Tag Archives: Fear

Litany Against Fear

I saw this Zen Pencils comic, and thought it was worth sharing. What fears do you need to face?

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December 23, 2012 · 2:58 PM

The Music And The Mirror

I should be doing school work. Just thought I should get that out of the way. This balance of school plus work plus event prep plus yoga plus sanity . . . well, it’s teetering. I’ve got a lot of health stuff to figure out, too. Holding onto the light at the end of the tunnel . . .

Anyhow, even with all of this going on, it feels like something is missing. I’m sure a lot of things are missing, but there’s one thing I’ve been able to pin down.

I’ve never been good at expressing my emotions, and I’m still not very good at it. I’m currently battling with my brain over many things, but this week’s focus is dissociation. I’ve recently realized that I spend most of my life “not really there”. It’s easier that way, it keeps me detached, and feeling safe. It also keeps me disconnected from the rest of the world, which leads to a lot of loneliness. Trying to break that pattern is really hard. It’s exhausting trying to “stay in”, and my brain goes places I don’t want it to. It’s also picked up a new trick or two to keep me away. Sneaky bastard.

But in terms of expression, the only way I’ve ever been able to come close is through music. Dancing is a great expressive outlet, but I’m too focused on technique to fully let go. Singing, I can pretend to be someone else, and using someone else’s words, tell the world my darkest secrets. I miss it. I haven’t really sung for about 18 months now, since “retiring” from musical theatre.

Lately, though, I’ve found myself singing when I close the store (it’s the only place I have where nobody can hear me). While my deteriorating vocal technique stresses me out, the ability to belt at the top of my lungs feels amazing. I’m not a sobber, I’m not a yeller. I’m not good at attaching sound to emotion, but in singing, I do what I can’t do anywhere else.

Sometimes I wish I lived in a musical. Therapy would be so much easier if I could answer  “. . . and how do you feel about that” with a song. It’ll tell you more than my words ever will.

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Get Out And Stay Out

Get Out And Stay Out, from the musical 9 to 5

This was my “Get out of my head, ED” song during my recovery. This is not my bootleg, nor do I condone bootlegging, but I thought you should see the whole video. SJB is pretty stellar, and you should see her whole performance. 

Have you ever seen the movie, “Sleeping With The Enemy?” Julia Roberts plays a woman trapped in an abusive relationship. She fakes her own death to escape her husband, but he figures it out and tracks her down. *SPOILER ALERT* She kills him.

But what do you do when the abusive relationship is in your own head? It’s not just the eating disorder voice. That one I can recognize and separate myself from, but there is another voice. It’s been with me from my earliest memories, at 2 or 3, standing, staring in the mirror, telling me I’m fat and ugly, that I hate myself, and tearing chunks out of my thighs. That voice uses my own voice. I don’t know where it begins and I end, or if it is, in fact, me.

I was horrified this week in school learning about the extent of the irreversible damage starvation can do to your body. It made me realize: I wasn’t waging a war with my body, I was waging a war with myself. I don’t want to destroy my body, I’ve been trying to destroy myself, to kill off the part of me that is so unworthy and unlovable. I don’t know what part that is anymore.

But how am I supposed to leave my abusive relationship? If I run, it comes with me. If I hide, it’s right there beside me. I feel like it’s come down to the final showdown. I can’t live my life with this battle in my head anymore, but I feel like if I try to run, it’ll kill me anyhow. It’s “kill or be killed”, but it’s me either way.

It’s like being trapped in a burning building. Do you try to jump out the window and take your chances or give up and let yourself burn? I’ve got to find the courage to jump. I’m scared of what will be waiting for me. I’m afraid of what will happen if I catch up with myself. This is it: the big battle. This is where it started, and where it has to end.

Wish me luck.

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Eating Disorder Recovery: Food On A Budget

Welcome to part 2 of the series.

Thanks to everyone for the feedback on the first instalment. I debated whether it was really helpful, or if I was just having a passive aggressive pity party, but knowing that so many of you identify/are in the same situation, I decided to soldier on.

Today’s topic is a tricky one: food. I’m going to keep it as simple as possible, as I know how much food talk can stress people out.

Here’s what I’ve learned.

  1. Be flexible. It’s hard to do, I know, but it’s important to keep on the road to recovery. There has been more than one occasion where I couldn’t afford a $10 jar of almond butter, so rather than alter my meal plan to incorporate the less expensive peanut butter, I just reduced the quantities of almond butter I ate to make it last. Not smart. Restriction is a slippery slope.

    (not this kind of flexible)

  2. Learn to cook. Not easy. At the depths of my eating disorder, I wouldn’t even touch food with my bare hands, so learning to cook was a little traumatic. But cooking your own meal from scratch is a lot cheaper than pre-packaged insta-meals, and I’m told it’s important to develop a relationship with food 😉
  3. Buy bulk. I know this one is tricky, too, as those who struggle with binging have difficulties keeping large quantities of food in the house. If you buy things like quinoa and dried beans, you can make them up in small quantities, thus eliminating the “in the moment” availability of binge food.
  4. Buy bulk in small quantities. For foods that are trickier to keep, hit the bulk store often and buy a days worth of nuts/dried fruit/baking supplies at a time. This greatly reduces your risk of binging.
  5. Learn to eat around other people. If you can learn to trust other people to make food for you, maybe you can accept a dinner invitation, thereby having one meal you didn’t have to pay for.
  6. Buy multiples. If you’re an avocado eater, many grocery stores sell multiples in mesh bags. You can get 5 for $3.99 that way, as opposed to paying $2 a pop. Same goes for bagged apples, etc.
  7. Do your research. I have an app on my phone that lists all the foods on my grocery list, and at which grocery store I can find it for the least amount of money. Also, scour the fliers. Buy more (if you can) when it’s on sale.
  8. Keep doing the food thing. Recovery is expensive, but you know what’s more expensive? Recovering again and again and again. If you keep at it this time, you’ll never have to do it again, and your money can go to things more fun than therapy.

You can do it! And, as always, if you have anything to add, feel free to comment 🙂

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Filed under Tips and Tricks (The Healthy Kind)

An Eating Disorder Parable

That’s right. Not a song title. And the use of a word that harkens back to my über-religious past.

I am SO not Jesus, but here goes.

Something happens. Or a lot of somethings happen. She decides that the only thing that will make her life liveable is walking in the desert, as far as she can go.

The sun beats down, but the blistering of her skin mirrors the pain in her heart, so she embraces it and keeps walking.

There is no water, but the burning in her throat distracts her from the thoughts tumbling through her head.

The sand is difficult to walk on, and she is soon tired, but her only option is to walk on, so on she walks.

One day, she reaches what must be the middle of the desert. Her skin is raw, her throat is parched, and she can’t keep walking: she can’t stand anymore.

She sits and weighs her options. If she keeps walking onward, her circumstances won’t change and she will likely die. She will be tormented by her reasons for walking until the end. If she decides to return to civilization, the pain of the desert will end, but she will have to face everything she’s been walking away from.

She realizes that no matter how far she walks, her problems walk right alongside her. She can’t escape them. She decides that it might be worth it, going back. Maybe if she faces her problems head on, she’ll finally be free. If it’s too much, she can always walk back into the desert.

She’s made the choice. Shouldn’t it be over now?

No. She still has a long journey to make. Her footprints in the sand have blown away, so finding her way back is difficult. Sometimes she stops. Sometimes she has to crawl. Sometimes she walks backwards, but it doesn’t help, so she turns around again. It isn’t easy. Along the way, however, she notices things she didn’t notice before when she was stuck in her head. She finds an oasis that offers shade and water. A fellow traveller offers her a canteen so she can carry water with her. The journey back is difficult, but it is made easier when she recognizes and accepts the help offered her.

She returns to civilization to face her problems. Now, she finds, she is a little stronger for her journey. Her skin is a little thicker. Her problems are still large and daunting, but she is better equipped to deal with them. Sometimes she has to take a walk in the desert to survive, but the sunburn and the thirst and the exhaustion are enough to remind her of why she turned around.

One day, she looks out on the desert and realizes she doesn’t need it anymore. She can live in civilization and deal with things that come her way. She is stronger. She is free.

Maybe not today, but someday.

 

 

 

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Filed under Blatherings, Fighting Fear, Inspiration

Consider Yourself

I had French toast today.

Just thought I’d get that out of the way. To those who know my eating habits, it’s pretty shocking, so calm down before you read the rest.

Inhale through the nose, exhale through the nose.

Feel better? Good.

How did it come to this? The eating of French toast?

It all started on Wednesday. I was in yoga class, balancing on my hands in Crow Pose. Had some good balance going on, and after holding it for a while my teacher said, “Ok, Kelly. Now jump it back into chaturanga.” (Non yogis: picture kicking your legs from a crouching handstand to a push-up position in one movement)

I looked at her like she was crazy.

Doesn’t she know I’m weak? I’m still too damaged physically to do anything like that. I’m not well enough.

I tried it, half just to prove to her how incapable I was.

You know what? I got about half way back. I tried again. I got one leg back into position. By this time, we were ready to move on with class.

Holy shit! I almost did it! I vowed to work on it at home until I could do it.

Sometimes in yoga class, the teacher has you set an “intention” for your practice. It can be something you want to get out of it, something you want to let go of, or whatever. I usually focus on sending love or healing to a friend. It’s easier for me to focus on something external.

Today, however, I decided to try to do the class without treating myself like a sick person. I’d still listen to my body, but I wouldn’t back off saying, “That’s good enough for someone like me.”

The teacher taught us to jump from downward dog, through our arms, and land sitting with our legs stretched out in front. It’s not as easy as it sounds. Normally I’d try once or twice then call it “Good enough”. I couldn’t get it in those two tries, so I had to try again, and again. By about my tenth try, I squeaked my legs through. I did it 3 or 4 more times, and did it successfully. I can “jump through to seated”!

I realized, while all this was going on, that I do the same thing with food. I don’t really push myself anymore. I mean, I can eat 3 meals a day, at home or at restaurants, but I still have a lot of food rules. Right now my eating borders on orthorexia (obsessive healthy eating . . . more on that in a later post), and it doesn’t really bother me. There isn’t much I want to eat that I can’t make a healthy version of. Why bother fixing it if it isn’t really a problem? Today, however, I found a reason why.

Friends were having lunch at Cora’s (a popular brunch place in Canada) and while the food is delicious, it’s not exactly a health food restaurant. I looked at the menu, and there were very few things I could eat, given my current food restrictions. Basically, the only thing I could eat without alteration would be poached eggs and fruit. Maybe toast. Not exactly a meal worth spending “dining out” money on. I screwed my courage to the sticking place and ordered French toast. My first “not 100% clean” meal since I started eating again. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t earth-shatteringly good.

But that wasn’t the point. I pushed myself, and I could do it. I did it not because I wanted French toast, but because I wanted to eat lunch with friends without being a freak.

Well, I’m still a bit of a freak, but only inasmuch as I’m proud to be a freak, and letting my freak flag fly.

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Nobody Said It Was Easy

Okay, so Google tells me that my title song is actually called “The Scientist”, but that’s not a good name for this post. Also, I feel like the fact that I know ANY of this song is impressive (thank you, alma mater, for making “Commercial Performance” a college credit), given my strong feelings against most mainstream music. But hey, pretty sure I’ve already titled a post Easy To Be Hard, and the titles “Easy Street”, “Easy to Love”, “Easy Life”, “Ballad of the Easy Life”, and “One Hundred Easy Ways” just don’t fit the theme.

The theme:

I got into a discussion today with a friend about how/why you keep going in recovery when everything feels like hell. I seem to be having a lot of those conversations of late. I know my last post talked about how things are getting better, but what I didn’t talk about is how much it really sucks a lot of the time.

It’s exhausting, this recovery business.

  • In order to both live and be able to afford therapy, groups, etc., I have a full time, and a part time job. Come fall, the part time job will be replaced with part time schooling, in addition to the full time job. This I find to be the case with most people recovering from eating disorders. Life goes on, and life is expensive.
  • My body is recovering from a life-threatening illness. It’s not cancer, but there’s plenty of physical mending to be done. It’s re-learning everything, training my new muscles to do what they’re supposed to do, trying to fix my digestion, hormones, bones, skin, nerves, and even my hair. It’s like going through puberty all over again. Again. You think teenagers need a lot of sleep? Meet a recovering anorexic.
  •  For years, I starved away my emotions. Have you ever cried yourself to sleep? I’ve got 16 years of crying to do, and emotions can be draining. Even laughter is foreign, and it requires a lot of energy.
  • Nobody develops an eating disorder just because of a diet that went wrong. Everyone has an underlying cause (or 40) to their eating disorder, and sometimes even unearthing it can be a gruelling process. Every week in therapy, I unearth something else that contributed to my eating disorder. Some things are merely enlightening, some things are devastating. Everything requires digging deep and making changes. Even thinking expends energy.

So why recover? Why bother working so hard? Why go through so much pain?

Well, living with an eating disorder isn’t much different energetically. As much as we try to deny it (and somehow, magically conjure energy out of thin air) calories = energy, and anorexia leaves you with no energy. It is painful, both physically and emotionally, and while working through issues is excruciating, living every day with the thoughts, fears, and rituals, with no end in sight is a far worse fate to settle for.

We keep moving forward because it is the only chance we have at freedom. The only way out of the pain is to move through it. There is no freedom in illness, and even if we stop halfway through the process, deciding it’s “good enough”, we’re still left stuck in the exhaustion, with no hope of rest.

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