A long way to go

I’ve been mulling over the idea of writing this post for a while now, and how to put into words what has happened over the last eleven months. I want everyone who has been in my life through this time to know that I appreciate them, especially my husband and mom and dad, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, sisters…the list goes on. I have gone through a lot in the past weeks and months, and I couldn’t have done it without family, friends, a wonderful dietitian and therapist, and a dedicated doctor. Teamwork has been a major part of my healing, and though I still have a long way to go, I am facing my fears and struggles every day. Even when I feel hopeless, there are always reasons to keep going.

One of those reasons is my family. My husband in particular. I don’t write about him enough, mostly because I don’t want to embarrass him, and now is his moment to be recognized fully. This is a long story, so settle in and expect rambling and mushy stuff. Okay, here goes…

I met my husband in a way that is becoming more and more popular of late. Online. Technically. I met him online, but I knew his family long before that. I hung out with his sisters, and helped his youngest sister with math and reading. Mostly we just chatted casually on Facebook, or commented on each others weird photos. Eventually we also sent each other letters (of which I have a while box full). I was hesitant to talk more than we did, because at the time I wasn’t yet 20, and he was a little bit older than me. I was concerned with what people would think of me. This concern about how people view me and my life has come into play so many times in my life, a topic I will hit on again in a bit, but thankfully I got over my doubt, and we started actually dating.

We were only together for a short time before he proposed, but at that point we knew so much about each other, and we were (still are, by the way) in love. I was convinced I would never find a better soul mate, and I still am. He felt the same way. We have similar senses of humor, and we each have weird health problems that plague us. I think what really solidified our relationship was when I was a stones throw away from being admitted to inpatient at a hospital with an antiquated eating disorder program, a program I did not want to attend, and had no intention of ever attending, and I texted Dan to say I was in trouble. He immediately asked what was wrong, and when I told him how I felt, despite the fact that I was underweight and probably not thinking clearly, he stepped up and too matters into his own hands. He saved me. When no one else was wiling to, he spoke up. Between my husband and my mother-in-law, I was able to fight off the doctor who gave me these orders (and was going to have me escorted by the Sheriff if I did not comply) and find a new doctor. This happened years ago, and I have a new team of a dietitian, therapist, and doctor now, thank god.

Every now and then I remember this time in my life and I’m amazed at how incompetent professionals can be, and how amazing my husband is. But back to my story…after that he was a hero. I’d like to say I trust him innately, but there are some things I just don’t trust anyone on, so I’m still working on that (an example would be that calories are good. I still have that hurdle to jump over). We dated , got engaged, and got married. Just like that I was a married woman, an “adult” in the eyes of the law (I was over 18) and in the eyes of society. I thought marriage would save me. That all of my crap around food might go away. But it didn’t, of course. For a time I felt like I had a handle on it, but over weeks and month, I slowly began to take steps backwards. At this point I hadn’t seen a doctor or dietitian in quite a few years, and I wanted to believe I could heal myself. That someone loving me unconditionally would also heal me. Well, depression had a lot to say about that, and one of the main things that started playing on repeat in the soundtrack of my mind was that I was alone, unsafe, and unworthy. I told my husband that I didn’t feel “safe” meaning I wasn’t being taken care of, I guess. I could feel his hurt and confusion rolling off of him in waves. I’m pretty sure that’s one of the worst things a wife can say to her husband in the first months of marriage, that she doesn’t feel as if she’s being provided for. It wasn’t that exactly, I was simply used to living at home with my parents, with most all of my needs met without me even having to say a word. I wanted something from the grocery store? put it on the list. I needed laundry done, and was out of detergent? Mom would surely get some more soon.

I think it came down to money and responsibilities. I was obsessed with money, and saving it. I know now, and knew then, that money often makes or breaks marriages. I didn’t do anything with that knowledge though. I guess I can blame it on mental illness, this obsession with saving every penny and not spending it even on items we needed. I think I’ve done a pretty decent job of getting over that, it was something that came with the initial healing process, it almost feels good to spend money now, because I know that we’re doing OK, and money just isn’t an issue at the moment. The point is, is, it was, and I am ashamed of that. Dan probably thought I was a nutcase! (I am, but you know what I mean).

I curled into my own little shell, and began to fade away. If you were wondering, being underweight makes everything a little fuzzy. I don’t always remember everything during certain times, but I do know that intimacy was something I couldn’t fathom. I couldn’t accept love of any kind. I still struggle with this, but I’m trying to work on it. I even “let” Dan buy me a birthday card this year! Anyway, the love and passion that should flourish within a new marriage wasn’t there. So, we’ve got love, money…I wasn’t eating with Dan after the first few meals, or if I was, I ate my own concoction of low calorie food. Dan felt like I was shutting him out, and I was, though unintentionally. I didn’t have the capacity to see beyond food, and my own jumbled brain. Our marriage began to fall apart before we even started laying a foundation.

It got to the point where communication didn’t exist anymore, I shut down and turned away. We both knew what needed to happen, we needed to talk and find compassion and hopefully, a way to cope. I don’t think that was possible at the time, mostly on my end. I can see now how unfocused and removed I was from life. How horrible it must have been for Dan to see his wife becoming a zombie. I wrote notes and letters to him, but when I tried to talk, my vocal cords refused to work correctly, my brain wouldn’t send signals to my mouth to open.

About a year after we exchanged vows, I found myself lugging cardboard boxes to the trunk of my car, clearing out the room I had come to call my own, and spend the majority of my time at home in. After a few discussions and misunderstandings, I was moving out. I was hurt, confused, and unsure. I cried as I moved some of the same items I had carried through these doors, just months before. I had no idea if I was making the right decision, or if this would result in Dan and I moving closer together, or further apart. In some ways I blamed him for pushing me away, only because he had spoken the words that had resulted in this move. That wasn’t the case at all though, and Dan is wiser than his years, guys. He probably didn’t know exactly what his words would make me do, but looking back, I think we both made the right decisions last August.

And now, close to a year later, I am packing up more boxes and totes, and going through my closet; in preparation to move back in with my husband. Plans changed over and over, we started fixing up our house to sell, and thought perhaps both Dan and I would live in the rental, but that never happened. Then when the time came closer and closer for the lease to be up on the house I am staying in, we decided it would be best for me to move back into the house we own, and go from there. I’m nervous. My anxiety flares up now and then. But I think that once again, we are making the right decision.

Healing takes on many forms, and it’s often unpredictable. For me, it took a year of being in my own place, thinking lots of thoughts and doing lots of hard work. Through it all, Dan was there though. He has never left my side, no matter how hard I pushed him away. I had many weeks of eating meals with my family, and then eating meals with my husband. I was worried when I moved out that people would judge me, and think of me as a failure. I had to stand taller than my fears, and do something I was unsure of, and now I can see that all of the moves we made and the roles we played, as husband and wife, caretaker, chef, administrator of medication (oh, how I kicked and screamed at this one)…those were all things that had to happen for me, and us, to get here.

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