Saturday, February 23, 2013

Compassion for the ick

This week has sucked. Bottom line. I've clung to the eating disorder in every way possible. And I have been ashamed. Full of so much self hatred and blame. "Why am I doing this again?" "Am I really this crazy?" "How come I can take care of EVERYONE else, but can't take care of myself?" "Why do I continue to starve myself when I know the consequences?""Why am I ruining the amazing things that I have going for me with so much destruction?" The further I got into the week, the more I beat myself up and the deeper I fell. I generally still struggle a lot with my worth, but when I am not eating enough, I go to a very dark place. Depression and negative thoughts consume me. It's pretty scary, actually. The more I engaged in eating disorder behaviors, the more I beat myself up and the worst I felt about myself. *cue endless cycle*

Self criticism, judgement and blame didn't get me anywhere this week. The harsher I was towards myself, the more I engaged in destructive things and the worse things got. I just couldn't snap out of the pattern. No matter how angry I got or how painful it was, I just couldn't see past it . It was defeating and enormously frustrating at the same time.

 Today I had a very embarrassing yet eye opening experience that really helped end this cycle. I've been wrestling with myself about whether or not to share this but I refuse to allow shame to win yet again. Today I asked John if we could have some alone time. Being the amazing fiance that he is, he obliged and went on to campus. Within seconds of him walking out the door I began eating everything in sight, which was my plan all along. I went from one thing to the next until I reached a level of fullness that I am not used to. Once I was able to actually stop myself from eating (which is very difficult when your body is used to constantly being starved) I was overcome with so much shame. I sat in the kitchen and cried. "What am I doing?" "Did I really just choose food over spending time with my fiance?" "What is wrong with me?" The self berating started again without missing a beat.

Out of no where a light bulb went off. (ok, a little disclaimer here: I know that I was probably able to reach this conclusion because the nourishment actually allowed my brain to get out of survival mode and to actually function properly) As I sat on the kitchen floor, surrounded by food wrappers and a mess, I thought about the last week. About how badly my body needed food. About how much I had ignored my hunger and my needs. How could I be angry at myself? How could I be surprised about what had just happened? It all made perfect sense.

The anger softened. While I wasn't happy about what had happened or how it had happened, the judgement disappeared. I am not proud of this moment, but I was able to look at it with some gentleness and a lot of compassion. And with that end the cycle.

I hate that I still struggle so much with anorexia. I wish that weeks like this just didn't happen. But I know that hating myself for them doesn't make them happen any less. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Having compassion for my struggles is not something that comes naturally to me. Even talking about the icky parts of my life makes me feel very uncomfortable. But if I don't, shame wins every time and the cycle continues.

We can't hate ourselves healthy. We don't take care of things that we hate. No amount of blame and judgement will ever set us free. It's hard to have compassion for the not so great parts of our lives but by doing so we take away the power that they hold over us and that is where the true healing begins. There is freedom in self acceptance and compassion.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Fighting for Us

Tonight John and I stood in our kitchen. His arms wrapped tightly around me as I cried. As I stood there overwhelmed and upset, he reminded me of how proud he is of me and how much he loves me. As we stood there I thought about our upcoming wedding. I thought about last Valentine's Day when I wouldn't even eat the chocolate covered strawberries that he went out of his way to make me. How we spent one of our first anniversaries at Moe's because I couldn't handle eating anywhere else. All of the nights where he has sat at the dinner table alone because I won't eat. Or worse, the fights and temper tantrums I have thrown when he has tried to help me at meal times.This doesn't even begin to explain the toll that anorexia has taken on our relationship. The countless nights I have spent wrapped up in his arms crying hysterically or completely numb and out of touch with reality because I am undernourished. 

When I think about all of this I am overcome with sadness. It pains me that my eating disorder has been such a big part of the first few years of our life together. It upsets me to no end the amount of memories that it's invaded and the moments it's stole from us. These times that we will never be able to get back.

The past few weeks have been a struggle for me. My recovery that seemed to be going smoothly, hit a few bumps and then fell off of a cliff. It's a slippery slope and before I knew it I was drowning. This week my normal encouragement wasn't working and I felt discouraged.

Today I was reminded of what I am fighting for.

A long, healthy relationship with the love of my life. A chance to grow old with the most amazing, kind, caring, understanding, supportive, loving and patient man I know. To be able to laugh, smile and enjoy each others company and the little things in life. To eventually have children and be able to love them unconditionally, watch them grow up and help guide them along the way.

In three and a half months John and I will be getting married. I don't want our wedding to be another thing the eating disorder steals from us. Although recovery is difficult, it isn't as painful as the isolation that anorexia causes.

Sometimes I think John must seriously be crazy in order to stick around and continue to love me through all of the ups and downs. Yet I thank God for this everyday. I don't have all of the answers or any for that matter, but I know what I am fighting for. I am fighting for us.