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?