Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.


Recovery involves a lot of change, which is only one of the reasons why it is probably the most terrifying decision someone with an eating disorder will ever make in his or her life.  There are the obvious changes of behavior, and other people need may need to change and adapt to adjust to your new, stronger self, and your environment may need to change.  There are also these smaller, somewhat-less noticeable changes that have to happen if you’re to succeed in Life on the Other Side.  

One of these changes was made evident to me during my recent and ongoing recovery from cardiac surgery.  Without betraying details, I’ve felt sort of let down by a couple of people.  

Pre-recovery, here are some potential reactions to this situation:

A)  Blame myself 100%.  Obviously, I am too needy and should do this on my own.  

B) Blame them 100%.  If they were real friends, they would have reacted to this situation exactly how I wanted.  

A would have resulted in self-guilt and self-blame, both of which I excelled at.  B would have most likely resulted in me isolating myself not only from the friends in question, but from other friends as well.  

A and B are the black and white extremes of interpersonal relationships I often fell into while I was sick.  People were either good or bad.  I could not handle someone who had both characteristics.  Basically, I could not tolerate anyone who was human.  Also, both A and B gave me the blessed option of not feeling the situation.  Cognitively compartmentalize into “Your fault” or “My fault.”  (Let’s face it.  Guilt and shame are part and parcel of the eating disorder and were rather constant, regardless of the situation.)

Here’s what recovery can offers me: the ability to feel disappointment and sadness and acknowledge that I have the right to feel that way.  But I don’t have to let go of these friendships as a result.  My faith in these friends, my closeness, is not affected.  I’m able to give them the quality of human.  

I can exist in that beautiful grey area I tried so long to avoid.


July 22, 2009 - Posted by | Communication, Eating Disorders, heart | , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. I know too much about your A and B. I know too too too much.

    The hardest thing for me in my life was letting go of both of them (I still with A a bit too much–I know I am way too hard on myself). B–the thing that was a huge thing for me to learn–was that I could not expect people to react my way but to react to situations always and completely in their most sincere and authentic way. Like–my version of help and caring and ‘being there’ wasn’t necessarily the same as their version of help and caring and ‘being there.’ And I had to learn to differentiate the two. And I had to learn how to stick people to their guns more than force them to stick to my guns.

    Huge hard lesson. When I started to learn it, I also started to learn sort of cousins and neighbors of that lesson (for instance: my idea of happiness and my parents’ idea of happiness, though vastly different, can somehow coexist. I can laugh at the ridiculousness of their idea of happiness but recognize it as entirely theirs all the same. And I can hope that they acknowledge my version, too.). I think there are ways in which I will keep on learning that lesson in a big, crazy, hard sort of way. Like–there are ways in which it is learned, in which my expectations are reset, and that’s good, but there are ways in which the lesson and the way it is felt and experienced in my life will keep on developing.

    And somehow I think that’s good. Or hopeful…

    Comment by SK | July 23, 2009 | Reply

  2. I think my trouble with letting go of those types of reactions (which I will still find myself involved in here or there) was that I LIKED them on some level. Blaming myself made me feel like a martyr, it led me to do things that got me lots of attention and I felt altruistic and like I was doing the world a favor by taking everything on alone. Blaming others gave me this powerful feeling that I was right and they were wrong, anger felt strong and in control, and I got to play the victim which again came with lots of attention and drama. I thrived on the drama that my life held before I entered recovery, I liked attention and being a victim.

    I didn’t recognize the freedom that comes from taking responsibility where I need to and having boundaries with what other people control. I am more of an adult now, I get respect instead of worry, concern and pity. I find strength in taking care of myself rather than in being able to cause destruction and havoc. I am no longer a victim and I can’t tell you how much better I feel in that respect as well. It’s my job to do everything I have in my power to do right and the rest are things I practice acceptance of.

    I am amazed at the difference my life holds now from before, but I am more amazed that I am enjoying it. I didn’t think I could enjoy life, or find the satisfaction in simple things that I do. Things aren’t perfect, certainly. I’ve been sick and disappointed, I’ve failed at things and been heart-wrenched. But overall I can say that I like my life, and I never thought I would truthfully say that.

    Thinking of you Alexis.

    Comment by Amanda G-M | July 26, 2009 | Reply

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