Yesterday I had to do a VA exam for part of the claim that was initially deferred. But because I’ve already got 100%, these exams don’t even matter. I can’t get any more money at this point unless I lose a limb. But I still feel like I should finish all of these open exams so they don’t somehow take my rating away from me, even though I doubt they would. It feels wrong to have claimed all of these things and then not go to any exams because I got the 100% everyone wants.
But this exam yesterday wiped me out completely. It was a mental health one for eating disorders. I’ve written about that before here. It’s really hard to talk about and admit what all goes on with me when I do binge eat. We talked about all of it, she asked me questions that were pretty specific, and I was honest. Mostly honest.
We got to a point where she asked me how I felt about my body and I told her I hated it. She asked me why. And I couldn’t tell her every reason why. I couldn’t tell her that the outside doesn’t fit the inside. I couldn’t say it. I wanted to tell her, I wanted her to know the truth. But this was my only 30 minutes with her ever. It was just this exam and although I am sure she would’ve been fine with it as a professional, I just couldn’t say it.
My wife comforted me and said that I don’t need to tell everyone. That it’s not necessarily relevant to every medical conversation. I have been thinking about that since. I do think, in a way, that it is responsible for how I feel inside and why I have lived under a shadow of shame. It has always been hard to live like this, but for so long I just did the best I could. I ignored it, I pushed it so far down that even I couldn’t find it for a long time. I did not want to see it or feel it.
After the appointment ended, I just started crying and I couldn’t stop. I messaged my wife that I wasn’t ok and I let myself feel the pain. I just sort of marinated in the pain for a few minutes. I wanted to understand more about it. I asked myself where it came from. How did I learn this as a coping mechanism? What started all of this?
I remembered my mom always harping on my dad about sneaking sweets and food at work. Sometimes he made me a co-conspirator in this sneaking around. He would always end up confessing to her long before I did. So then I started thinking this through more. My dad loves me and always did love me, but I felt like it was always a fight to get his attention. When we were sneaking food, I felt closer to him than I usually did. So eating these foods felt good because I was bonding with my dad. And there’s the origin of this coping mechanism, easily identified. And then I felt less sad about the whole thing. To be able to see why it all started, to finally have an answer made it better. This isn’t about the food itself. This is about being close to my dad. And so maybe now, I can come up with a solution when I feel like binge eating. Maybe I can message my dad instead of eating something. Maybe I can facetime him until the urge passes. I don’t want to tell him anything about this, but he seems to have a lot to do with this, so maybe I can reprogram myself.
It was so, so hard to sit there in my shame and feel all of it at once. But today I really feel like it helped me get to the bottom of a long-time issue I have struggled with. It was worth the struggle and the pain. I’m really interested to see how this will change things in the future. Can I avoid binge eating when the urge hits me? Can I get better about this? I really hope I can!
I am beginning to realize that in some way, all of this pain and my problems in life are part of not knowing who I was because I had to avoid digging into that. I couldn’t acknowledge what I already knew my whole life. I couldn’t even talk about how much pain I felt inside and how I knew something was wrong with me from the beginning. I grew up learning how to ignore who I was and all I could be was what everyone else wanted me to be. I tried so hard to fit in and be exactly who I was told to be. I failed.
I’ve never been so grateful for failing in my life. I was not born to be what everyone else wants me to be. I was born to be me. And there’s no way that I could ever be successful faking my way through life forever.