Saving the best for never

I logged into my Pandora account today, and while I was waiting for my songs to load, I happened to remember that today was September 1. Yesterday (being August 31), I checked my account and had something like 27 of my 40 free monthly hours remaining. I listened to a few songs as I sent some emails, but I was attacked by this momentous sense of guilt. I immediately logged off so that I wouldn't "use up" all of my free hours at the beginning of the month.

I had to laugh at the irony. I am so worried that I'll run out of something that I never use it at all.

I realized I do this with lots of things other than my Pandora account. I have a Coldstone Creamery gift card from several years ago still in my wallet. I didn't not use it just because of the ED. No, I held onto it because I never felt it was the "right time" to use it. Maybe in a week or two I would have a craving for ice cream but wouldn't have the extra cast. So I better pay for my ice cream this time, just in case.

I bought chocolates on my way home from my Europe trip to use up my few remaining Euros. I've eaten a little bit, but they're still sitting in my cupboard. Yes, some of that is ED-related, but I also haven't found the "perfect time" to eat it. This happened when I was much younger, too. I ended up throwing out a lot of my Halloween candy at Easter because I hadn't found the right moment to eat it.

When I had a lot of homework to do, I generally did the icky stuff first (assuming I could prioritize in that manner) so that I would have the easier assignments to look forward to. At dinner, I eat what's on my plate in a particular order: salad first (it's always been a "thing" of mine, eating the salad first), and then in order of least-liked to most-liked foods.

It's all the same mentality: forgo pleasure now so that you can have it later. If later always came, then perhaps that would be okay. But I always keep pushing "later" further and further back. It seems the anticipation of pleasure is actually more pleasurable than the pleasure itself. Since I've delayed for this long, I think, then I need the experience to be perfect.

(I think I would make a great Puritan.)

It's not hard to see how this would play into the AN mentality. Fantasizing about what you'll let yourself eat when you finally don't feel like a barge is more rewarding than actually eating it. And since you can always lose more weight, you can also always look forward to that meal. I'm killing myself on the treadmill now so that I won't feel so anxious later. It makes you essentially live in the future, where everything is going to be okay, perhaps even perfect. Then when the future does arrive, you find it sucks as much as the present did back then. So you redouble your efforts for that perfect future, and the cycle repeats itself, over and over and over.

I'm not going to blow through all my free hours on Pandora in the next few days just because, but it's interesting to see the patterns. To see how a way of thinking infiltrates so many different areas of my life.

18 comments:

ex ana said...

after reading this post ( I 'know' a lot about the issue) I realize how important was your nice-shoes-decision. an what about sharing the chocolat ;)

Amy said...

I find this to be a problem when writing. While it's technically my job, I also really enjoy it. So it always seems like I should get all the other crap done first that *feels* like actual work. This really does nothing for me except make me miserable and behind in my work. (Also, if you're not going to use the free ice cream, I will totally take it off your hands. (; )

Cammy said...

I do this to a great extent in a great number of areas of my life, and have ever since I was a tiny kid. It manifests in ED behaviors at times, as well as a lot of other areas, like you described. Great post!

Shells said...

Me, too! Me, too! I eat everything "least to most favorite." Even when I was small and non-eating disordered, I would eat my chocolate-frosted donuts bottom-up: Eat all the cakey/bready part so I could have the greatest frosting:bread ratio. Muffins the same way. When I learned they sold muffin tops, I wasn't interested, because I liked the difference between the "not good" bottom compared with the "best" top part. Perhaps I was already not feeling emotions and seeking some way to distinguish between the highs and lows.

I have since noticed the same exact thing with homework (because some homework is more fun than others, totally true), and even my experiments in lab right now. Who wants to purify impossible-to-purify proteins when you can play in the tissue culture room keeping the little cells alive and happy? Right.

When's the perfect time to use the gift card? The perfect time to open that bottle of wine? The best time to have a friend over for a movie?

Recently I have been increasingly aware of the best time being the time when I am pondering if it's the best time. It's going to be the best time when you decide to do it. It is, emotionally speaking, a huge risk. "What if I DON'T enjoy it when I decide to use/eat/buy it?" But I think the actual making of the decision to DO and accept that risk is just as enjoyable in the overall scheme of things. Chances are if you find yourself thinking about it, there's a part of you that wants it, then.

Definitely a post and concept that makes me think. Clearly! Haha. Sorry for the long comment!

Charlynn said...

Getoutofmyhead. I do this with just about everything, too. In my mind, taking care of the less pleasant stuff first gets it out of the way and makes room for the funner stuff. I did this with homework basically from the time I started getting homework and I still prioritize daily tasks based on how (not) willing I am to do them. I never thought much about this compulsion until I read your post; now I kind of wonder if it wouldn't hurt to be a little less rigid and mix the yuck with the less yuck. Life is about moderation, right?

Renee said...

I am exactly the same. I have a gift certificate for a fancy spa that I was given for Christmas - in 2008. I keep saving it for an occasion when I "really" need to pamper myself. For example if I should ever find myself being rescued after spending four months in a Chilean mine a mile underground. Or, equally foreseeable, to quell my nerves about walking the red carpet at the Oscars and being photographed by the international press. That kind of thing.

Carrie Arnold said...

Well, ya'll helped me have some of my chocolates (1/2 of a HUGE dark chocolate Toblerone bar) for my afternoon snack...

Cammy said...

Neurotic Kid Cammy story: When I was younger (meaning up until a couple of years ago?), I would sort all of my M&Ms by color, and eat them specifically in the order yellow, orange, red, green, tan, brown (this was way back when, before blue ones and before they discontinued tan). My reasoning was that the darker colors would be more chocolatey, even though deep down I *was* aware that it was all just a dyed sugar coating. Oh and I often sucked the color off before letting myself eat the chocolate anyway. Don't ask me to explain because I don't know why, either!

Samantha C said...

I know what you mean, although I hope it's a little reassuring to think that the food-order thing isn't specific to ED. I won't refuse to take a bite of my favorite part, but I always make sure the last bite on my plate (or last several bites) are only my favorite parts of the meal.

Jennifer said...

Hello!? ME!!!
This post was 100% ME down to a T!!
I dont feelso crazy now...thankyou! xx

Wonderingsoul said...

I'm absolutely......

...speechless..? I'm not sure...

I NEVER used to be the way you describe, not when I was a kid...
but now? Now I'm SO like that... You're so, so, so painfully right. I live for the perfect future. I'm always saving something "too nice for now" in anticipatin of that perfect time, sometime in the future.

I've never really thought about it much but now you have written this..? Now I wonder if you're right... If this plays into / a part in the whole AN thing...
Suffer now, reap the benefits later. Exercise to near deah now and you cn enjoy a little more food later...

And if you don't and THEN you eat anyway... Well... Then you may as well be in hell.

Thank you for such an incredible post Carrie.
This one opened my eyes wider than they have been for a while.

Hoping you're doing ok and that you can allow a little bit of something you like this weeknd (without any punishments or regulations)

ws

Wonderingsoul said...

I'm absolutely......

...speechless..? I'm not sure...

I NEVER used to be the way you describe, not when I was a kid...
but now? Now I'm SO like that... You're so, so, so painfully right. I live for the perfect future. I'm always saving something "too nice for now" in anticipatin of that perfect time, sometime in the future.

I've never really thought about it much but now you have written this..? Now I wonder if you're right... If this plays into / a part in the whole AN thing...
Suffer now, reap the benefits later. Exercise to near deah now and you cn enjoy a little more food later...

And if you don't and THEN you eat anyway... Well... Then you may as well be in hell.

Thank you for such an incredible post Carrie.
This one opened my eyes wider than they have been for a while.

Hoping you're doing ok and that you can allow a little bit of something you like this weeknd (without any punishments or regulations)

ws

hm said...

I also save and hoard for that perfect moment, gift cards and all. My ED I think began as a child when I had an entire dresser drawer designated for sweets from Easter, Halloween, etc.- they stayed there forever and I never ate any of them. Felt guilty if I started opening one and would put it back. Checked on it repeatedly. But wouldn't eat it. Till it was all stale, hard, awful, and had to throw it away and then restock at the next holiday. Since being in therapy I have come to assume it was an attachment issues thing- or rather, lack of attachment. Many eating disorders seem to go hand in hand with flawed attachment patterns. Anyone relate?

Laura (Collins) Lyster-Mensh said...

This finely tuned sense of mission is a wonderful human quality in measure, and has an unhappy opposite as well. I once heard an ED researcher refer to eating disorders as really a disorder of good intention - an unreachable drive to do right that crowded out anything less.

As a society we feed into that with our competition to look the busiest, most over-worked, most unhappy. We need more displays of aimless pleasure, more giggling, more chocolate for the sake of chocolate...

Fellow OCD Sufferer said...

Yes! You articulated perfectly the way I so often act and feel! I swing back and forth between productive moods when I try to get all the uncomfortable/disliked things out of the way first so that I can enjoy the things I like doing "perfectly" later; OR, I get swallowed up by dread and procrastination of those things I really don't want to do and go on a binge of doing all the things I actually want/like to do - all the while not getting that much satisfaction out of them because in the back of my mind I know I am only continuing to do those things because I am putting off the things I don't want to do, etc., etc., etc. I think there is a middle road in there somewhere - but I tend to swing between the extremes, trying to get all the things I don't want to do out of the way all at once, but then sometimes having a hard time doing them in the first precisely because if I get started, I feel like I have to get ALL the unwanted things out of the way. The tasks seem so difficult when I make them into these all-or-nothing sort of affairs. I feel like this is probably a common trait shared among people with AN/OCD/perfectionistic tendencies.

Charlotte UK said...

I am neither an/OCD or perfectionist. I am always doing this. Half my Christmas presents of things like soap and bubble bath get wrapped up again for next year, because I don't use them because they are "too good" to use. I also confess to having shoes I have never worn but look pretty, clothes that are sensational but I never go anywhere smart enough, food in the pantry that I am saving for a special occasion, two new bras that are "too nice" to wear every day (and I always forget about when going out), my grandmother's china that has been sitting in a cupboard for 20 years, stuff I bought for the girls when they were babies that was too "nice" for them to get baby sick on, drawers full of antique linen napkins and table clothes that don't come out for use, even at Christmas.

Hey Carrie - Puritans are us!

xx

jadedchalice said...

WOW this is poignant. I have to say thank you for talking about this. I was like this my whole life, still am, so was my mother, she is who i learned it from. She would keep stocks of candy and junk she never ate, and wouldn't let us touch it, and if we ever even tried to touch one piece she would freak out, and if we asked her why we couldn't have it, she would always say "im waiting for the perfect time to eat it, because I dont have very much to enjoy and this is a small thing i love" She ate very little of the candy and junk, and ended up throwing it all away.

Strangely, she would have safe binge foods too, that she could eat and wouldn't hoard, but those were lesser favorite foods.

So amazing that you wrote about this, love it! Now if only i could figure out how to reprogram all my bad habits.

:)

ErynRose said...

Hello Carrie,
Once again you offer an eye-opening post that speaks so personally to me!. I found your blog about 3 months ago and every time I read it it speaks directly to me. It is truly a blessing. I am the exact same way about saving things until this "perfect moment" that never comes and it is so helpful to know there are others who also think similarly. I have also noticed for me that I will obsess about something say a nice dress or shoes or even a food or kitchen appliance and then once I get in and have it in my possession I dont use it and the fixation is gone. It is like once I have it the anxiety of not having it diminishes. Like just in case I need it I have it. Hmm Or I feel I would be depriving myself not to have it, but then never use it.
With food I am the same. I will buy a beautiful fennel bulbe or endive and resist eating it with just anything. I strive to find the perfect recipe to use it in as if it is the last fennel or endive I will ever eat. I also do it with foods I don't normally allow myself to eat whether it is because of my ED or my constant financial worries.
Thus, lately in terms of food I have been telling myself that I can always get it again.

Post a Comment

Newer Post Older Post Home

ED Bites on Facebook!

ED Bites is on Twitter!

Search ED Bites

About Me

My photo
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.

Drop me a line!

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



Archives

Popular Posts

Followers


Recent Comments