When normal isn't

I know I write a lot on this blog about feeling odd, weird, whatever.

This is another one of those posts.

I went grocery shopping today. I made my little list, looked at the bargains, looked in the fridge, looked back at the list, and entered the store. It's a small-ish, basic supermarket. A decent one, to be sure, but still.

So I was there, pushing my cart around, when I saw this scrawny old lady with her little basket (not a cart) filled with sugar free foods. Which means one of two things: she's diabetic, or she has an eating disorder. Or both.

Seeing here there brought up some very strange feelings, the first being, um, jealousy. I'm buying sweets! And here her skinny ass comes waltzing in, basket filled with aspartame laced everything. I want to do that again!

No, I don't.
Yes, I do.

Fake chemical factors aside, it's hard for me to buy things that may be perceived as unhealthy. Yes, I worry about what the zitty, hormonal, and horny checkout boy might thing of my cart contents. And the other customers. It's this horrible fear that I will be judged and come up wanting. Part of that is inevitable. I don't want people to like me as much as I want them to think highly of me. When I'm into the eating disorder, it goes something like this: fine, think I'm an anorexic bitch, doesn't bother me all that much. But I'm strong. I have willpower. Screw you.

My groceries, when I'm into hard-core restricting mode, look something like this:

7 cartons sugar free, fat free yogurt
lite bread
baby carrots
condiments galore
box of Sweet 'N Low

Ta da! That's it.

Today I bought

several varieties of meat
coffee creamer (the yummy flavored stuff)
noodle side dish thingy (it's quick and easy. That's all that matters)
and a couple of other things

Granted, I didn't have much independently useful food left. Spaghetti and peanut butter. Things like that. And no, I didn't combine them for dinner tonight. It was leftovers for this urban legend.

But that's a pretty normal looking cart. Not that there's a "normal looking" grocery cart, but it wouldn't attract undue attention from passers-by.

I don't really want to go back to the days of the eating disorder, at least not when I really think about it. Like really think about it, not just fantasize and gloss over the shitty parts like the failing heart, trips to the ER, medical bills that keep piling up. Small details like that. At the end of the day, I like the calm and numbness that comes from not eating. Does it feel like control? Maybe. No. Sometimes. I don't care what it feels like after a while. As long as I can escape the crazy in my head.

The factor that absolutely cinches the deal is that I will eventually have to face the insanity that is my brain, so I may as well get it over with.

I don't know what it's like to have a brain that's not totally tripped out all the time. I started suffering from anxiety/OCD full-time when I was 13. That's, like, half my life. I was anxious to begin with, but that's when it crossed the line from quirkiness to pathological. And that's the way it's been. It used to upset me, but I can't do a damn thing about it, so I may as well move on. It is what it is. I am doing much better now, but still I struggle.

At least now, I have groceries for the week. And the checkout girl didn't appear to give a damn.

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Libby said...

Carrie -- you stole my brain again! Stop that!! :)

You know, I really admire your perseverance. You keep hanging in there.

And I agree... flavored coffee creamer... YUMMMM!

Libby in DC

mary said...

Well, you are strong and you have willpower. Keep using it to choose to do right by you and what a non dazed person needs to function.
Keep stepping up to your fears and face them head on. Each time you shop include something that's new.
We grocery shopped in Wales and the first thing we spotted and threw in the cart was a chocolate torte. I don't think there will ever be one that tasted so heavenly but I'm willing to keep testing from time to time. The checkout man commented on the delicious looking treat and we smiled. I'm sure he would have come home with us!
No, life isn't about food but good food when we are fortunate enough to have it is something not to be missed. Savor it instead, in moderation. Balance is the key.
Your days of calm starvation are over.
I'm so proud of you for doing what is still hard for you. Try saying to yourself "it's getting easier each time I shop". Eventually you'll see that it really is getting easier. Let it.

Faith said...

Oooh. Seeing someone else restricting is a big trigger. I almost always feel like I want to also. I'm still struggling with the proper ways to eat...probably will be for a long, long time...


Sarah said...

"It is what it is." One of the most important things in life to figure out, and one of the hardest. Living life on life's terms, that's what recovery is all about. It sounds to me like you're doing that very well, although maybe it doesn't always feel that way.


carrie said...


If I have your brain, that means someone else has mine. Yikes!

(They can keep it).


Considering how long it's been since I've done solo grocery shopping (almost 2 years, considering treatment, and that my mom and I went together this past year when I was living on my own), I'm doing amazingly well. There is food with which a meal can be made.

I loved shopping in the UK. It was so fun. The best was the fresh local white cheddar cheese.


Seeing someone else restricting bugs me to no end. I don't get it, it makes no sense, but there you have it.


Thank you. That's all. Just thanks.

Jeanne said...

thinking of you, carrie. Glad that you are doing what you need to do to take care of you.


em said...

I love your new title ;)

You know, those grocery assistants don't give a damn - and if they do they've obviously got their own issues!

You doing so well.


Kirsten said...

I like this new layout! Very snazzy.

(And that's funny, I was recently thinking about writing a post about shoppping lists.)

zubeldia said...

Hi Carrie,

I'm intrigued by the 'normal' shopping cart. I can't tell, for me, what is ed and what is healthy eating. It is difficult as I am vegan.

but you showed a lot of courage in the store. Yay for you.

Btw, I 'know' you from Something Fishy! It's December!

Take care.

Sarah said...

hey, nice new layout!!

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About Me

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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Have any questions or comments about this blog? Feel free to email me at carrie@edbites.com

nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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