Monday, August 19, 2013 8: why does success feel like failure?

Today's Less post is definitely a Less ED post.

You could alternately say that today was awful or a huge success. The Chief Engineer left for a business trip this morning, which leaves me at home alone. I saw this coming, I know that being alone with my own thoughts is a recipe for disaster. I haven't made made peace with the idea of separating from my family yet, and these are super-triggering thoughts right now. Being alone does NOT help this.

I've been building to some ED behavior for a few days now. I've been starting to compulsively do calisthenics, I've been inflexible about this four-meals-a-day thing. So what is the eating disorder covering for? First one's obvious: family s***. Every time I think about it I have the tiniest urge to binge or restrict. Today it wasn't so tiny. So I came home and I threw myself into cleaning. I washed the floor, I cleaned the gerbils' cage, I loaded the dishwasher, I packed up some items I sold on ebay. Meanwhile, when I would let myself eat, the only thing I was eating was chocolate. Hmm, something was still bothering me.

The second thing I was running from wasn't so obvious. I realized that I needed to send an email to a (former) friend who I haven't seen in a while but who I figured I should reconnect with. She works downtown and I'll be downtown next week for a doctor's appointment and then to volunteer at the Smithsonian. I'll have a huge chunk of time between the two of those and figured I should try to catch up with her.

I was dreading it. I feel awful because this friend and I used to be close, but honestly I started to get jealous of her when we lived right next to each other a couple years back. I know she has a history of an eating disorder and still works very hard to stay perfectly thin (read: she's not over her disorder and has no plans to be). She works for a prominent member of DC society and also has a higher salary than I do. She's a ladder-climber who just bought a very expensive condo and then gutted it and renovated the entire thing. Perfect kitchen, perfect bathrooms, all of which is very triggering for me because I want the perfect kitchen and the perfect bathrooms because the house I grew up in was the exact opposite. The bathroom that my sister and I shared didn't have a working shower--the shower tiles had gotten so mildewed that the grout cracked and water was leaking into the walls. We weren't allowed to use the shower because it would get more water into the walls. Instead of fixing it, my parents just never allowed us to take showers in that bathroom. For two. decades. I'm pretty obsessed with having a "perfect" kitchen and bathroom to make up for growing up like this. However, said friend with perfect bathrooms also likely has a perfectly jumbo mortgage.

The rational side of my brain says that I have no reason to be jealous of her. I hate my 15-year mortgage that we'll be done with in 10 years. I can't imagine a jumbo 30-year mortgage. She has worked insanely hard for years and I don't think she's had much life outside of the job. Meanwhile, I've gotten to learn guitar and put a lot of work into improving my own life with therapy and gotten to meet lots of awesome people through blogging. I've traveled loads in the last couple years. But I don't think I can sit at the same table with her at not be jealous. Particularly of how thin she is.

Danger, Wil Robinson! Trigger alert!

I realized that I just can't ask this girl to lunch. She's triggering. And sure, it's sad that a friend is triggering. Let's correct that -- former friend. There's no need for me to feel guilty, friends come and go. There's no need for me to try to starve myself now so that she won't think less of me at lunch next week if I don't have lunch with her! So I decided not to call her up, and to just let things go. So I didn't end up bingeing tonight. I did end up restricting a bit, which led to some overeating. I knew what was going on and I kept the irrational behaviors mostly in check. I did eat more than I needed and I ate some things that weren't good for me or what I really wanted. But it wasn't a binge. It wasn't a binge, it wasn't a binge. I still feel like a failure. My weight is still as high as it's been in a decade and this can't help. But it's just one day. This really is a success.

So yeah, I wanted a perfect evening where I wouldn't have ended up overeating. But I did end up realizing that maybe 4 meals a day isn't for me and that I want to go back to being flexible. I ended up realizing that I can avoid a triggering situation, and if it means losing a former friend, then that has to happen. I have to take care of me first.

How do you cope with jealousy? What do you do to make you feel better?


  1. I struggle with jealousy far more than I should. This is a BIG reason I limit my friend list on FB. For me, I'm usually jealous of how other women look/beauty. I often feel not pretty enough/boobs not big enough/not fun enough/not fit enough. It drives my poor husband crazy when I often ask how he feels about so and so's appearance and apologize I'm not her. Or I get jealous that I'm not giving my kids the opportunities a lot of their seemingly well-off friends have. No summer full of camps or a full calendar of activities or fancy trips. I feel bad for them. So I'm there with you on the jealousy. Hugs, and hang in there--you're doing great!

    1. thanks! I totally feel you on the "apologizing to my husband that I don't look like a better-looking woman." He says I do it so much, I spend more time checking out women than he ever has! Somebody at Renfrew said that comparison is the thief of joy. Great saying, harder to actually believe!

      Thing is, in the end, your kids probably won't miss the activities or trips. My wealthy friends' trips and camps and all that stuff seem to blend into one another in their memories. For me, when I got to do things it was special. So you actually are giving your kids something even more special than the rich moms, it just doesn't seem like it now.

      You always amaze me as a mom. Hopefully in a couple years I'll be able to hit you up for mommy advice!

  2. How do I deal with jealousy? Poorly!

    I know that writing a gratitude list helps me put things in perspective, because I usually myopically focus on the thing that someone else has that I don't. It's usually a fancy job with a big salary, or some work achievement like a promotion...those set me off.

    I think it's awesome how self aware you are, and how well you recognized the trigger...and then had the strength to act on that. It really is a victory, and I'm so happy for you!

    1. Thank you! And thanks for stopping by my blog.
      I haven't tried a gratitude list but that sounds like a fantastic idea. Will definitely try that.

  3. I love the Lost in Space reference! Hilarious!

    I used to struggle with jealousy. In high school, the kids from rich families all had nice cars. I had a pile of junk. However, I also noticed that a lot of those kids didn't end up well. One of them even committed suicide in his parent's home. So, maybe I don't struggle anymore because the stuff I used to be jealous of just hid a lot of other problems that these kids had?

    In any case, you have some big struggles and I admire you for taking them public. I look forward to following your journey. Be strong!

    1. Wow, that's definitely a story that makes an impression. It seems like the fact that you weren't handed everything as a child has made you very self-aware, and able to chart your future as opposed to just letting life happen to you. No doubt in my mind you'll be done in under 1500 days! Thanks for your support!

  4. I think this is a huge win. You know, I often feel guilty about "former friends" that I haven't connected with in a long time. But here's the thing... it takes two to have a friendship, and it's not all your responsibility to make it happen. If spending time with this person doesn't make you feel good, for WHATEVER reason, then there's no reason you need to do it. Kudos to you for letting it go.

    1. It does take two, and I forget about that. In a way it's been a good lesson. I feel like our friendship has in part been lost to her impressive dedication to her work, and I don't want to be someone who loses friends because they spend so much time at work.

      You always remind me to do what's best for me and to run away from things that do me harm. Thank you, thank you, thank you.


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