Break

I’m headed home for the holidays tomorrow!

I am truly excited to get to have this time with my parents this year.  It has been a rough year and especially since September, I’ve felt that I am constantly flailing and failing.  I need this respite!

My parents are kind and accepting and will hold me safe while I am there.  I am going to work very hard to simply be present with them.  This is in contrast to what I usually do, which is start dreading having to leave the minute I arrive.  This serves to taint the time I am there.  Instead this year, I will strive to savour the moments as they come.  Tomorrow will still be there.

I have no explicit posting plans.  On the one hand, it may be nice to try to disconnect and leave the blog until 2014.  On the other hand, I may have more time on my hands being at home (it’s a small town!) so I may be inspired by extra time to reflect and write.

We’ll all be surprised to find out when we “meet” again. 🙂

Happy Holidays to all!  May the season bring you peace and serenity.  May 2014 bring you new joys that you have only ever dreamed about.  Be well my friends.

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.

Walls

I am a builder of walls.  Not literally, of course, but figuratively, I’ve got this one all wrapped up.

It is something I am working to modify as I know that in order to truly have intimacy, one must allow oneself to be vulnerable.  See how I did that?  I even put up a wall by using a nonspecific “one” instead of saying “I”.

I need to allow myself to be vulnerable.

That is terrifying.

With my eating disorder, I’ve gotten very good at keeping people out.  After all, if I let them in, then I can’t simply indulge my eating disorder and restrict in peace and quiet.  Trusting people means that I can’t be isolated, I can’t just block out pain and reality and allow anorexia to make me numb.

I am having a really hard time transitioning.  I continue to want to keep people at arm’s length.  I see myself doing it and I feel torn.  I want to change but only if I can do it on my terms and without actually changing.  Which clearly doesn’t quite work in human relationships.

I need to learn to relinquish control.  To allow myself to be open and flexible.  To let myself be hurt, if that happens, and to know that I can survive that hurt without it destroying me.  I want that.  I want to be brave and genuine in my relationships so that they can be deeper.  I want to let people in and to experience the joy that comes from authentic connection.  I want to tear down my walls.

I’m still scared.

Fostering compassion

I  had an interesting conversation with a good friend today about teaching and fostering compassion in children.  We both agreed that it’s not an easy concept to teach; sometimes the best method is through setting an example and letting children observe.  She is a mom (I am not) and this is a matter that is close to her heart – she very earnestly wants her little ones to grow up and nurture a caring and empathic attitude towards others… but how does one do that with kids?

She embodies compassion and kindness herself and I think that is a first great step.  Her children will grow up witnessing their mother performing kinds deeds with no expectation of reciprocation.  They get to see her altruism on a daily basis.  But is this enough?  It’s hard to know.

One thing that came up in our talking was how, as adults, we model giving more easily than asking for help.  I wonder if this is an often overlooked element in compassion.  In order to be aware and responsive to others needs, we do need to learn to ensure our own needs are met too.  Despite this, many of us are uncomfortable asking others for assistance and we show this attitude of “I can do it all!” to our children.  We inadvertently teach them that it is not okay to sometimes be weak too.  I think that allowing ourselves to need others and to expressly ask for their support is actually a key to being able to developing a loving attitude toward other people.

There are programs out there, such as the Roots of Empathy, that are actively promoting these virtues in today’s youth.  I am encouraged by such initiatives because I think that developing these skills early will help to create healthy individuals and also a healthy society.  One in which we can all be imperfect, we can all accept differences and we can all lean in to each other when the seas are rough.

Sisterhood of the world bloggers

My new friend over at Life Breath Present nominated me for this award!  You can find her answers to the questions here.sisterhood-awardThese awards are often a fun way to share a little more randomness about who I am.  So here goes…

    1. Your favourite colour – Anything blue… I always tell myself I should buy things in different colours but I keep being drawn to the blue.
    2. Your favourite animal – I’ve always had a fondness for ducks – what other animal gets to look good when it waddles?!
    3. Your favourite non-alcoholic drink – Tea – I drink a ton of tea… I generally like a plain old black tea in the morning and then all kinds of fun herbals in the afternoon.
    4. Facebook or Twitter – Facebook
    5. Your favourite pattern – Anything bold and bright.  I avoid things that are too lacy and delicate, it just doesn’t suit me I don’t think.
    6. Do you prefer getting or giving presents? – I like giving presents and cards.  I really love cards.  Lately I’ve been on a kick of making my own from scraps from magazines, etc.  So much fun to personalize them!
    7. Your favourite number – 21
    8. Your favourite day of the week – Hmm, Sunday I think.  Right now I have Saturday, Sunday and Monday off and so Sunday is a lovely middle day with no pressure attached to it.
    9. Your favourite flower – Daffodils – they just embody fun and happiness to me.
      10. What is your passion? – Connection.  I don’t know that always live that passion, but connections to other people matter more than anything.

 

Reality check

My insurance company turned down my appeal to keep my long term disability claim open.  Living with, and recovering from, mental illness can be so frustrating!  Essentially because I am taking steps to get better and be better, I am not “sick enough” to qualify.  So I need to fail completely before they will be willing to help me out.

It’s hard because I have gained about 10 pounds… this takes me out of the sickly looking phase of illness and now I look like I am on the thin side of normal.  I think.  It’s really hard to have any kind of an accurate perception from inside an eating disorder.

Because I look more normal, I start to doubt my need for further recovery.  My eating disorder is screaming at me that “clearly I don’t have a problem if I have been able to gain weight, so really my dear, just quit your whining and stop pretending you need to recover more”.

Meanwhile… I regularly avoid eating much until at least 3 or 4 pm… I rarely eat in front of other people… I went out for sushi last night and had 8 pieces over the evening and felt slovenly… I only allow myself higher calorie foods if I’ve been to the gym… I just used the word “allow” to refer to feeding myself!… I eat the same exact meals EVERY DAY… I think about food constantly… I browse grocery stores and fantasize about what I’d like to eat but don’t let myself buy it… I avoid the lunch room at my practicum because it’s too triggering to watch others eat… My anxiety is through the roof because of all the food-based holiday events… I am forever “saving up” calories (by not eating) so that I can enjoy them later in the day… I structure every activity I do around the food aspect… Despite being obsessed with food, being around food just keeps fuelling those urges to restrict.

But no, I don’t need to recover more.  (Cue the eye rolls, please).

Boy oh boy, does it ever blow that the emotional and mental recovery is so detached from any kind of physical recovery.  It makes it even more difficult to forge this battle and keep going.  It takes a continual effort and belief in the future outcome and a constant vigilance for the eating disordered thoughts.  One step at a time.  One bite at a time.  One emotion at a time.