Small victories today:
I actually met my calorie goal for the day. I think I can count on one hand the times I have done this since putting myself on a self-imposed plan almost a month ago. I decided that it is a new month and there is no reason to begin it by restricting. No promises as to how the rest of the week or month will go, but at least I did it this once.
I also managed to do this while avoiding the temptation to workout for hours upon hours. I completed a brief run, just long enough to push me over the top for the 30 day challenge I had set for myself. A double victory for the first of March. Hooray.
No counseling today, but I’ve been thinking a lot about last week’s session and the assigned reading. I read Chapter 3 from Eating in the Light of the Moon, entitled “Revisioning the Struggle.” Unfortunately, given the week from hades that I’d had, we didn’t get to discuss much of the reading. So I’ve been attempting to do some of the picking apart of the chapter on my own.
The author likens disordered eating to getting thrown overboard in the rapids and grabbing onto a huge log. You hold onto the log until it carries you to safer waters. And then, in safer waters, while the people on shore encourage you to swim to solid land, you keep hanging on. The log is too big to bring with you to shore and you are too convinced of your inadequacy to let go and do it alone. Recovery then, involves slowly letting go of the log. Treading water. Swimming a few laps. And, occasionally, grabbing back on. Until, finally, after a lot of practice, you’re sure you can make it. And you let go. And you swim to shore.
It’s a great metaphor. For years, I went back and forth in my efforts at recovery and counseling because I was so sure I couldn’t let go of the alcohol, the disordered eating, the self-injury – they had, after all, kept me alive. It’s refreshing to read a book on recovery that acknowledges that fact. I need somebody to understand that the cutting, the starving, the binging and purging helped keep me alive. (The grace of God had a heck of a lot to do with this as well.) There were so many days and weeks and months where I contemplated suicide (not to mention the actual attempts), that those mechanisms were all I could hope to do to keep it together.
So in order to let go of all this, I’ve got to acknowledge two things:
1. The disordered eating helped me to survive for all those years, but it is not my Savior. (I’ve got one of those – thanks.)
2. I can’t possibly let go of the log until I’ve figured out how it’s been serving me. How is it helping? How did it aid my survival? (It should be noted that my notes in my journal on this “survival” point are a bold, frantic “FROM WHAT?!” – still no answers for that.)
All this lead-up to say, I’ve been thinking about the log and what’s it been doing for me these past 10 (well, closer to 12 or 13) years. And I came up with two answers.
One, the disordered eating has been a form of self-punishment. I didn’t realize this until I ventured back to age 11, when I have my very first DE memory. I skipped lunch because I felt I didn’t deserve it for breaking a promise. I lied, wheedled, anything I could to get out of that meal. I was 11. I was so sad and so imprisoned by shame already. I wish I could say that my reasons for starving were different now, but they’re not. So often I find myself restricting because I’m not good enough, I don’t deserve it, I really screwed that up and now I’ll have to pay for it. I am 24. So sad and so imprisoned by shame. There is much work to be done there.
Two – and perhaps this is where someone can offer some suggestions – controlling calories in and out does a lot to quell my anxiety about life. I have never been so acutely anxious as I have since putting myself on a meal plan (which, even if I don’t meet my goal, I’m never more than a couple hundred below, which is more than enough calories to start freaking out). We’re talking chest-tightened-panic-attack-in-the-streets-breaking-out-in-hives anxious. And if I’m starving, I don’t feel that, which is preferable, since this sort of anxiety makes it difficult to move and act like a normal human being. (Yes, I know, medication would probably help. There will probably be an entire post one of these days on that.)
But even the mild, just under the surface anxiety and stress about this-situation-or-that is difficult to deal with when I’m not starving. Running helps, but let’s be honest – that’s not the sort of coping mechanism that is always available when you’ve got a job that keeps you working almost 50 hours a week. I need a coping mechanism that I can whip out a moment’s notice when the baby is screaming and I am not able to comfort her and I am convincing myself that she’s having a seizure. (Which happened today – me so afraid that she was having a seizure, which she wasn’t.)
Does anybody else have this sort of anxiety issue? What do you do to help lessen the anxiety?