Around my 22nd birthday I totally thought I was turning into an adult.
I was graduating college, bought my own house, was getting married, finally landed my “big girl” job…
On paper I was doing WELL and internally I was crumbling….
Unfortunately, at that point I didn’t really know it.
I think I was too high, enjoying the “congratulations” and pride that my mother and father had for my scholastic accomplishments and responsibility, but when the novelty wore off, it REALLY wore off.
I went from being a pretty confident, successful young woman, to a faltering female resorting to her seven-year old-self.
Let me clarify.
I declared my independence by isolation, and acting as if I could handle everything life was throwing at me; thinking that’s what a “normal” adult would do, while literally running myself into the ground because it was the only way I knew how to cope with the stress, pressure and hurt feelings.
Obviously I was trying to play a part I simply was not ready for.
And then, as I said, everything came tumbling down around me and my family sent me to a hospital.
When you enter a facility, pretty much every bit of privacy and independence you think you have, is taken away.
Cell phone, nope, can’t use it at your own will.
Computer, you better believe you need to wait your turn and earn that privilege.
Taking a walk, HA that is out of the question! Heck you can’t even go outside without extreme supervision and being on level 3.
You must ask to go to the bathroom, sit with your back straight and hands on the table at meals.
You cannot drink too much water, it is required that you finish all your dinner, and of course, there is a bedtime.
All of these restrictions were enforced heavily when I went into my first treatment center and I was appalled…
Excuse me…I AM AN ADULT WOMAN! <— (really this was my ED voice saying, let me exercise damnit and give me back some of the control!!!)
And when I got home; although I no longer have to show my restroom visits, I still have to ask permission to do things (may I please take an extra lap around the neighborhood tonight, pretty pretty please??!?!?!”), re-learn what normal behavior is, and seek confirmation to ensure that I am eating a proper diet.
I was thinking about this the other day when we were in Williamsburg and I had to eat around two other people for pretty much every meal.
When I ripped apart my sandwich and assembled the inside on my plate to look more like a salad, Ryan gave me a quizzical look,
I squeezed his hand under the table.
“Do I have to eat the bread?” I asked when Sharon and Mike were conversing amongst themselves.
“At least one piece and you must have a snack in the car then.”
I know there were periods in my life where I would totally eat a sandwich as my lunch and not think anything of it.
In fact I looked forward to going to Panera before hockey games my freshman year in college because I LOVED the tomato basil bread, so what the heck makes things so difficult now? Makes me second guess every decision I ever make?
I wish I had a one hundred percent accurate answer, but I don’t.
What I do know is this…
I am having to completely rewire my brain; learn how to function as a “normal” eater in society, gauge what appropriate exercise is, how to perceive the world in an entirely different light, and I go through this every single time I hit a milestone or difficult scenario in recovery.
It is like I panic and then forget everything I know.
I am finally proving that I am capable of being independent and on my own, and then I revert back to old habits that make it necessary for others to have to take care of me.
Now this will require a second entry at some point but for now know this; I was the first-born grandchild, niece, pretty much anything in my family, and I grew up in a household just me and my mom.
We went EVERYWHERE together…pedicures, shopping, movies, played games, anything and everything we did together.
I was treated as a miniature adult and that carried over into my teen years when I learned to cook at a young age, take care of myself, and many others, and liked all the things that came from being considered mature beyond my years.
But all of these things prevented me from being a child.
I didn’t really cry on mommy’s shoulder and I certainly didn’t reach out for Daddy’s hand, because I did not know who he was.
So couple this, with an immense love for Disney and fairy tales and what do you get?!
Me, 22, enjoying the money and freedom that came with adulthood but panicking at all the responsibility and hating that it was way harder than a storybook ever told.
Hello?! Where was my tiny tiny waist, beautiful ball-gown, Prince Charming, and carriage?
Call me completely ridiculous and naïve, but I wanted someone to take care of me for once!!!
And I certainly got that, with a husband I am SO lucky to have, but now I feel like a baby bird that is completely lost some days.
I have all the knowledge of how to live successfully, but I pick and chose when to apply it.
I am conflicted in so many ways and honestly, I am just hoping as my journey progresses, I too will develop a better sense of self, a more realistic perception of reality, acceptance of me, my past and my future, AND be able to function as a normal human-being without asking for permission/confirmation.
It is seriously time to re-write the fairytale, because a life in hospitals does not provide a happily ever after.