Hold the Line

I struggle sometimes to decide whether or not to leave a post up if I am embarrassed by what I’ve said or no longer feel that way because the situation has changed. Ultimately, I choose to leave them because they were – at that moment in time – my reality.

On one hand, some things I mentioned in my last post were cleared up within an hour of writing it. I had not realized that the friend I mentioned in the first half of the post actually subscribes to my blog and thus, she was greeted with an e-mail of my blog which understandably seemed very passive aggressive. The lack of invitation to the baby shower was, of course, an oversight and I took it entirely too personally and, as I am wont to do, jumped to the worst possible conclusion. (My apologies again to this friend – who has never been anything but loving and gracious. Also – and this is for everyone – if I ever do that sort of passive-agressive bitchy move you are allowed to chew me out and/or slap me.)

On the other hand, even though things were sorted with that particular friend, it did not change the hurt and grief I felt over the other friendships. The immediate situation with the first friend triggered all sorts of feelings that I am not entirely equipped to handle. My coping skills have grown leaps and bounds even in the past two months (no self-harm, what what!!), but sometimes I am still at a loss for what to do with my emotions. My emotions seem to have two options: on full-blast or off.

Spring break in Florida was positively delightful, but I didn’t really deal with any sort of feelings aside from “Yay Disney! Yay friends! Yay camping and hiking!” I very intentionally left my homework/reading for therapy buried in my bag because I just did not want to open that can of worms. I noticed in therapy last Monday that this was a way for me to close myself off to any emotion. So when I prayed for openness to emotion….well, the damn broke. I was a weepy mess for most of Monday night.

Y’all, I just feel raw. The slightest touch hurts. I had to walk out of my Tuesday night class because the activity hit (oh so tangentially) an area I’ve been working on in therapy and I could not handle it. I stuck it out as long as it could, but the class and situation just continued to feel more and more unsafe. I bolted after class. A classmate told me when I saw her later in the week that she had been praying for me and that my professor was really concerned. So now I have that awkward situation to walk into this Tuesday night.

I texted my therapist when I got home. I had taken a detour to EarthFare, hoping that picking up a couple of things would be enough to reset my brain. It wasn’t, so I asked my therapist how I was supposed to shut off these stupid emotions so I could get my schoolwork done. “Because beer is currently looking like my best option,” I said.

“Hold the line,” she said. “Your healing is way way way more important than homework. It will stop. You will catch up. Keep going until…it is finished.  Jesus did.”  A brief exchange occurred, wherein I realized just how human I am and my therapist stated that she was extremely glad that I was in touch with that humanness.

I know that this is what I am supposed to be doing, how I am supposed to be feeling. I know that the nights when I am so sure I’m just flat-out going to die from THE FEELZ are progress. I am feeling. I am allowing myself to be broken. I am trusting my family and friends to hold me while my Saviour binds the wounds.

But first – I have to take off the crude bandages I spent so long putting together and feel the pain that was always there.

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But which is silver and which is gold?

Make new friends, but keep the old — One is silver and the other gold.

Sometimes, I feel like I don’t matter at all to friends. A good friend of mine is having a baby in June and had a baby shower yesterday. I only knew because I saw a picture someone posted and asked another friend what I had missed. And I logged in to facebook tonight to see that some friends of mine are going to a shower for her next weekend. I was invited to neither.

I was tagged in a photoset over the weekend as well – a Sex and the City post:

satcphotoset

The friend who tagged me said in the caption how this reminded her of college and all of our “couch therapy sessions”! I definitely laughed when I saw it, but it also hurt my heart.

I haven’t talked to the friend who posted it in over two years.

I sent her a card last year, a letter of amends for all the wrong I had done over the course of my eating disorder. She responded briefly saying she would respond further, but never did. But she has tagged me in a few photos of “the good times” recently and it has left me wondering why. When she posted this, I sent her a message telling her I missed her and this photo made me laugh and mourn simultaneously. Facebook has told me that she read the message over 24 hours ago. But she hasn’t responded.

I am in tears because I feel like I don’t matter to anybody. I’m not invited to your baby shower, for pete’s sake? That time when you invite people over to fawn over you and play games and give you free stuff? I’m not even important enough that you would ask me for free stuff?!

I realize that this is taking it to an extreme in thought distortion world, but it really does seem that pronounced at times. I feel like I can’t look anywhere without seeing the wreckage my eating disorder has wrought on my relationships over the past five years.

But then I remember that I have new friends. Friends who are willing to listen to me whine and cry about these old friendships. Friends who are willing to house me for a few days while I visit – the first time I’ve ever done so in an emotionally healthy place. Friends who gift me with inspirational collages they’ve made because they think of me when they see it on their wall and want me to have it. Friends who surprise me by sending me a ginormous tin of the most awesome silly putty ever.

I am so incredibly thankful for these friends. I would not have survived the past year without these friends. They have saved my life, time and again.

But so did those other friends. At what point do I become “too much” for these new friends, too?

Is life just one long series of relationships coming and going? It seems that it is. Some relationships stay, but plenty others fade in and out – including those you thought for sure would last to the end of time.

Life is this uncomfortable mingling of tears of joy followed by tears of grief.

I Cannot Control Everything

Small and powerless.

 
I have felt that way since kindergarten.  As my therapist pointed out yesterday, I have been trying to avoid that feeling ever since.  It started with an event in kindergarten, which I don’t speak of often (in fact, never truly talked about and processed until therapy in Utah), and which I never thought had anything to do with anything.
 
But it does.  Do I think it’s the root of everything?  No.  Family dynamics, my personality, my brain chemistry — all of these played into it as well.  But that feeling of being small and powerless.  That has stuck with me and I hate it.
 
It is the reason that I avoid talking to God when things aren’t going well.  It is the reason that I avoid really opening myself up and being vulnerable with other people.
 
In either of these cases, it is not so much my fear of judgement that prevents me from speaking up.  It is my fear of having to face myself and feel like I am, again, small and powerless.  Admitting that I am not doing well is saying that I am small and powerless — that I cannot control everything, that I cannot fix everything.  I hate hate HATE that idea.  I like to believe that I am all-powerful, at least in my own life.  I like to believe that I can fix things on my own, that I can be completely independent of needing others.
 
I’m can’t.  I’m not.
 
I wasn’t built to be.  I’m not God.  I was made to rely on other people, to trust them to help me.  I was built for deep, lasting relationships, which can only occur if I allow myself to be vulnerable and admit that I need others.  Admitting that I need others and God is admitting that I don’t have all the answers.  It is admitting that I do not have control over everything.  It is admitting that, in the grand scheme of things, I am small and powerless.
 
I am small.  I am powerless.
 
It is only through embracing that and allowing others to walk the road with me, hold me up when I cannot do it myself, that I can begin to empower myself to take control of my recovery and my life.
 
I need you. 
 
Even if I don’t want to need you.

The Worst

There are a lot of things to dislike about recovery:  weight gain, meal plans, arguments with dietitians, exercise restrictions, repairing friendships and relationships, yadda yadda yadda.

But the worst thing about recovery?

When you start feeling things again and you can’t use your old behaviours to cover up the shame and fear and sadness.

And it hurts like hell and you are left without the salve of your eating disorder to soothe it, so you just stare at your feelings like an open wound and wonder if it will ever feel better or if it will be this gut-wrenching forever.

Choosing Love: The Art of Accepting a Compliment

Compliments:

Today is Day Two of the “Choosing Love” experiment that is sweeping the blogosphere!!!!! (or not).   The challenge is to accept a compliment and meditate on it.  I’m actually taking a class on the discipline of meditation these days, so the word “meditate” threw me off initially, until I remembered what we learned in class:  Meditation is the act of rehearsing something over and over in your mind, dwelling on it, abiding in its truth and allowing that truth to abide in you.  And while that seems like a rather complicated process when you could just say, “Gee, thanks” to a friend’s compliment and move on with your life, when you struggle to accept compliments gracefully, you really do have to do a lot of rehearsing and dwelling.

Case in point:  Sarah left a beautiful compliment for me on my last post.  She pointed out a lot of really beautiful qualities that I (may or may not) have, and yet the one thing that stuck out to me was this phrase:  “I don’t really know what you look like (except for a picture of you in front of a camp fire and you looking crazed holding almonds).”   Yes, friends, out of all the wonderful things she said about my heart, my perseverance, my dedication, my strength…I’m left thinking, “I looked crazed?!”

Gracefully accepted?  Not quite.  Which is where the meditation bit comes in.

I broke down her compliment line by line.  Sarah said I make people feel special.  I can think of a million ways that isn’t true – but what if it is?  What if I DO make people feel special and try my hardest to encourage them?  Sarah said she can tell I put my all into everything I do.  I honestly think I’m half-assing it most of the time, but what if she’s right?  What if I DO throw all my weight behind whatever I’m doing – for better or worse?  Maybe I don’t entirely believe it, but just what if?

Later in the day, a friend sent me a compliment by e-mail that broke my heart with its simplicity.  She simply told me that I was beautiful.  She complimented my cheekbones and eyes and said that I was a “fun-to-look-at kind of pretty” – not just run of the mill pretty.  I kept wanting to e-mail her back immediately and thank her – but wasn’t sure how, because I wasn’t sure how to accept it.  I wasn’t sure I believed it.  Especially not after a week where I’ve been mistaken for a boy multiple times.  (But hey, maybe that slightly androgynous thing is part of the reason I’m “fun-to-look-at” pretty!)  But what if?  What if my cheekbones are prominent and my eyes are interestingly-shaped?  What if my face, for all the flaws I see, is actually something beautiful?

What if these women aren’t lying to me? And why would they, really?  Why would they spend any amount of time picking out specific features of personality or face if they didn’t really believe they were true?  That just doesn’t make sense.  These are busy women who have better things to do with their time than make up fake things to compliment me on.

So yes, I had to use some logic.  But I think I finally accepted their compliments.  Maybe with some practice it will get easier.

—–

Lobster:

Okay, okay, so I sort of already broadcasted my punches on this one.  But guess what I had for lunch yesterday?  Lobster.  Snow Crab.  Shrimp.  And 1.5 Cheddar Bay Biscuits, which I think the pastor I was eating with described as “orgasmic.”  (I wish I were kidding.  I am not.  However, she was right.  Those Cheddar Bay Biscuits ARE orgasmic.)

The pastor I interned with took me out to Red Lobster yesterday after church to treat me to lunch and try to convince me that this whole “vegetarian” thing is ridiculous.  She loves lobster and was determined to share this love with me.  I agreed, and managed to keep the anxiety at bay until we were actually driving to the restaurant.  Luckily, I was following her in my own car so I was able to freak out privately and come up with a plan.  We got to the restaurant and when we were seated, I looked across the table and said, “I’m just going to let you order for me.  I think I’ll be overwhelmed by the options.”  (Not to mention the fact that, left to my own devices, I would order salad.  Zzzzzzz.  Boring.)  She agreed and ordered me THIS monstrous plate of food:

This was supposed to "ease me in" to seafood. Or give me a panic attack. Could have gone either way.

Did I eat the entire plate of food?  Heck no.  Did I try a little bit of everything?  Yes.  Did I enjoy it?  Yes – but I enjoyed the company more.  Once or twice I found myself thinking about the calories, worrying about the fact that my salad came with the dressing already ON IT (ARGH!), wondering how many calories are in those delicious, orgasmic biscuits (which I later looked up online, to be honest).  But then I thought, “Really?  I’m here with a woman I greatly respect and adore, who wants to spend time with me and I’m going to retreat into my head and worry about the calories?  F**k that.”

Then, in an attempt to further beat down the ED beast, I ate dinner.  (Thanks, Veronica, for the encouraging words and reminder that eating a NORMAL portion of food does not mean I get to restrict later.)  I took a complete rest day from exercise.  I wrote a letter to my body telling it that I was trying to love it.

Turns out, I didn’t die, the world didn’t implode, and horrid curses were not heaped upon my family.

Go figure.

(Oh, and did I mention that I did this on the same day that I found my smallest pair of jeans – bought when I was at my lowest weight, mind you, so it’s not like I should be trying to wear them all the time – no longer fit?  Yeah, I was an effing recovery superstar yesterday.)

—–

Other Assorted Things:

It should not surprise me, however, that I had a minor freak out today over five calories.  Five.  That is how many calories over maintenance I ate today.   (And, channeling my nutritionist here: that’s my idea of maintenance, whereby I overestimate calories eaten, and underestimate how many I burn in exercise.  I digress.)

I made some of the most delicious muffins on Saturday night.  Carrot-raisin-ginger.  Completely vegan.  Little morsels of heaven (can I say orgasmic again?  How many times can I use that word in this blog entry?).  I desperately wanted one after dinner.  I went to the gym tonight and while I wasn’t there for hours on end, I was there for a significant amount of time and worked HARD.  I pushed myself harder than I have lately, knowing that my half marathon is not all that far away.  I ate dinner after the gym — which was a fight in itself.  I desperately wanted to run upstairs and calculate everything my little spreadsheet to see how many calories I had left to “spare” for dinner and how many different ways I could fulfill that.  Ridiculous.  Anyway.

I ate and I was still hungry.  I took a muffin from the refrigerator.  I brought it upstairs to my computer and sat it down.  I looked at it.  I updated my spreadsheet.  I did the math.  Five calories.  Five.  Freaking.  Calories.  I suppose if I were really anal, I could break off a chunk of the muffin and subtract the five calories and call it even.  But I don’t think you understand how amazing these muffins are.  Truly – if we are ever in the same town, you should ask me to make a batch of these muffins and you will see their appeal.  Five calories.  I looked at the spreadsheet for the rest of the week – under most days.  I could eat an extra five calories and still come out under for the week.

But really, I just kept thinking of the precedent I’d be setting.  This week is going to be rough (more on that in a second).  Why start out engaging in ED behaviours?  Why not eat the damn muffin and then blog about it and vent my anxiety and frustration that way?  Why not write a blog entry where I curse like a sailor and don’t even realize it until I get to the end and then go bust out my crazy-person-emotion-sheet to decide that I am feeling scared, unnerved, sleepy and dirty?

Incidentally, the counseling homework that has the potential to make this week so difficult also involves my crazy-person-emotion-sheet.

My counselor wants me to spend this week writing the story of the night I was raped.  Taken advantage of.  Erm, whatever.  And not just writing the timeline of events (which I had to do with my last counselor), but writing what I’m feeling as I’m recounting the events.

Just thinking of this assignment makes me nauseated.

—–

Tomorrow’s challenge:  Make a “you’re beautiful, you’re loved, and you matter” playlist.

Use Your Words!

In case you were wondering, I didn’t tell my counselor any of the things I said I should tell my counselor last week.  Granted, it wasn’t entirely necessary because I was crying sitting in the waiting room before I ever got to the couch.  The depression and anxiety were so apparent that my counselor wrote a rather lengthy paragraph to my new counselor (who I will begin seeing in a mere three weeks), ending with the very large, bold statement that my new counselor needed to really push the medication thing.

A snippet of our conversation:

A, my counselor:  How are you?  You look a little sad.
Me (actively fighting back tears):  I don’t know.  Maybe a little?
Well, what’s going on?
I don’t know.  I’m just so…tired.
Tired?  Of what?
Everything.
What do you mean?  What’s “everything”?
I’m just…tired of life.  And I know that’s horrible to say.
Why?
Because I know for me, historically, “tired of life” is only a step away from formulating a plan.
And have you formulated a plan?
No.
Would you tell me if you had?
Maybe?  I don’t know.
I don’t think you would.

For the record, I can’t imagine WHY she thinks I need to be on medication.  I cried most of Monday, in fact, until I decided that crying is “stupid” and “unproductive” and anyway, wouldn’t going to the gym make more sense to deal with these feelings?  Or ignore these feelings?  Yes, clearly.  I replayed this cycle of crying and working out until around Thursday, when I got an e-mail from a friend:

“A few friends have recently proposed collaborative art and reading projects that inspired me to want to start one of my own. If you have received this email, it is because I love you and think you are wonderful and would like to read things you might write. I had the idea of creating a blog that is just for poetry. See, over the last few years, I’ve had a hard time writing poetry, so I’m a little rusty. I thought an audience and some accountability might help me out.

A friend of mine has a photography project where each week, she proposes a topic, and whoever wants contributes a photo representing that topic or theme. I think we could do this same thing with poetry.”

I jumped at the opportunity.  I wrote two poems the first day.  I wrote another on Friday.  I have been thinking in poetry for days.

In this short span of time, two things have happened:

1) I am finding that I feel things I didn’t even know I feel.  (For instance, some bitterness towards my ex-fiance’.)

2) I feel less tempted to act out using eating disordered behaviours.

The second is, of course, a HUGE victory.  I really want to make this a regular part of my recovery.  I’ve been trying visual arts stuff for a while, but the reality is that I was never really talented in the visual arts.  So more often than not, I find myself terribly frustrated and wanting to act out all over again.

But writing.  Oh, writing.  I’ve carried a journal or notebook every day of my life since I was probably seven.  By middle school I was writing stories, attempts at novels, poems in margins.  I don’t count my lack of writing a loss to my eating disorder so much as I do a loss to my ex-fiance’, but an eating disorder and having my brain inundated with a million numbers a minute didn’t leave much room for poetry and prose either.

Anyway, all of this is to say that I am making a concerted effort to write every day.  And maybe on days that I don’t write, I should try to play some music on one of the half dozen instruments I own.

This is also fair warning that you all are probably going to have to muck through some poetry on this blog now.  Sorry, kids.