Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

Identity Post 948

I was working on my manuscript yesterday and came across a section I thought was relevant to my previous couple of posts on change. 

I knew that it would be one hell of a huge ass change to give up the eating disorder.  But I don’t think I was prepared for what came after.  This is the part no one warns you about, and I think it trips up a lot of people and leads to relapse for some of us.  It certainly took me a few tries to figure things out. 

The eating disorder was this huge, all encompassing adjective, noun, and verb.  When I gave it up, I was left with me.  Except I had no idea who me was anymore.  And I wanted to find something to replace the eating disorder to fill me up.  That’s right–something not somethings.  I thought I could find one thing and *poof* have my identity all wrapped up in a neat little package again.  

I thought I could make that identity “a grad student.”  It was convenient.  I was already in the program.  I loved it.  I was good at it.  I had friends there. 

But those very friends taught me something without realizing they were doing so.  It didn’t take me long to realize that even the most talented, dedicated students of my department were more than just students.  During breaks during class, and in the lounge, people talked about other things–exercising, knitting, music, family, friends.  We had some campers in the group, some rock climbers, some fashionistas, some parents, some partiers.  Some of just about everything.  And each person talked about more than one thing. 

They weren’t Grad Students who lived, breathed, and ate literature and writing and studying.  They were multidimensional people.  They were interesting.  They were fun to be around. They were whole people not just one thing.  

It took me time to become a multidimensional person, to become well-rounded.  It took some exploring, some trying new things (*gasp*).  I discovered that “student” was just a small part of who I am,  just as “professor” is just a small part of who I am now.  I love that part of me, but it doesn’t make me who I am.  I am a writer, a knitter, a decaf coffee lover, a cat lover, a friend, a daughter, a sister, and aunt, a cardiac patient, a yoga student, a Harry Potter fan, and a Beth Orton fanatic.  And a lot of other things.  Not one of things defines me all on its own.  And I’m glad for that.  I’ve come to appreciate the many parts of me. 

All these parts of me make it easier to survive in the world, to be an active, contributing part of society.  I’m no longer this island of illness that can only only offer one thing to the people around me.  And I hope I keep growing and changing.  Life is more interesting and much more rewarding this way. 


August 14, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Steps to Change

Someone made a comment on my previous entry about how the changes I mentioned were so hard to implement.  And I agree;  they were. 

But here’s the beautiful thing about change:  it doesn’t happen overnight. 

Okay, some changes do happen quickly.  One day three years ago, I went to the cardiologist and fully expected to just go back home the same person.  Instead, within a matter of ten minutes, I was a cardiac patient with a team of specialists who had scheduled surgery. 

But all the changes I’ve implemented in my life?  You know, going from the selfish, stubborn, prideful, manipulative person to who I am now?  That took time.  Little baby steps guided by my therapist.  Small enough steps that sometimes I couldn’t even see how that step would help anything whatsoever.  But those little baby steps add up, until eventually you get to look behind you and see that the person you used to be is not the person you are now.

And what about recovery?  Talk about small freaking steps.  From the time I decided to recover, it took two lengthy hospitalizations and one short one and a shitload of therapy.  There were no drastic changes, only gradual ones.  And I think that was a good thing.  I’ve never been good with drastic changes–nothing seems to stick or sink in that way.  I do my best work when the change seeps in and makes itself at home. 

There’s a song by Jars of Clay called “Lesson One” (I think I’ve mentioned this song before).  And there’s a line describing a personal journey of growth: “It’s too far to walk, but you don’t have to run.  You’ll get there in time.”  That’s a comforting thought for me.  I grew up running after everything, which probably contributed to the eating disorder in the first place.  I know I have a long way to go still, but hearing an affirmation that yes, indeed, I will get there is comforting. 

Choose one small step today.  One. Small. Step.  Then own that step. 

August 11, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

unfinished business

I always get a tad more philosophical in the weeks leading up to my cardiology appointments.  I start reminiscing more, and I start thinking about what I wish I’d done. 

Let’s face it: I was not a nice person when I was in the thick of my eating disorder.  I was selfish and stubborn and prideful and blind to what I was going through and what people were trying to say.  A lot of relationships didn’t make it through that time period.  I won’t say “It’s all my fault” and wax guilty because relationships are always two-sided, but I certainly played a major part in the crashing of the relationships. 

I’m pretty sure a lot of people in recovery could empathize with all of this.  For those of you in the thick of things, watching current relationships falter, you may want to look a little closer to home to understand why. 

So what’s the point to all this?  To emphasize the fact that people can change.  You do not have to stay trapped in the eating disorder forever.  Nor do you have to remain trapped in that personality.  In some ways, I think healing the self is a little more difficult than healing the eating disorder, but all of it is possible.  No matter how sick you are, how stuck you are, how long you’ve been trapped in the eating disorder–there is a way out.  When I was fighting my hardest, I think I could have had someone tell me that on a daily basis and it wouldn’t have been enough, hence my drilling it home another time here.

But here’s the neat thing that I’ve discovered:  We never stop changing and growing.  I look at the person I was four years ago when I moved here, post-recovery, and the person I am now, and they are two different people.  Related, but very different.  And I am grateful for that.  And I look forward to changing and growing some more in the time to come.

Can I change my past?  No.  I’ve made amends in some cases, but in some cases, all I can do is say, “Thank you for all you did do,” and “I’m sorry” and leave it at that, walking forward with new knowledge and the determination to apply that knowledge.  I can’t change my past, but I can change my future.


August 9, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments