Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

Staying on the Path

I was talking to someone the other day about relapse, and she’s at a crucial moment where she has multiple options, some of which could turn out well, and some of which could lead to disaster.  She knew what direction she wanted to go, but she felt shame for being in that position in the first place. 

As I mentioned in my previous post: I am fully recovered, but I am also fully human.  And I think we all have to accept our human moments.

Recovery would be grand if it were a one-way street, lined with flowers and shady trees and park benches upon which to rest.  But it’s not.  It’s more of a twisty, windy road with stretches of daisies and stretches of thorns and poison ivy.  And in order to get to your destination, you have to go through both the daisies and the poison. 

There is no shame in that.  There should be no guilt.  What these moments are are opportunities.  You can continue on the path, working your way toward recovery, or you can step off of the path.  It is a choice, and now that you have awareness of your surroundings, the choice is yours. 

It would also be grand if everyone’s path to recovery looked the same.  Then I could stand here and tell you exactly what your next move should be and when exactly you should make that move.  I could guide you every single little step of the way, and I could even put a blindfold on you and still lead you out safely. 

But our paths are all different.  Similar, but, ultimately, different.  I can offer suggestions and advice, knowing what worked for me on my path, but I cannot give you a definitive GO THIS WAY command. 

Staying on the path is difficult.  It’s a commitment, one that will require moments of re-commitment again and again and again.  None of these moments mean that you are going the wrong way or that you have made a mistake.  They mean that you are human and you now have another moment to choose to work toward recovery.  

When I see people struggle through these moments, I do not focus on the fact that they are struggling. I focus on their courage.  It takes courage to admit you are struggling and to face it.  It takes even more courage to grab ahold of someone’s hand and start walking forward, and that is the most important thing.  Not the struggle, but the courage.

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September 1, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Full Recovery

I believe in full recovery.  There.  I said it.  I also believe that I have achieved full recovery.  There.  It’s out in the open. 

I know there’s a debate about this.  Some people feel very strongly that you can never fully recover from an eating disorder.  But for me, that belief was never good enough.  Once I started fighting for recovery, I wondered what was the point of fighting if I couldn’t beat the damn disease once and for all?  Partial recovery, or even recovery without the “full” in front of it, was just not good enough of a reason to fight.  I wanted full recovery, damnit, and I was going to do whatever it took to get there.

So my life must be perfect, right?  I mean, no eating disorder, so my mind must be like that field that Edward and Bella revisit time and again in Twilight:  full of pretty white flowers and lots of sunshine and nothing to do but lie down and relax and hold hands with your love.  (Yes, I just cited Twilight. My soul is twitching.) 

No, my mind is not perfect.  I am still Bipolar.  My life has its ups and downs and this previous winter was a particularly hellish down.  I have also struggled with self-harm since I was in junior high, and those urges still rear their ugly mean little ghost heads at me and I have to fight to silence their voices.  And yes, I have “issues” from my past that I am dealing with.

Oh, and if you’ve read my previous entries, you’ll probably be wondering what right I have to say I’m fully recovered if I still am having negative thoughts about weight and body image. 

I admit that right now my body image is not perfect.  But wait a second–what the hell does perfect body image look like?  We live in a society where women, and increasingly men, are expected to hate their bodies from the time they put on their first leotard at age three for that cute little dance class.  Advertisements portray only certain bodies.  Magazine articles are all about losing weight and flattening your flab. Even pregnant women are now criticized for having a “baby bump.”  (As to that last one, I say, “What the fuck?!”) 

I’m not 100% happy with my body right now.  But neither do I hate it with a vengeance and have fantasies about slicing off “problem areas” with sharp knives.  I don’t have fantasies about restricting.  I don’t even have fantasies about exercising to the point of complete exhaustion.  And I am not obsessing about my weight 24/7.  

I live a full life now.  One not ruled by obsessive thoughts about changing the body I was given.  I have health concerns that I am addressing with support from my treatment team.  But I’m not spending each and every waking  moment thinking, writing, and talking about weight, size, exercise, or body issues.  I spend my time thinking about the classes I’m teaching, the essays I’m writing, the hats I’m knitting, the friends I’m spending time with, the cats I love to itty bitty pieces, my wonderful and supportive family, and lots of other things that make up a full life.  Having intermittent thoughts about being dissatisfied with my body does not take away from my recovery.  I kind of think that I’m just normal now.

I really and truly believe that full recovery is possible.  That the thoughts behind the eating disorder can go away.  That the obsessions can disappear.  That the desires can fade.  If you set your sights on living fully and freely, this is all in your reach.  Yes, it’s hard as hell to get there, but I’ve never done anything in my life that is worth as much to me as recovery has been. 

I am fully recovered.  I am also human.

August 27, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 2 Comments