It was so fun. Every day was easy. Life is perfect. It’s fine, I’m fine. Right?
I wish I was lying, but I actually thought it would be like that. I don’t know, I guess I had never really experienced true recovery and had just coped with an eating disorder for so long that I didn’t fully understand the deep roots it has/had in so many of my thoughts. When I finally had 5 weeks where I was absolutely not allowed to act on eating disorder, I was on cloud nine, I had never experienced anything like that before. I came home and wrote that blog post about it, and people wanted to hear about it. Everyone told me how proud/inspired/ whatever they were of me. It was an incredible time, but it was kind of like a honeymoon phase. Life was new and I didn’t have school and basically was just living the dream.
We interrupt your normally schedule programming for this important message: I’m about to ramble, this isn’t my best/most creative writing-but my blog, my rules.
Then I left for Europe, which was an incredible trip, don’t get me wrong, but it was hard. I was totally on my own. I didn’t have the people around me to call me out when I wasn’t being honest. I started having some hard days. Nothing crazy, but for the first time, those old thoughts came back, and some days kind of loud. It was the first time I really had to fight for my recovery. I thought something was wrong, but I didn’t want to tell anyone. After all, I had just written about freedom in crocs, how could I tell them… right?
My friends got to Europe and we met up and started traveling. I was living the dream and just begging the Lord everyday to keep those thoughts at bay while I travelled. One of my friends was dealing with her own stuff, and a result of that meant she didn’t want to/ couldn’t eat every meal every day (not in like the same way as me not wanting to eat a meal everyday). That was so hard for me. I wanted to do that too, and thought it was unfair that she got to do whatever she wanted and I had to live in these rules. I loved my friend, and had to wrestle with how to love her through her crap, while also dealing with my own crap. It was hard. I learned more about grace and forgiveness and honest conversations, and in the end I was thankful for it.
So I got home from Europe still fighting, but generally making it. I had camp and all sorts of stuff to keep me busy. Was it perfect? no. Did I tell anyone? of course not. I still felt the pressure to keep this narrative of perfect freedom going. Slowly I started to have that other stream of thoughts constantly running in my head. The lies that tell me I’m not this or that. I need to more of this less of this… blah blah your basic eating disorder thoughts. I kind of let some close people half in to it, but stayed super guarded.
At the end of summer I finally confessed to a friend that I should probably go back to counseling. She held me accountable to that. I was annoyed, but whatever. School got back in full swing, and I was giddy to be back in class (<- Geez, who let this girl in, what a NERD). I started running a full speed again, but now not only was I balancing everything I had before, but I also had to keep fighting against everything my brain was telling me to do. I was in a state of what psychology tells me is called “cognitive dissonance” my beliefs and my actions weren’t matching up. All I wanted to do somedays was not eat, yet every day I did. It was exhausting.
I did have good days. For a while I dreaded them, I thought they were fake and I knew the other shoe was going to drop. I didn’t trust them. And the bad days just sucked. I felt overwhelmed and ashamed and wanted to hide and run. Sometimes I would tell people about them and they would say, “remember what you said about freedom, where is that, why are you choosing this?” I hated that response. I wanted to scream when people said that. Yell something along the lines of “Don’t you think I want that too, I’m not choosing it, and letting you in was hard enough.” But instead, I smiled said your right, and made mental note about what was and was not okay to say.
Not every response was like that. Sometimes I let people in and it was great. It looked like sitting at their kitchen table for two hours, patiently sitting with me while I eat a sandwich. Encouraging me, and not letting me settle. Or a note left on my bed, or bringing me a meal because they knew I was busy.
Basically the first 10 months of it was a whole lot of exhausting behavior management.
By the time the 11th month hit, I was tired of fighting all the time. I had just gotten back from Greece, was still trying to process that, school was starting back up, and those thoughts were loud. I tried the appeasement strategy for the first few weeks of the semester, and if WW2 taught us anything, its that appeasement doesn’t work.
A few weeks ago I had hard conversations with the people that tolerate me. I had to own the fact that I wasn’t doing exactly great, and face the reality that relapse is a thing that can happen. I needed to decide if I was going to allow myself to slide back to where I was, or keep fighting forward. I trimmed a few things out of my life because (big surprise) I had over extended myself, it helped- but I’m still tired.
So now, one year out from treatment, my prayer is that I get to the root of it. I can only continue to cut the stem of a plant for so long, it makes a lot more sense to just dig out the root. In the short term though, that’s more work, but in the long term, it’s way more effective. Behavior management was necessary for a while, but now its time to dig- and it’s really going to hurt, but that’s okay…it’s fine, i’m fine right?? <– I hate myself for that joke, trying to get better, not perfect yet.
But seriously- I just started reading Rising Strong by Brené Brown (if you want to get slapped in the face, I recommend this book), anyways, in the introduction she says, “Scars are a lot easier to talk about than they are to show” I don’t think I have ever really shown anyone my scars, I can talk about them sure (it’s what I do on here), but show.. OH H NO. so that’s my goal. I trust that the Lord is faithful in that and He truly desires that for each of our lives- so here we go, boldly forward.
Recovery is messy, complicated, has had the most glorious highs and the lowest lows. In a lot of ways its harder than actually having an eating disorder because I’m forced to deal with my own mess and not just numb out-so that like 21 years of crap I’ve been avoiding is now just staring me in the face. The hardest part is probably in front of me, because for a year I’ve just kind of stood still-which was necessary for a time- but now I need to move forward and actually go through it.
In freedom found in crocs I talked about needing to reach up to the hand to get me out of the pit. Now, I am out of the pit, but just standing on the edge. I still need to hold tight to that hand, because without it I would probably fall back in., because science tell us that when you spend so long just sitting in the pit your muscles atrophy and you can’t really stand up or walk for a while. This past year was me just learning how to stand. BUT- I also need to start taking steps away from the pit and towards full life, knowing that the same hand that pulled me from the pit is holding me just as tightly through each step as I learn to walk again- after all life is no fun staring into a pit.
Also, I’m about to graduate college, so there’s that too.
p.s. I have had one vote for me to start a podcast where I read my blog out loud so you can finally experience the full extent of my sass, feel free to voice your opinion.