An Explanation (Finally)

So last Sunday’s post left a lot to be explained.  If you missed it, basically it was something like, “I would like to carve up my arms like a Thanksgiving turkey but I don’t keep real razors around for exactly that reason, DAMMIT.”

This week has been incredibly rough.  I went home last weekend to go to a football game and came home on Sunday night with the intention of hunkering down with my books and completing the outlining I had begun earlier.  That was all derailed around the point that I decided that I should probably check my school e-mail account (having not done so for three days) and discovered an e-mail from campus police alerting the student population to a couple of sexual assaults that had occurred on Friday.  While the term “sexual assault” isn’t one of my favourites, it is one that I have learned to handle and can somewhat distance myself from.

However, for whatever reason, the campus police decided it was in the best interest of the students for this e-mail to also contain the men’s names, the amount of bond they were being held upon, and their f**king charges.  When I read “second degree forcible rape,” I froze.  My mind completely blanked and forgot how to close the internet window. After I finally figured it out, I sat in a ball on my bed with my hands pressed into my eyes trying to stop the flow of tears.  (This was before I even realized that it was TWO charges of second degree forcible rape.)

I did my best coping (and it was pretty damn impressive).  I Skyped with a friend, putzed around on Facebook, and finally decided to just say “screw it” when it came to schoolwork in favour of taking some meds and passing out.  Before I was able to do so, however, I needed to check an event on the school calendar and found out that the ENTIRE WEEK was basically an awareness week about sexual violence because it was the 24th anniversary of two women being abducted from campus, raped, and — in the case of one of the women — murdered.  

So I begin to flip out.  Again.  Fetal position, trying to halt the tears, never mind the images.  I e-mailed my therapist and let her know what had happened so that I wouldn’t have to explain it all when I arrived in her office on Monday.  And then I took some klonopin and curled up and cried myself to sleep.

Monday morning was work, so I was able to distract myself for a few hours by the utterly adorable little boy I take care of.  But then I had a two hour drive to therapy.  And then therapy itself.

There are times when I wish that I could record my sessions with my therapist, because we discuss things that are big and important and revelatory and I want to be able to make sure I don’t forget anything.  This was NOT one of those times.  I remember entirely too much of the session as it is and wish I could completely block it from my memory.

To cut straight to the chase, I wound up having flashbacks in my therapist’s office and eventually wound up in a ball on the floor, crying.  I spent another half hour crying after the session and God bless Alie, who was willing to listen to said crying and help me come up with a plan for dinner.  Which I had pretty much planned to skip/restrict even before my therapy session, but with her help managed to eat according to meal plan.

The triggers have just continued to come this week.  One after another.  I am having to make pointed, conscious efforts to stay present and protect myself from going into flashbacks.  I have more than once had to literally bite myself to keep from bursting into tears in the middle of a class or meeting.  I have had to go back to making short-term commitments to safety because I simply don’t care to stay safe (but neither do I care to explain stitches to my therapist, dietitian, professors, or cohort).  I am disgusted by my body and want to scrub off my skin with steel wool, but I can’t stand to even see my body.

Eating disorder thoughts and behaviours have, naturally, been sky-high this week in conjunction with my self-harm urges.  I’ve been drinking, though never to the point of drunkenness and I’ve been able to justify it by saying that I need the extra calories.

Because, apparently, I do.  That was the other upsetting thing this week — I switched from my dietitian at home to a dietitian on campus because logistically and financially it made the most sense.  So when I met with this new dietitian on Tuesday (for the second time), I was already on edge, only to find out that my weight was down (again).  I haven’t been restricting (I don’t think) and I drank at least four nights out of the week prior to our second appointment.  There is no reason my weight should have been down.  No reason that I should have to be looking at weight restoration – again – this time on the outpatient level.  I texted my dietitian from home and she confirmed that I have “quite a bit” to gain before I reach my goal weight.  Awesome, right?

So even knowing that I need to gain (and having a pretty good idea of exactly how much), knowing what size my clothes are, being able to walk into a store and reach for the smallest size, knowing that what I’m seeing is [probably] a distortion — I cannot get over how huge and gross my body is right now.  And all I want to do is restrict and run.  GOD, what I wouldn’t do for a run.  I’ve been trying to stick with the plan, but it seems like it’s falling apart.

I want to trash all the food in my refrigerator, not to mention the two pounds of candy that I bought at the general store yesterday to challenge myself and get some extra calories in, and go headlong into restricting again.  If I’m right about my weight, then I could easily be back down to my April admit weight by Christmas.  Easy peasy japanesy.  

But I do NOT want to screw up this shot at grad school.  I do NOT want to have to take leave or drop out entirely and go to treatment for the fourth time in as many years.  I do NOT want to live my life like this.

And so begins the season of my “awkward harvest.”  This blessing is my prayer morning and night as I stumble through this season.

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From John O’Donahue’s “To Bless the Space Between Us”

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Chin Up, Buttercup

This week has been miserable.  And I’ve only really been making it worse by isolating and staying away from people.  Then, of course, I freak out that everybody hates me because they don’t want to hang up with me when…uh, I’m the one who refuses to hang out?  Or who is a total Debbie Downer while doing so?  Get a grip, kid.

The flashbacks on Monday really, really shook me up.  I honestly think that has played a big role in my mood this week.  I’ve never had such intense, uncontrollable flashbacks before.  Not even in the months after the rape.  And while I did talk about it, I also found myself ruminating on the thoughts and the images and the fear I felt in those hours.  This has made me a not-so-fun person to be around.  A friend phrased it today as my being “melancholy” as of late.  I think he was kind in that assessment and didn’t want to say, “You’ve been a fucking pain in the ass to be around the past week, please cheer up.”  But I digress.

A friend of mine led a conference call tonight for Good Friday and we went through the stations of the cross.  I didn’t know how much I needed it.  I love old spiritual practices and the rhythm that liturgy provides to the year.  It has been a long time since I have done the stations of the cross, and all those times, they were self-led.  My friend read the stations to us and I just laid back and absorbed the reality of what this day commemorates. I contemplated Jesus on his walk to his death and how many times he stumbled, how he had to humble himself not only to death on a cross – but to accepting help with someone else.  I was struck by the the level of human suffering he endured – by choice – and how the walk to the hill made him even more acutely aware of the human condition and human suffering.

He’s been through it.  He’s been beaten down and stripped of his honour and dignity and died a shameful death.  And he overcame it.

He went through it so that he could walk us through it, knowing exactly the depth of that suffering. He desires to be with us, to lead us, ultimately, to our own crosses – to kill self and take on the resurrection life that we celebrate on Easter.