I Said “Breathe,” Not “Hyperventilate”

So, yeah. All that adorable optimism and chutzpah in my last post pretty much went out the window by Wednesday. I honestly don’t know that I even have the energy to hash the whole thing out, but suffice it to say, my recovery had a VERY close call this week.

Between Wednesday at about noon until I woke up on Friday morning, I was a hot.mess. I’m not entirely sure how I survived Thursday, honestly, as I was extremely dehydrated and undernourished and in a post-SH induced haze. Add a cup or two of shame and a dose of fear and you’ll understand why I was utterly shocked to hear my professor suggest that I go on to a doctoral program.

Me, the girl who had just met with her dietitian because she couldn’t fathom the idea of a meal. Me, the girl that went to health services for an SH wound and was not allowed to leave in the hour that passed between my arrival and the first available appointment. Me, the girl who had gone to bed at seven the night before because she could not deal with life any more. Me, the girl who had seriously considered ending her life for the first time in almost a year.

It started with a therapy session on Wednesday, though to understand the whole story, you need to know that these things were playing in the background:

  • I was at the state counseling conference and listened to a presentation about the new DSM-V eating disorder diagnostic criteria and discovered that they now rate the severity of EDs as from “mild” to “severe”
  • At the same conference, I made the mistake of sitting in on a session about working with traumatized women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where “trauma” = “sexual violence” and I spent an hour outside trying not to jump out of my skin

And I totally thought I had done a good job recognizing and processing it and told my counselor about it first thing during our [phone] session. What I did not anticipate was her pushing and pushing on the physical reaction I had during the trauma session.

Why was I so hypervigilant? I needed to keep an eye on everything. Why? So I don’t get hurt. Where did I learn that? …in college. When? …at the bar. When? …I can’t go there today. That’s as close as we’re going to get today, April. 

Everything in me was screaming under the weight of shame.

In a lot of ways, I have made a LOT of progress since I have come back from treatment. Unfortunately, after God-only-knows how many hours and thousands of dollars on therapy, I still believe that I came out of the womb a priori fucked up. My life has been idyllic, nobody has done anything to me, and there is basically no reason that I should struggle because my life has been PERFECT. It’s ME that’s fucked up.

On Wednesday, when I said for the millionth time that I’m just fucked up, my therapist refused to play along. She said that we are at the point in counseling where I need to either dig deep and challenge that (by acknowledging how people hurt me, failed me, missed me) or there’s nowhere to go. And if we don’t go there, what are we going to do in therapy? Keep me from going crazy; maintain the status quo, I said.

She won’t. Either we dive into my story or we need to consider terminating the counseling relationship. If I want a therapist who will help me to maintain my behaviours where they are, I need to find a new one. And while her motives are so pure (she wants true freedom and healing for me, but that means I’ve got to push ahead), I was (and am) upset nonetheless.

April has been my counselor for YEARS. She calls me on my shit. She knows more of my story than anyone else. She has cursed at me, challenged me, eaten with me, laughed with me, comforted me. The idea of losing her as a counselor is terrifying.

Equally terrifying is the prospect of acknowledging how and when people have hurt me and coming face-to-face with the brokenness in me. I insisted time and again in Wednesday’s session that I’m just not ready for that kind of work, and she repeatedly told me that she thinks I am. I cried as our session wound down and she told me that I needed to seriously think about if I’m going to continue therapy.

Above all, she said – it’s an issue of trust. Do I trust my friends, family, and community to hold me up when I’m so weak I can barely stand? Do I trust April to be a wise guide and to walk me through this? Most of all, do I believe that my God and my Saviour is waiting to bind up the broken places in me and heal them?

Yes. And no.

The fear is positively crippling. I feel like I am just barely keeping my head above water this semester. And if I messed up so much and so badly over the course of 36 hours just talking about the possibility of doing this sort of storywork…

How much worse is it going to be when I actually do it?




2 thoughts on “I Said “Breathe,” Not “Hyperventilate”

  1. I know things have really been piling on. There have been a number of triggers from all directions, not to mention how busy you’ve been, and have been tired. I’m so sorry all of this is going on. I’m really proud of you for being open and honest about these things and continuing to reach out. I know how close you and April are, and I also know how difficult it is to trust her with helping you work through such gigantic and painful things. We talked the other day about how I would probably never feel “ready” to shed the last of the ED behaviours, but that didn’t mean I would get to keep them. Obviously that’s a much smaller scale than this. However, I believe, like April, that you deserve full freedom and healing. It will hurt, it will be scary, but God will heal those wounds. April hasn’t steered you wrong yet, right? Taking the leap into working on these things is terrifying. I get that. But there are so many people ready to hold your hand while you leap. It might be a good idea to put some very firm safety plans in place while you work on this, so that you can stay safe and healthy while you go through this process. You deserve to be free and healed, my friend.

  2. So…what your saying is God created you “fucked up” … that you are a screw up — eternally damned? Unworthy? Flawed? Just can’t help it…”I’m in Bondage” etc?

    Yeah. That’s what you (we) ARE saying and thinking.

    Let’s try something different. Lets STOP agreeing with the DEVIL for once and START AGREEING WITH GOD.

    We are washed clean, wonderful and powerfully made, capable of doing ALL things through He who is our strength… for more like these see: the bible.

    What we think and say out loud and write – our words have incredible power — the Bible says give both life and death.

    I have decided to really work on this because it makes so much sense to me. Even if you don’t feel it — just start agreeing with God. I will legit be smoking a cigarette and thinking “I am not addicted, my chains are set free, I am not a smoker!” etc and whenever I think anything like “I am addicted, or I’m a compulsive eater” I replace it with what the bible has. I have self-control, it is the fruit of the spirit, etc. Sin is dead to me. etc.

    Try it– I can’t promise you it will change things or make you feel different but for me I am noticing a powerful shift inside and if anything it is worth a try.

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