In moments of despair, I often feel like I'm in a deep, dark pit which I am trying to climb out of with little, slow or no success. In good times, I don't think about being in it because I have the sense of moving up toward something better and brighter, but the truth is that I'm still there and still climbing. I only really notice where I am when something happens to knock me down deeper or stop or slow my progress. The effort of the climb or in simply not sliding down deeper, however, is always with me.
This pit isn't physical, of course, nor is it necessarily metaphorical, but speaking of it in this fashion renders it so. This tunnel toward the center of the earth is psychological, and it is uniquely mine. The depth, the shape, the angles, the obstacles, and the holds are formed by my personal history.
Everyone has their own pit of some sort, but not everyone has one as deep, dark, or as difficult as any other particular individual's. In fact, I dare-say that mine is nowhere near the hardest to climb up from nor the deepest, but it's still pretty deep. Some people have very shallow ones, or very gently sloping ones. Their move toward the brightness and beauty of daily happiness is so effortless that the only thing which makes it hard for them to regularly climb out is a catastrophe. For others, it tunnels all the way through to China. They can't even see the light of joy, and mainly imagine what awaits at the top.
The pits we're in are formed by life experiences and circumstances.
Poor? Dig a little deeper.
Sick? Deeper yet.
Emotionally unstable or sensitive? Much deeper.
Fat? Tormented? Abused? Much, much deeper still.
There's a nearly endless list of things which can make that hole harder to get out of, and I've lived a lot of them, though not necessarily the worst possible ones. My husband, on the other hand, has one of those shallow, gentle pits. He spends little time in it, and gets out of it pretty fast. He had good parents, a middle class lifestyle, and a natural easy-going nature. He's not only in a shallow pit, but he's got strength to climb out.
One of the things I've realized is that a lot of people, me included (for a little while at least), think that the pit they're in is entirely dug as a result of one factor, their weight/relationship with food. They think that losing weight will mean they are out and in the sun. It's not like that though. Dealing with your food issues makes you stronger for the climb. It may make you move up a little faster, and even closer to the top because less is weighing you down. I'm not talking about the ballast of your body, but that of social censure, self-hatred, and rejection. Losing these things which fall away with the weight makes the climb easier.
You are still, however, in that same hole. You're not out by a long shot simply because you've dealt with food issues. If you think you're out though, you're more vulnerable to easing your grip and slipping back down again, pulled down by the weight of self-loathing and disgust when you think you're detestable again because you've regained weight or started to eat in a less noble fashion.
I realize ever more clearly how deep I'm still in a dark and unhappy place and how hard it continues to be to pull myself up and closer to the top. At times, I grow incredibly weary of the effort of it all, but I still keep trying because I want to reach the light at the top. This has little to do with food anymore, and that's what brings about a certain clarity. It has to do with all of the crap I've been through in life as a result of the way I've been judged, mistreated, and physically damaged.
Every day is a new day with pain - knee pain, back pain, and sometimes other random but not infrequent pains like headaches or stomachaches. Every day is stressful. Every day is walking out on a limb in fear of falling off but walking out on it nonetheless. You can only do that so many times before you grow worn out and just want to stop. You want to arrest the climb for awhile, even let go and slide down just so you don't have to exert even the effort of holding yourself in place.
In all of this, what I realize is that food actually played a role of value in that climb. It was fuel, both emotionally and physically. The emotional palliative effects made the pain more bearable. The physically fueling effects made the exertion less noticeable. Food made the climb easier, but the results of using food in this fashion made it harder.
Gaining weight and being super fat added to the pain and sapped my stamina, but it was hard to find the strength to let it go and keep climbing while waiting for the slow changes that would make things easier to manifest. It was, essentially, abandoning the medicine and hoping in a few months, years, etc. to no longer feel sick. It takes a very long time, but eventually, that is what happens. If you keep climbing without that ballast, you get stronger and can climb a little better and with greater ease. But, it's not easy. It's never going to be easy, and right now I'm just tired of climbing.
And it has nothing to do with food.