Everything Flows Onward

finding my dharma. living my dharma.

Yoga Mat, Battleground December 5, 2009

If you’ve not been through an eating disorder before, it can be very hard to understand just what is going on inside the head of someone who is. Today on my yoga mat, Ed* and I engaged in battle. I wrote it down in my recovery journal, but I thought it might be helpful to post it here for others to see. Maybe it will help some people make sense of this disorder. Maybe others who suffer will know that they aren’t alone.

I got to yoga and I sat down on my mat. The first thing I noticed was that it felt good to be there, on my mat. And then I decided that I was going to let this practice be organic. I wasn’t going to push myself to get farther in postures, I just wanted to be right where I was this morning and that would be great. As class began, we all closed our eyes and began centering. In that very moment that things went dark, Ed stepped in swiftly. This was the perfect place for him to start.

Ed: Hey, it’s dark in here. I’d like to fill all this space in. Let me turn on the light.
Jenny: No, Ed. This is my practice. You can’t have my yoga practice today.
Ed: Hey remember that you got rejected by your friends last night. I’m here for you because no one else wants you. I’m always here to help you when that happens. Don’t say no to me.
Jenny: I have not been rejected, Ed. And I don’t want you here anymore. When have you ever followed through on one of your promises to me?
Ed: That is some accusation, Jenny. You’re not good enough and I’m here to make you better. To guide you to perfection. If you’d do what I say for a change you’d see how happy I can make you.
Jenny: These are lies, Ed. I’ve had enough. I want to feel again.
Ed: NO! Look- look at that woman. Let’s see if you can be more flexible than her. That’ll make you better and happy.
Jenny: You’re desperate and trying to distract me. Stop. You can NOT have my yoga today. You’ve taken enough from me. Right now I’m FEELING, Ed. I feel my body. You never let me feel my body. It’s not fair.
Ed: That’s because the EYES have it. It’s not about feeling. What has feeling ever gotten you? Whatever. Anyway… Hey do you want to eat after this?
Jenny: ENOUGH, Ed. Be silent now. There’s no room for you on my mat.

The more I moved and felt myself move, the stronger my true voice became. I told Ed again that I was sick of him. He has only lied to me from day one. He told me yoga betrayed me. But it never did. The whole time it was Ed distracting me from the purpose of my practice. He can’t win with things like yoga around. He is so threatened by the thought of me connecting to myself. He wants me to believe I need him. He’s so desperate he’ll do anything. HE is the scared, weak one. Not me.

I hear Ed so loud and clear these days. He keeps screaming but what he doesn’t realize is that the more he screams, the more I understand what he sounds like. He screams but I will use his screaming to separate myself. If he’s taught me anything lately, Ed, it’s that this is geurilla warfare. That’s fine. The gloves have come off. Today, I’m ready to fight dirty.

I know the war is not over. But today I won this battle. And every victory gives me fuel and energy to persevere. Every victory gives me the will to keep fighting.

*It’s always helped me separate from the eating disordered voice in my head by giving it an identity separate from myself. So I call my ED Ed and I treat my ED like a person who is not myself. Because that is the truth: I am not my ED.

 

Renewal of Vows November 20, 2009

I was going to apologize for my inconsistent blogging but instead I decided to accept that I’ll probably never be a person who blogs on a regular basis (unless it’s regular that I’m inconsistent and in that case, I’ll proudly boast that I blog regularly). So even if I come here in spurts and even if I take a month or more off in between, I’ll feel uplifted that when I do make it back to my blog, I’m giving you a true part of me that is honest, open and heartfelt.

Here’s the truth. It’s not always the case, but a lot of times when I stop blogging it’s because I’m not riding the highs of life. Either I’m just coasting through or else I’m down in the dumps. The way that has always been my pattern is that when things get hard for me, when I struggle, I recoil. I go inward (in a bad way), refuse to ask for help, refuse to voice my hardships even when that is the time I most need to.

This was definitely the case in my last hiatus. As a matter of fact, I’ve told a few people now that this last low was actually the lowest I’ve felt since I was in therapy 2 years ago. It hurt me to say it at first. Just like before I entered therapy to get help with my ED, I was ashamed to say I was struggling or needed help. I think in this case it was hard because I’d been doing so well and it undercut my pride so greatly to say that after 1 year of doing so well, that I had “fallen prey” to ED again. I was supposed to be “recovered.” I mean, c’mon. It’s me we’re talking about. I was supposed to do recovery better than anyone ever has, right? Who me? No I’ll just need this one experience and then I’ll be a “pro” at recovery.

So I didn’t do recovery “perfectly.” So life happened and it happened fast. So I got caught off guard. So I stumbled. But did I fail? Am I failing because I still don’t feel quite back to where I was? For a little bit I thought I had. I couldn’t believe I had gone back to that place. The desire to restrict was so strong. It was so clear to me that I’d become checked out. I couldn’t concentrate on conversations with people. I was becoming abnormally forgetful again. I was crying a lot. And those desolate thoughts of “I can’t live my life like this.” “Why me? Why again? ” “Will this ever end?” came right back to me. The mental and physical fatigue that comes with it. I questioned my strength and my ability to remain a warrior in the fight against ED. I doubted my ability to win another battle.

This went on for a few weeks. And then, one day, I said it out loud. “I’m struggling with Ed right now.” One of the most powerful things I’ve done for myself in my recovery is simply to be open about it. I figure, the more people I tell, the more accountable I’ll be held to my own health and recovery. So at the risk of overshare, I just started telling people close to me that I was struggling. And I realized I hadn’t failed. Not even close. For starters, I’m immensely proud to say that during this period, I NEVER restricted. Not once. I wanted to. I wanted to really really badly. But I didn’t. I couldn’t. I’m grateful for the strength that I did have from my previous bout with ED, the strength and awareness that I had gained that kept me from depriving myself of nutrition.

Like I said, things aren’t quite back to where they were before, but I’m working on it. I’m trying. I’m not giving up. I’m taking some new lessons from this. For starters, and the whole point of blogging today, I am RECOMMITTING myself to a CONTINUAL effort to be healthy and proactive in maintaining my recovery. One of the downfalls to thinking that you’ve “perfected” recovery is that if (and/or when) relapse happens, you’re caught blindsided. The mistake I made was thinking I’d be immune to any kind of relapse.

Another mistake was that I was defining relapse too extremely. To me, relapse was going back to my old patterns and not knowing what I was doing and/or not wanting to go back to healthy eating. This of course is wrong. Now that I am body aware again after struggling with ED, I don’t think it will ever be possible for me to not know again when I am becoming detached from my body and leaning towards disordered eating.

So here are a few of the lessons I’m taking away from this latest battle:

For starters, once again I have discovered the importance of being vocal and open equally during the highs and the lows. I will no longer be ashamed when things feel as though they’re going downhill. Instead, I’ll be honest about it. I have an amazing support system ranging from my amazing family and friends to my cybershala on Twitter. I’m loved by these people and I know they want me to be happy and healthy, so why not let them be there for me?

I also think it’s time I became a little more of an activist in the recovery world. I think it will be good for me, it will keep me motivated. But also, how wonderful to be able to help others like me? When I was in therapy and I started to become happier, I was finally able to see just how deeply in the dumps I’d been for the entirety of my untreated ED. I have always meant it when I’ve said since then that I wouldn’t wish that feeling on my worst enemy (if I had one) or the most heinous person on the earth. What an awful, awful way to have to live our lives. It’s unfair. No one should live like that. So I want to be more active, in anyway I can. I have a lot of love and compassion to share and I think there has never been a better time for me to share it with the ED community.

Finally, I am going to have start by showing myself a little compassion. For Namaste Book Club right now, we’re reading a wonderful book by Pema Chodron and I’m learning a lot about befriending myself and everything about me. My favorite line from the book so far is when Pema writes, “The desire to change is a form of aggression toward ourselves.” So often I think I’m working to rid myself of my ED. I think, “If I can just do x,y and z, I’ll be free of these thoughts.” Or ,”I’d be so much happier if I didn’t have to deal with ED.” Well sure. Of course I would. But the truth of the matter is… I have Ed’s voice with me. So this isn’t changing. Now my work (and believe me when I say it’s work) is to learn to live along side of that voice. To be aware of what ED sounds like vs what Jenny sounds like. To allow mindfulness to help me when I want to react to Ed. Recovery isn’t black and white. I don’t have to feel like a swinging pendulum. I can listen for and be soft with Ed when he pipes up. I can kill him with kindness, even.

The key here, the most important thing, is that I acknowledge my ED. No more hiding it. No need to go back and forth. No need to be anything other than what I am. And what I am is a young woman who lived with anorexia and who works to strengthen herself everyday from it. I won’t let my past or current battles define me. I refuse to be “Jenny, who had an eating disorder.” But I will work with what I’ve been given. Not defining myself by my ED struggles does not mean that I also ignore them all together. My ED and recovery are not things to hide any longer. I am honest (and even outspoken) about every other aspect of my life. This will be no exception.

It occurs to me that I’ve written blogs very similar to this in the past but here it is again. No matter how many times I reiterate and reshape this same idea, I’ll rewrite this  blog every day til I die and mean it. No matter how many times I have to do it, I will always and forever commit myself to health and happiness, to truth and to freedom.

 

The Next Right Thing January 31, 2008

Filed under: happiness,recovery,relapse — Jenny @ 6:41 am

Jane and I used to talk about what it was like internalizing all my feelings the way I have a tendency of doing. The way I was just carrying all of this garbage around with me as if it were hidden under my coat. It was weighing me down mentally, all the while I was convinced something was weighing me down physically. Instead of carrying my emotions with me, Jane encouraged me to share them with others and see how much that lightened my load. It’s so clichĂ©, but it’s also so true. After my last post, my mood has been altered drastically.

I feel like I’ve regained some of my focus and my drive. Today, when I was with my friend Audra, I could feel myself concentrating more on building new bonds and opening myself up to her in ways Ed doesn’t let me do. It’s so hard to pay attention to the world around me when I’m letting Ed whisper in my ear 24 hours a day. Today was a good day because I realized that I have found someone in Evansville who I am really compatible with. I’m excited about this new friendship and getting to add someone else to my support system. It was so freeing to be fully committed to enjoying my time with Audra. I told Ed to shut up and let me be and he was silent today. On this day, I listened to Jenny, the REAL Jenny, and Audra, laughing about things that happened Tuesday and getting excited about the fun we’ll be having tonight.

I also got to experience and share in the absolute JOY that my sister experienced on Wednesday when she married the love of her life! I am so happy that I got be 100% in that moment with her (mentally). I would’ve hated for Ed to steal that from me.

The other thing I did was to read in my book “Life After Ed.” I turned to the section where the author is writing about relapsing. I realized that these bumps in the road aren’t the be all and end all of my recovery. I haven’t failed miserably. It doesn’t have to be the way that it was and if I have a night where I binge, I have NO obligation to restrict the next day. Instead, I have to “do the next right thing,” she says. I will NOT deny myself a meal. I will pick myself up, put myself back together and get going again on the healthy track.

The things restricting did to me physically are frightening. The things restricting did to me mentally are equally as worrisome. I don’t want to be there again. I’m seeing once more how restricting is not the answer and feeling that welcome feeling of real happiness that comes from just letting go.

Before I sign off, I just want to send one more huge congratulations to my sister and my brother-in-law (even though I’ve considered LB my brother for years now!) on their marriage. I am SO happy for you two! I wish I could’ve been there but I’m sincerely looking forward to the time when we can all be together celebrating our family! I love you guys!