National Eating Disorders Association

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bamoon13
ED Behaviors During Recovery

Previously I posted on here about my husband. He wanted to purchase a brewery and basically I said I wouldn't do it unless he got help for his ED.

Well fast forward a few months and we have sold our house, moved to a new city, and purchased a brewery. The good news is that he did follow through with getting help and has been talking to a specialist every other week. The bad news is that he has been lying or stretching the truth and I just figured it out.

We had been (at least in my mind) doing really well. The specialist was giving him homework and by all appearances it seemed like he was following through. The behaviors he had were excessive exercise and restrictive/routine eating. He was exercising less and being less rigid about his eating. However on Monday I was off work. I was going to go to the gym at 9 to do a class - he said he wanted to go sooner because he needed to get to the brewery and he left a solid 30 - 40 minutes before me. When I got to the gym he was there which didn't surprise me. What did surprise me was that when I finished my class an hour later he was still there. I asked him about it and he said he stopped by the brewery on the way there (thereby shortening the time he was supposedly there). A similar scenario played out yesterday and something about it just felt wrong. My gut said he was lying so I went on his google maps timeline and not surprisingly it showed he had gone straight to the gym both days. For some reason, I decided to check his past history which I haven't done in months. I was crushed to see that for the last month he has been going to the gym and spending a lot of time there. I'm more upset because he is supposed to be working on that and in the appointments I have been on has been saying that he's doing better. The silver lining is that he is doing it less frequently. Prior to our life changes he would run excessively.

So now I would like some advice. I confronted him about the last 2 days and told him that the lies hurt me and that I didn't want things to get as bad as they were before, but he doesn't know that I know he has continued the excessive exercise. Truthfully I'm a bit heartbroken and I'm at a loss. I didn't expect him to recover overnight, but appearances suggest he isn't committed to recovery since he hasn't been 100% honest.

Is this normal during this process? Should I confront him? Truthfully, I know they say not to take it personally, but I'm very hurt and I'm not sure that I could really do this well based on the way I'm feeling.

I have his specialist's contact information and I can reach out to her, but I don't want to be seen as a tattle tale. I'm not sure how to go about emailing her and saying that I think he has been lying in his sessions.

BobJ48
Bamoon

Yes, I remember your situation with your husband !

I guess what I would say is that it's a good sign that he was able to take himself to the specialist. He could have refused to do that. Who knows what the topics of their conversations are, but hopefully he's using the time he has with her to actually talk about things that feels are important to him. As to his lying, it's probably normal to have slip-ups in recovery, but if it's becoming a regular thing then you may need to confront him about it.

I think it's possible that he actually feels bad about not being able to control his behaviors in the way that he knows that he should, so don't underestimate the sort of shame he may feel. In my experience, most people don't feel good about not telling the truth. And when they know that they are slipping back too. If he's not being truthful with you out of shame, it doesn't necessarily mean that he's not still committed to recovery.

And yes, getting in touch with his therapist may be problematic. If she is going to learn that he's slipping up, it may be best that you don't rob him of the opportunity of telling her himself. Because it's possible that he might tell her, you know ?

But yes, it is rough on people when they know they are being deceived, so you have a right to feel upset about that part. xx

claire_bear
Hi bamoon

Hi bamoon, I'm sorry to see you're having a difficult time navigating through this situation with your husband. As a wife, you want your husband to be open and honest with you, but being a support while he is working through an ED is so hard. There's an excellent resource here at NEDA called the Parent Toolkit, but it's not just for parents; it's for anyone in a supportive role for someone with an ED. It has a great section about supporting a loved one, which I have referenced when speaking to loved ones in my life. You can find it here in the Resources section: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/help-support/parent-family-frien...

I hope you and your husband can work through this together. Please be well.

ChooseRecovery
Taking it personally

Bamoon: I can completely understand why you are heartbroken: you thought your husband was doing better than he is, and he's been misleading you. You also mentioned you know you shouldn't take it personally. Yet how can we not take it personally when we have been deceived? My one thought is that it might be helpful to try to separate your husband from his ED. I know they are by nature intertwined, but it's your husband who is seeing the specialist and the ED doesn't like that. The ED wants control. The ED is leading him to deceive you. It is the ED that is to blame. I hope that doesn't sound trite. Recovery is a bumpy road, with ups as well as downs, and as the spouse you're going to feel many of those bumps. I hope you can honestly discuss your feelings with your husband and continue to provide the support you have.

bamoon13
Thank you for the replies! I

Thank you for the replies! I waited for awhile to respond so I could evaluate my feelings on everything. I did end up talking with husband about it. The reality is that the deception worried me more than the behavior (although the behavior is concerning as well). I decided not to contact his counselor and just talk to him about it. He explained that he does 2 hours at the gym, but lower intensity work. This way he can respond to emails and such while he works out. This sounds reasonable, but I'm definitely watching to make sure it doesn't get out of control. Although, realistically I'm not sure what I can do if it does become a problem again.

I took a look at the parent toolkit and I do find it somewhat helpful, but I often have very specific questions that I would like addressed. For example, my husband has been gaining weight since starting therapy. He has gone from very thin to having a small tummy. He is by no means overweight and I think he looks very healthy, but he is very worried about his weight. Earlier today he got very upset because he had to go up a belt notch. I had no idea what to say to him. I just asked if I could help him in anyway because I didn't think telling him he looked good/healthy would help at all. So what do I say to him? This has been coming up more frequently as he started to gain weight. Is there a resource for help with these things? I find that doing the right thing is so difficult in these situations because it is counter intuitive.

BobJ48
Weight gain.

Dear Bamoon,

Part of "getting better" is learning to tolerate weight gain, and the mental associations that come with it. Which, as you've seen can be really difficult for the person to do. For the person with the ED, getting smaller has always been associated with "becoming better" and more in control of their lives as a human being, while gaining has always been associated with personal failure and a lack of self-discipline. The sorts of mental associations are really hard to break free of, and can plague those with EDs for longer than one might hope.

As you've seen though, even for ourselves, it's hard to break our old habits of referring to the person's appearance. If we say they "look healthy", their old ED mind knows that what we *really* mean is that they look fat ! If we say they "look good" they know we are telling them that they look fat too ! Clearly that's not what we mean, but that's how they are going to hear it. Your husband may even try to lure you into making apperance-type comments : Be mindful and don't take the bait!

In such situations it's best to say things like "I'm always glad to see you" or "I feel good being with you" or things like that. Things that reflect your pleasre in them as a person, rather than the sorts of apperance-type comments that our culture has made such a habit of using. For ourselves, we like to hear people say we are handsome, but our true pleasure in those sorts of comments comes from the idea that the people who say such things find us acceptable to them as human beings.

That being said, your husband is still likely to be unsettled by weight gain, because of the associations I mentioned above. You may need to discuss those associations with him at some point, so that he'll know that you "get it" about the feelings he's having.

Because that's another thing : People with EDs can feel very alone with their feelings. Men in particular can become very unsettled and have feelings of personal shame that plague them when they feel that "the being in control thing" is no longer happening for them. Letting him know that you understand that he may be dealing with feelings like that may help matters too.

None of these sorts of adjustments and changes in thinking happen over night, so things may continue to be difficult for a while, as he attempts to find a place of balance in all this.

In any case, just a few things to think about.

bamoon13
I'm back again. I long for

I'm back again. I long for the day when I can stop worrying. Please tell me if I sound overly controlling or even just crazy. Sometimes I wonder if maybe things are better than they seem.

Today my husband had a session with counselor that I listened in on. This wasn't planned - I went to the brewery with him and his sessions are over the phone. We were still there when he had his session so I listened in (although I offered to sit in the car). During the session she asked how he was doing with various things including his routine and he basically said it was a lot better and that he was more flexible with it. For background, he has had an eating routine for a very long time. He consistently eats the exact same foods every evening and in fact he has the same breakfast and lunch just about every day. The only thing that varies is the dinner we plan together. After dinner he has a snack routine. In the past it was a large problem because we always had to be home to do it. Now he has gained a lot of flexibility, but he still continues the routine. It has bothered me for some time - not because it affects me directly, but because it still seems disordered to me. So today after the conversation I asked him why he avoids talking to the counselor about it. He basically told me that he knows it's weird and feels ashamed and that he just thinks I want to make him like everyone else. To compound the issue the counselor has started to reduce the frequency of his sessions.

So I guess my question is - am I wrong for worrying? Is there anything I can even do if it is still a problem? Truely, I just want what's best for him. I think that I lived with the disordered behavior for so long that I live in fear of the return of it and so sometimes I don't know if my worries are based in reality. I also worry that I get in the way of his recovery. I am very much the type of person who talks out my problems, but that doesn't seem to be a great strategy in helping him recover.

bamoon13
I'm back again. I long for

I'm back again. I long for the day when I can stop worrying. Please tell me if I sound overly controlling or even just crazy. Sometimes I wonder if maybe things are better than they seem.

Today my husband had a session with counselor that I listened in on. This wasn't planned - I went to the brewery with him and his sessions are over the phone. We were still there when he had his session so I listened in (although I offered to sit in the car). During the session she asked how he was doing with various things including his routine and he basically said it was a lot better and that he was more flexible with it. For background, he has had an eating routine for a very long time. He consistently eats the exact same foods every evening and in fact he has the same breakfast and lunch just about every day. The only thing that varies is the dinner we plan together. After dinner he has a snack routine. In the past it was a large problem because we always had to be home to do it. Now he has gained a lot of flexibility, but he still continues the routine. It has bothered me for some time - not because it affects me directly, but because it still seems disordered to me. So today after the conversation I asked him why he avoids talking to the counselor about it. He basically told me that he knows it's weird and feels ashamed and that he just thinks I want to make him like everyone else. To compound the issue the counselor has started to reduce the frequency of his sessions.

So I guess my question is - am I wrong for worrying? Is there anything I can even do if it is still a problem? Truely, I just want what's best for him. I think that I lived with the disordered behavior for so long that I live in fear of the return of it and so sometimes I don't know if my worries are based in reality. I also worry that I get in the way of his recovery. I am very much the type of person who talks out my problems, but that doesn't seem to be a great strategy in helping him recover.

ChooseRecovery
How can we not worry about loved ones?

bamoon13: How can we be wrong when we worry? It's what we do when the people we love are ill. And it sounds like your husband is very much battling his illness. He's taken some very positive steps in seeing a counselor, but these things take time, a long time. Recovery from an eating disorder often is two steps forward, one step back; or one step forward, one step back; or . . . you get the idea. It's not clear, it's not linear.

You seem to be a great support person for your husband in this, and you wonder is there's anything more you can do. You can continue to support him, tell him you are there for him, ask him how you can help. You might also consider helping yourself. Have you considered seeing a therapist who can help you through your role in your husband's ED? You might greatly benefit. Please keep us updated.

bamoon13
Thank you for replying. It

Thank you for replying. It helps just to vent somewhere and have someone respond. I am definitely considering getting help for myself - I was talking with someone before we moved and have not find someone else just yet. I think I struggle a lot with what the right thing is to do. I like to live in my black and white world and there's nothing black and white about this.

BobJ48
EDs and Obsessiveness.

Bamoon,

Given all that you've seen in the past, it's no wonder that you might worry. Granted things may have changed quite a bit in the last few months, but still, it's easy to be sensitive about the ongoing obsessiveness that he seems to be exhibiting around food. You've seen this before, so why wouldn't you worry ?

It's possible that folks with EDs will always be prey to obsessiveness in some form or another. It's connected to anxiety I think ? If a person with OCD types of habits doesn't adhere to certain set routines…then something bad might happen. What might that "bad thing" be ? I'm not sure they could tell you, or that they even know themselves. But even so, it's better to be on the safe , you know ?

Again, it gets back to the control thing I think. If he continues with his eating routine, then things are under control. If somehow that part should slip out of his control…Perhaps you see what I mean ?

You mentioned his shame over these habits, so you may be right that the food angle as not been addressed in the fullness that it should. You probably know how it goes with shame - When you stop and think about it, It's one of the most difficult emotions for humans to deal with. His worries about "being made like everyone else" may be legitimate, from the standpoint that we are all individuals. But "being the same" in the sense that we are not being plagued with issues like this : Thats' probably one area that it's OK to be like other folks.

In any case, I'm still seeing some progress. He's doing things that he may not have even considered doing in the past. So that's good I think.

But you may be right about worrying how things might go if he comes under more stress in the future. Situations that bring up themes of control, I mean.

Keep in touch.

bamoon13
Thank you for replying. The

Thank you for replying. The insights are genuinely helpful. Prior to his ED diagnosis he had been seeing a regular therapist who thought he might have OCD. I wouldn't be too surprised if the evening routine was in some part related to that. To the idea that he needs it to be in control. He has talked about it some in the past as it being his reward for the day. He looks forward to it - he gets through the day and he gets to eat a whole bunch of food. It's interesting to me that his "reward" also brings him shame. I do also understand why he would think I just want him to be like everyone else, however it has nothing to do with anyone else except that other people don't necessarily have these routines. I just want the ED behaviors to be resolved - I want him to be able to eat what he wants and when he wants solely because he wants it and not because he feels compelled.

I struggle very much with my role in all of this. I can see how I can push him away with my worrying and so I've been trying to let it go, but with that being said I do think there is legitimacy in my concern. I find that I walk this fine line of saying something or ignoring it. I very much would like to talk to his counselor to get her take on things, however I don't want to overstep. I think my own anxiety tends to ramp up when I hear his conversations with his counselor and he's skirting the issue. So I guess the question is - is it ok to email her with my concerns or is that inappropriate?

BobJ48
Bamoon - Your Role

You wrote :

" I struggle very much with my role in all of this. I can see how I can push him away with my worrying and so I've been trying to let it go, but with that being said I do think there is legitimacy in my concern."

I know what you mean about the legitimacy of your concern. Certainly you care about him, so there's that part. But there's also the part about "When someone else has a problem, it's our problem too." By which I mean, how can we reasonably not expect it to have an effect on us too ? When it has to do with people we care about and are connected to, I don't think it's reasonable that somehow we should be able to simply brush things like this under the rug, and not be affected by them ourselves. Relationships simply don't work that way.

" I find that I walk this fine line of saying something or ignoring it. I very much would like to talk to his counselor to get her take on things, however I don't want to overstep. I think my own anxiety tends to ramp up when I hear his conversations with his counselor and he's skirting the issue. So I guess the question is - is it ok to email her with my concerns or is that inappropriate? "

Oh brother, I'm not sure about that. Personally I think that therapy goes best when a therapist has all the facts. And I suspect that his therapist would say the same thing. While his therapist is bound by confidentiality issues, and thus ethically can't really tell you anything, I don't think it's a mutual obligation. I suspect you could tell her anything that you want.

But…you would not want to put her in the position of lying to your husband, should he ask if she's heard from you. I suspect that she'd have to say that she had.

What I mean is, you might have to tell him that you want to write to her. To keep everything on the level I mean.

Which…Would he say that that was out of bounds, or not ? Knowing that his therapist can't really share anything with you that the two of them have discussed, I mean.

Personally I think things might proceed better for the therapy if she heard what you thought were the important concerns. Because really, I'd be surprised if you, and the relationship that the two of you share, is not being mentioned in the therapy.

(File under : "Just my Two Cents" though.)

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