More reflections on my current eating challenges

In my last post, I wrote about my own experiences with disordered eating. I described how, for years, I used to eat in a very “healthy” manner, but the way I did so, by weighing and tracking everything I ate, as an outlet for my OCD, was not particularly healthy. And then, beginning in 2020, not only did I completely stop weighing and tracking my food, but I also stopped eating healthy foods and I even stopped being able to cook for myself. When I think about what to eat for each meal now, most food just seems unpalatable to me. When I try to think about what I can make, what I can cook for myself, my mind just goes blank. I often end up eating junk food.

On the one hand, this seems very strange to me. After all, I am 43 years old, and I have been cooking my own meals, and the meals of my partner, for 20 years. Thus, I have 20 years of experience making meals. And I used to cook the majority of dinners for us, so I literally have cooked dinner THOUSANDS of times. I used to collect cookbooks and use them all the time, trying new recipes. It was one of my life pleasures.

So why can’t I cook for myself anymore? And why can’t I even think of any recipes that I used to make?

It’s a psychological block that I haven’t been able to get past.

See, when I met my ex-husband, back in 2001, we immediately fell into a very satisfying arrangement. I would cook, he would clean. Always. And I loved it. I loved cooking for him and for us. And I was so grateful that he would clean everything up afterwards. 

By the end of our marriage, though, during those final years where he was apparently so unhappy, he began to resent cleaning for me. I made a mess in the kitchen. I knew that. But I didn’t think it mattered, because it usually took me 1-2 hours or more to cook whatever I was making, while even in my messiest days, it only took him 30 minutes or so to clean. So I thought it was a more-than-fair exchange. 

But in the end, he resented cleaning up after me. During that last year, he made that very clear. And it was painful for me, that he did not want to care for me that way any more. So painful for me. We tried to work through all of our issues, in couples therapy. But finally, March 2020, he announced he was done. We were done.

While I know he had his good reasons, and while I believe that the decision to end our marriage was ultimately the right thing to do, there is still a part of me that feels betrayed.

I put my heart into feeding my partner for twenty years, and it ended in betrayal. (This is what my emotional self tells me, not my logical self. My logical self tells me he made the right decision.) Nevertheless, something in me just shut off. I am now unable to properly feed myself in a healthy way.

One reasons I figured this all out in the last year is that I realized that I CAN actually eat in a healthy way. But only when SOMEONE ELSE makes the food for me. If my boyfriend cooks for me, everything he makes tastes delicious and it is quite palatable and enjoyable for me to eat. Even if I get TAKE-OUT, where someone else makes the food, I am happy to eat it.

It’s only food that I try to make for myself that is so difficult for me to ingest. 

Clearly, this is a problem. I need to be able to nourish myself. I need to be able to care for myself. I keep trying. But it’s difficult for me, even though I see it all so clearly now. 

And so that brings me back to my child’s eating disorder. He, too, knows that he should eat, knows that he needs food to grow and be healthy. And yet, he can’t bring himself to do it, no matter how hungry he gets. And it upsets him greatly. It stresses him out, and that only makes it worse.

I see such parallels between us. But I am the mother. I am the adult. And so it is MY responsibility to step up and get better. And I hope that if I can take care of myself better, that my child will be able to do the same.    

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