I had therapy today, and I’ve been doing better and growing a lot but I told her how it feels like no matter what progress I make, it always feels like there are more layers underneath. One of those layers is the belief that I don’t deserve to exist. We talked about where it came from, and my parents and childhood. With other beliefs like ‘not good enough’, I can now debunk and ignore, the ‘undeserving‘ belief is so deep rooted. She asked me to apply that to others- what would make someone unworthy of life? I truly believe I cannot determine someone’s worth. It’s not my place to say that a person doesn’t deserve life. She asked me, so why do I do that to myself? I said that my parents treated me like I was unworthy, so I have to be. She asked if I could see that perhaps my parents didn’t meet my emotional needs, not because I was a bad person or ‘not good enough’… probably not even because of any reasons related to me as a person, but rather them and their circumstances. I think, yeah, I can definitely see it because my parents don’t even take care of their own emotional needs so they wouldn’t think of mine. But still, I cannot shake it off, this deep deep wound. I didn’t want to open up too much during the session though, I didn’t feel ready to explore that? Anyway, she said when we have fractured attachments, we often base our worth on how we are treated in our relationships but the truth is, not all our relationships will meet our emotional needs. Also, by trying to protect ourselves, we deny ourselves the full experience of relationships including pain and fear and rejection, and creating distance in a relationship can impact the other person as well. She also got me to recognize that this belief feels very true but it comes from the narrative I’ve had growing up and not having emotional needs met.
It’s very very loud in my brain but it’s a false belief, and she said “you can remind yourself that your brain is repeating this, but it is repeating something false and repeating it more doesn’t make it right”.
I told her how I’ve recently realized the importance of being secure in myself? I know that I can’t ever fully feel safe and secure in relationships if I don’t feel safe in myself first. I have to accept myself first and allow myself to be, to build a home within myself. She agreed that this internal resiliency can be help, and that I actually can cope with uncertainty and pain in relationships/attachment issues. Because I so often feel like I’m putting up a facade, with people, with myself, and the only way to heal that is to heal the dissociation with myself. She also mentioned ways of finding self compassion, and I said what helps is writing to myself at another point in time, regardless of past-me or future-me. I realized, that under the screaming beliefs of unworthy/bad/awful, I do have a lot of love and compassion for myself because I have a lot of love and compassion for others, and a lot of love and compassion in general. So I do have that capacity. I just can’t ever feel it in the moment because the beliefs are so loud. I told her how I can believe others, I can believe they care about me, I can see that maybe my beliefs are false. She mentioned that was a lot of progress for me, even just being able to find compassion, because a few years ago I couldn’t see any way that my negative beliefs might be false.
I feel like I’ve really moved forward in terms of mental and emotional progress but behaviorally I still get really stuck, which is strange because for many people the behavioral aspect of recovery comes first. She said that “the way you’ve learnt to cope with emotions, is through rationalizing it because you’re such an intellectual person. But just because you’re able to rationalize it, doesn’t make it any easier for you. in fact, it can make things harder sometimes. have some of that self compassion for yourself”. Just because I know what recovery ‘should’ be doesn’t make it easier for me. She said “this is going to be really really hard for you and that’s how it is and the more we can accept that, the easier it is for us.” I brought up that mentally I can understand things and fight the thoughts but physically, the anxiety around food gets so intense. Even talking about it makes me anxious and she said she could see that through my body language. She mentioned that “it’s going to take a while for your body to catch up with you mentally” and the hard part is that there’s nothing I can do to control it or help myself, except to accept it and tolerate it and not to make it worst.
“Recovery is not easy, it is hard for you and it is okay that it is hard.”
I told her how I realize humans suck at acknowledging we aren’t in control of much in life, and how we feel the need to be in control. I still find myself constantly wanting to be sick, and I don’t know why. She said there can be a lot of comforts, and with anorexia the ‘pros’ can be very alluring and it’s often a quick fix in the short term. It’s easier to skip a meal or exercise for a few hours to feel better about yourself than to tolerate the uncertainty of not knowing, or the discomfort of feeling. With any dysfunctional coping skill, it’s often efficient and she said it’s really really hard recognizing that your coping skills aren’t helping you, because that means you’re left with nothing for a while. But I do think she believes I can do it. She said that “especially as we grow older, the uncertainty in life only grows and we never really know how well we’re doing, and that’s scary. One of the best and hardest things you can do for yourself, allowing yourself to learn to tolerate uncertainty. Because we’re never really in control anyway, and even if you don’t want to tolerate it, it’s still going to be there.” I said that’s true and I realize if I’m not allowing something to ‘be’, then I’m running away from it and I’m tired of running. I need to accept, to be.
In terms of behavioral changes though, I told her I didn’t know what is the right amount to push myself and my thoughts are still very black & white. She said that for me, she wanted to push me to learn to see the value in small steps and find balance, to do something that makes me uncomfortable but not too uncomfortable, to think of small steps I can take every single day. She mentioned if I think ‘I’m a failure’, or ‘this is so disordered, what’s the point’, or ‘this isn’t good enough’, such sweeping statements are often b/w. She said she can empathize, because she’s an extreme person as well and it’s hard to find balance. She says this a lot- it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon and taking small steps is better than pushing myself to take a huge leap and then getting scared and running back. She said she’s already seen small steps in terms of my behavioral changes, even in things like talking to people. She agreed that I am pretty good at catching my black & white thinking, but the next step would be to not respond to it. I’m going to try to focus on that I think, and push myself to make small changes, steps I can take everyday or consistently.
I need to let go of my perfectionist expectations, and part of black and white thinking is the expectation that recovery should be easy, or smooth, or perfect. I have to let go of ‘shoulds’ as well, and accept that I will feel awful and it will be hard and that’s okay. I have to accept that my best is enough, I am enough, small steps are enough. I do not have to be perfect to be good enough.