These past few weeks have been hard. I’ve had ups and downs in my mood, which have thrown me off balance and kept me uncertain of my progress and my motivation. Prior to early this week, I was in a sort of desperate state to find a fix for the emptiness I felt.
This happens sometimes. More often than I’d like, but, after talking it out, I’ve come to a shinier hypothesis. The thing is that my eating disorder, as well as any maladaptive coping mechanism I may have resorted to in the past, did something for me. When I felt anxious, depressed, wary, or any number of emotions I wanted to reject, I used behaviors and immediately felt relieved. This became so instinctual, that the initial need for such actions became long lost in the addictive components, as well as the visceral nature of such long-lasting habits.
Recovering has not changed my nature, but rather altered my reactions. Going through times where my mind appears to switch and, seemingly, all of a sudden, getting out of bed seems like a painful task is disconcerting. It confuses me, as well as those working with me. It makes my path seem unsteady and my future unpredictable. However, it is proof of my success. In the darkest days of my eating disorder, I felt okay. I found security in the ultimatum I had chosen. The very thing that saved me, was concurrently killing me, and I felt okay with that. Today, I don’t feel okay all of the time. I get scared, worried, furious, panicked, and sometimes hopeless. But I meet my basic needs. It is because I meet them that I am then left to handle the countless obstacles of my heart and mind that left me initially seeking a way out.
In this understanding, I have come to a new set of terms with my lows. They will happen. I can accept that. They aren’t a testament to my defeat, but instead one of my progress. I am eating and my work isn’t over. Now I feel my mood and it isn’t always stable. These are the facts, and the challenge then is to find a new way to deal.
This past cycle of darker days challenged me to find a healthier alternative to restricting, over-exercising, etc. Though many trials seemed to lead me down the “I’m destined to drown” hole, something that resonated with the self searching for a way to get back on my feet was going through my past. This has also been a tricky road, as I’ve had the history of digging into my darkness to prove I couldn’t. Nevertheless, this time, I sought the shiny days (I have those to look back on now). I needed to remind myself of when I feel bright and that I feel bright. Through reading journal entries of moments when I felt a switch for the better, making a list of guilt-free, happy memories, watching my own graduation, and reading my Eater’s Agreement (a commitment I wrote at the end of my stay in residential to nourish myself in life), I connected with the self from which I felt separated. I was okay.
For any of those who are struggling or may lose themselves on harder days- that means with food, with thoughts, with life, with congruency with one’s self, with completely unrelated issues- I encourage you to read, write, or renew a commitment you have for your life worth living. If, today, it is not a day where you can feel your own self worth, write as though it was for your person on this planet, for an individual you’d never wish harm upon. Then, read it. Reread it. Read it on days when things feel impossible and on days when everything seems heavenly and you want a reminder that you, yourself, made that possible. Hang it on your wall. That’s where mine hangs. It goes like this:
January 28th, 2014
Metal screeching against cement, chains dragging no matter the destination, a constant reminder: prisoner. She drowned in thoughts so loud they couldn’t even be heard. An unforgiving darkness enveloped her so thoroughly, she assumed she was blind. A citizen of a world she’d forgotten to create. Holes dug so deep, the goal was to be buried. Chains dragging. Prisoner.
Frustration burning in the tears streaming from tired souls sought another possibility…
I hereby agree to be different. I promise to seek an alternate outcome, to give life a chance.
I agree to look for the shore, not settle for an existence treading water, hoping not to drown. And in that process, I promise to take any life jackets necessary, to hold my goals above my pride, and to respect the help I allow myself to deserve.
I agree to see the tunnels rather than succumbing to the holes. I promise to not only quest for light, but also to know color. I will know all colors and all shades, and on days when the universe speaks in black and white, I promise to remember green and ask for more.
In requesting, I acknowledge my needs and the need for my voice. I agree to view such needs as a product of my humanity and my humanity as the imperfect, beautiful, forgivable nature that opens me to other humans.
With that, I will not walk this path alone. I vow to seek guidance in love instead of in myths. I promise to share my joys and connect through my downfalls. To step out of my mind and dance with reality. I agree to no longer live a shadow of my existence.
I recognize that in being vulnerable, in letting love in, I am allowing a set of unpredictable variables to infiltrate my guard. I know I will not know every outcome and I will sometimes be disappointed. Therefore, I agree to have compassion, for others and for myself. To remember this path is new and take each step with ease. I vow not to blame myself when I stumble and I agree to forgive myself when I glance back. I promise to choose to see miracles in exchange for ultimatums.
In doing so, I know I now play a role in allowing such spectacles. I understand I cannot experience them if I do not forgive myself, and, so, today I agree to be an eater. To not number, but nourish. I promise to fill up on food, rather than figments of my imagination. I will taste my freedom in place of my fear. I agree to fuel my soul in every way it desires. To listen. To be kind.
Today, I refuse to submit to a bare minimum existence. Today, I say there will be no more dragging. Today, I agree to take the keys in my possession and unlock the chains I wear. I am not a prisoner.