G is for Growing Up.

Yes, as I said in my last post ‘A is for Anorexia’, it would be ideal to do this whole Alphabet Series thing with some sort of structure – but it’s not going to happen, because I get different ideas for different posts at the most random of times. Apologies if your brain is the OCD type and would prefer if I did it in order! But yeah, not going to happen.

So today I’ve been thinking about the concept of growing up – as in, what a scary thing it is for a lot of people – and I’m not even just talking about people with eating disorders, but lots of people of various ages, male or female. For a lot of us, growing up is terrifying and a very real fear. So at what point do we bite the bullet, so to speak? (ahhhh clichés!!) Or when will we start to take responsibility for our own actions and emotions?

It’s not like this for every single eating disordered individual out there, nor is it really the sole reason for an eating disorders existence – but one thing I found out about myself during the eating disordered period was that I really, really did not want to grow up. I thought that I could not. I thought I was not able. I thought I would fail out there in the big wide world. I was scared of the thought of failing, of letting people down – so an eating disorder ensued. It was an escapism from reality, a distraction, something that could slow down time for me. I carried my blankie around everywhere. I stopped menstruating. I ate food from kids bowls and off teaspoons and drank drinks from kiddie cups because eating from bigger and “scarier” bowls was too hard, too grown up, too much. It was unbearable. The fear of getting older, growing up, was spilling over into my life and gave the eating disorder so much ammunition to use against me.

If you currently have, are in recovery from or have had an eating disorder, you’ve probably heard of the book ‘Wasted’ by Marya Hornbacher. I actually think it’s the most horrifying / beautiful / raw / honest depiction of an eating disorder; it breaks your heart to read it. Anyway. There is much that she says in her book that I love and agree with and because of this, I just want to share a relevant quote with you from her:

“The idea of my future simultaneously thrilled and terrified me, like standing at the lip of a very sheer cliff- I could fly, or fall. I didn’t know how to fly, and I didn’t want to fall. So I backed away from the cliff and went in search of something that had a clear, solid trajectory for me to follow, like hopscotch.
Marya Hornbacher, Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia

This quote is an exact representation of how I was feeling throughout my eating disorder (and prior to) – I was so excited to “grow up” and study at university and move out of home and all of those wonderful grown up things – but I was so scared that I’d fail that I recoiled.

(random intermission – I don’t mean to make you jealous or anything, but for supper right now with my cup of tea, I’m eating hokey pokey ice cream with crushed peanuts and maple syrup! BEST)

So essentially, it gets to a point where we have to grow  up. Because if we don’t, we stay immature and childish and young forever. We never make decisions for ourselves, we blame others for our emotions, we aren’t responsible human beings. We engage in behaviours that are not age appropriate. It isn’t helpful, right? And honestly, it doesn’t sound particularly fun. Yes, perhaps it seems scary – but I suspect it isn’t as scary as we all might think it is. We don’t grow as people if we don’t grow up, and that needs to be a long-term goal for each and every one of us. And no, it’s not fair if you didn’t really have a childhood, or your childhood sucked or you didn’t have the childhood you deserved – but we still need to persevere in that, we still need to work through that and we still need to grow up somehow – without the childhood. It is a loss however, and we do have every right to grieve it.

There’s also a lot of satisfaction in making change. Today when I got home from college I cleaned my room, took out my rubbish, washed my dishes, cleaned my oven and put an assignment that I did particularly well in on the fridge like a proud mother. I’m at that weird stage in life – learning to be independent, still needing some mentoring sometimes – but that mentoring / mothering etc should be continuing to push me to be independent – it’s a challenge and a half, but we’re getting there. We’re getting there, lovely friends.

Bekah X

21 thoughts on “G is for Growing Up.

  1. Totally understand the growing up type fear.
    I grew up a lot twice, once when I was pregnant, (this happens to normal people anyway due to hormones) and now this time in recovery. All the way throughout recovery, I’ve felt like my mental age was halted by the eating disorder. That, I was younger in my head than my true age. I still feel like that to an extent, and the fact I’m 30 next year, but still feel almost like a teenager emotionally, is a hard concept to get my head around.
    I guess gaining weight is only one part, growing mentally is the biggest part and it’s why so many teenagers sit alone in their room listening to angry metal. I guess I skipped this stage and am there now. “What do I do with my life?”.
    Plus, you don’t have dreams other than weight related dreams when eating disordered, so suddenly you realise you’ve missed out on stuff.
    This is a great post, and identifies where I am at. Thank you. xxx

    • That’s interesting, because at times I feel as if I’m far, far older than what I am. I mean, I know I am quite mature for my age. Except at times I’m a brat and act like a kid and then I have to remind myself that soon I won’t be a teenager anymore! My doctor warned me that my brain will stop developing when I turn 23 so I need to hurry the hell up and get some good coping mechanisms going, apparently 😉

      I think it’s hard sometimes if one hasn’t really had a typical childhood, it makes growing up loads more difficult.

      • Indeed, I was forced to grow up as a child and be more responsible than I was ready for, and didn’t want to.
        I feel a lot older in my head intellectually, and have been mistaken on the internet for someone who is a lot older than I actually am. But emotionally, yes, sometimes I am still a brat and am prone to temper tantrums and feel a lot younger. My daughter is kind of the same, she’s really intelligent, but emotionally, she isn’t. She struggles with her emotions a lot, she’s 7 and still has the “terrible 2’s” tantrums sometimes. Her intelligence does not match her emotional age at all. You’d think they were the same, but apparently her doctor said this is completely normal, and more intelligent people are prone to feeling behind emotionally, and be more anxious, because they are more aware than other people of dangers and stuff before they are ready to deal with those things emotionally.
        Interesting, but yeah, weird!

  2. “G” is also for God who is walking along ide his beautiful daughter Bek and having her share her remarkable journey with the world!
    Wow. . .God AND Bek are so so so good!!
    Thanks again for this wonderful post!!
    That you are in my life I do boast!

  3. An eating disorder grabbed me when I was about 13 or 14 and it took years to properly recover. As a guy it was taboo to even mention having an eating disorder (and still is to a degree).

    I struggled to grow up in much the same way. I finished school and took a year off thinking I would grow up in that year away from university. Fear of growing up cost me a job and relationship. In the year off I did grow up in some ways but still couldn’t cope with being “grown up”. It’s getting easier and I keep finding satisfaction in things like being able to pay bills or do the groceries for the family. But some days it is all too scary to deal with.

    • So you would say you are fully recovered now? That’s very interesting. I don’t doubt you at all and I think it’s fantastic, but why can you say it with such confidence?

      … Write me a blog post as a guest blogger! Eating disorders from a boys perspective. Not even joking, if you’re keen, I reckon that would be really insightful for lots of people X

      • I’m not sure there is the option of a full recovery – this is something that will stick with you and always be apart of your experiences and life. My eating disorder is something that left its mark on my life and the effects still show up from time to time in how I will react to some situations.

        I’m not sure that I ever will “recover”. I’ve learnt to understand what I’m thinking and how I’m feeling better and can better keep in check the thoughts or actions that might see me spiral out of control.

        I’d love to do a guest post! It’s something I have never properly talked about so it’d be a good challenge.

      • I suspect you will one day “fully recover”. Thanks for sending the post! I’m going to do a post next and will put yours up next week sometime. I really, really appreciate it and really do think it will benefit many xo

      • I figure that one day it will all be absorbed into the experiences and moments that all swirl and intertwine to shape who you are. I would love to think I’d never go down that road again now.

        It was pretty liberating and refreshing to write about it and try to be honest and open about it. It’s something I’ve never really wrote about before or talked about. I’d love to think it might help someone.

  4. I really relate to this post. I am always in that weird stage where I am somewhat independent and somewhat not. I am finding it really challenging right now to keep control of behaviors b/c I am getting ready to go back to school. I am scared of growing up like you talked about. Clinging to my eating disorder and illnesses keeps me dependent and ‘safe’ (actually the opposite but that is what my brain tells me). I have to take the leap into the grown-up part of life.

    • Completely understand. I know the idea of change is scary, but without taking that leap, you’re going to stay exactly as you are. And you definitely are very able of making the changes – recognising them as something to deal with is probably the hardest step anyhow.

      I think I personally am in that weird stage between living with a family and being the one looked after and having my own family and being the one who is looking after others. At the moment I just need to look after me! And my brain doesn’t want to do it, it’s a tad scary.

  5. I love this blog. It was really interesting and I will store this in the back of my mind. I’d love to read more about what causes this fear of growing up. Is it fear of what can’t be controlled? Or fear that independance = not safe?

    • From the two, probably the latter. I think it’s just scary in general to let go of the childish behaviours that have contributed to one actually feeling safe. Does that make sense?

    • It’s like my kiddy blanky for example. My brain probably associates having that at a time I felt safe, so when I felt unsafe it was something I used to feel safe. Don’t know if that makes sense. But without it, what provides the sense of safety / comfort?

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