I’ll have you know that I’m very committed to this whole “keeping accountable to the blog world” thing. Case in point: I have to be back at work in less than 12 hours and I am sitting at a Panera typing this blog entry because the internet and cable have inexplicably gone out at the TO (time off) housing. Actually, I was most upset that I couldn’t watch Jeopardy! when I arrived back to the apartment after 2 days at home, but then thought, “Oh my goodness! I haven’t blogged yet!”
So here I am, typing away on the free Panera wi-fi and enjoying (sort of) my dinner. Honestly, it just sort of feels like I’m supposed to say that I’m “enjoying” my dinner, when in fact, it’s kind of painful. It’s 8:30 at night. I’m tired. I feel like a cow. I am piss poor. I am super stressed about finances and my first full (five 16-hour days) work week. Basically, there’s nothing in me that wants to eat right now. I want to go home and have a beer, maybe take a bubble bath, and then pass the f**k out before I have to wake up at 5 am tomorrow.
Anyway, enough whining. My first few days at work were great. Sunday was a good day to start because a fair portion of the day was spent driving to pick up one of the boys who had been visiting his family for the weekend. It gave the counselors and guys in the car the chance to chat a little, but also just took up a heck of a lot of time. From what I’ve heard, weekends are pretty awful (read: really boring) at the camp, so I was glad to have that trip to take up a chunk of time on my first day. In the car, I had the chance to read an entire book. (Which was actually sort of unfortunate, since I had only brought that book to read for the week.)
Weekdays start bright and early: a little before 6 am (more like 5:30 if I want to trek to the shower house in the dark, which I have yet to decide was worth it). I get up, get dressed, and walk (hopefully without getting lost) the 1/2-mile or so trail to the boy’s bunkhouse. The boys have to get up at 6:30 am, get dressed, make their beds military-style, and do their chores. After all this is done, we circle around and everyone makes a goal for the day, including the counselors. My goals on Monday and Tuesday were to make it throughout the day without getting injured. (Seriously. During my first week of work, I jammed a finger, skinned both knees TWICE, and got a new assortment of multi-coloured bruises all across my body.)
We hike back to the main camp area and have breakfast (starch-a-palooza), then head to school. The boys are in school for about 6 hours a day, with a break in the middle (around 1pm) for lunch. The other counselors and I are basically in charge of making sure the guys aren’t disruptive during this time, and since the guys we have right now are pretty great, we basically just sit around and read or write or pass notes back and forth. The exception to this, for me anyway, is during math class, when I sit with some of the boys and help them with their math problems. (They’re lacking a math teacher at the moment, and the PE teacher — bless her — just doesn’t have a clue how to do simple math.)
Then there’s rec time (usually basketball or ultimate frisbee), dinner, showers, journal/group time, and a little bit of free time before lights out at 9:30. On Tuesday night, we actually managed to get the boys into bed a little closer to 9:10, which is all well and good, except the men who watch the boys while they sleep don’t arrive until 10 pm, so we basically just have to sit around in the dark until they do. When night watch arrives at 10 pm, I get to leave, and make the hike back to my bunk whilst debating whether or not I really want to brave the dark walk to the shower house, given that I found a spider the size of my face (I might be exaggerating, but not much) on the way there my first night. Either way, I flop into my bunk (complete with 1/2 inch plastic mattress) around 10:30 or 11 pm and hope and pray that I hear my alarm go off in the morning before passing out into dead slumber.
And while you’re all probably thrilled to have this overview of my day, the question I haven’t yet answered is: FOOD?!
Basically, it sucks. Think your worst elementary cafeteria food. Lots of fried meat, lots of canned vegetables, very little fruit. I’m lucky that the counselors have a sort of “break room” by the kitchen which is always stocked with fresh fruit, so I supplement my meals with that, but I swear, the boys barely get any fruit in their diet at all. So every meal is basically some combination of apple, protein bar, and/or salad. And the occasional Boost. I drank one voluntarily on Sunday night as I looked at a dinner where my options basically boiled down to….salad. The snacks they serve the boys are somewhat more palatable, and so I’ll occasionally have a fig newton or animal crackers, but the majority of my diet is comprised apples and protein bars.
I think it goes without saying that this is not a great position to be in. As I recounted my first week at work to my counselor yesterday, she asked why I wouldn’t eat some of the meats, especially considering that I’m not strictly vegetarian. The honest answer is: they’re fried, and that’s a lot of calories. But, I admitted, even when it’s not a fried food, like the barbecue they had for dinner Tuesday, I couldn’t bring myself to eat it. And I can’t figure out if it was an ED thing or not.
She’s concerned, as am I. I am not so deluded as to believe that I can just live on salad, protein bars, and apples for the rest of my life and even if I could, by some miracle, maintain my weight doing so, I’d be seriously setting myself back in my recovery by having such a severely limited diet. And the reality is that I can’t possibly maintain my weight on such a restricted caloric level, especially given the hour or more I’m out there sweating with the boys in the afternoon. Weight loss will then, inevitably, lead to a significant shift in my brain chemistry and we will go down the rabbit hole again.
So the question(s) remains: do I stay in a job that I am loving and where I feel like I am really capable of making a difference, even at the detriment to my recovery and health? If I stay at this job, am I jeopardizing my chance to be truly free of this disorder? And if I were to really, truly put my recovery first at this point in my life, what would that look like?
I certainly have a lot to ponder.