I never thought I had an eating disorder until this week. I thought maybe my relationship to food was not ideal but probably normal. I thought eating disorders had more to do with some personal needs being met with regards to food, like purity culture, society’s insistence on thinness, or coping with life. I didn’t know eating disorders could come from a place of self-sacrifice for the greater good.
And then I started testosterone, and I’m hungry every hour, and I fight.with.my.self.every.single.time.I.need.to.eat. I thought not letting myself eat out of guilt or self-sacrifice was normal? Not eating is still my instinct as opposed to eating. The problem is, now I can’t go 8 hours between meals without getting hungry, now I have to eat or I feel like I’m going to actually pass out, at some point my brain stops and feels dead because it ran out of food power.
Growing up, I was underfed and malnourished. My eating was actively under prioritized next to my siblings. During puberty, I was given one serving, and if I was still hungry, I had to wait until after all my other siblings had seconds or thirds before I was allowed to have any more, if there was any left. There wasn’t, usually. I learned to quell hunger, to ignore it, to not respond to it, to eat just enough to end the gnawing. I learned, through experience, that I, specifically, did not deserve to be well-fed, that my eating my fill was directly at the expense of others who needed it more.
I’ve carried this with me into adulthood as a habit. I go last (or at least not first. I don’t deserve that), I always wait for other people to have seconds before I even think about having any myself. I make sure everyone else has had enough to eat before I do, I have to convince myself that it’s okay to eat the last thing if it’s going to rot if I don’t.
But now I feel like if I don’t eat, I will quite literally pass out, and I don’t know how to cope with that. There’s a part of me that’s still frustrated about needing to eat because there are so many more interesting things to do, and then a large part of me that is still trying to convince myself that I am allowed and deserve to eat whenever I am even slightly hungry.
I was taught to hate myself and see myself as unworthy. All of those times I was told that as a human I was a piece of shit because Jesus was so perfect and good, really sunk in. Being taught that the best thing to do is to deny yourself everything all the time because others deserve it and need it more than you has really fucked me up.
There’s a part of me that very much lives in a place where food is scarce and not easily accessible (some of this is slightly grounded because freelancing isn’t exactly secure work and I need more food than usual to survive and the money aspect of this scares me) as if once the fridge is empty, it’s empty for good. Fun trauma times with my parents spending more on tithe than anything else and neglecting to make sure they had enough to provide food for their oodles of children.
The food scarcity and denial of my nourishment as a child still haunts me, apparently. More loudly now that I am facing this haunting every hour when my stomach growls, and I spend 3 more hours trying to convince myself that I don’t need food because I already ate and that should be enough, save food for later.
This is something I’ll talk with my therapist about this week. I’ve had a lot of intense feelings and anxiety about food lately because I’m facing this now, because hunger is such a huge part of my life – like it was when I was a pubescent kid, but now I’m the adult. I can feed myself. No one can tell me I don’t deserve to eat.
But I would really appreciate being told that I do.