Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

Suffering alone . . . or not

Warning: My thoughts are scattered on this topic, so don’t expect a well-organized post 😉

So, there’s been some posts on facebook and elsewhere and some events in my own life that have me thinking.  We often feel as if we are alone in our journey.  Alone with our pain, alone with our struggles.  Just alone.  But then when someone steps in and offers words of advice or support, we either shrug them off or get outright mad at them for not understanding what we’re going through.

I’ve damaged a lot of relationships over the years due to my illness (es).  Some I have been able to repair.  And then there are others where the only thing left for me to do is come to terms with the fact that there is nothing left I can do, and what is is what is.  I can take comfort in knowing I tried to make reparations, but sometimes, the damage I inflicted was too great.

Most of the relationships suffered precisely because I thought I was in my fight alone.  It has taken time and a few harsh (but necessary) words from others for me to realize that I am anything but alone, and my struggles (now with episodes of severe depression rather than anorexia) affect those around me just as much as they affect me. 

The people around me care for me, and when I push them away, I hurt them.  When I am demanding, I hurt them.  When I refuse to accept help from them or from my treatment team, I hurt them.  I wear them out.  I make it difficult for them to remain in my  life.  Not because they don’t care anymore, but because it is just too hard, too trying, too difficult, too exhausting, and too painful.  On them. 

I have learned some things along the way that have helped. 

One is to listen to my friends.  When they are worried, there is reason.  And they have a more objective view than I do.

Second is that I no longer rely on one person and one person only.  That puts a great deal of pressure on that person, which is entirely unfair.  I have built a network of friends and I remind myself that they all care for me and will help me if they are able.

The third thing is I have learned how to take “no” for an answer.  I cannot expect my friends to be my treatment team.  That’s my treatment team’s job.  And I can’t expect my friends to be there 100% of the time.  They have lives and struggles of their own that they need to attend to.  And just because they are unable to help at a certain time has no bearing on how much they care for me.

The fourth thing is that the words “Thank You” hold a great deal of power and love.  Use them. 

The fifth thing comes down to choices.  If I have the choice to take action to get better and choose to continue on my path of illness, this stirs up feelings of powerlessness and fear in my friends.  It means they have tried to help me, and I’ve refused their outstretched hand, basically slapping them in the face. 

And with an eating disorder and depression, the stakes are high.  Refusing help means walking down a path that leads to death.  People accuse me of being melodramatic when I use the word “death.” But as of now, I have lost ten friends to an eating disorder and four friends to suicide.  All ten of my friends who died from an eating disorder were offered help; all refused it.  Only one was “sick enough” or “thin enough.”  The blunt truth is that death doesn’t give a flying rat’s ass how thin or sick you are; having an eating disorder, even when you’re “fine”, is enough. 

There is help available.  There are friends who want to help you.  But relationships are two-sided and take work from both people to keep them functional and healthy. 

Step closer to life and take that outstretched hand.

January 12, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment