To see someone you love
look at you with so much sadness;
that is the definition of shame.
To see someone you love
look at you with so much sadness;
that is the definition of shame.
because choices have sacrifices and, inevitably, that means giving up something that you want for something that you want more.
I found those words in a White Collar episode of all places. But I wrote them down, because the message is one of utter truth.
When I heard this, I immediately thought of my eating disorder.
But wait, I thought I had broken up with that bitch? I did. I have. But the thing about break ups is you can still want. You can still want that which you KNOW you cannot have. But if you really look at it…do you really want that relationship back or are you just missing the feeling that came along with it?
For me, it is the feeling.
I miss the feeling of “safety” which was going back to my anorexia. I miss feeling like I had all the willpower in the world and like I could control my life. I miss feeling like I was special because I had this “friend” who was steering me to “success.”
All of these feelings were lies. They were elaborate concoctions of my disordered mind that told me I had it all. But, in all actuality, I had nothing. I didn’t have control, willpower, success, safety. I was slowly dying. I was starving my soul.
Maybe I am grieving my loss. I am grieving the loss of the image I have of what I want to look like, because I know it will never happen unless I begin to slowly die all over again (which is NOT an option). I am grieving the loss of my coping tool for all the fucking shit life throws at you. I am grieving the loss of an identity I held for so so many years. I am grieving the loss of the control I thought I had. I am grieving the loss of the feelings I had in my disorder.
The thing is, I remember all of these feelings that I liked… but I also look back and see all the misery. I remember (and still experience) the depression. I see the shit I put myself through and the tired, sick form of myself. I see the way I pretended to have it all together and then cried to myself in the shower so no one could tell. I remember the fear I had walking into a college cafeteria, party, club, etc. I remember the constant worry and thoughts about food and weight and exercise. I remember the darkness and how I couldn’t have cared less about life. I remember feeling the intense secrecy of it all. I remember feeling the pain. I see the scars that illustrate the points I thought there were no other options and it was all my fault. I remember how I really did feel like I was falling into a hole I would never leave.
“Choices have sacrifices and, inevitably, that means giving up something you want for something you want more.”
I want those feelings of control, identity, success, safety. But I want recovery more.
I’m giving up my wants for the ones I want more. Because life is a gift, and I want to really live it.
When I simply search the word ‘hope’ on Pinterest, here are some of the quotes that come up:
“hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness” -desmond tutu
“May your choices reflect your hope not your fears.” -Nelson Mandela
“a single thread of hope is still a very powerful thing.”
“hope is the only thing stronger than fear”
“Hope is not pretending that troubles don’t exist. It is the hope that they won’t last forever. That hurts will be healed and difficulties overcome. That we will be led out of the darkness & into the sunshine.”
Those are great and all, but sometimes I actually hate the word ‘hope.’ I hate what it says. I hate that I don’t always have it. I hate that I can’t hold on to it. I hate that it disappears and then reappears at its own will.
I hate that I cannot always hold onto the vision of my life that I think is filled with hope. If I could only see that version–that life I am shooting for–then maybe the struggles would feel more purposeful. That is what I think hope is. Knowing that, yes, right now is hell and every moment feels like a year, but you see that thing in the future? That is what you are going for with all of this work and struggle. That is your hope.
So, stop telling me to be hopeful. I can’t be hopeful if I don’t have/see the hope. Let me find it. Let me search for it. Let me find MY hope. Because if it isn’t MINE, it won’t push me, guide me, motivate me.
It will only be a thing that someone tells me. It won’t have power. To have hope means to believe in yourself and your capabilities. It means that you find it in yourself. I need to find that hope on my own.
I want to magically be at my pot of gold and the happy-go-lucky fancy leprechaun. I want to be on the other side of the fucking rainbow.
But I know that this isn’t going to happen overnight. I know that rainbows come after rain. I know that rainbows really never end. And I know that James Taylor got it right way before I figured it out…
Long Ago and Far Away:
Long ago a young man sits and plays his waiting game
But things are not the same it seems as in such tender dreams
Slowly passing sailing ships and Sunday afternoon
Like people on the moon I see are things not meant to be
Where do those golden rainbows end?
Why is this song so sad?
Dreaming the dreams I’ve dreamed my friend
Loving the love I love
To love is just a word I’ve heard when things are being said
Stories my poor head has told me cannot stand the cold
And in between what might have been and what has come to pass
A misbegotten guess alas and bits of broken glass
Where do your golden rainbows end?
Why is this song I sing so sad?
Dreaming the dreams I dream my friend
Loving the love I love to love to love to love
I wish someone would tell me how to climb the rainbow. I wish someone would give me the answers and tell me what I need to do to get to the gold. But I can’t ask others to solve this for me. I can’t learn without doing and I can’t get through without actually GOING through.
The only way out is through.
The only way out is through.
It’s written on the screen at my treatment center. It’s ingrained in my thoughts.
The ONLY way out is through.
The only way to the other side of the rainbow and to the pot of gold is trekking along the WHOLE FUCKING rainbow. To the other side.
*Note: ED means eating disorder
Imagine what the world could be
if it was only you and me;
the chatter of many fading slowly to few,
Think of all the time, the things that we could do.
Imagine all the wreckage, all the dead, the diseased,
the souls of all others suddenly ceased.
Wouldn’t it be quiet, only whispers on the breeze.
the crashing of the waves, the surf on the seas.
Imagine all our chances, the beauty and the grace.
The sky the only boundary, with smile on our face.
Imagine the sky crashing down,
the city burning, ashes on the ground.
The cries of helpless, panic ,and fright
darkness overwhelms, an ending of their plight.
Imagine all the good, the love and light
as we build a city of glass, mirrors shining bright.
The sun glints and shimmers as we finish our design,
but the world is far from done, beauty waits in line.
Imagine all the horror as the earth splits in two.
Run you silly souls, have you seen what I can do.
I have only gotten started with the torture you will face.
Brightness versus darkness; light will lose the race.
Two together make the devil present in the brain
fighting, clawing, biting, but only one can be tame.
Which will rule the conscious, which will fall behind?
Which will be the champion, who will win the mind?
tiny beautiful things by Cheryl Strayed.
What a tiny, beautiful thing Strayed’s book is.
Sometimes I feel like all I can (*should*) read in recovery is (are? struggling with grammar right now..) recovery related books on eating disorders, mental health, depression, etc. But to tell you the truth, I don’t want to. Those are well and good and have there place, but I don’t believe they should be everything.
I came upon tiny beautiful things when I was scouring the shelves of Barnes and Noble for just that… recovery books. I had never heard of Dear Sugar or Cheryl Strayed before… ever. I kinda just took a gamble and bought the book on a whim because the title said “advice on love and life” under it. And good gosh could I use some of that.
Strayed collected her answers to anonymous letters sent to her “Dear Sugar” column into one book. She comments on writings of love, loss, abuse, occupational desires, gender identity… you name it. But her advice is so applicable and thought-provoking.
Excerpt: Let’s start at the introduction written by Steve Almond. He states: “Inexplicable sorrows await all of us. That was her essential point. Life isn’t some narcissistic game you play online. It all matters-every sin, every regret, every affliction” (Strayed 5).
My thoughts: God, really… you’re just going to drop that on me? 5 pages in and I just got hit with that doosy. But, it’s so true. I can’t even start to comment on the reality of it… so… MOVING ON.
Excerpt: “Love is the feeling we have for those we care deeply about and hold in high regard. It can be light as the hug we give a friend or heavy as the sacrifices we make for our children. It can be romantic, platonic, familial, fleeting, everlasting, conditional, unconditional, imbued with sorrow, stoked by sex, sullied by abuse, amplified by kindness, twisted by betrayal, deepened by time, darkened by difficulty, leavened by generosity, nourished by humor, and “loaded with promises and commitments” that we may or may not want to keep. The best thing you can possibly do with your life is to tackle the motherfucking shit out of love” (15).
My thoughts: First off… that phrase “motherfucking shit.” Thanks for speaking to my sailor mouth soul. But, in seriousness, I have experienced quite a few love’s facades. Love hurts a lot sometimes. I have cried so much out of love. I have cried because I am afraid of losing love. I have cried because I love too much. I have cried because I haven’t felt loved. I have cried because I DID feel loved. I have cried because I thought I could/would NEVER be loved. It’s been emotional. But maybe that is because love really is that important. It is a drive. It is a blessing. It is a curse, sometimes. It is pure. There is such a power in being pure. I would love (ironic use here) to tackle the shit out of love… but I am afraid too. I am genuinely scared of the repercussions of being so forward and so authentic. It’s a work in progress.
Excerpt: “Nobody can protect you from your suffering. You can’t cry it away or eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away. It’s just there, and you have to survive it. You have to endure it. You have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it and run as far as you can in the direction of your best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal” (29).
My thoughts: Damn it, really… that seems so hard. But wow is she right. There is never going to be a cure-all for suffering, for anything. When I read these sentences, I immediately think about my eating disorder. I really did try to starve away the suffering… and then I tried to eat and therapy away the suffering that the starving caused. This is a passage I truly need. It reminds me that I need to survive but I also need to love and be better for my past and my struggles and my suffering. It reminds me to dream and to picture a better time. It reminds me to strive. And it goes back to kintsukuroi… because you will be BETTER for it.
Excerpt: “Trusting yourself means living out what you already know to be true” (52).
My thoughts: I always question if I know what is true. I think that is something that happens when you lived with two voices in your head for years. “Trust your gut.” People say that all the time. But I don’t even know what my mind is saying… let alone my gut. What does that even mean? I really don’t like that expression. It feels out of control. It feels un-thought-out. It feels rash. But it is also raw. Truth is raw. When I think of truth, I think of a line from The Big Short (the movie on the housing bubble): “Truth is like poetry. And most people fucking hate poetry.” But why do people hate poetry? It is so beautiful, so expressive, so authentic, so unique, so personal. And that begs the question… why can I not trust the authenticity of my gut? Why can I not trust the feeling through my bones that tells me what IS true? Why… can I not trust myself?
I’m not yet done with Strayed’s book, and I anticipate I will comment some more on her writing. If you decide to check her stuff out, please let me know what you think!