Indentity Crisis

Do we just click back into what we think we are, because we can’t possibly believe that we’re anything else?

I didn’t come to Australia will a full-blown disordered eating/binging identity.

That was manifested after becoming obsessed with my weight, dieting, and an ex-man who decided that it would be healthy to introduce the notion of not being satisfied with my weight. I can’t blame any of those things, cause I took them all on board and lost the free-spirit, fiesty, organised American that I brought with me Australia.

I was struck by this post from my friend Sarah, who guest posted on her perception of her body through her wedding on eatthedamncake. I have chosen two excerpts that I thought really spoke to me

“In part, I feel like I have walked away from a war that I am contractually obliged to continue.”


“And just like in Iraq and Afghanistan, rebuilding after the war may prove to be the toughest part yet. Especially when, after two decades of war, the fight is so wrapped up in my identity that I am not entirely certain who I’d be without it.”

I sat there and thought to myself: Our struggles become our identity and if we don’t check them, then can totally rob us of living!

When some people lose weight, for instance, we don’t actually recognise, believe that we have, or want to be the ‘new’ person that we’ve become. Thus, gaining all the weight back to go back to a place, arguably that we don’t want, is about filling a comfortable identity.

That’s why abuse, eating disorders, drug addiction, and fitness…if made the SOLE identity of someone…can be incredibly damaging.

For me, as I go along on this journey of recovering from my disordered eating, binging, I have moments where I want to click back into ‘Binger Michelle’ because it feels ‘normal/safe/at-home/comfortable/deserving’.

I had a VERY close moment of giving up my over 2+ weeks of binge-free-ness when I moved back to the new place, where I found myself avoiding unpacking, trying to de-stress, and clicking back into familiar coping patterns with making chocolate chip cookies.

I ate about 3 cookies..and knew that the slope was getting slippery.

3 more to fulfill the binger identity


3 less to fulfill the unknown Michelle, but one that I know I want to work towards.

I chose the later.

Many times we are fearful of the unknown, or un-defined or the un-charted territory.

But I say…start exploring…it’s how you find hidden treasures about yourself and life.

What have you discovered about yourself that you never thought was there?
Have you ever gone back to a ‘past self’ out of comfort, even though it wasn’t good for you?


12 thoughts on “Indentity Crisis

  1. Sarah says:

    There have been many times when I have binged because it seemed too hard to try to cope some other way. I have even done so when binging didn’t seem all that appealing, but I just wanted to “feel better.” (Ha!)

    But. When I am taking care of myself (and I am on a path toward healthy mind, body, and spirit), I’ve discovered that food is not always the devil on my shoulder. It brings people together, and I am good at bringing people together, feeding them well, then sending them home satisfied. With food and fellowship.

    I have also discovered that when I am taking good care of myself, I’m not self conscious. That’s when I can run around in my bathing suit all day and not care about how I look. I can just enjoy.

    I feel like I could (and should!) write an entire post about what I know about myself now, even if I am not at the end of my eating journey.

    • Mish says:

      I think that the beauty of life, is that we’re never at the end of our journey. My friend and I were talking about this the other day, she’s also American, and we were reflecting on why we love Australia so much. I think that in America, we’re always taught to ‘find happiness’. As though it’s some elusive destination. And once we get there..then EVERYTHING will be great. However, this focus on the end destination, why does there have to be an end, robs us of the joy/struggles/reflection/growth that the journey offers. So I guess in many ways I would highly encourage you to write that post and say ‘you know what..I may never get to the end, but I am having a blast on this journey’. I hope that makes sense.

  2. Katie @ Health for the Whole Self says:

    I have definitely returned to my old disordered-eating self even when I didn’t REALLY want to and knew it was bad for me…just b/c it was easier, comforting, familiar.

    But you’re absolutely right that while we all have struggles, we don’t have to be defined by them solely or completely. They are part of us, of course, but they are not ALL of us.

  3. Beth says:

    In times of increased stress/anxiety, it’s easy to return to the old self and the old coping behaviors. It’s familiar and familiar feels good when you’re struggling.

    For me it’s still a diversion from what’s really going on, no matter how temporary, and I have to constantly remind myself of that.

    Changing old behaviors for new ones is scary because it feels like the big unknown, even though it really isn’t.

  4. seattlerunnergirl says:

    I think this is exactly why I was never able to lose weight and KEEP IT OFF for so many years. My whole identity was wrapped up either in (a) being the fat girl or (b) obsessing about losing weight, always being on a diet. etc.

    For a long time I’ve been working on this, and have come to a place where I can choose the healthy thing 90% of the time, and I don’t beat myself up over the rest. I needed to come HERE mentally/emotionally before I could permanently lose weight and maintain a healthy, fit body.

    It IS scary to let go of what you know. I’ve decided the scarier thing, though, is staying put in the status quo when the unknown is SURE to be better, beyond my wildest dreams better.

  5. KCLAnderson (Karen) says:

    “Our struggles become our identity and if we don’t check them, then can totally rob us of living!”

    Tell it, girlfriend!! This is exactly why I choose “easy.” I’ve been saying it for years: if we think life is hard, if we view our bodies as a battlefield, if we think we’re broken and need to be fixed, that’s exactly what we’ll get and I am done with that!

    When I lost 55 pounds, that’s who I became. I became “I lost 55 pounds.” Nothing more. What a shame. As I have said before, it took regaining some of those pounds to discover who I really am.

    Anyway, congrats on enjoying some cookies without bingeing. That’s what’s it’s all about. As Geneen Roth wrote in Women, Food & God: “I didn’t want the cookies, I wanted the way being allowed to have them made me feel.”

    • Mish says:

      I want to kiss your toes. As I read through the comment in my inbox at 5am on my i-phone I basically wanted to jump through it and scream YES, THIS IS exactly how I felt “I didn’t want the cookies, I wanted the way being allowed to have them made me feel.” the WHOLE time I was batteling w/ binging. It just clicked, thank you so much for that. Now I must go out and buy that book.

  6. missyrayn says:

    In times of stress I find it so easy to let my mind go back to thinking that food will just fix it all.

    I’m still learning to allow myself to feel the stress (and other emotions) instead of soothing it with food. And I’m learning that exercise and not being able to because of injury doesn’t make me bad.

    These are so uncomfortable to feel sometimes still and I slip. But learning to be me instead of who I think I need to be is really starting to grow on me.

  7. Marie says:

    I’m from Quebec, Canada. Where I’ve been more fat than thin. Then I moved to Vancouver, BC Canada, lost 40 pound and became all healthy and fitnessy. I became the one who got very healthy. And of course got all kind of compliments.

    For family reasons, I moved back to my home province, heartbroken and grieving a city I love and feel at home in. Guess what? I gained back 40 pounds in a freaking year! And nobody mentioned to me anything despite the fact that it’s really appartent 😉

    I’ve worked a lot on my grieving and life is lighter again. So are my meals. And the bingeing is now behind me (are you listening Bingeing monster?). I’ve been binge-free for two months now. yay!

    I totally get your identity crisis. I talked about it back then to a therapist. She explained to me that we have one big self at the center, surrounded by sub-selves. I’m not a binger or a healthy freak. I’m me. Sometimes the grieving, binge self took over the main self and I mistook it for who I was at the roots. I let it go over everything else. So now when I see it coming, I visualize it clouding over everything else and I keep in mind that it’s just temporary, and it doesn’t have to take all the space available.

    Somehow it’s a relief and it stops me for digging deeper.


    I hope I don’t sound too weird 😉 But this technique has helped me somehow with the bingeing -and all the emotions that start it.

    • Mish says:

      Thank you for sharing that. It’s exactly how I feel as well. I don’t want to be one or the other..I just want to be me!

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