I willingly and pretty much blindly jumped in this whole recovery thing with little but a gentle push. Admittedly, I didn’t know what it involved and didn’t much bother to find out, because the day I walked into to The Renfrew Center I was almost completely numb but desperate to “fix” that girl who had jumped out of a car just days earlier. I didn’t know what therapy looked like; I didn’t understand that importance of a nutritionist and a doctor. These are things I am figuring out as I go along.
However…I know it’s probably not ideal to hear your therapist tell you point-blank that “this” isn’t working. That you’re bouncing around in the same circle with relationships, food, and work; and you’re stuck. Something has to change and maybe you need to explore other options.
My immediate reaction was to be on the defensive and fight. I literally wish I could punch things. In my mind, I don’t have another option. I’m trying as hard as I can. Yet…I want what I want; and that is NOT giving up being a PICU nurse, travel nursing, my avoidance attachments, and the restrictive eating I still hang onto…and I realize its true…this isn’t working for me. I start to cry; the worst kind of tears, the ones that are silent and soak my face even when I hold my breath, willing them to stop, but I can’t because they seem endless. Then I’m mad because I’m paying this woman to sit here and watch me cry and call me out, and honestly, I have little defense. Because on many levels she is right.
I pretend. I look in the mirror and I don’t see a girl with an eating disorder. I don’t see someone who looks sick and thin and unhealthy. Obviously, I do know there’s an unhealthy person there, but it’s so easy to convince myself this is all in my head. I deny. Some days I get very very close to talking myself into stopping treatment. I pretend it’s all in my head. I am holding back and I am stuck in the circle; because it is the only way I’ve ever known to get through.
I don’t stop crying and the tears keep coming. I breathe, and make myself be in this moment. Pretending is a coping mechanism that is useless. It minimizes me more and lets the eating disorder win. When I deny and pretend, I am denying myself a right to be healthy and happy and whole. I need to get where I think I deserve those things but pretending I have them all is just harmful. I decide that it is ok to cry, even though I don’t like it. But, maybe it does not mean I am weak, maybe it means I am strong enough to acknowledge that I am scared. But, I am still here. That speaks volumes. I am still standing after all these years of hell I’ve put myself through, but maybe that has to do with me being strong, and not just stubborn. No more pretending. I have everything I could ever want- to a point. This stops now. I want to take my life back and figure out how to get out of the circle of relationships, food, and work; so that they are positive parts of me instead of destructive ones. It starts by remembering to give myself grace and room to breathe. Maybe “this” isn’t working, but that doesn’t mean I have lost this fight- it means I keep my options open and listen to the voice in me that says I can do this. It starts with filling up the spots where the eating disorder is starting to go away with positive things. I could keep pretending, and choose to let the above realization crush me, or I can choose to put one foot in front of the other and keep going. Even if sometimes that means I am standing still, it is better than turning back.