Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

The Brand Spanking New Alexis

Clarissa. Impersonating me.

So my cat is a pretty good representation of how I feel right now, at least physically.  I could curl up on that chair, form my body around any obstacles (I mean, why push the blanket out of my way? Curling around it is much easier.) and just close my eyes and sink into sleep.

I survived my first week back at school.  No gradual immersion, just right back to the taking three classes, teaching two classes chaos of before.  And yes, exhaustion is a normal state for PhD students, I am fully cognizant of that.  But my crappy little heart makes me just a little more tired than the norm.

Here’s the Alexis of six years ago: ignore the exhaustion.  Go to the library with my coffee (I love that libraries allow coffee!) and buckle down and finish every little nook and cranny of every little assignment.  Perfect my essay as much as possible.  Go home and exercise.  Continue to ignore the exhaustion.  And, let’s not forget the twisted logic that not eating will somehow help me function better and not be tired.

Here’s the Brand Spanking New Alexis, version Fall 2010: Acknowledge the exhaustion and look it square in the face.  Go to the library with my coffee.  Also grab a fruit smoothie with a protein booster (my current fave is Strawberries and Cream) to help get me through the Latin-followed-by-Nonfiction-followed-by-Composition stretch I have three days a week.  Translate my Latin–but when my eyes start fuzzing over the words, put it away.  Go take my quiz and give it my best, knowing I didn’t study very much.  On purpose.  Go teach my two classes.  Go home and go for a walk.  No matter what else, this hour of the day is to be protected–my hour to do either yoga or go for a walk.  This is my time.  No school.  No studying.  No writing.  No reading.  Come back and watch Bones.  Read Latin during the commercials.  Read my pedagogy.  But only until I am pulling my eyes open with my fingers.  Put my work away.  Even if it’s not finished.  Even if I walk into that quiz not having translated everything.  Even if I have to admit to not finishing all of the pedagogy reading.  Do my devotional practice with my flavored decaf coffee.  Sleep.  After my hour for walking or yoga, my sleep is the second most important thing to protect this semester.  Also high on the list of protected times: time with other people.  Not in class.  Not my students.  Not meetings.  I need to eat.  My friends need to eat.  Eating together makes everything better.  Meeting a friend for coffee before the Latin quiz I hadn’t studied for and chatting instead of studying: priceless.

Here’s the Brand Spanking New Alexis on my walk today: In the middle of the walk, I am tired.  Option 1: sit in the middle of the sidewalk and sun and have people stare at me.  Option 2: default to the old logic that walking faster will get me home sooner so I can rest sooner.  Option 3: slow down until I’m walking at the pace that a 70 year old man takes on his way to get the morning newspaper.  Before having had coffee.  Old Alexis would, of course, choose number 2.  New Alexis realizes that I probably haven’t taken into consideration the amount of walking I’m doing on campus each day and will have to remember that for next week and the knowledge that when I get tired my heart has this tendency to, well, for lack of better words, freak out, and chooses Option 3.  I strolled my way home.  And my body thanked me for it.

I am also going to bed early.  On  a Saturday night.  Even though I didn’t quite get all the work I had wanted to done today.  I’d rather start the week on solid physical footing than start the week with the knowledge that yes, I may have all my work done, but at the cost of becoming a little running stressball ready to burst.  I even saw typos in my previous entries.  And didn’t edit them.

This Brand Spanking New Alexis has only been made possible by the deep seated belief in my old mantra I have tattooed on the inside of my left wrist, my recovery tattoo: Om Namah Shivayah.  I respect the divinity within me.  I could not believe this when sick, not fully.  I used the mantra because I knew I needed to work on it, which is why I’m using the mantra I’m currently using.  When I was sick, there was no rest because I couldn’t allow myself that grace.  I was not worth it.  And the perfectionist inside of me was so strong–how much the eating disorder fed the perfectionist and vice-versa is a puzzle I wouldn’t wish on any metaphysicist.

I am here to let you know that I am worth this self-care.  This careful appraisal of my physical and mental and emotional well-being each day.

I am also here to let you know that you are worthy of this very same care and grace and forgiveness and healing.  There is a divine spark in you that is asking to be nourished so it can grow.  I challenge you to do one small thing this week to help that spark get a little brighter, a little warmer.  That spark is in there; I promise.


August 28, 2010 - Posted by | coping, Eating Disorders, identity, mindfulness, recovery | , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. This blog a perfect reminder for me especially as I am about to start a busy semester. It is definitely a difficult balance although I am by no means saying what I am doing is nearly as challenging as what you are doing. I am nervous but excited to continue classes tomorrow, study for the GRE, apply to nine (hopefully less) nursing programs, and start my job. One thing I started with in college was simply ending my work/reading regardless of where I was (unless it was finals) in order to get my eight hours of necessary sleep. Thanks again for an awesome post! I’m so glad you are starting off this fall with this mindset! It is awesome.

    Comment by Jessica | August 30, 2010 | Reply

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