How I Broke the Rules by Ordering Movie Popcorn

depicting: broke the rules by eating popcorn, a close up image of movie theater popcorn

I ordered movie popcorn tonight. So what? Most people would have this thought and reaction. But for me, in recovery from anorexia, it was an enormous feat. It meant I broke the rules of the eating disorder.

I will try and explain why something as trivial as ordering popcorn is a big deal in recovery from an eating disorder. Movie popcorn is probably my last “fear food” that I needed to conquer.

Tonight I fancied movie popcorn

The kind you actually get at the movies. With all the additives and made fresh. The kind the eating disorder despises. I wasn’t going to the movies tonight. I totally get why people without a background like mine would still be thinking yeh and…?

The importance is I listened to my healthy self, the part of me that had the desire for popcorn. I wasn’t hungry; I just wanted it

Previously I had a very tenuous relationship with movie popcorn (not that food has any moral value, but you get my drift). 

For me, movie popcorn could only be consumed (if at all) under the strictest of rules. Tonight this was not following a set of rules other than desire. I emphasize again, this is a big deal in recovery.

I haven’t yet rekindled my natural cues for foods I enjoy. Physical hunger is erratic. Like many of us in recovery. These take time to normalize. And so, to have an impromptu thought/desire and follow through is a big deal. It is gift. 

What was going through my mind?

A million thoughts and eating disorder voices. Like, Why I couldn’t have it. What should I do to compensate as “I had had dinner”? But tonight, did the noise change my action? NO. This is a big deal in recovery. I did not engage in the loudness of my Hitchhiker (HH), my alternative name for the eating disorder voice. 

Once I had the popcorn, the thoughts increased in intensity, (“you could keep it in the cupboard for when you’re hungry or portion it up”). I did no such thing and delved straight in. In the past, I would have put it to the back of the cupboard. Likely it would have ended up in the food compost un-touched. Most people won’t understand, but I celebrate this victory– I broke the rules of my eating disorder!

Why am I telling you what happened when I broke the rules? 

Because I am not alone. People who have lived with an eating disorder feel so much anxiety and guilt around foods (even though it’s not about the food) that making an every day choice such as eating movie popcorn or decision over what to eat for breakfast can be unbearable. Our constant ignoring of cues means we lose touch with desires and hunger.

So when we get a desire or craving in recovery it is a big deal. A sign of healing and hope. It is a gift.

I could have ignored this cue. But that would have been a wrong choice for my recovery.

Recovery is millions of little choices, one healthy choice at a time.

Disregarding the rules and stipulations my “HH” was making would have caused me so much distress even a couple of months ago. But the distress always passes. Ignoring the rules and breaking them means I got to this moment, celebrating this victory. It is a big deal, it’s another step towards full recovery. 

The only way to be free is break the damn rules, and really rules are there to be broken right?!

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