Control Freak Perfectionist

I hesitate to use the phrase 'recovered anorexic' when writing this post, because in truth I don't feel that I am despite being a healthy weight for the past 6 months. I still struggle when I'm put under pressure, I struggle when I can't exercise enough and I struggle when a lot of change happens fast. Right now there's a big change in my life because I have a new job as a chalet cook in the French alps for the next 5 months. I should be buzzing about this, but all I can think is how I won't be able to run, how I'll be expected to drink more alcohol and eat more fattening foods. People have told me to treat the experience as a way to have fun - a way to let go without people at home commenting if I gain or lose weight. I really really want to be able to do that... But at the same time I'm terrified of letting go of that control. I'm a huge control freak in every aspect of my life and I really just don't know how to relax. The idea of a night out drinking scares me. The idea of not being able to quantify my exercise in terms of how many miles I've run scares me... Can anyone give me some advice?
Blondiejb Blondiejb
1 Response Nov 29, 2012

Hello! Although your story is one month old, I hope I can still offer some advice. I am a recovering anorexic, and I too have been precisely where you are now: after one year of severe calorie restriction that almost resulted in death, I returned to a healthy weight in a matter of months, but the thoughts and compulsions were still very much present. Even after that first year, I never stopped exercising or controlling my food intake in order to keep it below 1,500 calories a day. The truth is that I was not ready to let go of the protective shield offered by anorexia. My eating disorder was just a safeguard, something that would consume all my energy and resources so that I wouldn't have to deal with the real issues behind it: non-existent self-esteem, self-hatred, perfectionism, and an absent father. I snapped out of it six months ago, and since then I've been relatively fine; I must confess that I am in love with this lightheartedness, this amazing freedom. How I stopped? One day I decided to disclose everything to a very close friend of mine, who has been there for me ever since. The idea simply materialized in my head, and it was almost compulsive: deep down, I knew I had to do it. Now, I know you are scared. You are scared because you believe, perhaps subconsciously, that if you don't control every minute detail, everything will fall apart. But it will not. Ask yourself this: what is the worst that could happen if you don't count the miles you've run? You might gain weight, indeed. But what would happen if you do? Would you be chased out of the town with pitchforks? Would your relatives disown you? No. Nothing would happen. I always tell eating disorder patients that the most important step is acknowledging the problem and wanting to recover, both of which you obviously do. Just go and live your life. It will be fine. So many wonderful opportunities await, many of which you might miss because of your fear of losing control. I am not referring only to employment prospects, but to the little things in life: coffee with an old friend, going out to a party, and suchlike. You know, nobody is asking you to be perfect, flawless. We are all human, and humans make mistakes so that they might learn from them. If you relinquish control of a situation, something might go wrong; it might not be perfect. Yet what does it matter? Perfection is an unattainable ideal, at any rate. It is dead, for only death is always constant; life is constantly changing, evolving, and this includes making mistakes, screwing it up sometimes. You will be fine. Take care and enjoy your new job!