Thursday, March 29, 2012

Free Write- Vulnerability

I am going to start off with a little warning that this post may be a little scattered and all over the place. I have had a bunch of things pop into my mind today that I have really wanted to write about, some related and some not so much. So I have decided that I am going to try something different. (something way out of my normal comfort level) Instead of writing about one specific topic, I am going to try more of a free writing with less purpose in structure. I am also going to go out on a limb here and do something completely crazy. I am not going to edit this post at all. I am not going to go back and re-read it before I post it, check for spelling and grammar mistakes (so there will probably be 5 times as many as there usually are) or anything like that. I am just going to write whatever comes to mind and then post it. 

So why this sudden change or adventure to try something new different? I thrive off of routine and perfection. I try really hard to do the best at everything that I do. I try really hard to minimize mistakes and never fail. The problem with this is that it’s really unrealistic and not even healthy. Nobody likes to mess up. It’s in human nature to want to be good at things and be praised for them. I think we as humans all have this quality, just too varying degrees. 

Perfectionism is the biggest time waster. I used to write emails to people that would take me forever. Sometimes even hours because I would either save it as a draft to go back and read it one more time or even go as far as to send them to someone else to proof read. And I am not just talking about professional emails, I did this for emails that I would send to the sorority when I was VP of Social and other positions and these people were some of my closet friends. When I first started writing my blog I would spend over an hour on each entry and it wasn’t because I didn’t have ideas or couldn’t write, it was because I would scrutinize every time to make sure it was worded the best way that I could think of and lacked as many errors as possible. (Given my horrible English/grammar skills, there were still plenty of mistakes that I would catch later) 

I used to pride myself on being “good” at the eating disorder. It was such a high to be able to resist food even when I was starving. Even more so when I was able to exercise longer and harder than most people, even when my body was begging me to stop. What made this all even better is the praise that I received from it, the comment about my amazing self control when I chose a salad over a hot dog or the comment about the discipline that I must have to be able to run through the rain or swim before a 14 hour work day. My perfectionism and desire to succeed lived off of those compliments, unfortunately so did my eating disorder.

Lately I have been in this really weird place mentally. I miss the “old me”. I miss the control that I used to feel by being able to deny myself food. I miss the discipline and power I used to feel by being able to push my body to extreme physically, through exercise, training and even over working. I miss losing weight and positive reinforcement that I gained from that. I miss being able to go long hours without sleep and still be able to get everything that I needed to done. Part of me even misses pulling all nighters in order to get my microP board or whatever electrical engineering lab I was taking that summer, to work. I miss numbing out all emotions in order to try and be productive. I miss being that rock that never crumbled, cried or showed any kind of hurt. I miss just showing the positive side of my life, never being vulnerable and putting myself out there. And this list could continue. 

There are a lot of things that I miss and a lot of things that I have lost since starting this whole recovery thing. And lately it’s been really easy to focus on those things. And it’s been even easier to forget about the things that I have gained and even more so the things that the eating disorder and this identity took from me.
Last night I said to John, “Why did I ever think it was a good idea to start a blog?” Being the great supportive guy that he is, he said “Because it was a good idea”. Lately I have been having my doubts. I have had many moments where I wish that I hadn’t showcased this part of my life and put all of my secrets/fears/insecurities/problems so out in the open. I have wished that I could erase the entire thing, including erasing the memories of the people who have read it. (Wouldn’t that be cool?) And this really goes back to my perfectionism and how people see me and is obviously still a work in progress. Unfortunately fortunately once you put something on the internet it is there forever.  While I could go back and take down everything that I have already written and posted, I can’t change the fact that people have read it. 

And now I am rambling, because I am really bad when I lack structure. Nothing ramps up the self-doubt like trying to do something completely different, knowing that it’s going to be published for everyone to see without serious edits and deletes. 

I think what this entire post is trying to get at (and this is a big guess) is that nothing is ever perfect and that’s ok. Recovery doesn’t always seem like the path that I want to take. Sometimes I still spend hours doing things because I want them to be perfect or because of the fear of failure. I still care largely what people think about me and want to be perceived in a good light. Sometimes I miss the eating disorder and the security that it brought my life. I am not always the strong, inspirational, confident person that I try to show people. Sometimes vulnerability and shame eat me alive. And even some times I want to go back to my “pre-recovery” life. 

I don’t always know the right thing to say or write. Sometimes I don’t even know how to take care of myself or make whatever decision that I need to at the time. I am not always the most understanding girlfriend or even the best friend. I don’t even always listen to what my treatment team tells me and sometimes I am a pain in the butt to work with. Some days I think I am on top of the world and sure of everything and other days I want to curl up in a ball and hide out from life for a while.  

I used to be scared to not only feel all of this confusion, but to voice it as well. But now I realize it’s what makes me human. And as a member of t he human race, I will make mistakes, fail and regret things.  My recovery isn’t perfect, just as I am not perfect. And if you made it this far into this post, then I want to thank you for being a part of this journey with me. And I really hope that this post gives you some insight about the power of connection and being genuine. 

I will finish this post with a quote that I am probably going to have to tattoo on my forehead after posting this.

"Vulnerability is not weakness....vulnerability is our most accurate measure of courage" - Dr. Brene Brown

Just for the record, I didn’t think I would actually be able to do this, as in free write an entire post and then actually post it without going back and re-reading, editing and fixing the entire thing. I thought I would make that claim and then have to go back and edit it a bunch because it would end up false. But I am here to tell you that I did it.(And the world didn’t end) So please bear with any grammar/spelling mistake and just the fact that it’s all over the place. And I challenge you to use this post as a lesson to forgive yourself, cut other people some slack (including yourself) and remember that we are all human and beautifully flawed.

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