Accountability - Does It Really Work?
Eating disorders can allow for even the most loyal and honest people to become sneaky and manipulative. It's a part of the illness that makes me feel so ashamed. I have lied to my parents, to my sister, to my friends, to my family, to my therapists, and to my dietitians. Anorexia has made me twist truths to lies just to please others and ease their worries. Anorexia has also caused me to be dishonest to prevent my loved ones from confronting me about how wild and out of control my illness has become.
Living alone and being in eating disorder recovery has its challenges - the biggest challenge being: no one will know if I don't eat. Talk about breeding grounds for trouble.
I am constantly combatting the urge to listen to my eating disorder and restrict my food intake. I don't have anyone breathing down my neck, watching my every move. I don't have anyone preparing my meals and snacks and making sure I eat to completion. Sometimes, I let anorexia win. I restrict and give in to the temptation. And sometimes, I fight back. I tell myself that even though no one is watching, I need to eat. For me. For my job. For my friends and family. For my life.
Now let's talk about accountability.
Accountability came up in a recent therapy session. I was having trouble meeting certain minimums in terms of my food intake, but was motivated to make changes. The thing is, I had been motivated for a couple of weeks, but hadn't actually MADE the changes yet. "Tomorrow, I'll do it", I kept telling myself. But TOMORROW would come and go and still, no change would appear.
So my therapist suggested I be accountable - to her. Let her know what I was planning on eating (with specific details - I couldn't just tell her: "I will eat SOMETHING"). I agreed to try it. But then, she made me vocalize what I would have for dinner, for snack, and for breakfast the next morning. And I got SO UNCOMFORTABLE. Making decisions around food in eating disorder recovery is not easy to begin with, but telling her exactly what I would be eating made me feel nervous. Because I knew if I said I would eat "x", my intentions would be known to someone, and I would need to follow through and stick to the plan. CUE ACCOUNTABILITY NERVES.
Would she REALLY know what I ate? No. But if I lied about what I ate, I know I would feel guilty. And if I didn't follow-through and eat what I had initially vocalized, I know I would feel guilty then, too.
It's scary to let people in... even if they are trying to help you. That's the nature of this illness - anorexia wants complete control. So when you try and hand over some of that control to people who are willing to help, it gets scary.
I'm giving this accountability thing a shot. It may create feelings of anxiety but I'm really trying to talk to myself and tell myself that all of this is for my own good. I have amazing people who have been supporting me for years now, and I need to let them in. And by letting them in, I also need to be honest. None of that manipulative crap that often comes along in tandem with eating disorders. Accountability is worth a try.
Do you have an accountability partner who keeps you on track with nutrition, exercise, or certain bad habits? Do you find it helpful? Always curious to hear your thoughts!