It's that period where you aren't in extreme suffering anymore. You're not constantly weighing yourself. You're not severely restricting food. You've gained some of your life back. You have more energy. You're happier. But, there's still a part of you that wants to be skinnier. There's still a voice in your head that makes you feel guilty for eating that "extra" food. There's still that voice that haunts you to step on the scale every day. That voice isn't always there, and it's not as predominant as it used to be. But, it's still there.
That is what I call, The Messy Middle.
First, let's start off with some background info. I never felt comfortable in my body. I always felt like what I looked like on the outside didn't match who I was on the inside. I felt like my body was a shell that was holding me back from living life and expressing my true self. And it's absolutely the worst feeling in the world to hold back from who you are. So, I decided to change that. I decided to go on a diet....
This diet, well it turned into an obsession with my body, with food and with cardio. I became extremely addicted to cutting calories, weighing myself and over-exhausting my body. Why? Well looking back now, it was because I got satisfaction and verification every time I weighed less than the day before. It was my way of fulfilling the void. The void of loneliness and unhappiness. Food and exercise became my best friend. My only friend. These habits became an addiction that made me feel better. Kinda.
Eventually I became so sick and tired of literally being sick and tired. I knew this wasn't how I wanted to live my life. So I started to make a change. I started eating more and exercising less. I started gaining weight. It was not easy, it was really hard. But I started to feel better and I knew I had to keep going. Here I am today, 5 years later... in The Messy Middle.
It's like you think you have it all figured out. That you're able to go out and eat at restaurants without having a panic attack. Like you feel absolutely no guilt after having that amazing meal your mom prepared for you. But then that voice creeps back up. Why can one meal be so normal, yet the next be an absolute mental struggle?
I thought you were gone.
Nope. The voice is STILL there. WHY?
I feel like I've been in The Messy Middle for a few years now. Will I ever get out of it? Yes, maybe I'll make it closer and closer each day to the "recovered" end of the spectrum. But I've realized that this middle section is where I fight the hardest. It's so easy to give back into those restrictive behaviours. I mean, my eating disorder was my best friend for many years. It's comfortable. But, I don't and WON'T let her win.
The Messy Middle is frustrating as hell. One day you feel fine, then the next, you're a mess. The "bad" days are really bad, and the "good" days are amazing.
When will it all be good?
Think about it. For YEARS you have conditioned your mind to think:
You cannot just snap out of it and never have these thoughts again. So be kind to yourself. Accept that you're in The Messy Middle. Let yourself have the thoughts. Acknowledge them, but do NOT let them win. Forgive yourself when you have bad days. They are going to happen. Just don't let them overcome you by ruminating on them. You can start over again at any given moment.
How long is The Messy Middle? I wish I could tell you. I'm still in it and I feel like I'll be here for a while. I'm okay with that because I know that each day I'm progressing. Even on bad days, they make me stronger.
My goal in life is to feel free. My therapist asked me if I woke up one day and life was "perfect" and everything was better, what would be the first thing I'd notice? My response: I would feel free. It's hard to describe. But I want to wake-up feeling okay. Feeling happy, carefree and just at ease. Of course, in life there is always going to be stress, and conflict, etc. But I don't want to have stress and conflict with my body. I want to be so in-tune and intuitive with myself that I don't need my outer shell to mean anything because I am not my body. I am my mind, soul and heart. I am so much more.