Terror

This one is a big win, but a terrifying one too.  I entered a contest in my hometown to win $2000 worth of eating disorder treatment from a specialized team.  And I won.

Breathe.  In.  Out.

My first reaction?  Abject terror.

Why me? I only entered for the appearance of making strides.  I never win.  And now I know I should be happy and joyous… bring on the guilt for the stark reality that fear is the primary emotion I am feeling.

I know I need this but that doesn’t mean it feels easy or celebratory.  I am holding both my gratitude and also my fear close in my heart.

I am working to trust that this is what I need and that I will one day look back on this with a full heart and a full stomach.

Coconut Oil

I decided to jump on the coconut oil bandwagon 🙂  I tried out a little for my stir fry yesterday.  I’m working on keeping momentum so I’ll try for a bit more today.

I am holding in my mind the wise words of my therapist “I need to gain weight in order to be well”.  Plus, I remind myself “I want to be well to fully live and experience my best life”.

I’ve got a whole jar of coconut oil (scary for me!) – let me know if you have any favourite uses…

Fresh Air

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I feel I am a cliche in stopping for so long and then shyly creeping back, but here I am.

It’s been quite the few months… an amazing vacation to Europe, a desperate try at reconciliation with my ex, a new business venture, and the ultimate break-up of the relationship (no contact for over a month – crazy!).  Lots of ups and downs.  The break-up has hit me hard (you’d think this time would be easier, but it’s not.  More familiar, yes.  But not less painful).  The new career activity is exciting and terrifying and exhilirating and overwhelming all at once.

Then there is the eating disorder.

I’m both embarrassed and proud in that respect.  Embarrassed that it is still a very active issue.  Proud that since the break-up I have actively devoted time and energy to recovery (the relationship would always pull off that attention).

The busy-ness of life means I am choosing to spend much of my time in areas of my life beyond this site.  However, my therapist has been encouraging me to resume celebrating the wins in my recovery journey.  I decided the place for me to do that is here.

I plan to use this space to record my little wins and my big wins. I have lots of places and people that help me to process the challenges and this will be my place to acknowledge the successes.

 

Vacation

Very soon I will be heading out on what should be an amazing vacation with my family.  We are having a bit of a European adventure and I know this is something my parents have been working very hard to fund.  I am grateful and excited but also terrified.

Interestingly, the food fear is not the big one.  That surprises even me, but on that front, I see this as a great opportunity to have a vacation from my rules – let’s hope I can do that.

What really scares me though is being with people for 3 weeks.  I am a very introverted person and I need a lot of down time.  I crave moments of peace and solitude.  My family are not raging extroverts or anything, but they are all people who are paired or partnered or in some way have other people around all the time.  They are used to it and they like it.  They don’t understand the “energy” needs of someone like me.  They try but none has ever spent much time alone and so it is difficult for them to know what it is like to go from having solitude to suddenly being immersed with people.

I wish I was the type of person that felt only joy and excitement about this. It saddens me that I have so much anxiety about what should be a plainly positive experience.  It also causes immense guilt.  However, I am working to accept that this is a part of who I am and that it is okay.

My plan of action includes taking time each morning to meditate.  I am hopeful that meditation will be something they can understand and so it will buy me a few minutes of silence and self containment.

My other plan is to really recognize this is only 3 weeks, it’s going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and, wow, this is incredibly exciting and I am going to have fun!!! 🙂

See you in September…

Avoidance

I’m realizing how obsessive I can be.  It almost doesn’t seem to matter the subject matter, but I can so quickly move into an overwhelming laser focus.

This past week it has vacillated between my online dating search and the afore-mentioned potluck.  Each has alternately taken over my mental space to the exclusion of everything else.  Which I think has been the point for me.

I’ve been avoiding myself.  Manically, desperately, frantically avoiding myself.

My goal for the next while is to halt this pattern and get back in touch with me.  After all, many of my challenges seem to stem from this constant pushing away of all that I am.  This ever-present feeling of unworthiness that keeps me fearful of just *being* with myself.  This despite the evidence and protestations from those who know and love me that I am actually interesting, and loveable, and fun.

I don’t think I am particularly unique in this revolving door of distraction techniques as so many of us strive to find meaning and affirmation of ourselves while we fear what we may see if we just slow down and look in the mirror.

I want to be different.  Well, actually, I want everyone to be different and slow down with me, but that seems rather outside of my control so I will just start with me.

When I experience those moments of peace and grace, it is when I finally run out of ways to turn my back on myself and I relax into who, what and where I am.  And what do you know?  There is a simple and peaceful joy when that happens.  An easy gratitude and acceptance that this moment is enough, for me, regardless of how it may or may not appear to others.  The striving stops and I breathe and feel and trust in myself.

Simple.

Breath.

Love of life just as it is, without wanting for the next story or pleasure.

Methinks I need to reread and repeat my blog name as a mantra. 🙂

“Now.  Here.  Life.”

How come?

Last night I had a bout of despair.  Driven by fatigue and frustration and existential angst, I could no longer make sense of the life I am living.  I had seen a good friend earlier in the day and had allowed myself, unwisely, to engage in comparison.  Luckily, this post over at The Hurt Healer reminded me that I have only one life to live and to redirect my energies to living the life that is mine.  After all, it’s the only one I have.

Somehow, though, that is harder to remember at 3 am.

It is unpopular to admit regrets and yet I have them.  Many of them.  They don’t always occupy my mind or steal my present moments but when life begins to overwhelm me with a constant draft blowing on my exposed soul, the regrets loom large.  I want to learn to integrate these feelings and move forward with them as life lessons instead of repeatedly analyzing them, imagining that there may be surface unseen that could provide the explanation that will make sense of it all.

Many times, I am shocked that 10 years have passed with me remaining still in the grips of my eating disorder.

Worse, I am not free yet.  Not even close.  I poke half-heartedly at the edges of recovery, not willing to actually puncture the beast, to really let the pain and damage run free so that I can truly heal.  Why can I not do that?  Why do I see that I want things different in my life and yet keep doing the same things?  How can I know that I want to accomplish things and that the status quo simply isn’t serving me?

I know this safety blanket is not working but I keep wrapping myself up tighter within it.

Let me try to remember to be kind to myself.  Let me try to know that this post-breakup time is something that eats at anyone in this situation and it only makes sense that I might turn to my past coping mechanisms.  My counsellor keeps reminding me that I do myself no favours by condemning myself.  After all, if I want to change I need to believe in myself and love myself.  That’s pretty hard to do when I am busy berating myself for all the things that I have done wrong.  All the ways I have made mistakes in this journey that is life.

Mistakes are human.  I am human.  And working my way through these moments… that’s not how life is lived.  Life doesn’t begin when I get it all figured out.  This IS life.  I think that if I can accept that, and truly believe it, maybe that can help empower me to try just a little bit more.  And that little bit more can grow.

I can grow.

I just need a little patience, a little love, and a lot of support.

Sympathy

I’m rather ashamed to admit (even to myself) that I think I associate being cared for to people having sympathy for me.  I think it is one of the reasons I find recovery to be scary.  I feel like I will lose the care of others if they do not have a reason to pity me.

Which sounds pitiful to me.

I think that as a child growing up with a chronic illness, I developed a self-concept that included an aura of illness.  However, that illness was not one that came with any obvious outside visibility.  When I developed anorexia, suddenly I felt a warped power in having others see that I was struggling with something, rather than it being a solitary and lonely battle.  I longed for that feeling of protection and so I lapped up a sense of being cared for because I was sick.  Although I don’t want to have others merely feel sorry for me, I also crave that feeling of safety.

As I begin to get well, I see how I need to, and want to, develop my confidence that the people who really matter value me for qualities beyond my illnesses.  That they are not going to turn their backs on me or forget about me if (I mean, WHEN) I am well.  In fact, those relationships will deepen because I will feel more like an equal participant rather than like I am merely taking from those I care about.

I have received feedback from my inner circle over and over again that they see me in shades of colour so much richer and vibrant than I see myself.  They value me and honour me for who I am, not because they simply feel badly for me.  Over the next while, as I continue to heal from my broken romance, I want to work to open to what they see.  To value myself for my strengths rather than seeing myself as merely a broken bird in constant need of being nursed back to life.  If I can do that, I believe I will lose some of my resistance to recovery.  I will finally rest more securely in the awareness that I am enough.  Just me, as I am.  No need for band-aids or doctoring.  No need to make a statement with a broken body.

How about you?  What self image do you hold onto, knowing the view is skewed but afraid to look straight at yourself?

Tears

I had been crying a lot lately (have I written this post before?… that message sounds familiar).

Crying sometimes for good reasons, sometimes for no reason.  Then I started to turn back to my eating disorder and numbed out much of the pain through restriction and denial.  It was as if I could float above myself, looking at the damage I was harvesting and say to myself “tsk, tsk, that’s not good.  Oh well.”  The familiarity of oblivion was so comforting.

I went in to therapy yesterday wondering at my detachment and how pervasive it was.  Thinking to myself that it really wasn’t such a bad thing after all.  After all, at least I wasn’t hurting.

Then my counsellor asked me how I felt.  She probed me about how I treat myself.  She brought to light all the ways I tell myself a sad story and then use it to run in terror from any risk of being vulnerable.  How I then end up once again mourning what I don’t have.  The cycle repeats.  And I am hurting more than ever.

I want out.  It’s so powerful to finally recognize how this journey really is a jagged line.  I knew that going in but somehow deluded myself that I could just make the changes and do what needed to be done, all the while of course never actually changing.  I had this vision of the outcome, a vision of a beautiful future and way to be in the world and believed that I could do a bit of work and then be there.  I have made progress, I have made changes, I have dipped my toes in to recovery.

But when the inevitable challenges of life have surfaced, I have retreated into the safety of the familiar.

This post is not my proclamation that from here on out, I will get it right. I won’t.  This post is my affirmation that the goal is still a worthy one, just as the author of the goal is still worthy.  This post points me back to a quote I love…

Courage does not always roar – Sometimes it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying…

I will try again tomorrow.

Exhaustion

Holy moley!  First week back at practicum and classes and I am exhausted.  I don’t know the last time I’ve felt this bone-weary tired and spent.  My body feels heavy and simply moving around my apartment feels like wading through quicksand.

This will be a short post… I just need to vent about my fatigue.  And to remind myself that it doesn’t necessarily “mean” anything.  Other than that I need to take care of myself and keep up with self care over the next while.

My start back has been bittersweet.  I keep telling myself I just need to get through the next 4 months and that 4 months will pass in a flash.  Of course, knowing that and feeling that are two different things.  I recognize that I will be doing a lot of self-talk and cheerleading over this semester.

I am also allowing myself to remain open to the possibility that if it all gets too much, I can stop.  I am not pulling the plug at this point, and yet I find it helpful to remember that I always can stop.  I am not sure if that is a healthy mindset but it’s getting me through right now.

I think I’ll have many early nights ahead…

Christmas parties

I have always loved Christmas – it is pure magic to me.  I could (and have) spent hours simply sitting beside the tree and staring at the twinkling lights.

However, my eating disorder make it hard to relax and enjoy the holiday season.  I want so badly to be able to relax and enjoy the festivities but the abundance of food-based gatherings throws my anxiety into major overdrive.

This year, I’ve been trying to be kind to myself while also pushing myself a bit.  Of the 4 parties I was invited to, I went to 2.  Which is a big for me.

Each holiday event is preceded by at least a few days of exceedingly anxious thoughts.  There’s the internal battle between starving myself so that I can “indulge” at the party vs. maintaining a more normal eating pattern so that I’m not famished but then not allowing myself to enjoy the holiday foods.  There’s the obsessive planning and internal bargaining… “if I work out for an hour first, then I can have a glass of wine”, “if I stick to the veggie platter, I can have a sliver of dessert”, “if I skip lunch, I can have an appetizer”.  There’s the worry about how my eating will be perceived.  Sure, I *know* that no one really pays much attention to anyone else, but somehow I still, at 34, fall victim to that imaginary audience, full of criticisms and judgement.  There’s the fear that everything served will be simply too triggering and that I won’t be able to eat anything.  There’s the equal fear that I will want to eat, but just find myself too paralyzed.

Throw in the fact that I have social anxiety, and you can see why the holidays can threaten my peace of mind monumentally.

But I made it through two parties.  And while I can’t lie and say they were easy, or that eating disordered behaviours didn’t factor in, at least I was able to be social at this festive time.  It’s a small step but an important one.

I believe that one day the holidays will resume their magic and this disorder will be only a distant memory.  That I will enjoy Christmas baking and mulled wine and there will be no regrets and no torment.  That I will have happy and joyful holidays.