Frauds Like Me

Fraud

Sometimes I feel like a fraud.

I call myself recovered, but I sometimes still think about calories. I can still feel virtuous after a workout.

I call myself a good mom, but I sometimes hear the words “hold on a second” come out of my mouth more times than I’d like. I still count down the minutes until Daddy’s home.

I call myself a writer, but I haven’t had a book published yet.

I call myself a positive body image advocate, but I sometimes feel fat when I’m bloated, even if I know it’s because I have my period. Once in a while, I stare for a second too long at a woman skinnier than me and envy her body.

I call myself a lot of things, but a lot of the times I don’t feel like anything at all.

I’m not the perfect recovered anorexic. I’m not the perfect mom. I’m not the perfect writer or advocate. So what does that make me?

A failure?  A liar?

For a long time, that’s what I thought. If I couldn’t travel along the path of perfect recovery, then it wasn’t worth it. If I couldn’t go an hour without thinking of calories or a day without following my meal plan, then I’d failed. In early recovery, if I skipped a meal or lied about going to the gym, I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t tell my friends or my parents or even my therapist.

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I lied instead. “Everything’s fine,” I said. “Recovery is grand!” Because if everything wasn‘t fine, then I’d be a failure. People would be disappointed, scared. And that disappointment and fear, that loss of my perfect image was, to me, the worst possible thing in the entire world.

So I’d skip out of that office and do the same thing the next day. Then I’d lie about my actions. Day after day after day until one slip turned into a landslide, which turned into a relapse. Which landed me back in the hospital.

Upon discharge, the pattern repeated itself again. All because I was afraid of failure.

But by avoiding failure, I did fail.

I failed at being vulnerable. I failed at learning how to express my needs and my weaknesses. I failed at grasping onto the opportunities I was given to practice how to be strong.

Falling doesn’t make me a failure. Negative thoughts don’t make me a fraud.

Because everyone has them.

I’m always going know the calorie count of almost every food in existence. The numbers are branded into my brain and there’s nothing I can do about that. I may get a bit more severe runner’s high than most people.

But that doesn’t make me a fraud. That makes me human.

I may need a break from my kids at the end of the day. Hell, I may need a break at eight in the morning.

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But that doesn’t make me a fraud. That makes me human.

I may not have my books in bookstores yet, but I’m still writing, still working and drafting and revising.

But that doesn’t make me a fraud. That makes me human.

I may feel jealous of another woman’s slim thighs.

But that doesn’t make me a fraud. That makes me human.

We’re all weak and faulty and striving and vulnerable and aching and sore and guilty and needy. All of us.

But we’re also strong. We fall and we reach out for help. We admit our sins and give ourselves forgiveness.

So maybe we should retire the word “fraud.” Because the ideals that we’re striving for aren’t real.

They’re illusions.

They’re concepts that don’t have one set definition but instead a whole continuum of meaning. They mean something different to each one of us.

I’m recovered. I’m a mom. I’m an advocate.

What are you?

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2 Responses to Frauds Like Me

  1. Sarah says:

    As you said – no one is perfect, but even so, we are still plagued by guilt at times, especially when we see someone who appears to have it all together. The thing is no one has it all together and often what we see is a carefully constructed facade like the one you used to create. Social media totally exaserbates this. What you have written here is the mantra that I repeat to myself. “No one is perfect. I need to be true to who I am. I am doing my best and if I don’t like how things went today, I can try again tomorrow/next time/in 5 minutes.” Some days I don’t need that mantra and other days I need it over and over and over again!

    I admire you for writing this blog and sharing it. You are helping both yourself and others by giving others glimpses behind the facade. That is scary!

    Like

  2. I think that one of the most interesting things about life is seeing yourself in others. I would have told you that I had nothing in common with eating disorders. “Forgetting to eat is not my problem,” I’ve joked, while listing all my other (many) faults. But the striving for perfection thing, I get. The not living up to my own (impossible) standards thing, I get. And I read a piece like this by you and am reminded of how much we have in common, more than what is different. And it’s also a reminder of why, when it was so easy for us to see you weren’t OK, it was so hard for you. Because we knew you’d lied to us about just having ate, but what were we going to do? Fight with you about it? Accuse you of lying? We just wanted you to be OK and we hoped you really had just eaten so we went with it, outwardly. But I know that there are things I’ve fudged to make myself feel better, things I was sure no one would notice. And it is hard for me to even enunciate what those things were. But I bet my friends, who see me with clearer (and more forgiving) eyes than I see myself, know exactly what I’m doing. They know I’m not perfect and they don’t care. Why is it so much easier to not care about anyone else’s perfection, to laugh at the idea that they even need to change, and so hard not to care about our own?

    Like

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