Note: this post keeps things vague, but still references eating and weighing a lot. If that kind of thing is triggering, please take care of you and use your own discretion. Also, I’m on Tumblr now, so there are even more ways to stay up to date on posts!
Most people probably don’t realize this, but the avatar on my blog of the smashed scale isn’t some stock photo I found on the internet. It’s a picture of the actual scale I actually smashed seven years ago in the alley behind my first apartment while I was still in college – February 2005, to be exact.
That evil device cemented its place early on in my descent into anorexia. It became the physical object that represented all the chaos in my head that didn’t exist anywhere else, making its destruction all the more cathartic. My decision to do so came after months of eating well without almost a single thought or concern about what I was eating or what I weighed. I had even gone so far as to remove it from my apartment and hide it in my old bedroom at my parents’ house!
All it took was a single moment of weakness, though. I went by their house one day and randomly remembered it was there. Once it was in my head, I felt like I didn’t have a choice. I threw it in my bookbag and took it back to the city. I knew it was a bad idea, though, and talked to a friend about it the next day. Well, she was furious. She told me everything I already knew – that I didn’t need it, that it was only going to create problems and that I was stronger than this. I agreed with her.
She asked me to get rid of it. Despite agreeing with all her points, I hesitated.
“Just put it in the trunk of your car until you go back to your parents’ house.”
I thought this was reasonable enough. It wouldn’t be sitting under my bed, easy to get to. Still on the phone, I put on my coat and walked out back, scale in hand. I popped the trunk and was about to set the scale down, but I froze.
“Matt? Are you there?” I hadn’t spoken in awhile and my friend thought the phone had cut out.
“Hang on a second,” I said. I set the phone down in the trunk, freeing my left hand, and in one swift motion raised the scale above my head and threw it onto the pavement. The last time I stepped on that scale I wasn’t weighing myself – I was stomping on it with all of my strength.
I really like telling this story. Aside from being a big turning point for me, I think it serves as a good illustration of the vigilance that is sometimes required in recovery. An eating disorder can permeate your life rather thoroughly, and part of recovery is being open-minded and prepared for the ways that it might show up again or manifest in your life. It can be easy to slip into a feeling of failure or guilt when this happens, but I see it as an opportunity for learning and growth. Recovery is a process, and what matters is not that these things happen, but how we deal with them when they do.
I can’t really understate how good it felt to smash that evil contraption. It was one of the biggest enablers of the eating disorder, and there was no way I could pretend that I was going to get better and still keep it around.
It’s a new year. What will you do to take care of yourself, to identify enablers, and to make healthy choices?