The "I Don't Wannas"

Sometimes recovery means accepting that you do, indeed, have an inner toddler. A whiny, cranky inner toddler who never wants to listen. They are loud and a pain in the ass. They generally have a point. The key is to listen without letting them run the show.

What I've been struggling with the last few days is a nasty case of the "I don't wannas." Mostly, this has to do with food. I don't want to fix a proper breakfast, not because I want to restrict or lose weight or anything ED related. It's just that some days, I feel I can't be arsed. So it's real tempted to just grab a protein bar or whatever and call it "breakfast" because it's a hella lot easier than hauling out bowls and cereal and granola and milk and measuring cups.

I know by now that not feeling like getting breakfast (or lunch or snack) is no excuse not to have lunch or snack. But things like long term planning and sensible behaviors don't pacify my inner toddler. She doesn't want to deal with dishes. Or waking up earlier. Or doing any of those things that grownups generally do.

It's helped me to stop always wanting to behave like I feel a grownup should. A significant proportion of my friends on Facebook are mothers (some of them even have toddlers!), and I can guarantee that their general maturity level isn't always higher than mine. We all have inner toddlers, and we all need to tame them.

Sometimes we feel like being obstinate, just because. Sometimes we lose our marbles for no particular reason--or reasons that are no doubt legit but seem like small potatoes in the grand scheme of things. With time and lots of practice, I've come to realize that this is no big deal. It happens to all of us. I've also learned (mostly) how to let these little fits pass, or simply indulge them in my head. After all, snark doesn't have to be vocalized to make me feel better. ;)

The problem is when these pitched fits start making our decisions and running the show. I can resent having to fix breakfast or, like today, burning the damn toast for lunch.* I can hate having to do dishes and clean the house. I can piss and moan to my heart's content. I also need to suck it up and take care of myself properly no matter how much of a pain it is.

It's something I learned in DBT while in treatment, that two opposite things can be simultaneously true. So I let myself get cranky and hate having to do food prep and so on. AND I can still recognize that it's important and do it.

And on that note, thankfully, I have leftovers for dinner!

*Same setting as I used yesterday, same bread and everything turned out fine. Today? Blackened to a crisp, smoke detectors going bonkers, big scene. Sigh.


Anonymous said...

I think for me it is more a case of "she doesn't, so why should I". This is espeacially the case with snacks and breakfast. I see other people skipping breakfast or not eating snacks and I feel like I don't really need snacks either. Sometimes I feel like a toddler eating snacks! This is when ED gets sneaky with me. Weight restored, starting to feel a bit more recovered and thinking I can start doing my own thing again. At least I am aware of it this time. Last time it just resulted in a relapse.

HikerRD said...

Generally, if it's really a true "toddler tantrum", there's something else that needs to be addressed, other than the "hassle" of preparing or washing a bowl.
if it's honestly about the effort of prepping food, brainstorm with you RD about creative, quick and easy strategies to meet your plan, all in one bowl, so to speak.
Thankfully, you are solid enough in recovery to pull in those DBT skills to keep you grounded! But for those less recovered or more restrictive, those tools become more challenging to access.

Extra Long Tail said...

Most of the time I would far rather eat less than I do eat, or less than I know that I should eat. Eating has always made me fearful; long before anorexia. If I ate intuitively I would starve.

The psychiatrist who treated me for anorexia nervosa suggested that I think of food the same way that someone with type I diabetes needs to think of food. I am beginning to think that I will always have to eat to a plan.

Angela Elain Gambrel said...

I get the same feeling - if other people don't have to, why should I? Particularly when I am sick - I think, well other people can skip a meal because they are too sick to eat and it is fine for them, so why do I have to drag out the Ensure, damn it!

I also get so aggravated with the whole routine of preparing and making food, particularly for one person. The problem is that I have never been interested in cooking and actually find it borderline aggravating to do any kind of food prep. I'm also not good at it, and the perfectionist in me just hates that. I feel like it is such a bother for just me, and so I often resort to frozen dinners, Ensure, and or foods like yogurt and cottage cheese and other things already done and neatly packaged for me. Not the best solution, but it means I still eat something.

However, I know that you can do this even if you don't want to...I have complete faith in you!

Anonymous said...

Extra LOng Trail - I get what you are saying. I, too, need to eat to a plan for I have no faith in my needs, for I fear they are all wants, and good girls don't have wants... or needs! It is a fact of my life that I need an eating plan, an exercise plan, and a whole host of other plans. Yeah, I feel like an infant, but if I continue to allow my inner toddler to control, that is what I expect to treat myself with. It is far easier, for now, for me to recognise that and work with it til embarrassment or other such motivator, intices me to give my inner toddler no slack.

Carrie - ambiguity and ambivalence are two key factors of all people, all cultures etc. Weclome to adulthood, my dear!

Jen @ said...

These kind of "tantrums" directly related to a massive relapse that landed me back into a treatment program last year. The amount of effort and time it took to prepare my meals and my "inability" to wake up earlier in the morning made me just give up completely. Maintaining recovery can mean so much work sometimes!

Angharad said...

How do you differentiate 'I can't',from,'I don't wana'. I always say, 'I can't do this...I can't do that' - but do you think maybe I'm still just in denial and simply 'don't wana'?

Also, you mentioned DBT...did you find it helpful? I am hoping to start the therapy soon, and am scared!

I agree about eating food already packaged, mainly because I know exactly how many calories they contain, which is probably something I shouldn't do.

Anonymous said...

Kate and extra long tail,
I need an eating plan for those reasons too. I think eating is a "want" not a "need". At this point I need someone to tell me when, how much and what to eat. It is easy for me to undereat if intuitively eating. I also have an exercise plan. If not, I would be overexercising. I am really greatful for my RD..not sure where I would be without her.

Anonymous said...

Anon - funny how some of us need to be told what to do. I wonder what we'd be like without that direction?

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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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