March 19th, 2016
I just recently got asked “How things are going”, and I really didn’t know how to answer the question. How are things going?
It seems like such a simple question, but the answer certainly isn’t. It changes by the day, by the hour, by the meal….the list is never ending. Some days it’s all I can do to get myself out of bed, and asking for much more than going through the motions of eating a meal is a stretch. Other days, like yesterday morning, I wake up amazed by the beauty of the sunrise, trying to take in the birds chirping, and feeling so thankful for this amazing world I get to inhabit.
And some days, I wake up in a great mood, feeling confident and ready to take on the day, only to have that feeling shattered the second I catch a glance in the mirror. That was the case yesterday. Today, however, I was in a good enough place to try on my swimsuits from last year! So, as you can see, it’s such a variable answer…hence, the beauty of keeping up this blog. It allows me to express how individual days are going, rather than trying to capture how my past week has gone in a text, or two-minute conversation.
Right now, in this moment, I’m in a pretty good place. Mom was even able to be gone all morning this morning, and I didn’t have an issue with it at all. I had breakfast on my own, went to the gym, left after thirty minutes and abstained from cardio, came home and showered, took the dogs (Well, one of them…the other was being stubborn) on a quick walk, and headed out to Starbucks (Surprise!), where I’m currently sitting down at my computer, attempting to process the last five days. I have journaled bits and pieces during occasional breaks at treatment, or in moments of despair at home. Speaking of which, I’ve come to realize that journaling is NOT always a positive coping skill for me.
Two days ago, I had a bit of a breaking point. It was my second day off from the program in a row, and the second day into eating ALL of my exchanges that I was being asked to. I felt very, very overwhelmed. The day itself went alright, I put things in place to help keep me accountable, like eating my morning snack with my therapist during our appointment, and having another one of my snacks with my friend as we went out to get our nails done. As the day was beginning to wind down, though, around 2 pm, I started to get a little bit restless. I was home, and knew I was going to be alone for the remainder of the day, until my mom came back from work, at least. I tried to think of productive things I could do with my time, and I remembered that we had an extra bed in the garage. Yes, a bed, from Ikea. It looked pretty cool, and my mom and I had been talking about switching up my room with Bradley’s, so I decided to see if I could build it. And I did! Talk about feeling productive! It took me about two hours, and right around the time I finished, Mom came home. I decided I liked my room better the way it was, so decided to take the bed back apart and put Brad’s room together again. Mom was so astonished that I’d just built a bed, all by myself, without any help or anything, and especially that I’d been able to lift and move all the pieces! I was, too, and part of that felt really, really cool. It was physical proof that I’m getting stronger. It was also scary. In order to move the bed from where it was (in Brad’s room) back out to the garage, I had to pass our large, full-body mirror in the entry way. Each time. I probably passed it about a hundred times between bringing the bed in, and taking it back out again. Body checking wasn’t really an issue as I was bringing it in, but the second time around…man. It got me. I was unable to resist the temptation to see how much my body had physically changed, so much so that I changed from my Nike leggings that I had been wearing during the day, into my spandex. It’s much easier to body check in spandex. Cue number one. Everything pretty much went downhill from there. Thursday was also St. Patrick’s Day, and Mom made corned beef and cabbage for the occasion. I wasn’t going to eat it (Mom gave me her blessing to opt-out of that meal :)), but Brad was coming over for the feast. Once the bedrooms were all back to their original state, I decided to get in the shower and freshen up a bit. Building a bed makes you sweaty!
Unfortunately, “Shower time” is just about the most problematic time for me in terms of body image. It is for a lot of people, I know, but especially those with eating disorders. While a “Normal” person may use a bath or shower as a way to calm down, people in the program have reported going for as long as two weeks without bathing, because seeing their body that closely is just too unbearable, and causes so much more anxiety than being clean would reduce. The costs outweigh the benefits. Well, genius me decided to hop in the shower, when I was already at a pretty vulnerable place, right before dinner. Sounds like a great plan, huh?
Yeah, so that’s pretty much how the rest of the evening went. I got out of the shower in a veeeeerrrrrrryyyyy poor mood, just about ready to punch a wall. I screamed into my pillow for a bit, until Brad called me into the kitchen for dinner. Given that I’d missed my afternoon snack (I was so busy building the bed, I kind of forgot about it!), my dinner had to be more than it was originally planned to be. Great. I sat at the table with my mom and Brad, while they enjoyed this beautiful meal my mom had prepared, and downed my meal, ready to blow. I asked to be excused almost immediately, and went for a brief walk, to clear my head. I came back into the house, not feeling any better. I plopped down onto the couch, while Mom and Brad were still finishing up dinner, just feeling sorry for myself. Then, came the journaling, which, as I mentioned earlier, did not help. At all. It actually made things worse, I think. I was so stuck in this state of disgust with myself, that remaining in my own head just prolonged the amount of time I was entrenched with my own thoughts. If it hasn’t been made clear enough, I was in a very, VERY dark place. A place that, without having another person’s perspective or insight, was impossible to get out of. I felt hopeless.
It scares me, now, to read the things I wrote in my journal that evening.
It scares me, because it’s not me. It’s not the rational Bridgette that I identify with, the one who loves the Beavs, who would do just about anything for her family and friends, who has a heart for the people of Colombia and Venezuela, and who lives to serve Jesus. It’s a whole different person, and it terrifies me how quickly she can emerge.
Mom and I ended up having another “Heart-to-Heart”, for lack of a better term, much later that evening. She and Bradley had gotten into a fight, which I was very much NOT in a place to handle, and ended up pretty much shutting down, and being quite nasty to the both of them. Brad didn’t say much of anything that could rub me the wrong way, so none of it was directed toward him, but Mom did, and my lack of patience at that point had me responding in a cold and hostile manner. Fortunately, she came to me with compassion, and gave me a hug, and said that if I was in a place to talk, she wanted to, too. But if I was just going to stand there with no emotion, she would go to bed. Initially I told her that it didn’t matter to me, but after seeing that she really was going to go to bed, I told her to wait. I apologized. We hugged. And then, just as it had a few days earlier, emotion began to overflow.
The next day, Friday (yesterday) was much better. It’s so amazing to me, the difference that honesty and vulnerability makes in a relationship. If I had come to my mom immediately after dinner on Thursday night, I don’t think my poor mood could have been avoided, but I think it could’ve been significantly minimized. I think that, at that time, journaling was one of the worst things I could have done, because it caused me to dwell on the negative things I was already thinking, and as a result, dragged me down even deeper. My mom and I made an agreement that we are going to try and take ten minutes at the end of every dinner (dinners are always the hardest meal for me, the last meal of the day, after a full day of eating) and talk. It doesn’t have to be a long talk, and it doesn’t have to be emotional. But the intention is just to connect, to have that time to express how I’m feeling, and to avoid isolating into myself. I’m actually just now realizing that we forgot to do it last night, but I do think it’s a really good idea, and I’m going to try to implement it until it becomes a routine.
In addition, quite a few cool things have happened at treatment this past week. Three people “Came Out” about having been deceitful about eating disorder activities they’d been engaged in, and they credited it to my disclosure on Monday. The therapists ended up calling it “Honesty Week.” I don’t say that to take credit for this awesome forward movement in each of these women’s recovery, but to acknowledge how one person’s positive movement can inspire a whole group.
On a sadder note, the Beavs lost yesterday to VCU. It was a sad game, but it’s alright. At least we made it to the tournament, for the first time in twenty-six years! You gotta start somewhere.