Anyone who has gone through a divorce can probably tell you that during the process their eating habits deviated from the usual. When the stress of a looming separation started growing, my appetite shrank down to nearly non-existent. Now, nine months later, my desire to eat has returned to normal and I’m able to look back and reflect on the journey. I’m here today to encourage you, my sweet girl, to take stock of where you are with your relationship with food as you deal with your divorce and the complexities it creates.
My story starts out pretty pathetic, really. I’m just one of millions of Americans with an eating disorder. It goes hand-in-hand with my bipolar disorder. Yep, I’m just all kinds of fun like that. Body image issues, the need for control in a dysfunctional family, and feelings of not being ‘good enough’ all contributed to my illness as a young woman. And while I have had seasons of remission, the beast is always there, lurking beneath the surface, rising as different life situations demands.
About a month before my ex-husband asked for a divorce, my ED kicked into high gear. It wasn’t a purposeful decision, it’s just that the stress of what looming around the corner zapped my appetite completely. I’m not a scientist, so I don’t know why stress effects the appetite. All I can tell you is that when I’m stressed or anxious I can not eat. My eating decreased and the few extra pounds I was carrying (damn winter weight) fell off. Then came the actual separation, and I pretty much stopped eating completely. The compliments on my appearance were nice, but I knew the dirty reason behind my nice figure. Trying to make light of everything, I would tell people that I was following the Divorce Diet and that I didn’t recommend it for everyone. When I moved out and got my own apartment my friends called me Old Mother Hubbard because I had a carton of eggs, salad dressing and a bottle of wine in my fridge. I only ate on the days that I had my daughter.
When my boyfriend flew out to help me pack he was a pretty dismayed at my empty kitchen and my limited food intake. I was always able to hide my disorder from my ex and kids, but he wasn’t so easily fooled and expressed his concern in such a loving way that I felt no shame whatsoever. I will be forever grateful for that. As the next few weeks went by I discovered that there was something comforting in our meal routines. For the first time in years I started having breakfast. I mean, a REAL breakfast. Not just coffee. He would fix me omelets packed with fresh vegetables and slices of whole wheat toast and I began to look forward to our mornings as we sat and ate and talked about the day ahead. I started snacking on (gasp!) candy and eating dinner every night. I gained five pounds in three months and have never been happier. He tells me all the time how beautiful I am, how much he loves my figure and is genuinely attracted to me.
I have never, in my entire life, gained weight and felt ok about it. But I am honestly unfazed by this gain. My clothes don’t fit right but I have complete peace about it. I know my ED will never be totally gone, but it feels so far away I can actually picture the rest of my life without it making an appearance.
Did you struggle with your eating when you were going through the divorce process? Is it still a problem? I would love to hear your story.