Sunday, August 19, 2012

Crossroads

This past week has been one of those weeks where I have been all over the place, mostly emotionally, although in plenty of other aspects as well. Going from spending a lot of time sitting around my apartment to working every single day without a break has really taken it's toll. It only took me about a week and a half to stop and think "wait a second, I've been here before". (OK, maybe I shouldn't take all of the credit here. It also took John and my treatment team not so subtly reminding me. ) While the first week of working both jobs went rather smoothly, I unfortunately can't say the second was the same. On the job productivity front it went well and I am really loving the work that I am doing, but my recovery and health kind of took a back seat and the ED quickly crept back in without missing a beat.

I know how to restrict; how to count calories, limit my intake and fixate on my body. I know how to lose weight and obsess about food etc. I know how to become so busy and focused on everything else, as well as try to please and meet others needs and expectations, that I conveniently forget to eat. My life, needs and everything relating to me becomes unimportant. In fact, I am good at anorexia. My life can be consumed by it almost immediately. I can be sucked back in at the drop of a hat. Considering the fact that my recovery was a little rocky before the jobs started, it's no big surprise how quickly I found myself in that all too familiar place when things started to change and I became busy.

Each night this week ended in a melt down. There were a few days where I even needed to call John or text my treatment team before work or during my breaks because I was in tears or in a complete panic.They always listened to what I had to say yet they continued to remind me the importance of nutrition and how much my emotional instability was related to the fact that I wasn't eating enough. Although I knew this, I didn't want to hear it and responded with frustration and ignorance. I continued to rely on the ED and the promises it provided and every day was the same.

In the past week I made a new group of friends at work and we have connected quickly.I have also completely fallen in love with my new job. I not only feel like I have purpose and meaning but I feel like I am starting to make a difference and working for a cause that I care deeply about. I also realized how much I love children and how much better my life is when I get to work with them directly. I am in positions where I am directly helping others and doing work that aligns with my personality and values. Not only do I get to wake up and look forward to what I am doing every day, but then I get to come home to an amazing caring man every night. John is one of the most important people in my life and our relationship means more to me than words can describe.

Right now I am at a crossroad. I am extremely blessed and lucky for everything that I have going on in my life. Yet, the eating disorder is holding me back. This week I tried to find a balance. I tried, unsuccessfully, to have it both ways. I wanted the freedom and joy of my jobs, connection and love but also wanted the comfort and security of restricting and obsessing. I wanted all of the perks that come with recovery and living the life that I am meant to lead, but I didn't want to give up controlling food. I didn't want to follow my meal plan or the advice that was being given to me. I didn't want to let go. 

Anorexia is time consuming, destructive and isolating. When stuck in the grips of an eating disorder there isn't room for anything else. Connecting to others just isn't possible and relationships are non-existent or taken for granted. Values and morals are ignored or replaced by rules. Obsessing about food, weight, calories etc. takes the place of more important things and anything that truly matters quickly disappears. While recovery is hard work, exhausting and even excruciating most of the time, it holds a promise of hope. It takes effort, tears and a lot of uncomfortableness and vulnerability, but it gives you options. Anorexia gives you the broken promise of a smaller body and an allusive sense of control. While it provides a very temporary relief from anxiety and uncomfortable emotions, it takes away far more than it gives.

As I have mentioned many times in previous posts, I have given up a lot because of the eating disorder; relationships, memories, dreams. I have had to quit things that I have cared about because I was too sick or have just given up because I didn't have the energy or strength to care anymore. I have been forced and have willingly chosen to lie, manipulate, do things that I don't want to do and completely go against everything that I believe in. I've ruined real relationships with people who genuinely love and care about me in order to remain actively engaged in my ED. The cost is high, too high actually.

Right now recovery is extremely difficult. Each moment that I go against the eating disorder feels like betrayal. I feel so incredibly lost and uncomfortable. But right now the idea of losing the people in my life, having to quit my jobs or being unable to show up for myself and help others, is even more unbearable. Since, unfortunately, I can't have it both ways I have to choose recovery. I honestly don't see another option. I am not willing to sit back and watch everything that I have worked for disappear. I will not settle for less than a life of happiness, joy and love. I choose hope, relationships, connection and meaning. I choose to relish in the smiles of the children that I get to work with. I choose to accept my responsibility and desire to help and serve the needs of others. I gracefully accept that I have a gift and plenty to offer the world.

I long for the day where my eating disorder becomes an issue of the past but until that is the case I will no longer use it as an excuse to miss out on life. Although these revelations will not instantly make me better or more recovered and I am not naive enough to believe that there won't be plenty of days of doubt, I truly believe that I am at a major turning point. I have chosen the eating disorder 1 million times before today, but today I choose life in it's entirety.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
~Robert Frost 




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