Margherita - with a bit of extra compensation, less cheese and a side of my hyperactive amygdala
Trigger warning: fairly detailed discussion of disordered eating behaviours in this post. I've tried to soften it as much as possible, but some detail remains as I deemed it important to the context of this anecdote. Please read with caution if you think this could be harmful for you.
I find myself constantly between a rock and a hard place. Carefully and consistently treading a dichotomous line, and it takes all my energy to remain upright.
People often say to me that they can’t understand how I can dislike food, or somehow find food unenjoyable or even repulsive. Others, cringeworthily, add that they wished they didn’t like food as much as they do...or that they had 'a bit of what I've got' (actual quote). Aside from the obvious(?) unhelpful nature of such comments...there's something I've got to try and articulate. I don't dislike food. At all. In fact, I love it. Which is what makes this illness twice as cruel.
I desperately want to eat my favourite foods. Rachel's favourite foods. Not even....I desperately just want to eat 'normal' foods...prepared and cooked 'normally' like 'normal' people. Gooey baked camembert with garlic bread; Indian takeaway with naans and dips; my Dad's glorious homemade lasagne; Black Forest gateau; American pancakes with all the toppings. Just a nice, normal slice of pizza.
But I also desperately don't....can't....won't? I'm not sure. Everything has to be calorie-controlled, measured, accounted for...I have certain methods of doing things and limits that my meals must fit into...if they don't, I don't feel safe. Safety is a funny concept...I'm fascinated by it, because it's so subjective...what safety looks like and means and feels like differs from one person to the next. Not eating enough calories makes me feel safe....so safety is also not always rational, evidently.
Every mealtime feels like a tug of war between these two realities. I desperately just want to eat and enjoy a delicious sourdough pizza with all that lovely mozzarella (shout-out to Franco Manca)...but ,I desperately can't right now (and not just because of #lockdown).
So, what's the result? Well, at the moment (which, to be honest, is a huge improvement on where I have been), it goes a bit like this. I have a basic, boring, plain store-bought pizza with a calculated number of calories, pick off some of the cheese, add some vegetables on top to kid myself into thinking I'm eating a properly-topped pizza, cover it in dried garlic and chillis so it doesn't taste so bland...and after spending most of the day worrying, I eat it for dinner.
And it still tastes bland and unsatisfying and nothing like Franco Manca. I feel oddly proud of myself from a recovery point of view for 'conquering' pizza, yet oddly proud of myself from an anorexic point of view for managing to fit 'pizza' into my rigid and controlled structure. A win-win, I suppose.
Yet...in reality, neither side is satisfied and I'm more miserable about the whole situation than proud. Because I've tugged and tugged in this tug of war, but the rope hasn't moved.
Next time I eat pizza, it will be at Franco Manca. When I'm ready. No funny business. No messing around. With extra olives and a large glass of rosso, per favore.
"Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day." ~ Winnie the Pooh