much’. The lies, the pretending, it has all become routine to me. I rarely realise how bizarre some of my behaviour is.
But every now and then, through the black fog of anorexia, a light shines. A bright, piercing beam that illuminates reality and gives me a moment of clarity. A moment where I can see just how ridiculous my actions are and how powerful my anorexia is. A moment where my rational mind wins. A moment where I see myself for what I am; a grown woman hiding a boiled egg in her wardrobe.
And then, in a flash, it’s gone. The light switches off. And I am back to weighing individual raisins, measuring my milk, or crying over toast, without a thought as to how irrational these actions are. They have become ingrained in me. Habits that I cannot distinguish from any of the other countless routines that shape my day.
I’ve been deliberating about what to conclude from this for a few hours now. I wrote one paragraph about how those moments of clarity make me feel closer to recovery, and another about how my eating disorder habits make me feel calm and safe and successful. But neither felt quite right. Neither conclusion managed to encapsulate the complexities of the arguments that ravage my mind. I’m not sure it’s possible to articulate it anyway. So I will end with simple honesty.
Despite the guilt that my secretive habits cause, the lying I am doing those around me, I still feel successful when I cheat my meal plan. I am embarrassed that I have hidden half a boiled egg in my wardrobe, but simaltaneously relieved that I did not eat it. And that is the reality of an eating disorder. Endless mental conflict. Every one of my actions is either a victory for my healthy, rational self, or a win for my anorexia. For me, recovery will mean finding a way to celebrate the victories of my rational self as enthusiastically as I currently do when my anorexia wins. I know I am not quite there yet. But I also know I don’t want to be the woman hiding half a boiled egg in her wardrobe. Because that’s just weird.