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.

Every Winter After

“It does not hit you until later. The fact that you were essentially dead does not register until you begin to come alive. Frostbite does not hurt until it starts to thaw. First it is numb. Then a shock of pain rips through the body. And then, every winter after, it aches.” — Marya Hornbacher, Wasted

 
Wasted is one of those books that hurts to read.  I love it and I find it one of the most powerful books on the subject of eating disorders because it is so raw.  Marya holds back nothing.  It also makes it a tremendously triggering book for those who are suffering.  I have yet to be able to read the book all the way through from a standpoint of recovery.  I have read a chapter or two, sure, but then things become too intense and my own eating disorder begins to flare up and compete.  
 
But if you can read it from a perspective of recovery, it is surprising the new passages that jump out at you, that have new meaning, that can actually aid you on your journey to recovery.  This quotation, which showed up on my Tumblr dashboard this morning, is one of those.  For me, it helps remind me that those times when the eating disorder aches, when you feel the pain of it all over again, when you want it back so badly it hurts — are actually part of the healing process.  It hurts not because you need the eating disorder again, but because it was there at one time and killed parts of you that are now hurting as they come back to life, and hurt more when they are brushed once again with the cold that nearly killed them.
 
Almost everyone I have talked to on my journey into and out of the eating disorder hell has said that they have periods each year which are more difficult than others.  Anniversaries, if you will.  A lot of people, myself included, struggle a lot during the holidays.  (I also have another “anniversary” near my birthday, when I was first officially diagnosed with anorexia.)  Highly charged emotions about families and holidays meet highly charged emotions about food and it creates something of the perfect storm.  
 
As a result, I can tell you exactly what I’ve eaten, how many pills I took, what I weighed, and how much I exercised (and how and where) for every Thanksgiving for the past four years.  I long for the days that my Thanksgiving memories include trips to see family and friends and games played and jokes told.  This is (both literally and figuratively), the winter after that near-death, when the limbs that have been damaged ache with the knowledge of what was.  
 
This doesn’t mean I’m relapsing, this pain and ache where the eating disorder once was.  It doesn’t mean you are either.  We certainly have the choice to do so, of course, as we always do.  
 
But if we can begin to befriend this ache, we can see it for what it is:  a sign that we are healing.