I don’t usually cook for breakfast. I usually eat a cold breakfast. So there’s minimal prep, and I can get right down to blissful, guilt-free, thought-free eating right after I wake up. But on the weekends, I often eat a hot breakfast. Which means that while I cook there is some time to stand around in the silence and be quiet. I like quiet. I like standing around. I like peace.
This morning while I was cooking breakfast, I was thinking about all of the things that I was told I was all my life. Explicitly or implicitly. And how I believed those things. For so many reasons. Because I knew I didn’t have any answers, and everybody else seemed to. And because those things that I was told I was seemed particularly true. And I didn’t know how to do anything about that. And sometimes I even didn’t agree outwardly. Denied that I was these things that I was told I was, but secretly believed them.
And there is another aspect to it. I believed that these things were unalterable, undeniable truths. That they were somehow written down somewhere. Heaven, or The Book of Life, or in my DNA. But they were and must always be inescapable.
I was fat. I was lazy. I was smart. I was too loud. I was obnoxious. I was funny. I was selfish. I was strong. I didn’t have the talent or the drive to make it as an actor. I was a great singer. I had so much energy. I was unlovable.
When I was in 5th grade, one of my classmates looked at me in the mirror in the bathroom on picture day and said, “You have a big nose.” And for many years after that I truly believed I had a big nose.
One hairdresser told me that my natural hair color was flat and boring. I told people that I had boring hair for another 10 years.
And I was always looking for more of these “truths” about me. And more importantly, what they meant! What did it mean about me that I was (blank)!?!?
There are things that I understand now. About life. About myself. And about other people.
That other people don’t have any answers that I don’t have. Not about me, or my life anyway. That other people give advice and make comments based on their own reality and issues. Bless them…
That life doesn’t have a lot of absolutes. And I don’t have a lot of absolutes. There is not an Ultimate Kate somewhere in an alternate dimension shadowing my life. Sometimes I’m smart, and sometimes I am a total moron. Sometimes I’m loud, even too loud, and sometimes I am soft-spoken or silent. Sometimes I am funny, and sometimes I am serious. And sometimes I mean to be funny and am not. I am anything at any moment. And I change. I can and I do.
What this has to do with eating disorders is…kind of everything. When I got my eating under control, I got my first experience with overthrowing that absolute truth called “I am fat.” Probably the most ingrained and shameful absolute truth of my life.
And then as I continued over the years to control my eating by keeping my food boundaries, and gained more and more clarity, I stopped doubting myself. I started to hear my answers. The right answers. Answers for my own life. The answers I had been looking to other people for. The answers I had been believing because other people told me they were right.
And then all of that mental clarity and self-assurance made me start to realize that nothing “meant” anything. That today was just a day. That this moment was just this moment. And that life was just life, one now at a time. That it’s ok to make mistakes. And to succeed. It’s ok to be brilliant. And it’s ok to suck. And it’s even ok to be lazy and mediocre and blah. That it isn’t all that serious.
And then I ate breakfast and drank coffee and got to slip into that blissful oblivion that eating breakfast is.