Together They Both Get Grey

It is magically September, and mid-September at that! It’s a calm, cloudy 72 this afternoon but I’m already contemplating pulling out my Halloween decorations. If it were up to me they would be out all year round!

I’ve been in my head mostly, and not putting pen to paper (fingers to keys?) quite as frequently. While this blog started out as way to document my sobriety, it has transformed into something else entirely. I’ve become less preoccupied with alcohol and more preoccupied with food and it’s been this way for exactly one year now. I feel like I’ve been blindsided.

One entire year of my life spent re-immersing myself in anorexia, confronting my past, and struggling to find a balance – although not necessarily in that order. It’s the confrontation that led to the re-immersion, but I wasn’t quite cognizant of that in the beginning. As for balance? Well, I’m still working on that.

It’s so easy to paint a pretty picture of recovery. I’ve been embarrassed that this eating disorder recovery has been a crap-shoot. I realize that it’s impossible to take an “all or nothing” mentality when it comes to recovery, but my personality is such that I can’t help forcing the idea. If I’m not in the hospital hooked up to a feeding tube, then I had better be eating “normally” and not feeling like a crazy person. There is no grey area….except that there is, and that’s where I’m living. Inside the grey where everything feels impossible. Eating “normally” feels impossible. Being HUMAN feels impossible.

I’ve been hesitant to post because I feel like I should be further along, but I’m not even sure how to gauge my progress. I’m still seeing my therapist. I also have weekly appointments with my medical doctor. I’m underweight, but not in the danger-zone. It feels too difficult to do anything but stay here – in the grey. It feels safe. It feels calm. It also goes against my natural all or nothing tendency, and that brings us back to BALANCE.

It is Friday and I am rambling. I think for the time being I’m going to take a page from The Big Book and just forge ahead one day at a time. 

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All My Little Words

I’m showing up today with a much better attitude. It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of those seductive negative thoughts! I need a moment-to-moment reminder that ‘this too shall pass’.

Today is Tuesday. It’s gloomy, rainy and thunderstorms are predicted and I can’t wait! Fall is coming and with it comes massive changes in my personal life. I’m embarking on a new career, continually tackling my eating disorder and sobriety, and planning a low-key slide into my favorite time of year.

Last autumn was difficult. Work was reminiscent of those RomCom movies where the guy and the girl stay late and order Chinese food and fall in love amidst towers of papers and malfunctioning copy machines. Although, my version didn’t involve  Chinese food and I fell back in love with anorexia, instead. Last autumn I started therapy. Last autumn I worked tirelessly to create a Halloween costume that I never wore because I was too exhausted and unhappy.

It is impossible for this autumn to be anything like last year. Work will now involve a drastically shorter commute and drastically different environment. Food will feature more prominently this autumn, and that Halloween costume will become one of at least three that I plan on wearing. Therapy is the only constant, albeit not static, part of my upcoming fall season.

I’ve a horrible habit of getting lost in the planning of things and I’m attempting to combat that this autumn. I love the process and the anticipation of planning. I strive to always have something to look forward to and work toward. Life, however, is about balance. If I’m too busy looking forward to and planning my ‘perfect Thanksgiving’ or my ‘perfect Halloween costume’ I run the risk of missing all of the perfect little moments that make up each day.  In a blink, the quiet morning walk with my little dog will be gone. Evening jaunts to the park for Frisbee are fleeting. Settling into my impossibly uncomfortable couch with the man I love on a Friday night, the weekend lying in wait, while the glow of the TV illuminates my living room and the familiar Paramount stars stream across the screen – with a snap of the fingers that moment is gone. All those little things that make up an entire day, week, month, year…..all those little things are what make up a lifetime.  All those little things are what matter most.

Hotels on the Moon

It’s July now, almost August, actually. Where has the time gone?

Personally, about 20% has been job-hunting, music-making and running. Lots of running. This brings me to the other 80% of my time, which has been spent on my eating disorder.

I’m exhausted. I’m confused. I don’t understand how I’ve gotten to this point where food is terrifying, my body doesn’t feel like my own and every decision I make needs to be run by my eating disorder first.

I finally went to the doctor….on Wednesday. My therapist had been urging me to go since March, but alas. My lab results aren’t back yet, so I’ve no clue if my insides look as shitty as they feel, but I guess we’ll find out!

I am usually positive, optimistic, looking for the silver-lining and all that Pollyanna stuff. Today I feel tired. I want a vacation from myself, from anorexia, from everything.

A New Point Of View

I was walking home from the grocery store yesterday and I passed a Thai place that had a sandwich board out front. The board was advertising their happy hour and for the first time in WHO KNOWS how long, I thought, “I could use a drink!”

It made me shake my head and ask myself, why?

I deduced that it was the grocery store excursion. Anorexia makes grocery shopping An Event. An event that I have been avoiding at all costs – my poor husband. I was feeling particularly kick-ass yesterday with regard to my eating disorder and I decided to do the difficult thing. Challenge myself. Go to the store. Make dinner.

Eat dinner.

So, I went to the library and checked out a documentary. I went to the bank. I went to the thrift store. And then I went to the grocery store.

I procured everything I needed for a meal that my husband would enjoy and feel satiated by and a meal that I would feel comfortable eating. I gathered fresh vegetables and herbs and my heart began to pitter-patter, but in a good way.

I used to decompress in the kitchen. I used to think about what exciting new ingredient I wanted to cook with, or I’d find a recipe that fit my mood and set out to numerous places to get the necessary ingredients; Asian markets, spice stores, you name it! It was fun and relaxing and the end result was something to share – something to bring people together.

Currently, not so much the case. However, I couldn’t ignore the butterflies in my stomach. They were happy. They were stirring with anticipation and suddenly I felt strong. I left the grocery store feeling excited, challenged and NORMAL. That’s when I saw the happy hour advertisement.

The idea of drinking crossed my mind because I felt so normal. It’s like the US Weekly spread ‘Stars! They’re Just Like Us!’ – They walk to the park! They eat churros! Stars! They’re just like us!

‘Normal people! They’re Just Like Me!’ They go to the grocery store! They get drinks after work!

In that split second I felt how I did early on in my sobriety: a little bit lost. It was gone in an instant, and the actual urge to drink never appeared, thankfully. I’ll always equate cooking dinner with drinking a glass of wine and I think that was part of the thought, too.

Once I made it home I kept up my momentum and created the ultimate stress-free cooking environment. I cleaned the kitchen, I put on some music and started prepping. I gave myself 1,000 pep talks. I high-fived myself, my fridge, the oven and the fancy bottle of olive oil that I was actually using. Normal people! They make dinner! My husband came home and we had a great discussion about all of my high-fives and it felt awesome. I served us two normal-sized portions and I did the impossible. I ate dinner. I ate dinner and I didn’t beat myself up (too much).

It’s a fucking process, isn’t it?

 

 

Talking to the Walls

Today is a therapy day. I’m supposed to disclose my weight to my therapist and it’s caused quite the uproar in my brain this past week. He wants to get some other professionals involved and make this more of a “team effort”. There are so many things I need to do to fix all of this, but I feel powerless. I feel rooted.

When I quit drinking, I struggled with my routine. I craved the sweet release of two bottles of cheap, grocery store chardonnay and the comfort of the couch (or floor if I was exercising). The first six months of sobriety were exciting and awful all in one fell swoop. I missed the happy hours and social drinking, but craved the early morning/non hangover jogs and the power of being able to Just Say No.

These past sixth months of sobriety have been off the radar. I really don’t even think about drinking except to revel in how relieved I am to have quit. I’m relieved because I don’t have to stress about the amount of calories in drinks. Cut out my two-bottle of wine dinner and you’ve got a healthy zero calorie night! I didn’t consciously make that decision, but the deeper I relapsed into this eating disorder, that’s what happened. I quit eating the way I quit drinking: with sheer determination. Happy Hours and social drinking were a thing of the past, so I quit being social all together.

Everything is connected in this mass of tangles inside my head. It’s like that team building game where everyone stands in a circle, grasps hands across it and tries to unwind the bundle of knots without letting go. That is my brain – an exercise in team building. When will all the parts work together, though? What exactly do I need to do?

Quitting drinking improved my life ten-fold. Somehow, I thought that quitting eating would fix something, too. It didn’t. It hasn’t.

 

There’s No Prize

I can’t decipher what I look like.

I am also acutely aware that I cannot trust myself to make that judgement, which is a strange phenomenon to grasp. Self reflection conundrum.

I’ve not written much because I’m at a loss for words. I write in the tiny spiral-bound notebook  in my oversized tote bag on a regular basis, but it’s not substantial. In spite of the fact that I’ve filled three of them. Those notebooks are my crazy. Those notebooks are my eating disorder, whether I want to admit it or not. I’m embarrassed to write here because of the things I write there – I don’t want to be superficial, so best not to write at all.

Today is an exceptionally melancholy day and it’s a relief to have therapy in two short hours. I’ve had so much tea to drink that I’m in and out of the bathroom every 15-20 minutes, and thus staring inquisitively at my reflection in the large bathroom mirror every 15-20 minutes. Is that me? Poke. Pinch. I can feel that, but not much else.

Punching Pinholes

Excitement abounds! I have no trouble recollecting the adventures that last weekend brought, and I have much to look forward as we roll into the upcoming weekend.

I’ve been working on being more present. It is my tendency to dwell on negative thoughts that leaves me trapped in a cage of my own making. So, last weekend, instead of curling up under the blankets and becoming a zombie, I forced myself to be social. It made a world of difference.

It’s not easy to embark on activities when just the act of getting out of bed in the morning feels like a magnanimous task. Each and every decision throughout the day takes careful thought. Rules must not be broken. Routines must be adhered to. The only reason I decided to leap outside of my comfort zone was because  we had tickets to a show. Non-refundable tickets that had been purchased long ago before my brain space was overwhelmed with its current demons. Staying home was not going to be an option. Date night, here I come.

The thing is, it felt really nice to let go for one night. I promised myself I would live in the moment. I would be grateful for everything I have and for all the people in my life, and for the wonderful city I live in. Negative thoughts be damned! I had them, of course, the negative thoughts and the cruel inner monologue, but for that one night I fought back.

It got me thinking, if I can do it for one night, why not try to do it for a little bit longer? Addiction is a brutal beast. It’s difficult to keep your head above water minute to minute, much less day to day, but there is no harm in trying. It hurts to beat yourself up. It’s ugly and it’s painful and it’s 100% unnecessary. So, my goal this week has been to try, every day, even for just a moment, to love my whole self. I am giving myself permission to be who I am, perceived faults and all, because I am enough.

 

Take Heart

It’s Wednesday, but it feels like it could be any day, really.

I told my therapist recently that I’ve been having trouble recalling what I’ve been up to, what my weekends have looked like – what I’ve accomplished. Normally, I have answers.

I went to a movie. I had book club. I cooked an amazing dinner. We took the little dog to the dog park. We had Greek food at our favorite joint down the street. I went for a run and then out to breakfast.

Recently I have dead air.

I…ran a lot. I…journaled. I, um, did a lot of strength training and avoided food and people.

Really exciting stuff.

His insight was that my focus on food, exercise and weight is causing me to lose time. Every day is the same. It’s the same obsession, the same routine, the same rut. He’s absolutely right, of course. I’m just not sure how to shift the focus.

I hate the idea of losing time. I know these things aren’t important, but the disorder is making them TOP PRIORITY in my head. I am tired of looking back at my journals, and sifting through memories and finding the same disordered thoughts and hurtful words. When did it become seemingly impossible to love myself? Where is my compassion? The thoughts in my head are cruel and I know they are untrue. I think I need to keep reminding myself of that.

 

 

Human Nature Kills

Today is absolutely positive in one respect and that is because today is Day 294 of sobriety. I look at that number and my head tilts to one side. I have been sober for almost one year. I am grateful every single day that I started down this path, and thankful that I’ve had success in sobriety.

Addiction is a mixed bag, I’ve learned. My last few posts centered on FEELINGS and my incredibly difficult time feeling them. Without alcohol to numb my emotions, out slithered the demons – ready to strike in my vulnerable state. Depression set in and old habits came back. I’ve held off on the updates, quite obviously and to be frank, I’m incredibly anxious about my absence from this blog.

I’m going to cut to the chase.

Rip off the Band-Aid.

I have backslid into anorexia.

All systems are a go when it comes to conquering this beast yet again, however I can’t help but feel ashamed. My thoughts oscillate wildly between, “How on Earth did you let this happen?!” to “You are ridiculous. Run. Run. Run on empty. Food is not for you.”

It is absolutely maddening.

I’ve got a support system, I’ve got a therapist and all of that jazz, but I need my blog. I need to write in something that isn’t a tiny spiral notebook buried deep in my purse full of self-loathing.

Recovery. A return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength. This is the rough patch. It blindsided me by not being alcohol related, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to fight any less. I am worth it.

 

It Was Sink or Swim

Time has passed quite quickly! It is already December – how did that happen? It was inevitable, I guess.

Thanksgiving came and went and I managed to still have a wonderful time without drinking. I feel like that shouldn’t surprise me at this stage in the game, and yet it does every single time! I like that it still surprises me. It means that I will continue to have things to look forward to, and that no matter how alcohol laden an event used to be, that doesn’t necessarily mean it was more fun!

As we barrel into December,  I can’t help but think how calm I feel about alcohol. If circumstances were different, I probably would be more concerned about the upcoming holiday parties, but as it stands I am more concerned with one million other things. Work has been all consuming and if I’m not in the office I am curled up watching movies and drinking tea (and contemplating all the laundry I should be doing). Going out and mingling or meeting for happy hour doesn’t even sound appealing after a long day, or several days. It’s made me realize that when I was drinking, these events were attended primarily FOR the booze. I’m relieved to be sober because these long days coupled with long nights AND drinking sound like an accident waiting to happen – or at the very least a horrible cold!

These days are all about exquisite self care, not PERFECT self care, but at least paying close attention to it. I am reminding myself to participate in the things I love, even when I want to drink tea and watch movies. I’m embracing my favorite things about the season: candy canes, Christmas music, decorations and giving. Alcohol can find its own way somewhere else.