Monday, April 30, 2012

Oh how the tides have turned

Over the last few days it’s been really evident to me how far I have come in this recovery journey and not because everything has been going smoothly. Unfortunately, I can’t say that I NEVER turn to eating disorder behaviors or that most of the thoughts are gone, because that would be a big lie, but I have noticed a big change. 

Last week I had a few rough days; days that I could have easily pretended that never happened. I could have kept my mouth shut, told no one and filed them in the “keep-to-myself/did-not-happen” folder. And it was tempting at first. Then it wasn’t. The longer I tried to keep them a secret, the more they defined me and the worst I felt. And sure enough, they kept happening. So I spoke up, let go of the shame and started talking. After that not only was it a lot easier to end the cycle and get back on track but I felt like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. (Too bad it wasn’t my thighs or my butt, but that’s a different story)Keeping secrets really isn’t my thing, especially ones that are only hurting me. 

After a few rough days, it was really hard to keep them from continuing. A big part of the problem for me is getting trapped in patterns. I like routine and once I do something 1 day or 4, on the 5th day I want to do it again. It becomes habit and like I have to do it, even when it’s something harmful or not productive to me or my recovery. And this is exactly how I get sucked back in every time. So the 5th day rolls around and I am unsure of what to do. The urges, thoughts and feelings are there as is the repetition from the day before and the promise lie of comfort. So instead of continuing the cycle I call John up and ask him to go to lunch with me. (Ok, I guess I should be honest here and give him most of the credit. He invited me to lunch and I said no. Then he reminded me a few hours later that the offer was still there and probably a good idea, so I obliged. He knows me pretty well.) After, instead of engaging in any other eating disorder behaviors I spent 3 hours getting my craft on. * For details look at picture posted below* Just a little disclaimer: crafting isn’t really my thing and happens once in a blue moon, so hold the judgments. It is also insanely hard to do anything related to crafting when you have a kitten who tries to eat everything, including paper, plastic scissors and tape. I promise that I feed him. 

Cue a few days later, as in last night and I found myself in a rough spot. I was overwhelmed and anxious about the future; wedding planning, law school, house hunting, job searching etc and the eating disorder was whispering sweet nothings into my ear. And let me tell you, they sounded fantastic. There is nothing that I enjoy more than an escape from reality when it feels like the walls are caving in, especially with a false hope of weight loss. When things are going well in my life, recovery seems awesome but when anxiety and fear get the best of me, the ED and I are complete bffs.  I considered the offer for a little while and it was extra tempting because I knew that I could get away with it. I knew this could have been another one of those times when I could do whatever and no one would have to know, except for me of course. (The guilt is usually what gets me to speak up) And then I remembered how I felt the other night, the consequences of last week and how the relief would only be temporary. My wedding wouldn’t instantly get planned, John and I wouldn’t magically find a house and jobs wouldn’t just fall into my lap. Real life would still exist; I would just have to deal with it feeling even more miserable.  So then I did the best and only thing that I could think of doing, I called John and asked if I could come over to his place and hang out. I told him that I was having a rough night and that I really didn’t want it to end like nights earlier in the week and the best way that I could think of to avoid that was getting out of my apartment and not being alone. It took a lot of courage and strength to call and ask for help instead of engaging in behaviors and it didn’t even feel very good. No warm fuzzies, but instead uncomfortable feelings to sit with and process. I felt needy and ridiculous for not being able to handle it alone and for using my fiancé as a distraction to not engage in self-destructive behaviors. Although, we both always enjoy the time that we spend together, no matter what the reason and this was no different.

Today I am proud of myself for everything that I have mentioned above. To a normal person, these may not seems like big feats, but for me they are a big deal. Months or even a few weeks ago I kept behaviors to myself until way after the fact to avoid the shame and disappointment that I felt for giving in. This never once benefited me. I never reached out to people in the moment, when I was feeling super vulnerable and about to give in. While sharing these setbacks after the fact is helpful, as I can figure out ways to avoid them next time, it’s even more helpful to avoid them in the first place. Although my slips are not as frequent as they used to be, I normally just let them happen. After all, it’s easier that way. It’s an excuse to try one more time and while distracting myself isn’t easy, it’s where the true progress lies.  I still get caught in the cycle of shame for wanting to give into the eating disorder. Knowing the consequences and my previous experiences, most of the time I feel like I should know better. But whether I should or shouldn’t doesn’t matter. Some days I can handle everything on my own and other days I need all of the help that I can get. I am starting to realize that reaching out and asking for help doesn’t make me needy but it makes me smart. It doesn’t matter what it takes to keep me from engaging in self-destructive behaviors, as long as they are avoided. It doesn’t matter how and when I get to the finish line as long as I eventually get there. 

It’s easy to get discouraged with all of the ups and downs of recovery. I continuously long for the day when eating disorder behaviors and thoughts are non-existent for me. And I know that day will come eventually. Since I blog about my life and my recovery, I feel added pressure. I want to be uplifting and positive all of the time, but that would be fake and unrealistic and has never gotten me anywhere before except further down the eating disorder denial hole of hell. Today I am glad that I am able to recognize my progress and see a difference. I consider the last week a test of my strength and perseverance. I am glad that I am using my resources and the amazing support system that I have on my side. I am proud that I am able to share my set backs without judgment and hopefully paint a clear picture of recovery from an eating disorder. It’s not always positive and it’s nowhere near perfect and that is the beauty of it all. 

 Sorry for the horrible picture quality!

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