I have had multiple periods of recovery in the past but I'm going to be honest, they were anything but real. They were half hearted and my eating disorder was always still lingering in the back of my mind.
In the past, every time I went to treatment I had the thought of "I'm just going to do this for now until I can return to my eating disorder." I wanted to please people, get them off my back, and appear like I was doing well when in reality I was not truly recovering. I wasn't fully present in the process and more importantly I was getting better for others instead of doing it for myself.
My motive was to appear "well", getting there as soon as possible by simply going through the motions of recovery. Yes this helped to get people off my back but in the long run all it did was hurt me. It made me more secretive and caused me to lie to others as well as myself. I would brainwash myself into thinking I was doing great when really I was feeding the eating disorder voice more, making it stronger than it already was.
This time is different. I can feel the difference from head to toe. I can feel it fully in my mind, body and spirit. I am so grateful for this difference. How do I know? I know because the eating disorder voice is slowly weakening. It is not there shouting things about calories and weight at me. It is not there attempting to manipulate me and those around me. It is beginning to subside, some days I barely even hear it.
I don't feel a motive other than getting well. I am not lying to others or using the tricks I once did in the past. I am present. I am feeling. I am challenging myself in ways I never have before. I am finding myself less preoccupied with my body and the things I put into it. These are things I have never truly felt free from. I have to say that the beginning of this new freedom feels better than just about anything I can think of.
I am beginning to feel proud of myself and what I have accomplished. I am amazed at the challenges I have taken on. I am delighted in the fact that I was the one who placed those challenges before me and thrilled that I was able to get through them, one at a time.
sI wish everyone could experience these feelings. They have filled me with more joy than I ever imagined this process would bring. It is so difficult to picture happiness and recovery when in the depths of an eating disorder. But I am proof that these things are possible. I'm not going to sit here and pretend that the struggle is over, because it's not. Recovery isn't all sunshine and rainbows, it comes with hard times as well. Knowing this helps me to appreciate all the good. It also helps me to realize the tough times will pass and the good times are possible.
I want to thank everyone who has been there on this journey with me. From the ones who have been extremely involved to the ones who may have said one nice thing to me. It all matters and it all makes a difference. Without all the support I have received I don't think I would be in the state I am today. This real state, the one that gives me hope for long term recovery. Like I said before, this time feels real, I can only hope for more amazing days to come.
I hate jeans. I don't hate many things, but I hate jeans. I don't know what it is about them, they just make me so uncomfortable and never seem to fit right. Needless to say this discomfort gets worse the more time I spend obsessing about my body. I haven't worn jeans in 9 months. Almost an entire year jean free.
Well I was jean free, until last night. Laying in bed almost ready to fall asleep I got a late night invitation to go out with a friend. I considered not going then decided, what the hell, why not go have a night out with my adventure buddy.
I didn't have much time to get myself ready so I dug through my closet quickly and grabbed a pair of jeans that I hadn't worn in, you guessed it, 9 months. Last time I wore these they were baggy on me and I had been told before that they didn't look the best because they seemed to be big. Expecting them to still fit the same way, I pulled them on. NOT THE CASE.
These jeans fit, they were maybe even a little tight. I immediately began with deep breaths. I am not used to things fitting. I have for so long avoided any kind of clothing that clings to or even touches my body. These jeans did both of those things. They hugged the curves I've gained over the past few months and showed off my body instead of hiding it behind baggy layers of fabric.
Still panicking but with no time to change, I left my apartment in those jeans. And guess what....... the world didn't end. None of my worst fears were realized. I was simply a normal girl wearing a normal pair of jeans.
This may seem like a trivial thing to most but to me this was a huge deal. I had avoided this article of clothing for nearly a year; last night I was able to face and conquer it. Seems crazy that a pair of pants can hold that much power but unfortunately they did have a lot of power over me.
I vow to keep wearing my jeans until they begin to lose that power. My life will not be run by a silly pair of pants. ;)
The other night I was having a "quiet" moment watering my garden. The neighbor lady came over to say hello. We exchanged neighborly dialogue and then she asked, "What's wrong with your daughter....... (no immediate response from me), she is so thin. I see she is staying with you".
Initially I panicked, what do I say? Do I try and educate this person, explaining to her that she suffers from an eating disorder?? Do I explain that health insurance does not cover the inpatient rehabilitation she requires? Do I say because we do not have an extra $100,000 sitting around that we are "treating" her at home?
I quickly try to decide what to do. If I tell her about the eating disorder, will I get the usual response (take her out for a burger and fries, she'll gain some weight.......). Ugh.
Lack of knowledge maddens me, what do I say?
This time I decided to keep it simple. I responded, saying "she is ill and unable to work right now. She is recuperating with us". I left it at that. The look on my neighbor's face was that of wanting to know what the illness was.
"Not tonight.", I tell myself. My brain needs a moment of peace.
At some point in college, I'm not even sure when, I was gifted with the nickname, "spacey gracie". It never really bothered me. For the most part I thought it was pretty cute so I never said anything about it or thought about what it could possibly mean.
Now, thinking about it more, I know exactly why I was "spacey gracie". I was depressed, malnourished, and would have given anything to get out of my mind. I was so disconnected that I literally was in space most of the time, keeping myself away from the immense amount of emotional pain I was experiencing.
Dissociation is a mental process that causes a lack of connection in a person’s thoughts, memory and sense of identity.
(http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/dissociation-and-dissociative-disorders) To describe dissociation in the simplest way possible, it is like sitting and watching your life as if it were a movie; you are entirely disconnected from everything that is yourself.
I've dealt with bouts of dissociation over the years. Sometimes it is as mild as feeling "zoned out", other times it can be a scary experience. There is one particular time I can remember when I was driving and felt completely outside of my body. I was so nervous to continue my drive, I felt like I had no control over the car. I happened to be on the highway, so it wasn't the easiest place to stop and take a breather, but luckily I made it home safe.
I believe that dissociation can be a coping skill to use when you are dealing with challenging emotions; however it is not a very positive coping skill (though sometimes it feels like the only thing we can do). So in college when I became "spacey gracie", it was because I knew no other way to handle my eating disorder and depression. All I knew was that I did not want to deal with it at all.
I honestly believe that most people thought I was dumb because I could never focus on anything and was never present to what was going on in front of me. Though this thought hurt, I was able to laugh off any comments I would get.
Today, even though I sometimes refer to myself as "spacey gracie", I am no longer her. I have learned to be grounded, how to be present in my mind, body, and spirit, and how to cope in other ways. It can be extremely tough sometimes but I realize it is the healthy thing to do; as you probably know, it is better to release emotions rather than stuffing them down, paying them no attention, and waiting for them to explode.
I think I will forever be "spacey gracie" in some people's minds but I know now that I can change the definition of who that girl is. These days I chose to be here on earth and awake in every moment that surrounds me.
"Wherever you are, be all there." - Jim Elliot