Monday, March 29, 2010

reasons to be proud.

I still (unfortunately and frequently) have those moments (weeks), when I essentially pray for the "strength" to go back to my old ways. It is pathetic and embarrassing, but I still find myself longing for the parts of my eating disorder that gave me comfort and a sense of power. It is sick, yet destructively satisfying, and I have a feeling that this unacceptable desire will stay with me for many more years.

At the same time, I look at where I am now, and for the first time, I'm starting to feel genuinely relieved and proud that I've found some distance from The Old Me. I never thought I'd feel that way again. Even two days ago, I was more disappointed than proud of myself.

Of course, this positive attitude is probably temporary. Confidence and pride are fleeting in recovery. One meal's mental triumph can twist into a failure three minutes later. So I write down these things to remind myself how far I've come.

I am proud of my ongoing recovery because:

  • My emotions no longer crumble in an instant. The final two years of undergrad were filled with mental breakdowns over minor moments. I remember one night in 2007, I tried using my swipe-key to get into the Journalism building. After two failed swipes, I literally fell to the ground sobbing and dry-heaving. These moments were very frequent and unpredictable.

  • I can now focus on the company -- not the calories -- when I go to restaurant. This allows me to truly celebrate when I want to honor the people I care for.

  • My mind is no longer occupied by computations and numbers and deficits and estimations and double digits and triple digits and quadruple digits.

  • Similarly, my days and emotions are not dictated by digital numbers that flash in bright red like a bad grade on a report card. Two-tenths of a pound no longer sends me into spirals of depression and forced starvation.

  • I'm becoming less afraid of food. I truly had a fear of food, which goes against basic human instinct. What living creature is afraid of food? I must not have been living.

  • I know Patrick is happier with our relationship. And why shouldn't he be? We are laughing more, and I am finally giving him the time and mental/emotional effort that I once selfishly and uncontrollably devoted to my eating disorder. I was ruthless, I was disrespectful, I was downright hurtful in the thick (thin?) of it all. I'm ashamed of my behavior, of my lies.
But in light of this honesty, I must also admit to the dark and dirty thoughts: The lingering idea that I'm no longer special because I'm recovering. That I will no longer be loved, because I'm finally taking care of myself. That "normal" and "average" means failure, because "anyone can be normal and average." That I'm not good enough if I'm not 10 pounds below where I need to be. That I shouldn't feel full, because feeling full means treating myself nicely, and god knows I don't deserve that.
When I eat to get rid of hunger, the voice inside still whispers, "Why are you eating right now? You're alone. No one is watching you."

And again, in light of honestly, I have to admit: I've tried countless times to go back. To lose, to starve, to hurt. I wasn't able to. And I debate with myself: Is it because I've lost the self-control to do so, or because there's a part of me deep down that never wants to go back?

I try to focus on the latter, even though my brain keeps telling me I'm lazy/indulgent/greedy/enter-self-depricating-word-here. I try to tell myself, "This is what your body needs after so much time without." And I'm slowly starting to believe it.
It's a form of trickery, sure, but it's gotten me this far.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

a sort of deja vu.

I had this exact moment today at 7:45 a.m. Right down to the morning bowl of Cheerios (though it was actually Kashi Heart-to-Heart cereal):

This is the weird aftermath, when it is not exactly over, and yet you have given it up. You go back and forth in your head, often, about giving it up. It's hard to understand when you're sitting there in your chair, having breakfast or whatever, that giving it up is stronger than holding on, that ‘letting yourself go’ could mean you have succeeded rather than failed.

You eat your goddamn cheerios and bicker with the bitch in your head who keeps telling you you're fat and weak: Shut up, you say, I'm busy, leave me alone.

When she leaves you alone, there is a silence and a solitude that will take some getting used to. You will miss her sometimes. Bear in mind she’s trying to kill you. Bear in mind you have a life to live. There is an incredible loss. There is profound grief. And there is, in the end, after a long time and more work than you ever thought possible, a time when it gets easier.
The memory of that phrase "there is profound grief," popped into my head tonight. Something in the back of my head was whispering to me, "profound grief, profound grief." So I opened up the book, searched for the exact paragraph, and let my jaw drop to the floor.

Re-reading it after several months literally took my breath away.

When written words link perfectly to your life like the teeth of a zipper, you can't help but feel a little safer, and a little warmer than before.