Hello, Goodbye

This year has given me so much. Joy, pain, tears, happiness, sadness, laughter, love…the list goes on. 

Last year at this time, I was searching. And this year, I am searching still. This doesn’t mean I haven’t grown or learned, it simply means I haven’t found my peace yet.

It’s hard for me to picture another year come and gone. I often struggle to see beyond the present, and yet I never feel like I am fully living in the moment. My brain is often on overdrive, most of the time with worries or food related stress.

I can’t remember what my expectations of 2016 were. I’m sure among them were “recovery”, “loving myself more”, “spending more time with those I love” and of course, “reading more books”.

Recovery didn’t happen. Healing, yes. Recovery, no. In fact, as I write this, I feel less recovered than I have in a long time. I know full recovery takes as long as it needs to. I am trying to be patient and kind with myself, and yet am finding more questions than answers.

Loving myself more was a great intention to have, I think. I once had a conversation about the belief that one must love themselves first, in order to truly love others. At the time, I had no argument for either side, and as I’ve grown, and given more permission to myself to be curious, I am coming to find that I truly don’t love myself, though I do love others. I have often struggled with love; accepting and giving (mostly accepting), and am learning how detrimental this can be in recovery from an eating disorder. I am excited to see what loving myself might look like, and though it is frustrating, I’m trying to believe it might be possible.

I think I may have succeeded with spending more time with those I hold near, though I may not have been as present as I could have. Much of the dark side of anorexia for me is held in the isolation and removal of myself. I know I spent many days holed up when I could have been spending time with others. I am learning to accept this as a fact, and preparing myself for a more flexible approach in the future. Some day, I hope to have a better excuse for not showing up than “I was scared of the food”.

The one expectation that I fulfilled completely was reading more books. I’m more embarrassed than proud about this though. The more I read, the less time I spend in “real life”, though I hold the opinion that reading keeps me sane. I plan to continue to read as much, if not more, in 2017; hopefully integrating piles of self-help and biography titles into my shelves.

I don’t usually make resolutions for the new year. So this year, I am making intentions. Below are the 3 intentions I hold for the new year. All of them are things I can do every day, and yet they are challenging in lots of different ways:

  • To live presently
  • To tame my expectations
  • To learn more about myself

 

Do you carry resolutions or intentions into the new year?  I’d love to hear advice, feedback, and experiences!


 

 

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Winter

I didn’t want to write this post. I didn’t want to even have to think about admitting what’s been going on lately.

I know winter is coming every year. I know it gets to me in all of the worst ways. I used to think it was just the cold and lack of sun. Now I think it goes much deeper than that.
When I enter into this season, I always think everything will stay the same. And why shouldn’t it? After all, it is supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year”.

So when I found myself feeling down and extra tired, crying at appointments and shutting down at the drop of a pin (I.e. My husband making me a half sandwich which I refused to eat, my car not starting on one of the warmest days last week, etc.) I should’ve probably spoken up for myself, and made an appointment with my doctor.

I didn’t though, and ended up having to play phone tag for part of an afternoon with the doctors nurse, who said I should make an appointment.

It was a relief to get an appointment with my doctor and see her within two days. I’m now on a little bit of a different plan with her on the medication side of things, and I’m hoping this change will help, and keep me moving forward.

It’s been hard to take care of myself these past few weeks. Of course, a great option for me to choose would be to accept care from others when I’m in this state, and yet I chose to stubbornly refuse it most days.

Self care can come in many different forms. I never thought of taking my medicine as an act of self care, and now I do. If I’m not consistent in listening to my body, brain, and whole self, then I’m not practicing self care (I do realize how ironic it is, that I’m talking about self care while actively not taking care of myself very well).  

Even if I feel like I’m doing everything wrong lately, at least I’m still showing up for appointments and taking my medications. I’m still waking up and going to work. And I’m still planning to do my best to enjoy the rest of this week. At least there’s that!

Wake up

When sleep feels like the only safe place.

When dreams are nowhere to be found.

Feeling like I must have an aura of pitch black following me around.

Anorexia was never an act of not physically being able to eat, rather it was a refusal. 

Learning early on that it was easier to abstain than put myself through the guilt and shame.

Now ed is silent, because a new voice has taken over.

Depression. The kind that feeds off itself (or is that depression in general?).

Still going through the motions, to get through the day. Collapsing and shutting down at home.

I keep reminding myself where this road could lead. I don’t want to go back there.

Something intuitive tells me this could be a breakthrough.

Maybe there is something more I need to learn before I’m ready to heal.

Maybe, like the labyrinth, depression is something I keep looping back on. 

Maybe there is something unvisited deep inside me.

I find myself thinking that no wonder I ended up here, ultimately.

No wonder I developed an eating disorder at the age of 13.

No wonder I had no friends.

This depression is deep, and I’m not sure I’ve even glimpsed the bottom; I may still be standing on the edge.

And if this is exactly how I felt when I was a new teen, an eating disorder would feed off of this behavior.

Nothing holds much interest, besides sleep. 

I am no longer hungry, and I freeze  at the thought of food passing my lips.

I’m scared, because this darkness is finding me more and more.

I thought things were looking up, and now I’m losing hope.

I know better days can and will happen.

I know this too shall pass.

It’s the holding on that’s exhausting. The guilt and sadness I feel for my husband, for not being present.

And I know I’m priveleged, I should feel gratitude for all I have.

I know my problems are typical “white girl” problems. Trust me, this weighs on me too.

Learning to take care of myself, it’s hard. Often it means I have to do things I’d prefer not to do.

Thankfully, I’m hanging in there. An appointment with my doctor, therapist and dietitian, all within this week.

I know I’m going to be OK, as long as I keep showing up, in life and at important appointments.

Focus 

Sometimes, things seem to be going well, almost scary well, like the calm before a storm.

I felt that way these past few weeks, I woke up, excited, knowing I was going to go out and work and see people, and have meals to fill myself up!

Motivation and a sense of new beginnings began following me around, and I accept it, holding on with hope in my heart.

Then, something happens and I stumble and fall on a knee, or scratch my palms with dirt and grit. I lose my hold on all of that hope.

It’s like letting so many helium balloons go, up into the wide open sky.

I start to overthink. I lay in bed, or kneel to put my boots on, and I think “Ok, I don’t know what today will bring…” and if I don’t take that thought and use it to propel myself to the next step of the day, I might get lost.

If I don’t consciously make a decision whether or not to eat, if I’m not gently easing into the mindset that what I’m doing and going through is for me, and that if I want to do well and be well, I must eat…

It’s exhausting. Trying to turn down the whispers and scratches of anxiety in my ears, often is only successful if I stop and tell myself to focus.

If I’m paying too much attention to calories, focus. If I’m worried about my next meal, focus. Trying to stop and bring all of my thoughts into one place.

Getting through the day. Focusing on that next step.

And some days are easier than others. And I don’t know why.

I’m working on learning what make “bad” days so bad, and how I can try to turn a “bad” day into more of a “good” day, so I don’t keep revisiting the same patterns over and over.

I know it’s going to take help, and time. I know it’s going to be hard. I’ve known that for a long time.

Nobody is perfect and it’s not a waste of time if I learned something.

First snow

I woke up to a world covered in wet flakes.

I felt at peace and safe, eating surprise cinnamon rolls and drinking hot coffee.

I was thinking of a handful of years ago…

When the snow meant shoveling, something I wasn’t allowed to do.

What a little devil I was about it. How my mom probably wanted to shake me, make me see.

Of course I wasn’t allowed to shovel. I was a tiny bird, teetering on the edge of the nest. I was a danger to myself.

I would get so angry! At how unfair it was, that my sisters could do this chore, and not me.

Looking back, I see how trivial it was. How annoying and childish I was, and at times still am.

After all, it’s only snow. (After all, it’s only food.)

How often this term has run through my mind. “Ugh! I know it’s only pizza! Why am I so afraid?”

Or more recently: “It’s only food, it’s only eating at “normal” times”.

Sometimes the words we use can be beneficial in one statement, and detrimental in another. 

It can be helpful to remind myself gently that it is in fact “only food” or “only exercise”.

And it can be piercing when someone thinks they are being helpful by saying these same words, and instead, is discounting my struggle.

I remember how I’d cry and throw a fit about not being able to do something “normal”. 

How I’d despise my sisters for their ability to do whatever they liked, whenever they liked.

Snow brought out the worst in me.

I remember how I’d anxiously call the local “time and temp” number, to report to my mom how cold it was.

How mad I would get over the windchill, when the temperature was above freezing.

Below freezing meant I really shouldn’t go outside at all, let alone walk my paper route, or the dog.

I am free now. Free to shovel and walk and breathe in icy gusts of wind.

This knowledge brings me a sense of peace. And also, thankfulness.

Because I know how easy it is to slip back. And I don’t even like shoveling, how ironic. 

Knowing I am free is also a scary thing, because I am only holding on to this freedom with the strength I once used to tear myself down.

On that Sunday morning of our first snow, I spent a bit of time focusing on my past, and I also dwelt on the present moment.

Savoring a warm house, a kind husband who takes such good care of me, hot coffee, a beautiful blanket of snow outside my windows, and cinnamon rolls for breakfast. (Let’s just say it’s been a long time since I had cinnamon rolls for breakfast.)

I’ve been reminding myself that I must do the thing I think I cannot do. I know I can do it, it’s the doubts and can’ts that hold me back.