From Lonliness Comes Appreciation

Ryan has only been gone for two days, my mom for one, but it seriously feels like an eternity. Perhaps the boredom of two unexpected days off has made me a bit lonely, but it also reminded me of the importance of loved ones.

When I was really deep into my eating disorder I would have told you I was fine by myself. I didn’t need anyone and liked being alone, which I now realize is because it was the easiest way to use destructive behaviors; especially when my family caught on, or were solicited to help by my treatment team.  I loved Ryan’s long shifts because it meant I had all meals by myself, I could be at the gym for as long as I wanted, and I could do the exercise I wanted without being scolded or feeling guilty for getting caught. <— (notice I didn’t say feeling guilty for engaging in my eating disorder and physically hurting myself…sad, right?!)

I am sad to say there was a brief moment where I thought, “perfect, no Ryan, no mom, a house to myself with a treadmill right upstairs, and a fridge stocked full of lettuce,” but that was a very short thought because:

  •  My lower back and knees tend to bother me if I overdo it and that is not something I want to deal with.
  • I don’t like feeling hungry anymore.   I mean, a little hunger is fine but that awful gnawing at the inside of my stomach that comes from restricting is just terrible. And now my body is so used to my meal plan, it gets these horrific hunger attacks if I eat anything below what my nutritionist prescribes.  So, I decided normal, healthy meal options it is!
  • Ryan would know I was cutting corners, as he always does, and his famous line is “CJ, I get paid to assess people’s health on a daily basis, I can tell if you lose even one pound!” I love living with an intensive care unit nurse!
  • What would I gain by 7 days of restriction and exercise abuse?

I have said this numerous times by once you let ED in partially, it opens a flood gate that authorizes total infiltration into your life. I know this from personal experience, so really I have everything to LOSE if I give into my unhealthy thoughts. I would be taking 38459083850 steps back in my journey, and put myself so much farther away from the goals I have set out to accomplish. I want my life back and by making poor, unhealthy decisions, I would be giving the ok, for ED to control me again. Not happening this week, (or hopefully EVER).

So after this thought subsided, and I had spent way too many hours in my home alone, too many meals unaccompanied and starting to talk to my dogs more frequently, as if they were my bestest friends, I realized how a solitary life is so un-fulfilling.

Sure its only for a week now, and I am not trying to throw myself a pity party, I’m just thinking back to all those times when my counselors warned me how eventually, even with my ED companion, I would start to feel the isolation, because people stop trying to help or include you.

It’s not your loved-ones fault! Most of them probably gave it their best effort to assist, or understand the struggle, but its human nature that if you get pushed away enough, eventually you take the hint.

I can’t stand to think what my life would be like without my family. I know in the last year my mom started separating herself from me out of fear, and that was just heart-breaking.

We have always been so close, more like sisters or friends than mother daughter, and she recently told me she started building a wall because she wanted it to hurt less WHEN I died.

When she made that statement no recovery was in site for me….pretty much everyone had lost hope, including myself, and just tried to keep me alive as long as possible through partial, or full hospitalizations.

One morning, when my mom was visiting, she came downstairs as I ate breakfast before work, to talk and have her coffee. Well there wasn’t much talking. I saw tears streaming down her face as she sat down beside me and begged her to tell me what was wrong. All she could say was she had to accept that her daughter wanted to die, and was scared to leave because she knew she would be getting that dreaded phone call soon.

I was stunned…death never crossed my mind. I mean, I knew the statistics and they are pretty scary, but when I looked in the mirror I didn’t see a person who could die! I wasn’t nearly as skinny as those pictures you see of the “typical” anorexic, and I still could afford to lose a few pounds in my mid-section.

I was very wrong.

I don’t often see my mom very emotional. Yes we hug and love each other, but we aren’t a big crying family. I had to leave for school almost immediately following our encounter and was completely distraught all morning. I e-mailed my mom, texted her, did anything I could to understand more of what she was feeling, and finally it started to sink in.

I was the one who initially pushed everyone else away because I wanted to be alone with my disorder, with permission to do things I selfishly wanted to do, but now the tables had turned. People were starting to be so worried about my condition, they were almost too fearful to remain close.

I’m so glad my mom was open with me that day, because it prompted similar communication with Ryan. He shared his feelings, explaining how he couldn’t sleep at night because he was constantly checking my pulse.  He panicked when I didn’t answer the phone because he thought something had happened, and he never wanted to do anything but sit, play cards and board games, or watch movies,  because he wanted to keep me still so I wouldn’t burn excess energy. He was scared, every single day that I wouldn’t be around anymore, and would lose his wife before either of us turned 30.

So now I’m sitting here, in my kitchen by myself, contemplating another dinner alone, and thinking that if I continued being consumed by my eating disorder, I would be doing this far more often than just a week.

I am so grateful, and feel immensely blessed to have such a supportive family, that has stuck by me for a very very very long process. These few days have proven how much I need them, even when I want to say “I’m and adult and can do this by myself.”

Everyone needs a little help sometimes, a hug now and then, and maybe even an “I love you.” I once thought there was shame in asking for these things because it demonstrated that I was a weak person, and gosh darnit I was not that! But now I feel that asking for assistance, accepting my feelings, and expressing my emotions, are all a major signs of strength and courage.

I need to remember this every time I want to go back to my old ways, which as you all know from my previous posts, has been more frequently lately than I would like. I haven’t done a PTG in a while, but family is definitely something I am thankful for, every, single, day, and I will be using them as my motivation to achieve the multiple goals I have set this week!

How about you…

Do you have trouble asking for help?

Do you get lonely or appreciate solitude?

What are you thankful for today?

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25 thoughts on “From Lonliness Comes Appreciation

  1. I just posted a comment, but my internet got disconnected and deleted- but if for some reason it did post it, just ignore this one! 🙂
    Anyway, what I said was that I also have issues with lonliness & I can relate to loving being alone when I was very sick in my disorder so that I could act out on my unhealthy behaviors. However now, I hate being alone! I think a huge part of it is just my personality- Im an extrovert! I just love being around people!

    Keep up the recovery focused mindset! You’re doing awesome!! 🙂

    • im with you molly! you probably know im a pretty chatty person, so sitting in my house twiddling my thumbs is not my idea of fun!! perhaps we should get out of the house and go to starbucks!

      • definitely… Im always game for a trip to starbucks! just send me a text (do you still have my number?) or facebook message!

  2. You a re growing SO much every day… and to think I almost stopped visiting your blog!!! 😀

    Seriously though, I don’t know if you realize it… but I think these realizations are HUGE to be making yourself. I remember when I half-assed recovery once and never would take a step back to look at things from a different perspective like you have here. Or I never asked myself “What would I gain from a few more days of restriction and exercise?” But now that I myself am taking recovery more seriously this time around, I’m asking myself these questions all the time and thank God, every time I come up with answers that lead me to make good decisions (like you)! So because I’ve started seeing things from different perspectives and have noticed a better, more positive outlook on recovery that’s no longer so centered on numbers and weight but life and happiness in general, my recovery has been going great. And I think it’s safe to say that your recovery is going and WILL be going much better as well… it’s a daily struggle for sure, but keep up this attitude! Because every day that you beat ED, you’re finding the real you and getting stronger. You’re wonderful 🙂

    My family is also a huge inspiration for me in my recovery efforts… I had never seen my parents cry so much over me and look so hopeless. It was awful and I realized I need to get over this sheltered world that revolves around calories… so I’m a few pounds heavier now into recovery. And you know what? I feel great! I’m ENJOYING the food that I’m eating. I’m enjoying not feeling like a slave to the treadmill and just playing tennis when I feel like it or going for a nice walk. I’m finally starting to live life again… and I know you can achieve that as well. Because it’s situations like the one you’re in right now that create such good examples of why you shouldn’t take your health for granted because life is too precious to waste away with lettuce and a gym RIGHT!?! Right! 😀

    • Thanks jess! I feel like I’m making progress. Even if it’s just a little bit every day I will get there!!!
      I always love hearing from you. You have helped me so much…more than I could ever tell you!

  3. Last February, school was cancelled for a week due to snow. I was stuck inside (bc it was freezing out), and I was all alone bc my husband was at Basic training. It made me go a little crazy. Being totally alone and isolated like that really made me miss him and appreciate him even more.*

  4. Thank you so much for sharing this!! You seem to know alot about your ed now!! One thing that struck me was when you pointed out that people seem to leave after a while because either i let my ED push them out, or they are sick of trying to help!! Its the disorders fault that people leave, yet it tries to say there is sometihng wrong with me!! The only thing wrong with me is I let it push loved ones away.My mom and I had a similar conversation as you and your mom did, it definately shocked me too!! Its great you know how to out smart your disorder now!! Keep strong 🙂

  5. I really enjoy your blog and just started reading it(just got wordpress). I can relate to loneliness and my eating disorder DEFINITELY used it as an excuse. I’m glad you recognize it and know that just one behavior can be like a flood gate for thoughts. Hang in there

  6. Oh my, CJ. This post was exactly what I needed to read right now. I’m definitely struggling and while I am in the process of figuring out which program/treatment I need, I know I am the one that needs to make this decision. As I keep putting it off, I know that if I don’t make the decision soon, one will be made for me.

    Thank you for your insights and especially the ‘I would start to feel the isolation, because people stop trying to help or include you.’ I have definitely felt this a lot lately and some of it also has been because I’m too afraid/embarrassed to actually ask for help.

    I NEED to make this decision and fast.

    Keep pushing forward, you deserve all the happiness in the world!

    • Thanks for commenting! I’ve done every different type of treatment u can imagine so if u have any questions just let me know! For now do your best at reframing your thoughts and remembering how you deserve a life without Ed but with those you love!!! Good luck my darling!

  7. I’m so glad you have such wonderfully supportive people in your life. My ED distanced me from my mom as well, and it’s great that you and your mother are closer than ever now. Keep resisting the temptation to indulge in ED behaviors—I know you can do it. ❤

  8. Oh my word can I ever relate to this. I, too, am recovering from anorexia, and trying to gain about 10 pounds to get to a healthy weight. My husband travels, about every other week, for a few days at a time. It either makes me want to skip dinner altogether, or I end up feeling ‘too full’ because I ate ‘too much’ and purging it. When he’s here, the thought of purging or restricting isn’t there. I’m not sure why. Is it that I’m trying to prove to him how well I’m doing? Or I use him as a sort of accountability? I’m not sure. All I know is it is much harder to eat healthfully when he is away.
    By the way, I just found your blog and I find it incredibly insightful and relate-able. Thank you so much for posting!

    • I am so glad you enjoy it!!!
      Now let me tell you a little something about the beginning of my journey. When my husband was on night shift and he didnt really understand why I wasnt coming out on weekends, etc. I would restrict when he wasnt home as a semi-punishment. I didnt view it this way at the time, but I felt so sad that I was home alone all the time (even though it wasnt always his fault…the man has to work!!) that I wanted to show him I needed him in very unhealthy way. Since everything is in the open, i find it easier to eat with ryan because he knows what I need just as much as i do. It is very satisfying to be happy again and that only comes with me showing him I am reallt trying to recover.
      If you need anything please let me know. I am always just an e-mail, or comment, away 🙂
      Good luck hun!

      • Wow. That was very insightful and….true. It’s almost, yes, like I’m using it as a way to prove I need him. And he knows by how tired I look when he comes home, that I do not eat healthfully when he is away. And that is not fair to either of us – it punishes me, and it makes him feel horrible when he has to travel.
        Thanks for your support. I am finding it so comforting that someone else understands. A lot of the eating disorder blogs/forums are teenagers and I just can’t quite relate (I was there, 10 years ago…but now I’m an adult and need an adult who can relate).
        May be emailing you in the future. Just to bounce of my thoughts and challenges.
        Thanks again…

      • E-mail me any time! I agree about not relating to teenagers…the one program I was in, I was the oldest person there and it was hard to relate to high school drama and stuff when your stresses are a little different..financial, marital, etc. but i can promise I will understand you because you are probably thinking the same things I am or was. Good luck with everything hunni and again contact me anytime!

  9. This takes me back a little while. I’ve worked at Boscov’s at the Mall for 5 years beginning this year. I remember just starting at Jewelry. I was dusting the counters and straightening up my Fashion Jewelry and I remembered seeing you, (and you smiled when I waved)…But I couldn’t help but think, “Wow, she’s tiny,” I had no idea that you struggled with such a criminal disease. I watched other friends and family members battle, this just pulls right at my heart. I’m so proud that you can share all of this. When you are going through something so traumatic and so consuming the one thing that I have learned (I’ve had other things, and this was just said to me…) and you are able to talk about it, it means you have incredible strength. So please know that and keep sharing all that you do. It’s the kind of thing that brings a shock and a result. A very positive result. Congratulations on all you’re doing to be healthy CJ.

    • Awe Nicole you just made me smile!!! What a nice comment to wake up to this morning 🙂 Thank you for reading, supporting and being such a nice friend!! You help give me strenght 🙂

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