Friday, March 16, 2012

What Recovery Looks Like Part II

I am not flexible in any sense of the word. I cannot bend down and accurately touch my toes and have never really been able to. I blame the fact that I have short arms, but that isn’t the point. Flexibility is really lacking in my life and goes far beyond the physical definition and the eating disorder thrives off of this. 

Lately I have found myself in this really weird place, kind of like a middle ground per say. A gray area for lack of a better term. You see, I have been in treatment for an eating disorder for close to 8 months now and if you ask anyone around me they would tell you that I have come a hell of a long way and I agree 150%. Not only have my behaviors changed greatly but my mentality and outlook on life and myself has as well.(See previous post of me eating some really yummy red velvet birthday cake or read any of my other blog posts for instant proof)  For the most part I am no longer actively “choosing” not to eat and a lot of the old eating disorder beliefs that I once clung to are long gone. I eat fairly regularly, sleep more than I would like, grocery shop when necessary, eat out occasionally, stand up for myself, share/talk about feelings and even have a pretty active social life. None of which were possible when I was deep into the disorder.

All is well in the recovery world until one thing happens: CHANGE. And it’s not just the big changes either.

For the past three weeks I have had the EXACT same thing for breakfast and lunch. (Thank you Publix for having Life cereal buy-one-get-one-free and a constant sale of some kind of deli lunch meat. ) And that isn’t necessarily a catastrophe. I mean after all I am eating and as the saying goes if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But what happens when those things aren’t available? Say someone else invites me out to lunch or I am over at John’s for breakfast or maybe even Publix runs out of Life cereal? *Cue instant panic* 

As ridiculous as it may sound, I am instantly thrown out of my comfort zone and all recovery bets are off. In those moments ED beliefs die hard. Foods gain back their morality (as in labels like “good/healthy” and “bad/unhealthy”) and all of the nonsense that I have spent the last 8 months fighting against, comes rushing back.  Anything that my nutritionist tells me sounds like BS and eating no longer seems like an option. All of the forward momentum that I have going comes to a halt and I am stuck. 

And being stuck is this gray area that I am talking about. I have spent a lot of time in therapy working through a lot of different things, along with working with a nutritionist to dispel a lot of my eating disorder beliefs and body image issues. I have read many self-help books on eating disorders and have found comfort and inspiration in many blogging communities. I have reached out to those who are recovered and asked for advice. I have even become an advocate for ending the stigma and shame around eating disorders and just changing the conversation about them in general. I have blogged about the changes in my perspective, my recovery experience and how far I’ve come. People have even come to me for inspiration, motivation and insight. I have drunk a lot of the knowledge Kool-Aid. I am far from lacking in tools or information and yet I am still stuck and OMG-IS-IT-FRUSTURATING. 

Up until now my eating and recovery has been very mechanical. Being the efficient person that I am, I have had a prescribed plan that I have followed to a tee. I have seen the members of my treatment team regularly, followed some kind of structured food plan and have done everything that seemed to follow the quickest path to freedom and recovery. I have sat/cried/yelled through a lot of uncomfortable moments and worked through a lot of pain. I have and continue to put in the blood, sweat and tears. The problem is, life doesn’t come with a manual and neither does recovery. Although people can share their experiences, there isn’t a how-to-guide or a timeline of when things get better/change. Recovering is a process, and not even a linear one, much to my dismay. 

So what does that mean?

Hell if I know. Lately I have just been pissed off, feel like I have been led astray. When does it really get better? When does it get easier? When do I actually practice what I preach 100% of the time? When does the eating disorder ALWAYS sound like a bad thing? When will restricting no longer seem like an option? When will I enjoy EVERY food and no longer be tormented by food rules? When will I reach that zen like freedom that those who have recovered seem to share? When will I love my body or even accept it for what it is? When will my fear of gaining weight go away? When will I be able to honestly spew out all of that amazing self-love that some of my fellow bloggers do so freely? When will I believe in myself and have that amazing confidence that everyone else seems to see in me? When will the rational/logical side of my brain with all of the information that I know, completely override the irrational eating disorder self-destructive side?

Unfortunately, I don’t know the answers to any of these questions and I have a funny sense that no one can tell me them either, that this is another one of those crappy things that  I just need to “sit with” and “work through” and all of that other therapy jargon I have heard so frequently. And ugh I am sick of that. 

So yeah, this blog post is really odd. I started writing about flexibility and planned to talk about how learning to be flexible is a big hurdle in my recovery but instead wrote a mini rant about my current stuckness in recovery. Maybe they are related? Maybe not? Maybe my current headache and exhaustion (even after sleeping a lot) is causing my focus and frustration to be a little off? Maybe my recent denial of I-am-not-actively-restricting-my-intake-but-am-not-always-eating-enough is playing a role? Maybe I am just angry? Or most likely it’s a combination of all of the above.  Either way, if you stuck it out and were able to follow through this entire post, then you deserve a gold star in my book. If not, no harm no foul, we can still be friends. 

Instead of completely deleting this post which is what I would normally do or trying to really change it and make it more structured and less messy, I am going to post it exactly how it is. If nothing else, it shows that I am human and also shows both sides of recovery. Even though a lot of my posts are insightful and positive, I still have my doubts and my struggles and I think this post makes that clear. So just like the title of yesterday’s post, this is what recovery looks like Part II.

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