I am trying to remember that this, too, shall pass. I feel stuck and frustrated much of the time--a common theme in my life, especially right before a big shift. And I am trying to go easy on myself, because I get scared that I will spiral downward every time I don't feel like getting out of bed, or when I cry--consistently--about the claustrophobia of my job, or when I stuff myself with M&Ms regardless of whether or not I actually want to be eating them.
Having seen myself in bad shape before, I know the signs and I know that I am lucky to have people in my life to reach out to and experiences to hold in my heart reminding me of how far I have come. Like the fact that I no longer deadbolt my door at night, look out the window, and worry about who is lurking outside only to come back and check again hours later. Or that I no longer stay up late and watch TV until I fall asleep because it is the only way for me to get relief from my thought patterns. Or that I no longer starve myself out of fear that what I eat will make me sick, and that my hands no longer bleed daily because I have killed yet another layer of skin with hand sanitizer or scalding hot water.
So I realize I have made great progress, but there is still work to be done.
Last night, after I lifted a piece of flank steak my dad had cooked to my nose and breathed in its delicious scent, I was asked why I didn't just take a bite (I've not eaten meat in years--after having deleted it from my diet because it was deemed--in my mind--unsafe). The question comes up for me more often now as my cravings for meat become stronger. Two days ago, I nearly took a bite of my daughter's chicken nugget. I thought to myself "I could just take a bite. I could chew it and I could taste it and then I could spit it out," and as I type those words I know that it sounds ridiculous, but in my head it makes sense that it wouldn't harm me if it didn't make it to my stomach.
And so last night, as I salivated and cut the steak in pieces for my daughter, my mom says to me, "You could have gotten professional help, you know. Actually, you still can," and I remind her that I had been seeing both a therapist and a nutritionist at the time I was at my worst. She struggled along with my struggle, as mothers do, because I insisted on helping myself in "nontraditional" ways. Instead of popping pills, I dug into an exploration of what purpose this new anxiety served. I came up with a lot of things, actually, many of which you can read about in other essays and here on my blog. And doing that helped, a great deal, and I believe created more sustainable change, as my life is richer and my relationships with people more open and honest.
So on days like today, when I struggle, I remind myself that I handled things in my own way and I've gotten better, but I also know "full recovery" is not a term I can use. I am uncertain that it is a term that would ever even make sense because I can't go back to not knowing things I now know. I can't go back to being who I was before I became afraid of food. I created a whole new set of rules and regulations and habits around food--many of them actually good habits--and I don't feel like it's even possible to have the same relationship I had with food prior to this experience of fear. Nor do I want to, because of who I have become as a result.
This experience is a great teacher, and I remember this, too as my frustration grows. These days I am tired, a lot. I am tired because my life is very full of activity, and I am tired because I don't serve my body well. I am tired because I am not writing enough, and I am tired because I eat cinnoman rolls for breakfast. I am tired, because I give out my energy to Others, and I am tired because I don't reserve enough for myself. But this too, shall pass, and I will remember to take my own advice and that is:
to Be here. Now.
to Love my Self as fully as I love Others.
to be patient with Change.
to take walks or make phone calls when the broken record in my mind begins to weigh me down.
to remember I'm better than I was, and tomorrow will be greater.
to Let Go of expectation.
to get out of my own Way (by acknowledging and then releasing Fear).
and to Breathe.