Friday, June 18, 2010

jokes are serious.

there comes a certain but undefinable point in recovery at which eating disorder jokes become acceptable.

two of my favorites are as follows:

the first happened when my friends and i were on a weekend trip to Louisville, Kentucky. We went to this quirky little restaurant called Lynn's, and while we were waiting on a table, discovered a couple of fun-house mirrors- the kind that make you look about as wide as you are tall.

One of the girls stood in front of the mirror and said, "ugh! please look at this!"

i walked over, took a look, and said, "well- now you all know what i see when i look in the mirror every day"

their eyes darted to mine. they were completely baffled as to whether or not they were supposed to laugh.

"Sorry- eating disorder joke," i said. i guess that assured them that what i'd said was actually supposed to be funny, because they all burst into laughter.

i'll always remember that as a break through for my friends and for me.

My second favorite just happened this week. my granddad just had stomach surgery wednesday. he couldn't eat anything for two days prior to the operation. i called to check on him tuesday morning, and my grandmother told me he'd just come in from a walk. "How did he go for a walk if he hasn't had any food for 48 hours?" i asked. Nini (my grandmother) relayed him the question-

"Well," he said, "You tell her i been wonderin' the same thing about her for the past 5 or so years!"

The three of us died laughing and although he apologized, i'm pretty sure he was quite satisfied with himself for thinking on his feet.

there's a particular enjoyment i get from this specific avenue of humor, but i've recently realized that i find it more than funny. i find it liberating.

i think it's because in the midst of the laughing at my disorder, i separate myself from it, and i suddenly find myself on the same level with the rest of humanity, particularly, the humanity who love me.

it's the truest connection i've found on the other side. it feels real, and happy, and almost like i was never sick to begin with.

I really started formulating thought on the matter the other night after EDA (Eating Disorders Anonymous). I was talking with the wonderful Nicole Siegfried (director of Magnolia Creek). I asked her about some kind of supplement and wanted to know if it could cause weight-gain. I smiled after i asked and said, "I think i've had about enough of that" ("that" being weight-gain).

the both of us laughed and for one beautiful second, it felt like we were years down the road, talking as old friends, colleagues even. It didn't feel like the therapeutic relationship it is now (although there's nothing wrong with it being therapeutic) but to use one of my personally-coined phrases, i felt like a real person. it felt wonderful.

it's funny, i think, that the whole of the time i spent in my eating disorder, i also spent in isolation. I loved how "special" it made me feel, and at times i've loved how "special" being in recovery has made me feel. it's like no one can touch me or my identity, because the world is one giant lay-person and i'm the expert, the different one, the private school sorority-girl that ended up in rehab.

it's been that "different" feeling that's kept me so safe for so long. But if it's really safe, then why does it feel like it felt when i used to burst out of the bottom of the deep-end as a little kid when humor and i venture into humanity?

we put so much effort and struggle and destruction into the thing that makes us "the special one". we put our lives on the line (literally) to defend our differentness, because there's something in that empty abyss that's just so fulfilling, and we're scared that if we give up the disorder that sets us apart then we'll lose everything we don't even really have. i never, ever thought i'd find myself saying this, but is it really so bad (at least in this respect) to just be like everyone else?

i always thought it was in my disorder, outside of humanity that i really found myself. but i've realized that the real way to get to know myself is actually the reverse: outside of the disorder, in relation to humanity and my Lord.

who knew i'd discover it telling jokes?




  1. I love that you can have these moments and I have to admit I joke about my ed all the time know. It is fun to laugh at know because I know that I can not change the past, and I would rather embrace the things I have put myself through then being sad about them. I like you have lost a lot of years do to my ed and I refuse to loss anymore by regretting the past.

  2. I love ED jokes. The first time I was in treatment we made up a ton of them. It was hilarious. Laughing at something so serious is liberating for me. I'm glad you find it that way too.


  3. EA-
    While I read, I sat here laughing at your jokes and then tearing up(i'm just emotional these days..) as you went on to talk about the liberation that comes from just relating to others. You're right, the ed was such a false identity and security...and I think you are incredibly brave for acknowledging how "special" it made you feel. I hope that I will be able to feel that break through in friendships of my own one day-that the shame of my difference will one day fade as the liberation of admitting to my humanity emerges...
    thanks for your humor :)

  4. I have a similar relationship with my therapist. It goes beyond the therapeutic into a land of known and trust and connection.
    Keep fighting xxxxxxx