I feel like such a hypocrite sometimes; maintaining a blog that I intended to be themed around implementing a healthy sense of balance, when I struggle so terribly on a daily basis to practice what I preach.
There are so many days when I write words that I desperately want to apply to myself and then I freeze in the moment when it is time to make a decision.
In the past three years I have gained and lost more than my current body weight in a variety of facilities and at home, and even though my behaviors change marginally or temporarily, I feel like I always end back up at square one.
You are probably sick of reading the same things, similar topics, relentless ED difficulties that appear constantly on this page, but when I was reading one of the threads on Gwyneth’s forum yesterday, I started to think; what did I expect of this process? And have my pre-concieved theories about what recovery “should be” negatively impacted what it is?
I think so, and that is because I either follow protocol outlined in the establishments I was placed to start, or re-start my journey, without really having an authentic ED-free experience, or I allowed outside influences to dictate my path.
Maybe I should be more clear…
Hospitals are really artificial. You are in a relatively sterile environment, on a schedule set and run-like clock work by a staff who watches your every move, corrects “abnormal” behavior, and meals are prepared and pre-determined way before you even have time to be hungry, or determine what you like.
Partial and outpatient works when a person is totally willing to commit to the process; surrender their emotions and actions to professionals and trust that even though it is hard to do the right thing when you are not within the program walls, you will do it anyway because getting rid of ED is the goal.
But as I tried to allude, ALL the aforementioned options are fabulous for a person who is accepting of the fact that they need to relinquish the habits of their unhealthy lifestyle, and actually have something to change.
This is where I run into a problem, and have turned to others to tell me what my recovery should look like.
With all my heart I do not want to live this way anymore; disrupt the happiness of my family and be in constant physical pain that I believe can be fixed by a simple massage when really my bones/body are just very weak and stressed.
I certainly don’t ENJOY hunger or the negative voice that lives within my head.
All that stuff SUCKS and I want it to go away.
….but this can only happen if my expectations about the meaning of recovery become more realistic, personal, and changes occur that I am NOT comfortable with, at all.
Of course dietary alterations are involved, but becoming well is more about the behaviors that need to be amended rather than just packing on the pounds with junk food and weeks of being sedentary.
In one of our outrageous meal time battles I accused Ryan of just wanting me to be a big fat blob, as he prompted me to eat something more calorically dense than what I deemed appropriate.
“What does it matter if I eat the same amount of calories in lettuce or ice cream?! Who cares as long as I eat enough to gain the weight?!”
I guess I was wrong because he went into some long dissertation about how my menu choices were significant because I would never learn to modify my belief system about nutrition without testing ED rules.
…funny because I thought recovery meant I needed to gain weight the “right” way, i.e. with only “healthy” foods.
Lettuce has always been one of the safe foods on my list, whereas I haven’t had ice cream other than when I was in a hospital, since I was a little girl.
Insert Ryan Here: Ice Cream is not bad. It is delicious and a completely normal thing to have if a person is craving a dessert.
The same thing applies with exercise, measuring, and rigidity surrounding my daily schedule…
I need to throw out all the previous mental blocks I have put in place through being sick, and the imagery of what getting-well needed to look like, and build new ones to establish a healthier life.
This may mean non-calculable physical activity, consuming nuts without a 1/8 cup ramekin and going to dinner with friends even when it wasn’t on the agenda for weeks.
When I started my recovery process I honestly thought if I became physically healthy, and put on enough weight to be considered a “normal” BMI, everyone would be happy and I would just have to live with the mental torment that came with being “fat.”
I never considered there might be some freedom, that restaurants could be less scary, traveling could be done without an extra bag of ED-ok’ed products and two pairs of sneakers, and that my body might not always be the devil.
I didn’t think there would be any positives other than having people who weren’t mad or frustrated with me all the time, and not dyeing, but maybe there is some validity to trying new things and working really hard to give up some of the destructive old ones.
How would I know? I have never really gotten too far into the process…
When I recall this past weekend, and my argument to my mom that I didn’t understand her concern when I was doing SO well eating properly and reducing the amount of minutes I spent doing cardio, she couldn’t help but respond with, “in who’s world are you doing better?”
She was obviously referring to the fact that I live in an alternate universe and that although certain aspects of my repertoire have changed that I think are so completely drastic and horrible, I am no where close to what I NEED to be doing in order to restore my health and save myself.
If I am going to be totally upfront with you, I will disclose that now my mom and her fiancée are on the “CJ-go-to-inpatient” bandwagon.
I am resistant for many reasons; one of which is the superficial environment it provides, but more importantly I feel like doing it on my own could be more meaningful and provide a lasting impact.
It is easier to sit down to a meal and eat when you are being forced and just want to go home.
It is helpful to vent to 20 other people who, like you, are stuck sitting around in bedroom slippers with coloring books, all miserable because their bellies are bloated and full of Ensure Plus.
Crying and screaming in an angry rage is almost normal in therapy sessions with those who have also suppressed emotions for the majority of their lives.
But in the real world, recovery work is different and challenging in a way that cannot be simulated in an ED unit.
But I need to first start by accepting that my journey is not just about the number on the scale and appeasing those around me by making it go higher.
Numerous things need to change, but that also means that numerous aspects of life CAN and WILL be better in the long run.
That is what my new expectation for recovery will be.