Choice

I had a tough and intense session with my counsellor two weeks ago.  With my relationship ending, our focus has often shifted to dealing with the aftermath of that crisis and last week we finally got back to looking at my eating disorder.

I had not been doing well in progressing my recovery.  The stress of the breakup had stalled me out and I was barely maintaining any previous gains, and forget about going any further.

She pushed me to choose.  Do I want to choose recovery and the unknown that goes with it?  Or do I want to choose the same behaviours that have made me unhappy for the last 10 years?

Seems like a simple choice.

It wasn’t.  I felt trapped and exposed and challenged.  I felt bitter and resentful.  I felt like I wasn’t ready to have that kind of tough love and I wanted to run away and not go back ever.  I wanted to blame her for forcing me to look at myself plainly and accept that I have responsibility for what happens in my life.  I was armed with excused and reasons why, etc, etc.  I left the session not sure I would go back.

Then I lived for two weeks.  And, sometimes, I noticed when I was making the eating disordered choice and I chose the opposite.  Not every time but far more than in the last 3 months.  I did some things that were risks (for me) and I engaged with friends and family from a place of acknowledging that to live the life I want, I have to change.  It didn’t always work, this wasn’t a miracle cure-all, and yet… there were some moments of hope.

I wonder how much of my sense of peace last week came from accepting that my life is up to me.

At the same time, I am terrified of that responsibility.  I believe Viktor Frankl was right when he described that awareness of our own responsibility is one of the most difficult facets of being human.  It is empowering but also daunting when, like me, you don’t quite trust yourself to make good decisions.

And yet, I’ve done okay.  More often than not, I’ve noticed the joy of making decisions from a place of love and trust even when it does scare me.   Even better, I’ve made some mistakes and it’s not been the end of the world!  I credit part of this process to handing over some control to god/spirit/love/source.  I’ll write more about that at some future point.  Here and now, though, I see that I needed the push.  I needed someone to tell me, in kindness, what I already knew: nothing changes if nothing changes.

In each moment, I have a choice.  I want to choose life and love and connection.  I will need to make that choice a hundred (a thousand!) times each day b/c my eating disordered side is loud and insistent.  I CAN make that choice though – I CAN hear the quiet calm healthy side of me.  I’ve silenced her for so long that she only wants to whisper but I can feel the breath of those loving murmurs spurring me to move on with hope and humility.

Peace

A brief post this evening as I sit here feeling peace.

There is no reason for this serenity, no big change or event.  I attended a meditative church service last night and during the calming hush of choral music, a warmth of the soul settled over me and has stayed.  Whether or not it lasts, I am savoring this feeling and letting heal me.

I feel whole and safe.  I have a sense that whatever happens in my life, it really will all be okay.  I have an inner smile in this moment.  I feel God/spirit/love/connection/source and life feels precious.

Source

Source

I sound high. 🙂  I’m not.  I swear.

In the midst of the darkness that has cleaved with tenacity to my days and nights, there is a momentary sparkle of lightness and, in this moment, that is all that matters.

 

Dating

I am SO not ready and yet I found myself posting a profile on an online dating site yesterday.

I’m sure anyone who knows me well would be a little completely horrified, as I am clearly still figuring out who I am and how to move on past my recent breakup.  But I went ahead and did it anyway and now I am slightly completely terrified.

I’m terrified he will see it and misunderstand.  I’m terrified that my description was too raw. I’m terrified that I will see he is doing the same thing.  I’m terrified that someone will contact me and want to meet.  I’m terrified that no one will.

Why am I doing this?  It’s a good question.  I guess I am aware that I want to share my life with somebody.  I want to be known.  And right now I am in extreme danger of simply reaching backward to my ex in order to fill that void.  Which would be a mistake for both of us.  We each have proven that we need to take care of ourselves, for ourselves, before any kind of relationship with anyone is possible.  I miss him, though, and I miss being part of a couple.  I miss the familiarity and the closeness and the good times.  Everywhere I go, I see memories of us.

So now you’re thinking, okay, if that’s the case, my presence on a dating website still sounds wonky.  As I said, the current risk of relationship relapse is at a major high.

Let me say that I have no intention of actually pursuing anything that comes my way out of this endeavour.  This is about me knowing that I am worth investing the time in.  It’s about acknowledging what I want for my future.  It’s about figuring out what I would write in my profile b/c that helped me to clarify what is important to me.  It’s about readying myself to one day make new memories.  It’s about putting the feeler out because doing so at least feels like facing forward even if I am not yet prepared to actually move from my position.

Sometimes merely looking in the direction you want to go is progress.

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.

Hidden strength

I submitted the story below for a publication, so far no response, but I wanted to put it out there for this space too.  It’s a little longer than my normal posts and it encapsulates some of my recent experiences…

I have struggled my whole life with seeing myself as others see me.  Like many people, I view myself through distorted lens, and I don’t mean rose coloured glasses.  Where others see confidence, I feel fear.  Where others see wisdom, I feel ignorance.  Where others see kindness, I feel placation.

Where others see strength, I feel weakness.

Right now I am striving to overcome the breakup of a long and often volatile romance.  We are two people who believe in love and therefore kept trying even when all signs kept pointing to the futility of it all.  Conceding that we are simply not going to make it has been the most painful experience of my life.  The future that I had anticipated will never come to pass.  The memories we have shared feel heavy and ripe in my mind.  Each day stretches long and the nights even longer still.  Even worse is knowing that we are both experiencing this pain alone.  Though we are fundamentally flawed as a couple, I still long to feel his arms around me comforting me and I want to shield him from this torture as well.  But I can’t.

I am learning now to draw upon every resource I have in order to cope with this loss.  I am learning that the strength others see comes from reaching out and opening up.  It is the opposite of my instinctual view of a strong person as one who is solid, and sure.  Someone who stands tall and resolute in any situation with little emotions.  It turns out, that is not strength.  I am learning that real strength shows itself in nuance.

Strength is crying.  Not just quiet trickling tears but full body, snotty nosed, gasping for breath, shuddering and shaking tears.  Now that is a full body workout.  I have done this alone and, requiring even greater strength, in the presence of my sister.  One minute I felt I was doing fine, sitting beside her on a January evening watching The Sound of Music.  Amidst the low lighting and winter chill, my mind started down the path of all the things I may never know about my old love.  I found myself mourning all the moments that would never be.  Next thing I knew, the water glass was trembling in my hand.  I stood too quickly and the magazine I had open clattered to the floor as the emotion flooded over me.  It took strength to let myself be held in a tight embrace by my sister and to trust her words that the panic would pass.  And it did.

Strength is calling a friend on a Friday night.  That was our standard date night and the first few weekends alone were scary and dark.  I wanted to shut down and hide away.  Instead I reached out to my kind and caring friend who knew the pain.  She was willing to get dressed up and head to local glitzy venue to listen to music and have a girly drink with me.  She regaled me with stories and accepted gracefully that I was only half listening.  Her companionship, alongside the smooth vocals melding with the clinking of glasses, momentarily took me outside of my head and offered some relief.  I needed the strength to need her in order for her to be there for me in that moment.

Strength is receiving a text or a phone call and not jumping right back into the old patterns.  When I am feeling so alone and my memory is fooling me into recalling only the happy times, those messages are compelling.  That jolt of energy in seeing his name on my call display is easily mistaken for evidence that there is hope.  When I have been feeling this persistent darkness and dullness, any emotion can be taken to be a good thing.  It takes strength to know that sometimes the familiar may beckon alluringly but that does not mean that it is the right choice to make.  It does not erase the ways in which we didn’t work for so long.  As I hold my phone tightly in my palm, it takes all I have to resist responding to that blue bubble of words.

Strength is acknowledging that this relationship did not exist in black and white.  Though I have often wished that there was some surety, some sign, it was like all things in life.  Infinite shades of grey.  And blue.  And red.  And green…  It is hard to know that I can hold two emotions at once; I can love him and know that we don’t work.  I can feel compassion for his suffering and feel angry at him for past decisions.  I can have good memories and also have knowledge of how I held back on being me in the midst of those happy times.  Those can all be true at the same time.  Which is utterly confusing, and yet the awareness of this plurality allows the inevitable swings to subside without me acting on a momentary feeling.

Strength is leaning into my parents.  When I feel the weight of it all pressing down on me, I can call them.  My intellect scolds me that I am too old to still be burdening them with my problems and needing them so much.  Yet my emotional side knows that will never be true.  My mom’s voice on the end of the line is a balm when I can’t keep up the charade of “okay”.  The unending affirmation of my worthiness begins to envelop me.  As I pace my studio apartment, bouncing from the cool tile of the kitchen to the beveled windows in the living room, my fathers supportive humour brings me down to earth.  That white plastic earpiece represents an enduring cord of strength in my life.

Strength is knowing that it’s okay to not be okay.  This one is hard for me.  I have guilt issues stemming way back and I want to be able to finally tell my loved ones that I am okay because I know that is what they want for me.  I’m not there yet, however.  Yet.  While I don’t plan on wallowing indefinitely, this is a painful and unpleasant life transition.  To deny that would be to limit my human experience.  If I am to feel the whole spectrum of what life offers, that means sometimes having joy, and sometimes sorrow.  Strength is knowing that it’s okay to feel it all; in fact, it is essential to feel it authentically and fully if there is to be growth and healing.

The healing is happening, though slower than I would hope. I recognize the strength in me largely because those I love keep pointing it out and modelling their own strength.  That strength is emerging with help of the community of love that surrounds me.  Fittingly, it is the strength I glean from others that allows me to be strong myself.