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.
It’s been more than a month since I last blogged on here.
Over the past 4-5 weeks, I have opened this blog, thought about how I “should” write something, opened a draft, stared at it, closed the draft, sighed, closed the tab…. more times than I would like to admit.
The truth is, I didn’t know what to write.
I still don’t. But I want to write anyway and just see what comes.
I recently got the metaphorical rug pulled out from under me when I fell and broke my wrist. In treatment, you learn to build your foundation and go to that whenever you start to feel unsteady.
But what happens when your foundation doesn’t just crack… it collapses?
My foundation was art, journaling, working my barista job, doing yoga, driving, and taking my bunny places. But if you break your dominant hand and end up in a full arm cast for two weeks (just came off today BITCHES!), and then have a short cast for 2-3 after that, and then a brace after that… what do you do when insurance doesn’t come through and you need to switch practices and therefore end up with a brace for a week AFTER the long arm cast instead of a different cast and you have to work and a removable hard cast is 600 dollars and so maybe that won’t work, especially without insurance, and having to wait a week to figure it out puts you without a cast and a week closer to going on vacation to a lake with your boyfriend and a week further from finishing with this cast business for good? (massive run on there, but hey, stream of consciousness writing currently).
Then what do you do–foundation less and confused?
I’ll be honest: I felt this making me start to slip. I felt my eating disorder warping it into a “you CAN’T do anything and therefore, since you can’t get the food easily you don’t have to eat it because it’s too hard and your arm hurts when you strain it.” I felt it telling me that, since I couldn’t be active (or at least as active as I was before the injury) I didn’t need as much (read like no) food.
The last two weeks have been spent on my floor with the bunny boy, then a week and a half at my bf’s where he helped me be a functioning (albeit down an arm, temporarily) human being, and then back here again playing more hours of sims 4 than I would like to admit… but I have a really nice virtual sim house to show for it!
In a way, I am thankful for my broken wrist. Because it taught me a lot about being a ‘person being’ instead of a ‘person doing,’ as my therapist likes to say.
Over these past two weeks, I have done exactly zero “exercise” (just sightseeing and thrift shopping), eaten water boiled bagels more times than I can count, had dinner and lunch out a ton (sometimes both in the same day), eaten ice cream to my heart’s content, and been super flexible with food in general…. guess what, I feel just fine and I am the same as I was before. Well, aside from the broken bone.
Because sitting and just being doesn’t matter. I don’t NEED to do ANYTHING to deserve food or love or life. I can simply enjoy being in the world.
That doesn’t mean I am not antsy about getting back to my life. I miss my job and yoga and journaling. But, I know I can always think back to these few weeks if my eating disorder ever tells me something bad is going to happen if I just take it slow and let me be me.
In my opinion, one of the hardest things about “re-learning” how to live life and take care of yourself through recovery is finding balance. For much of the time one is in treatment, the day is simply JUST treatment. But leaving the world of formalized and center-based treatment back into the world of outpatient appointments and mostly free weeks results in a lot to be determined and time to be filled.
It is something I talked about so much with my therapist and my treatment team. It is a vocabulary word that has been a staple in my language for the past 5 months.
What the hell is balance.
I can’t say I have done a perfect job moving from IOP to outpatient and balancing recovery and life from the get-go. But I also didn’t expect that I would.
If I learned ONLY one thing in treatment (which is far from the truth…I learned more than I can communicate), then it would be that I cannot expect perfection because it is realistic, possible, human. I would disappoint myself literally every time if I expected to be perfect. Never in my life have I or will I be perfect. This transition is no different. In fact, the lack of perfection is what makes it so successful.
I have had to sit down and talk to myself. I have had to tell myself that “yes, I can eat that. I will be okay.” I have had to make a conscious decision to order the hard thing that would have been so easy to avoid. I have tried new things. I have internally fought and won. I have internally fought and lost. But I have kept going and corrected and worked my ass off for the recovery that I so want and love.
That is what balance is to me. It is realizing that I am going to have a few bad days…maybe more than a few. But that I can persist anyway. It is relearning what life in the “real world” is like… with the constant daily challenges that I was somewhat sheltered from in treatment. It is picking the hard things because I know I can… and more than that… that I have to. It is realizing the mental difficulties are all worth it because they get smaller and smaller with exposure.
And it is giving myself grace for the days when I have more trouble. For the days when I need some help. And for the moments when I question it all and keep going anyway.
It’s a process.
That is balance.
Have you ever been star tripping?
You look up and spin around in circles and get dizzy and fall down and get your composure and do it all over again.
But you do it because it is fun. You do it because it is beautiful. You do it because it is captivating and unique and changing.
Sometimes you fall down and it takes a bit longer to get up. Maybe you spun around a bit too much and the dizziness overwhelms you. You might scrape your knee or bump into something. So you take a bit longer to pick yourself up and start spinning again–head held high, looking up.
There is nothing wrong with falling. It’s part of the experience.
That is kind of the most wonderful part of it. You never know what is going to happen. You laugh and smile and openly accept that you cannot control where you fall or when. But you know that you do get to pick when you stand back up and how you hold yourself and move on.
You know what’s neat about star tripping? It’s a lot like life.
I searched Pinterest for a while looking for topics on which to write. But I didn’t find any. I couldn’t seem to get my mind around any of them. I wanted to write some post about something deep and whatever, but you know what… I don’t need to and I am not going to.
Life is kind of a whirlwind. Recovery is more of a tornado. I often feel like I’m being whipped around in circles from one thing to another and then back again. But, interestingly enough, I’ve come to like it a bit. It’s a lot more interesting and satisfying than the perpetual depression of my eating disorder. I don’t mean to say it’s all good things in the tornado. Occasionally, I whirl by the Wicked Witch of the West and have a moment of fear and anxiety. But then I somehow land in Oz among the flowers and there’s a period of calm again–or as calm as it really can be in recovery.
It’s interesting though, because there is a lot of freedom in fear. It sucks, of course. But if you do whatever you fear, and then you do it again, and again, and again, and you keep going, the fear leaves and you just have freedom. It’s a process and it takes a LONG time. But each time you do the thing you fear and you make it to the other side, you get a little bit more space from the fright. You get a little bit more free.
Yesterday night, as I was preparing for bed, I pulled of my shirt and I stood in front of the mirror in my sports bra and I brushed my teeth. I looked at myself straight-on in the mirror and let my eyes wash over my body. I let them run over the shape of my stomach and my arms and my chest and let the feelings come. I noticed the thoughts that usually come with looking at my exposed body–the judgements and criticisms and slight sense of discomfort.
But I smiled instead of covering up again and just kept looking. I did it because I needed to and because I physically couldn’t put a shirt back on with a toothbrush in my mouth… but mostly because I needed to do it. Because it kind of doesn’t matter what thoughts come to me. They are only thoughts. They do not mean that I am any less of a person. And I may not believe that entirely just yet, but I stood through the discomfort anyway and embraced it.
It sucked a little bit. It sucked to not like everything I saw. But I only dislike it because of a standard I have in my head that is absolutely ridiculous. I will never fit the standard that society holds for me and that, therefore, I have in my mind is correct.
But it isn’t correct. It is warped and unachievable and unhealthy (at least for me). And that’s the way it is–like it or not.
I keep thinking about a poem I read the other day. It’s entitled “Enough” and it reads:
Enough. These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath.
If not this breath, this sitting here.
This opening to the life
we have refused
again and again
I think it spoke to me because I am so ready for it all to be “enough.” But what I like so much about this poem is that it finds enough in the simple. Breathing is enough. Sitting is enough. Being is enough.
Stop refusing life. Stop refusing to open yourself up to the world. Let just being be enough. Let being YOU be enough.
So standing in front of that mirror yesterday night, or putting on clothes this morning that didn’t hide my curves, or eating a before breakfast snack because my body was hungry, or looking down and seeing my stomach and my thighs and my body, I remember that I am enough. I might not completely believe it yet, but I tell myself it anyway. I’m not lying. I may feel like I am sometimes; I may not agree with the statement; I may try to refute and disprove it, but it is true none-the-less.
I am enough. You are enough. And I’ve had enough of “refusing life.”
*Let me preface this by saying that this post is going to be a brutally honest, zero bullshit, hands-up-in-surrender type of post.*
My body and I don’t are not getting along too well right now. I might go so far as to say that I hate my body, or at least the way it looks.
I struggle with having curves. I struggle with having a butt and thighs that touch and a stomach that isn’t flat. I struggle with not being toned and defined. I struggle with not having stamina and endurance. I struggle seeing the way my body squishes. I struggle with the changes that have happened since I started recovery.
I don’t always want to be seen. Actually, I almost NEVER want to be seen. I don’t like undressing. I don’t like having to see myself in the shower and be reminded of my changes. I don’t like wearing fitting clothing. I don’t even really like my boyfriend seeing my “new” body.
I compare myself to other girls and wish I looked like they do. I see someone and a voice says to me that if I just looked like she did then I would have the right curves and I would be pretty. THEN, I would be satisfied with myself.
That’s a fucking lie.
The truth is, I will never be satisfied with myself by changing. Satisfaction and self-confidence have nothing to do with what shape I am, if I have a thigh gap, whether my abs are visible, or if I weigh a certain number.
It is so easy to turn to “fixing” the problem when really you are only altering the manifestations of a deeper, underlying issue.
The problem is not how I look; it is how I perceive myself and where I store my worth.
Of course, if my self-worth is stored in my thighs, my stomach, or how thin I am compared to another UNIQUE human being, I will never measure up; I will never feel worth anything.
I wish I could figure out when what my body looks like became more important than who I am as a person. Because I am not my body. Beauty is not skin deep. Beauty is found in the soul, the personality, the heart of someone. The body is only the vessel.
I wish I could pinpoint exactly what happened to make my body my enemy… but I know I never will and, ultimately, it doesn’t matter. What matters is how I change this perception, this unfounded belief that I am only as good as the way I look. I need to try to own who I am until I really can own it.
I have skin over my ribs. I have skin with a scar that shows my battle to recovery. I see it and I remember how far I have come. I am ashamed of that scar, but I carry on because I have to. Because I want to.
I have a belly that squishes and folds when I sit. It hides my abs and sticks out a bit. But it is healthy. It isn’t gnawing away at me and begging me for food even when it knows I won’t listen.
I have hips that have shape. I have hips that sway as I walk. I have hips that make me self-conscious of wearing tight clothes for fear of being called fat. I have hips that no longer show bones when I walk. But I also have hips that may eventually help me have children. I have hips because I am supposed it.
I have thighs that touch. I have thighs of which I am self conscious and afraid of the same teasing I had when I was younger. I have thighs that remind me of the nights I would cry and wish I could cut them away from my body because then all of it would stop. I have thighs that hold scars of the pain I have felt–self imposed scars to try to get out all the hurt. But they are still there. And they still work. Why should the space in between them dictate my worth?
I have an ass for which I had been teased endlessly as a kid. I was so excited when I lost it during my eating disorder. I dreaded getting it back during recovery. But I need to forgive the teasing and make peace with myself. I have a butt. I have curves and shape. I also have a soul and a mind. I don’t hate those, why hate the other?
The battle to love my body is so far from over. It probably won’t be over anytime soon. But I am trying… and that’s the best I can do.
I have hope that I can learn to love me for who I am as a person and not what I look like. I have hope that I can strip my perception of worth away from the size and shape of my person. I have hope that I can come to accept what I look like, maybe even like it, one day.
In Kindergarten, I always thought I would be a vet. Then, in third grade, I decided I wanted to be a lawyer. My eighth grade self decided maybe a journalist was the correct choice. And my high school mind decided it was time to give the fuck up on picking out matching clothes, let alone deciding what I wanted to do for a living. And, to be very honest, right now recovery me just wants to like the person in the mirror.
It’s true that you can view the world through so many different “lenses.” I can name a number that I use on a daily basis. But we often don’t realize that our views can become jaded based on the lens of choice for that moment, situation, day, etc.
One can see the world through a “I hate everything and I don’t want to be here so I am going to be miserable” lens, in which we see nothing good and are consigned to having a horrible time. One can look through the “no” lens, where everything that happens is a no-go and one is snobbish and unfriendly. One can look at the world through a “positive, peppy, I am not gonna show any sadness” lens, which seems good but ultimately makes you cry inside. There are positive lenses, negative lenses, neutral lenses, recovery lenses, destructive lenses… you name it and it’s a lens.
I admit, I’ve put on a ton of lenses in my life-especially through my recovery journey- and not all of them have been positive or happy. But the one I love the most is the lens I look through, literally, when I see the world through my camera.
There is a reason that “art therapy” exists in its many forms. It is freeing, emotional, raw, and often mind-opening. For me, this occurs most often when I am behind a camera.
Looking through the lens, I see the world as it is. I see the angles, lines, grids, elements, colors of the world around. I do not see opinion or personal bias. I cannot see in a jaded view through my camera. I cannot even see myself differently than how I am-though rarely do I take pictures of my own person. For me, this is freeing.
I don’t believe that photography is a “cure-all” for dysmorphia or misperception, but I do think that it can help.
Maybe give it a shot. Look through the lens of your phone camera if it is all that you have. Walk around and look at the world as if you have never seen it before. Let go of the judgements and the preconceived notions. Let go of them and give yourself the grace to let go of the judgements for yourself as well, at least while your eye is behind the camera lens.
Here are some of my photos from various periods of time. I use a Nikon DSLR camera and usually put it on manual. As you can see, I like flowers…
Going into recovery, if it is your choice, you probably WANT to recover. I did. I do. But in the past week or so, I came to the realization that I will never really recover until i’ve decided i have had quite enough of Ed and its shenanigans (read him f-ing me over and destroying my life).
But over the past few days, I have.
I think up until now I wanted recovery… I really did. But I still had a small part of me that was okay with my eating disorder; the part of me that was content to stay in the kinda-recovered stage.
But I can place exactly when I destroyed that last little grip: Sunday night.
I’ve spent a lot of time doing recovery. It takes a lot of time, don’t get me wrong. But I’ve missed a year of school, life events, and so much more because of my eating disorder and the time it is taking to recover from it. I knew that it had and was taking away opportunities, but on Sunday it took just one more thing and I had enough of it.
I got invited on spring break trip that would be about two weeks from now. But I can’t go. I can’t go because I am in treatment. I can’t go because my EATING DISORDER put me in treatment. I literally lost it that night. I stared at my rice bowl while I ate and was very quiet. I couldn’t talk because I thought that I would start sobbing if I did. Eventually, I had to quickly leave the apartment (after finishing dinner of course, because meeting the needs) because I couldn’t hold the tears in anymore. I sat outside and rocked back and forth with my head in between my knees and sobbed. I sobbed my heart out.
My therapist in residential once told me that if I needed to cry, then I should “do it with all my fucking energy and then be done.” That is what I did on Sunday.
I was miserable because this was just another thing to add to my “miss list,” the list of things that I missed because of my eating disorder/treatment. But it was more than that; it was something that my boyfriend, my best friends, and the people I wanted to spend time with the most were going on together. Without me. I was jealous (and still am) that they could spend time together and I couldn’t. I was jealous that they got to be with my boyfriend for a week and I couldn’t. I was jealous that they could adventure and I had to sit in a room and talk about my feelings. I felt miserable. I pitied myself.
And then I didn’t. I was still sad. But more than that, I was FURIOUS. Because this was my eating disorder ruining my life. This was it getting in the way of experiences. This was ED stealing the time I had with friends and the adventures I could take. This was ED being selfish and trying to make me be only with it. This was ED trying to control me, again.
That piece of me that still wanted ED died with the lost opportunity. It was that that pushed it away. And now, I’ve had enough.
The only thing I am gripping to is recovery.
Today I almost saw my weight.
After 4 years of not weighing myself and being SOOO careful not to see it, I almost did on a discharge sheet from my visit to an urgent care last week.
I bet some of you are like what…why is that a problem? But it’s actually horrible. It’s terrifying and mind-controlling, and preoccupying, and just miserable.
Because numbers still have power.
I bet you are also wondering how I almost saw my weight. You know how you can do the thing where you blur your eyes a bit? I did that. And then my brain started to wonder what I saw. It started to try to compare numbers in their most basic of shapes. Like when you look at something from far away and it is blurry and a 3 could be a 5 and the 1 could be a 7. That’s what my brain did.
Because ONE of those digit options was okay. The other one DEFINITELY wasn’t.
Why was the other one so taboo? Why did x number of pounds in the up direction make a difference? Here’s what my ED brain thinks:
Why do numbers have that amount of power? Enough power that I actually question my BODY DYSMORPHIA and wonder if it is telling me I am thinner than I actually am…. wow, what a turn to the opposite.
Why does a number have enough power to make me think I will automatically not fit in with my friends? How could it do that?
Why does a number make me think that all these professionals have it out for me and don’t care if I get the f-word?
It shouldn’t. But it does.
I partly blame society for putting so much emphasis on weight and numbers in general. But I also know that I can eventually be strong enough not to care… I am just not quite there yet.
So why do numbers NOT matter….. let’s see:
I might have almost seen my weight…. but there is so much more to life than whatever number was on that page. And it’s going to take a bit to stop worrying about it, but I will give myself the grace and time I need to process and become stronger from my almost viewing of an unhelpful, meaningless number.