It’s okay to exist as you are

It’s almost mid-September and it feels like the month is flying by yet I have ‘accomplished’ nothing. The past couple days have been really low, with the depression kicking in, the awful moods, the trauma symptoms. I just feel so guilty and anxious about being so unproductive, and it’s a feeling I always get during the holidays but this time it’s amplified because I no longer have the ED. With the ED, there is always a goal & a target- as long as I hit it, then I don’t feel so awful about myself and it doesn’t feel like I’ve done nothing. I’m so anxious to do things, to be productive, to ‘achieve’ something- even if that means setting goals in recovery. That was an original plan of mine, the whole ‘I’m going to take huge steps in recovery this holiday, and be recovered by the end of the year’- and I’m quickly realising how that’s not going to work.

Perfectionism goes against the whole point of recovery. Recovery is a process, it’s messy, it’s painful. It’s learning how to be, how to have compassion for myself instead of control.

Dr Kelly has said several times that recovery is going to be really really hard, that healing is going to be really painful because the illnesses I struggle with aren’t easy to deal with and the things I’ve been through are huge traumas and it’s okay that it is hard. I’ve always brushed it off, thinking I can just move on.. it’s never really hit me until recently. It’s so hard to accept pain and accept that it’s difficult and painful, and to accept feelings, but that’s so essential in recovery itself. To acknowledge pain and feel feelings before I can feel better. To validate my feelings, my struggle, to sit down and look at it instead of pushing it away. That’s something I’ve been working on for the most part, trying to accept feelings, trying to stay with them, trying to acknowledge pain. And as I dip my toes into this journey I already know that if I dive in, it’s going to be a long process. It’s not something I can control- feelings, recovery. To surrender is letting go of that control and accepting the process and journey. I can push myself to aim for more in recovery every step of the way but can’t slap a deadline on recovery.

I’m finding it so exceptionally difficult to practice surrender & acceptance. It does trigger a lot of anxiety, on existing, which is why I feel so antsy about time passing and the constant need to be productive. I know it ultimately comes from the belief of unworthiness, and the inability to be with myself. It feels like if I’m not productive, if I’m wasting time- then I’m an awful human being who doesn’t deserve to live. I’m not good enough. Dr Kelly is right, this perfectionism and the rigid rules extends to everything in my life. I know it’s also driven by the need to dissociate on a lower level, to distract from myself and my emotions.

I also know the way to decrease this anxiety is to sit through it, to do what makes me uncomfortable.

That means to sit with myself, to allow myself to exist without having to do anything, to accept myself unconditionally and tell myself that I deserve to live and exist and eat. To drill in the knowledge that I don’t have to hit any standard to be worthy. That I don’t have to be anything, I am okay as I am. And like what my friend told me, I am not ‘doing nothing’- I am feeling feelings (which she said was a big thing for me), I am allowing myself to rest (which is also another accomplishment for me), I am getting through the day, I am taking care of myself in ways I can. Like Dian says I am doing the best I can to cope. I’m not ‘doing nothing’ with my life just because it doesn’t match up to the ‘unrelenting standards’ in my head. I have to be more compassionate with myself.

I am doing the best I can and it is okay to do nothing. It is okay to just exist. It is okay to rest. It is okay to have fun.

I was doing more reading on trauma recovery and self-compassion really is the key to healing. It’s always going to be a work in progress but it is okay because I’m on the right path. I just have to remind myself again and again, recovery is about unconditional acceptance, it is learning how to be soft, to feel unconditionally, to be mindful and present. To be instead of do. To embrace and surrender instead of control. To trust myself. I feel like so many of those things will come with self-compassion. It’s hard. It’s painful, the most painful part of recovery. I didn’t know just how huge this hole inside is, and just how deep this wound is, but it hurts more than I imagined to exist. Looking back I can understand why, all those years, I knew that if I didn’t use the ED to torture myself I would despise myself so much I would kill myself. That anger comes from shame and pain, like I now know. And I don’t think I could have dealt with these heavy emotions back then, I can barely deal with them now. But I am more prepared than I used to be and I can do it slowly. That’s what people keep reminding me, what i keep forgetting. Healing isn’t a race. I can take breaks, I can take it slow, I can just exist if I want. Existing is painful, existing with these emotions. But I have to let them exist, I have to look at them slowly. I want to because I know that is the way out, the key to freeing myself from the cage of this awful awful shame and pain.

Like Dr Kelly said last week, it’s going to be a rocky journey but I can do it. I just need to keep going home to myself, to keep being kind to myself, to see my inner child instead of shunning her. One step at a time. It’s okay that it’s hard. It’s okay to be in pain. It’s okay to be broken. I’m safe here, I have a safe space in myself. I am building a safe space in myself and here I am allowed to be and allowed to feel.

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On letting myself feel.

Letting go. It’s something I realised in recovery, the necessity of letting go of control over emotions, to feel and accept unconditionally. Yet it’s been a hard journey, after years of suppressing emotions (and not even knowing it) I finally started realising, at the beginning of July how even in recovery I subconsciously try to avoid emotions in any way- but I need to just let myself feel the shitty emotions, before I can feel better. That recovery isn’t feeling better but allowing myself to feel, and for me that means feeling a lot of awful emotions.

I remember what Dr Kelly said once, “you need to let yourself feel broken before you can be less broken. it’s okay to feel broken and not have it all figured out, but instead we can ask ourselves why we might feel that way”.

She also keeps saying that coping doesn’t mean feeling better, it means becoming a better feeler- to cope better. I’ve been really trying to remind myself of that over and over and over. I’ve been working through the fear of feelings, the fear of being ‘unconditional’ and the fear of being ‘too much’ and I think I’ve made progress in that aspect especially through writing and art therapy. I feel like I’ve come to accept that I’m not ‘too much’ and come to terms with the idea of vulnerability. I think that’s something I like about myself, sensitivity, which makes it easier to accept.. but it’s still hard to implement. It’s hard to accept feelings when it comes so naturally to block them out. I’ve been feeling so many feelings over the past few weeks and I realise (and Dr Kelly pointed out) that I’m wracked with this constant helplessness, the feeling that I can’t cope and don’t know how to cope. But that’s not true.

Throughout August I’ve been so overwhelmed by so many feelings and not knowing what to do. At the end of August, as I was reflecting, I realised that I’m still holding onto the ED in some ways because I’m still scared of emotions, and I still struggle to accept them– I asked Dr Kelly how to cope with them and she literally asked me to accept them instead of trying to get rid of them. I didn’t realise I was still doing that. I suppose it’s still a process. I have to keep working on accepting them unconditionally- especially the intense or negative emotions. I feel like I always tell myself ‘yeah it’s okay to feel anything’ but I don’t truly apply it.

I have to start by taking small steps, to at least acknowledge pain, that there are hard things I’ve been through, that everything I’m going though is hard. That takes a lot of self compassion.

She said this back then, “this (recovery) 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.” And she always reminds me that I rationalise emotions, that’s how I cope, so I have to make an effort to feel and acknowledge them, to sit with them. By being ‘black and white’ in recovery and ignoring small steps, by writing about feelings analytically (I feel the need to ‘wrap up’ everything I write to package it ‘nicely’), by being perfectionistic and having ‘unrelenting standards’ for myself- I can’t be unconditional. And I can’t recover or be unconditional in one aspect, I have to do it for all- food, life, emotions. Because part of my perfectionism is having that ‘facade’, that need to stay okay and put-together even with myself, I can’t usually allow myself to be a mess or be broken. We’ve been working on that perfectionism for so many years, that belief of unworthiness.

I’ve been feeling awful things this week, and she pointed out that this is how it’s going to be for a while for me and that’s okay. It’s okay. The only way to get through the anxiety is to sit with it.

I know. And that includes the anxiety that comes from breaking my rules, from being imperfect. I just have to let go of all control and let whatever feelings come, come. She says I struggle with anxiety, but I never thought I was a very anxious person..? But now I realise that I’m not anxious because of the rules I have and the ED- it buffers a lot of anxiety and fear that I have about everything else in life, and about myself. It buffers the belief of unworthiness. Now that I realise this I have to keep pushing to feel the anxiety and fear more and sit through it. Recovery isn’t passive. It’s actively having to fight to allow and embrace feelings unconditionally and it’s often to do what makes me uncomfortable.

I have to remember that, and do that. To sit with myself and let myself feel without having to ‘wrap it up’. To just accept and acknowledge that it’s hard. To validate my feelings. To let the feeling out in some way because otherwise I will end up using a negative Behavior. I said I was tired of trying to control everything- it is tiring. Very much so. Yet I seem to have an iron grip of control on everything anyway and I have to keep fighting to let go. I have to keep going back to myself and trying to be honest with myself. To look at myself and my wounds even though it hurts like hell. Dr Kelly said yesterday I have to be fair to myself and acknowledging that there have been big things that have happened in my life, and painful things, and things that weren’t fair. I’ve been in denial/dissociated about it all, like I told her in therapy yesterday. Perhaps that’s how to help me heal some of this dissociation? I connect with my body by doing yoga, nourishing it, listening to it (well, I’m trying to) and likewise I have to connect to my soul by listening to it, acknowledging it, giving it what it needs. It’s hard, but it’s going to be okay. I am supporting myself. It’s okay to be sad, to be in my body, to exist. I have to be compassionate with myself. My feelings and struggle is real.

She asked me why I’ve made the big decision to commit to recovery, behaviourally. I told her that despite how hopeless I feel, I must want to live really badly because why else would I have survived all that I’ve survived? Why else would I have kept going? I know, it doesn’t feel like me. None of what has happened in my life, actually feels like it happened to me. At best, I remember it like a movie, or I remember it through intrusive memories. I suppose that’s how dissociation works, none of my life feels like it actually happened to me. But it was me. It was me and I have to start acknowledging that.

So yes, all of that has happened to me, my life has been painful. Really really painful. I haven’t acknowledged any of it, much less processed it- but this is a step. And I just feel like I do deserve to live. That I have somehow fought to survive through all of this, that has to mean something, and I would be letting myself down if I didn’t. Well, my healthy self feels that way at least. I deserve to be okay. Dr Kelly said that I deserve to have real relationships, to have intimate relationships, to be okay/better- that it will be a rocky road but I can get there. I really do believe that she believes I deserve it. And I trust her, so so much.

Post therapy thoughts // it gets worse before it gets better in recovery

It was a surprisingly good therapy session? She said she was really proud of me for eating more and making that push to commit to that, because it’s not easy. I brought up the intrusive memories that keep coming up, of what happened in April & also of my childhood, and I just said that it really really sucks to have all of this come up? She talked a lot today, she talked about how I have to be fair to myself, in that going through something like that is really traumatic and life changing, and I can’t expect it to not have an impact on me. She talked about society’s views on rape and how there is a lot of victim blaming, and I would have subconsciously internalised some of that but she said that it wasn’t my fault. she suggested that I will have to cope with it and process it at some point because it will come up, that nobody can force me to process it but that I deserve to. She said it was okay to feel awful and icky but I deserved to work through that as well, and I deserve to have actual intimate relationships and beyond that, enjoy sexual intimacy. I literally froze and sorta dissociated the entire time she was talking. It all feels too much to deal with and it’s so icky. I told her how recovery from the ED for me, is a lot about going home to yourself and reconnecting with yourself/your body, and learning how to nourish your body, so I’m doing that work and then all of a sudden I see my ‘home’ and realise it’s so icky and I hate being in it.

She also said that it’s a challenge emotionally as well, to reflect to my team how I’m doing? She asked me again ‘what do you mean by fine’- and for me, it means not dying. She says that to be fair, I’m coping okay and the best I can, but when I’m functional, I’m not utilising my support system much at all and saying that ‘I’m fine’ insinuates to everyone that… I’m actually fine, when I’m maybe not? And she said that just like with the ED, I have to break the cycle of stability + not seeking help -> crashing + seeking help when it comes to emotions. She was really spot on when she said that ‘a lot of your issues come from the belief of unworthiness, and when you’re more symptomatic, it seems to numb out some of that belief, but when you’re stable, you seem to have a much harder time coping with that belief and it impacts you a lot more.’

That’s pretty much been how it is, this whole awful set of beliefs that I have nothing to buffer or numb now. I just sobbed and sobbed as I told her how awful at all feels, how the memories of my parents keep coming back and it’s the same ones and it just makes me feel like I don’t deserve to exist. I told her the truth, how even just existing is so damn painful after trying to not exist for so many years. She also said that it‘s going to be really difficult, now that I’m not numbing as much emotions through self destructive behaviours/ED, before things get better there are going to be many painful feelings that will surface. She said that’s really hard, not knowing when these feelings will pass and right now it feels like it will never get better. But she also said that I’m so anxious to recover and get to that end goal, but I have to keep in mind the small steps aren’t irrelevant because they’re what gets me there, and I have to be kind and patient with myself as well. She said that I was doing a good job, and now that I’m more stable in recovery, I’m feeling worse but that’s okay, it’s part of it. She brought up that this is also why she thinks my ‘issues’ need more long term care, because they’re not something that can easily be solved and they need time and often age. She literally said ‘we couldn’t have had be having this conversation when you were fourteen’ and therapy work helps for sure but sometimes the brain isn’t mature enough to cope with these things.

I told her how I’m scared I’ll never get better. She asked me what my ‘definition’ of that was- and I said I wanted to feel okay, to feel safe, to not feel like I’m carrying around this huge emotional burden all the time. She said that she definitely believes that I can get there, that I have the capability and resources to, but it’s going to be a bumpy ride. She brought up how with anxious attachment, it comes in waves, and the fear will always come up around more intimate relationships but if I stick it through, the fear will eventually settle and I will be okay- she said she’s seen it, in many people in her private and professional life.

I also brought up how I realised on a day to day level, that I can’t have fun in the sense that everything I do, even hobbies, are guided by this harsh internal monologue. She said ‘You have a very rigid mindset of how you should live your life, and we have to break that rigid unrelenting standard. it’s kinda like the ED, we have to tap into that obsessional anxiety you have, and lean into it just a little bit more.’ And she suggested the way to tackle that is to actively break it. The main example I gave her was Netflix, how I struggle with choosing something because it has to be good and ‘worth it’ and I have to chose the perfect thing to watch or else it’s a waste of time and that terrifies me. She had such an evil smirk on her face when she suggested that we can try all sorts of things to break that anxiety and have fun with it- like wasting time on purpose, making something that has no point or meaning, doing nothing, reading trashy magazines or kids books. But for now she suggested watching something crap on Netflix and saying, ‘well this is crap and I’m wasting my time’ and then sitting with that anxiety. I physically shuddered, thinking about how awful it sounds and how much anxiety and discomfort it gives me. I feel enough guilt as it is, to watch a show without doing something at the same time. I thought the whole thing was stupid but she said that it actually wasn’t- that it’s understandable for me, why I would have this obsessional anxiety around everything in my life and the perfectionism, and that stems from trauma but it’s also very neurobiological.

I just left the session feeling like I got some load of my shoulders and I was so thankful for her empathy and guidance today, and her support. I’m so exhausted but I do feel better. Well, worse in many ways, now that everything has gone to shit, but I can cope with this. I am doing okay. I can cope with it. I will be okay. Breathe. I have to tools to cope with emotions. I deserve to nourish myself. I deserve to exist.

sometimes home doesn’t feel like one

sinking into

weary bones

I force myself

to sit; be

my body will

carry me through

it always has.

today in my journal I thanked my body for supporting me even on bad days. it is carrying me even though I hurt it by purging today. it has carried me despite all the pain & torture I put it through, it has carried me on my worst days.

it is always going to be here. I guess that’s why they call our bodies home.

intrusive memories keep coming, of the day a stranger broke into this home and I didn’t stop him because I didn’t want to acknowledge my existence. Because for so long it feels like that’s what I deserve. more memories flash by, of all the times I almost died by his hands.


I sink into these bones

and look around

Home

remnants of a battlefield

people come and gone

and I am merely

used

battered

worn

Recovery is homecoming

yet what is a home

that has never seen

warmth, safety

love?

a heart that keeps beating

through the wars I wage

I look around at

dusty corners

remnants of destruction

walls that see pain

carry shadows.

crack open the door,

unpack these boxes

forced to acknowledge

the only home I will

ever have

home that will carry me

it is not theirs to break

not theirs to use.

It exists. I exist.

so open the windows

and stay a while


When home is my body, my soul, war feels like what I deserve. I am sad. This week, the memories and pain keep returning, the deep reservoir of hatred for this home, the desperation I have to deny it’s existence. It’s feeling, it’s pain, it’s hunger. It’s brokenness. I do not want to stay. I want to leave, now. I want to dissociate, to self destruct, to do what I have done all these years to avoid existing. To starve and binge and purge in attempts to dissociate from home. It worked. Staying is making me sad. I am so very very sad. There is too much pain.

Yet I am here. This is home and it hurts. It doesn’t feel like home, nothing ever does. Still, I am grateful because it has never given up on me, this heart keeps beating and these legs keep going and this little body & soul carries all the weight of her big big pain. Recovery is Homecoming. Perhaps Homecoming is not beautiful, it is not a sunlit walk back to a cottage in the woods. It is unpacking these boxes and dusting the floors and looking through the remnants left. It is building a better home.

Staying home, staying in my body, means feeling. Letting myself feel. It is true once again, that the eating disorder urges and thoughts serve to protect me from seeing the sorry state of my home, from acknowledging its existence because it would be acknowledging pain. I dissociate by nature, on default so I have to choose come home to myself over and over and over again. I have to choose to stay. To work on this project. I know I don’t feel worthy, I don’t feel loved. I know I still feel like I deserved the pain caused by those who have violated this home and I deserve the destruction at my own hands. But recovery cannot depend on feelings. I have to try, to start somewhere. I have to build a home worth living in, it is mine after all. It deserves better. It hurts to exist, but it is here. And maybe that is the best thing I can do, to stay even though it hurts, even though it is worn and broken and abandoned. Not even to redecorate, but to accept it. Accept its existence.

It all hurts, recovery is hard. But this is part of it, acceptance. When I slip in recovery it often means I forget to go home to myself. I forget to stay, to accept. Everything is easier when I do. At least I got here in the end. I still want to get better. And I will. I have to be kind to myself. I am doing the best I can and it is enough. I am enough. I will be okay.

depersonalisation/derealisation

translucent bodies
memories that fuse
into the fog of
emptiness
as days endured
slip by

as a decade of life
slips by
as if watching a dream
as if trapped
in a glass cell

hazy memories
taunting
with whispers of
lost time


I’ve been dealing with depression over the past weeks, and looking back, some level of depersonalisation and derealisation. I never really notice, until I look back on it- this feeling of not existing, not being real, of nothing being real. The world around me ceases to matter when it turns to nothing more than paper and everything flashes by. I cease to matter, too. I’ve always struggled with this dissociation, for as long as I can remember, it’s what’s always helped me cope.

I watch life unfold before me and nothing enters my brain and it seems the connections between my senses & synapses are stuck. I see things, I feel things, I hear things, I smell things- yet none of them are real. None of them turn into concrete memories that my brain bothers to store. Dissociation combined with depression and an eating disorder? I am not surprised my memories are all a blur, especially during the painful times. All I remember are endless days bleeding into one another, struggling to survive, and painful moments I would rather not recall. I don’t remember much and what little I remember feels like a lifetime away. It’s hard to believe I was really sick. It’s hard to believe I was ever me. It’s hard to believe I was the one who laid in hospital beds I was the one who had those breakdowns I was the one who starved herself.

It feels like a bad dream I need to wake up from. I remember it like a dream. Nothing is quite real.

Times like this, I want something concrete. I used to get so wrapped up in the eating disorder, the numbers, the self hatred that I have never noticed just how dissociated from everything I was, even my own memories. Perhaps that was the point of the disorder, nothing else had to matter anyway. It was my stability, my concrete, the one real thing. It gave me refuge from the pain of depression itself. All my brain bothered to remember was calories and numbers and reasons why I hate myself. I didn’t have the space to realise I was floating or bleeding. I think the eating disorder only brought me further into space, further away from everything I love, further away from myself and my memories and my being. I was trying to not exist, after all. I recall that painting, that clear feeling of being up in the clouds, of being empty, of being so far away all the time. I was moving further from what I needed. That stability and reality the ed provided was an illusion.

Now I have to ground myself. For real. I have to find myself instead of using the eating disorder to escape the awful reality of dissociation and depression. That is what I want, to be myself, to be present, to be real again. But first I must face the awful reality of dissociation and depression, and it hurts. I am angry, I think. I am angry at all the years that passed, I am angry at everything I lost. My memories are all hazy and nothing feels real and it feels like I didn’t live those years. I didn’t actually live those years. I don’t think you can ever really live, not with an active ED and depression. I survived, and this is the result. I have no real memories, I was so dissociated, so out of it- and probably too hungry to remember. I am sad that it feels like time has slipped away.

I’ve spent all these years trying to survive. Survival is not living and it is not healing. I am tired of survival. I do not remember life because I did not live.

I want to live. I do not want the next 10 years to slip by me in a blur, my moments and days consumed by sadness and emptiness and numbers and food. To do that I have to remember who I am. To bring myself and my awareness back to this body and this being. This is where mindfulness & grounding comes in, because I float away more often than I notice. I dissociate easily, especially when I am depressed. I want to live more mindfully, but I have to be kinder to myself to do so, because living is painful and existing is painful. If it wasn’t, there would be no need to dissociate. Life is scary. It’s okay, I want to live anyway. I have to let myself feel the emotions. I have to let myself be. I have to go home to myself, actively.

Mindfulness. All of this reminds me of Steven universe, the song ‘Just a Thought’ is quickly becoming a way to cope and a constant reminder to stay mindful and ground myself. But all of this also reminds me of Steven & the crystal gems, their fight against the corrupted gems- recovery is like that sometimes. I cannot do nothing, I cannot give in, I cannot stay here, I have to fight, like the gems. I have to fight for what I want, I have to fight to push through my urges and negative thoughts, I have to take action against the disorder. I have to keep doing it. I also have to be soft, like Steven. I have to love, I have to allow myself compassion and space and patience. One step at a time is okay. I’ve been struggling lately and that’s okay. All I can do, is my best. I have to, and I want to keep working on recovery. I want to focus all my time on myself this holiday. I want to focus on getting better. And I have to keep grounding myself. I want to exist. It’s just hard to exist. My brain is coping with repressed memories, I can sense them trying to get out. And I have to eat, and focus on eating despite the thoughts. There’s no way around it.

Breathe. You got this, I’m here for you.

You have Garnet & Steven too, and Pearl & Amethyst. You have your friends. You have your treatment team. You will be okay. Food won’t harm you, feelings won’t harm you, thoughts won’t harm you- your illnesses will.

letting go of ED behaviors & perfectionism?

Simply stop yourself from engaging in an eating disorder behaviour and notice all the feelings that come up”-this was in the book I’ve been reading, and reminded me of what Dr K has said this to be before over the years- that engaging in ED behaviour is blocking and numbing emotions so I cannot fully work on dealing with emotions until I stop restricting/purging. I never fully believed her, never truly saw that it was possible that I was suppressing even more emotions, but I’ve just been so detached from my emotions I didn’t even know they existed. But I think she’s right, as she always is, and I have to do what she’s been telling me to do for so long- to face my feelings. She’s also right that I hold onto the ED because I’m scared of feelings, I’m scared of guilt and self loathing and insecurity and fear and feeling unsafe and alone and unloved– all of which will come up if I let go of the ED. I know what I have to do, I’ve been circling around this for so long in recovery. I have to let go of these behaviors, I have to commit to it, and whatever feelings that arise in the process can be coped with when they do arise.

Keeping emotions in is being held hostage by them, and they will only grow bigger when you fear them. If I continue to give all these emotions & thoughts so much power over me I will never get better. Honestly, the steven universe song ‘just a thought’, has been so helpful. Seeing all these characters cope with emotions and trauma in healthy ways has been so helpful. I talked to Evannia about this over lunch today, that they’re such well rounded and realistic characters, with such amazing portrayal of real issues and struggles. I just have to keep reminding myself that these overwhelming feelings & thoughts are just that, I have to take a moment to ground myself and keep going.

I can cope, I will continue to feel overwhelmed and feel fear and feel incapable of dealing with emotions but I can do it. I have to try, there is no way of getting better without feeling these feelings.

Talking to Evannia today also made me realise something else- that we can cope in healthy ways and it is okay to cope in ways that are.. okay. I still struggle with coming to terms with accepting the whole perfectionism thing, but this could be one of them? I focus so much on ‘coping healthily’ and ‘doing the best thing in recovery’ (and failing, often) that I never really thought it was okay to cope in mediocre ways. That instead of journaling and working through my emotions and doing the best thing all the time, it’s okay to just cry myself to sleep, or escape in a fantasy world. It’s okay to not be okay. Hearing Evannia talk about how she copes is really eye opening, the fact that she struggles so much with her history of abuse and depression, and she does have her bad days but she gets through them and she does things that make her happy and she’s doing her best. I just.. never thought life could be like that? Recovery is so all-or-nothing for me. I learned today, that maybe it’s okay that recovery is a process, and it’s a part of my life not my entire life. Recovery has to be a focus, yes, but it’s not a short process and I cannot focus on making recovery perfect.

It’s okay to have fun?? It’s okay to do things I enjoy and ‘waste time’?? It’s okay to cope in ways that aren’t ‘productive’ like journaling?? It’s okay to just be??

I realise that’s so.. new for me. I do struggle with the idea of wasting time, I feel like I have to be productive in some way? Not necessarily productive in terms of doing work, but in terms of even.. personal goals. I write to cope with feelings, I play video games because I want to accomplish something in the game creatively, I read books that help me in recovery/if I learn, I watch TV while doing something I need to do (even if it’s painting my nails), I journal because it’s good for my mental health, I make art because it’s something I want to accomplish/make, I even finish watching shows because my perfectionistic ass needs to finish things. I don’t know, to a normal person it would seem like I do all of this for fun but something feels off. I feel like I do all of these things when my brain tells me to do so. ‘You should journal now, you should go and finish your project on the sims, you should read that book & write, you should finish the TV show you started’. The idea of just… being unproductive, wasting time, doing nothing- doing something just for fun- it’s so mind boggling. I can’t fathom the idea that I’m allowed to just.. live, to have fun/do things that bring me joy, to just be? Maybe I’m overthinking it because these are activities I do enjoy and want to do. I don’t know.

I struggle so much with just.. living. I realise how guilty and ashamed I feel when I think about just existing, without having to earn it or punish myself for it.

But I do know that I’m being a tad perfectionistic about recovery. I’m still constantly working towards a goal, to cope perfectly, to heal, to get better and feel better. But recovery is life too, and I have to take small steps. I can’t rush recovery. It’s okay to live, it’s okay to cope the best I can even if it’s not perfect, it’s okay to not work on mental/emotional recovery all the time. It’s okay that it takes time. “It’s okay to not always open up about things, its good, but you don’t have to force yourself if you’re not ready, small steps”- that’s what Evannia reminded me again today. If I try my best to cope the best I can and live life according to my values, and do things that help me and make me happy, eventually things will get better. I can’t measure my progress by how strong the illness/thoughts/feelings are because they are persistent. All I can measure is how well I am living and coping on a day to day basis, how I choose to cope with the feelings/thoughts. That’s still so hard for me because I feel like I need to be better and feel normal to be okay. But I’m not going to feel normal, maybe I never will, but I have to live my life. How long am I going to be trapped by the past and by this dissociation? I am trying, and I am doing an okay job at coping I suppose? I have to live now, instead of waiting for things to be perfect. Trying my best is enough. I have to just do things. Like my cherry blossom tattoo, everything is so fleeting, what am I waiting for? I have to just push forward, in life and in recovery.

Just a Thought

Take a moment to think of just
flexibility, love, and trust.

I haven’t gotten to this episode of Steven Universe, ‘Mindful Education’, but Evannia sent me a clip of it, and it saw it around a lot on tumblr as well and it’s been stuck in my head since. Thinking about this song makes me tear up, because it addresses having & coping with awful thoughts and feelings in a way I’ve never seen before? I’ve never really seen anything like it outside of therapy, and seeing mindfulness & empathy brought into such a normalized space, with characters I absolutely adore, just tugs at my heartstrings in so many ways. I wish it came earlier for me, back in the year when I having the flashbacks constantly- maybe it would have helped me cope a little better. But everything in it’s time, and I think hearing this song now is so apt for me having started recovery recently, and having to deal with a swarm of both repressed & new emotions, old wounds and pains and fears, emotional flashbacks, feeling unstable, dissociation, anxiety about change and food and recovery- just the awful thoughts and beliefs in general. I was telling Dr K how it feels like a tsunami, when the emotional flashback hits me and the awful thoughts come and feels like I’m spiraling and when I get into that state I’m desperate to self-harm or use the ED just to cope. Same with dealing with trauma, I haven’t gone that much into it yet, but trauma has come up in therapy and I’ve had glimpses of it as well lately as I’ve started allowing feelings and allowing myself to feel more, I’ve seen just how much pain my inner child has gone through. I still default to numbing most of the time, and it takes active work in recovery to feel those emotions, but it is so necessary.

Here comes a thought,
that might alarm me.
What someone said,
and how it harmed me.
Something I did,
that failed to be charming.

Things that I said are
suddenly swarming and, oh.
I’m losing sight,
I’m losing touch.
All these little things seem to matter so much,
that they confuse me,
That I might lose me.

Mindful_Education_224In the show, Garnet explains to Steven & Connie that a fusion must have inner balance in order to preserve its physical form and in order to maintain balance, they must confront and understand their feelings. Steven struggles with pushing away his feelings, but Connie tells him it is okay to think about it, and that he has to feel bad about what he had done so he can move on. That’s essentially what Dr K has been telling me for years- and yet the message was so.. simple, in the show. I cannot truly be okay unless I learn how to face and feel my feelings, and let them pass instead of stuffing them away. Feelings & thoughts were represented by butterflies in the video, and it was really nice metaphor. The butterflies are also shown to grow large and to swarm, which overwhelms them, but they can also be small and harmless- it really depends on how they’re viewed. When they do face the butterflies instead of trying to run from them, they do become just butterflies- just a thought, nothing more, nothing less.

Take a moment remind yourself to,
take a moment and find yourself,
Take a moment and ask yourself if
this is how we fall apart?

But it’s not, but it’s not, but it’s not, but it’s not, but it’s not.
It’s okay, It’s okay, It’s okay, It’s okay, It’s okay.
I’ve got nothing, got nothing, got nothing, got nothing to fear.
I’m here, I’m here, I’m here.

1This verse really hits me emotionally, every time. Most of my trauma (god, it’s still weird and uncomfortable staying that out loud) has come from and led to feeling helpless, hopeless and very very alone for almost all of my life, until recently when I started learning about my trauma and trying to work on it. The biggest realization I’ve had, is how shame withers in empathy, how empathy is really all I need sometimes when faced with pain, how the things my inner child desperately need the most is to not be alone, and to not feel so scared and unsafe. Those are my biggest, most painful wounds and when I receive empathy & love from others, or myself, there is some healing and it makes me want to cry. It’s hard, but it has happened a few times and honestly I’ve dissociated from those needs and feelings so much that I never knew how badly I needed that. So hearing their soothing voices (Garnet, Stevonnie & Lapis are my favorite characters) and that love and empathy is so comforting and it’s just a straightforward message- “It’s okay, you’re okay. You’re not alone, I am here with you, you are cared for.” and that is what I need most, more than therapy, more than medication. Especially when flashbacks come, I need to feel safe and grounded, and I think this song really reminds me of that and makes me feel.. not alone.

I feel like this song is not just about someone else being here for me, but it is also a representation of my healthy voice, that ‘big sister’ self that Dian and I talked about who is there to guide and comfort that inner child. It talks about fusion between gems and the relationship between two gems, but I feel like it also applies to the relationship between different sides of myself, namely the emotional & rational mind, the inner child and older sister. It’s hard to find that healthy voice most of the time, but now I feel like I have a good reminder of what it sounds like, and I have the help of Garnet when my healthy voice isn’t strong enough.

Mindful_Education_177I feel like this applies to ED recovery as well. I’ve experienced so many moments where the anxiety takes over my entire body, where I physically cannot stand the thought of swallowing anything, where food makes me cry, where I want to just run away, where the thoughts and urges are so loud. To skip a meal, to skimp on food, to restrict, to purge, to exercise, to relapse. More often that not, I listen to those thoughts and urges. More often than not, I listen to the disorder out of fear of the guilt and pain and self-hatred I would feel otherwise. Dr K pointed out that I’m still going around in circles in recovery for so long because I’m trying to avoid the anxiety and thoughts, but I can’t in recovery. “Take a moment remind yourself to, take a moment and find yourself”- this line is something I want to remember. It doesn’t just apply to grounding myself in trauma but also when the ED thoughts (or even self-destructive thoughts) start coming, it’s important to be mindful and take a moment to step back and re-evaluate- to find myself so that I can ground myself and listen to my healthy voice, to make choices that are authentic instead of choices led by fear. I feel like it’s so applicable, because I often start getting sucked into the thoughts and I lose myself and I feel unsafe and so awful I forget I can come back to myself and find myself.

And it was just a thought, just a thought, just a thought, just a thought, just a thought.
It’s okay, It’s okay, It’s okay, It’s okay, It’s okay.
We can watch, we can watch, we can watch, we can watch them go by.
From here, from here, from here.

big_1472162357_imageI’ve been talking in therapy for years about feeling my feelings, and yet it’s never really hit me until recovery, just how terrified I am of them. Just like Connie avoiding the butterflies, I don’t want to deal with my butterflies- there are too many of them stuffed into m backpack. In recovery I realise how I suppressed literally all of my past pain and how the ED serves as the main coping mechanism for all of that. It’s not going to go away easily, my fear of feelings, this inherent belief that I cannot cope with feelings (I didn’t even realise until Dr K pointed it out), and just all the anxiety and feelings I have. It’s going to stay. I’ve learnt over the past few months, and I’m still trying to learn that coping isn’t getting rid of the feeling, it’s okay to feel, coping is doing the best I can to not react unhealthily to the feeling. This verse, about watching them go by, along with the video of the butterflies, is this huge reminder that these butterflies cannot actually harm me or even influence my actions. The feelings can’t control me if I face them, and thoughts are just thoughts even if they are awful, mean ED thoughts. I think that’s such a good way to deal with the ED thoughts? “It’s just a thought, it’s okay, let it pass”. I don’t have to act on my thoughts and feelings, they might feel overwhelming but I can cope.

Take a moment to think of just
flexibility, love, and trust.

Lastly- the start and ending of this song. I feel like those 3 words carry so much weight and meaning, it went over my head the first time. They can mean such different things to different people? But for me, I think I interpret it in the context of my recovery, especially ED recovery (which is also interlinked with emotional & trauma recovery) and how I want my recovery to be led. Flexibility means being open and unconditionally accepting, it is softness in a way- it is not hard or rigid, it isn’t demanding, it isn’t perfectionistic- flexibility is letting go of control and rules. It applies to both letting go of control over life & emotions, as well as food & rules. Love is more self-explanatory, I’ve written many times that at the end of the day love is always the answer and I want to be led by love. Love is the most important value to me and I want love to guide me, when I think of living in line with my values, am I acting out of love? It’s also a reminder that I am loved, that I can be loved, and to love my inner child because my love for her reminds me of why I am worthy of recovery and it’s a reminder to be gentle with myself. In the song, I assume trust applies to trusting one another but for me, trust really means trusting myself & the universe & the process of life and change and growth. It’s a really huge thing I’ve been trying to start to cultivate in recovery, learning how to trust myself. How to trust that I am strong enough to cope with life & my feelings, to trust that I will end up where I need to me, to trust that I can take the leap of faith in recovery, to trust in doing the right thing, trust that I will be okay. Trust the universe, trust that everything happens for a reason. Of course, to trust those around me, which is really hard- but to trust them when I cannot trust the thoughts in my own head, to trust that they will carry me, to trust that they love me, to trust that they will not abandon me even when the alarm bells in my head are ringing. Recovery takes a blind leap of faith after all and I have to trust in the process.

Mindful_Education_244

This song has such a deep meaning for such a simple song, and there’s just something about it being a song, seeing it so simply presented, that really resonates with me and a lot of other people, the thousands of fans who love this show as much as I now do, even though I’m so new to the fanbase. It just makes me really emotional to see it so.. normalized, that it’s okay to struggle with thoughts and anxiety and overwhelming feelings? That it doesn’t have to mean anything, and it definitely doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. For all my life, the biggest shame I carry is the idea that these butterflies I have, these awful thoughts and huge feelings I carry make me a bad and defective and unloveable person. I’ve spent all my life trying to hide them. Seeing my favorite characters deal with the same butterflies was a moment of realization because I love them nonetheless and they love each other nonetheless, even though there are butterflies present, and they get through it together in the end. Maybe it really is okay to think and feel these things, you know? And it’s just a thought. I can ground myself, trust myself, love myself, find myself- and I can breathe through it.

Post therapy thoughts // stability is not recovery

She said that for me, stability is a cycle but not recovery. I have periods of stability because I’m really resilient and need-based, and I can cope well and stay stable when I need to. She told me how recovery & behavioural change has to be a long term thing, just because I could force myself to eat and be stable for school doesn’t mean I’m better because I can pull myself together and prioritise life > ED when I need but she says I ultimately go back to the ED for comfort. She hit the nail on the head. The problem is that I’m not doing it for long-term reasons and the challenge with recovery is pushing through those feelings of not sick enough. Instead of feeling stable and then loosening my grip on recovery, how can I push forward and cope with that and keep going in recovery even if I’m stable? She said that I’m still in a lot of ambivalence, and ambivalence comes from fear and part of how I try to cope with that fear is through holding onto both recovery and being sick. I told her how awful I feel, how there’s so much anger and feelings that arise and I don’t know how to cope. I cried a lot in therapy today because I realised I’ve been suppressing so much pain that I don’t know how to cope with. I cried and told her about the anger at everything, at having to even deal with this, and I feel like a kid and I want to throw a tantrum. She was really empathetic today, she said it was normal to feel that way, and it’s okay to be angry and it’s going to take some time for that emotional side of me to catch up developmentally, because of all the years I’ve never experienced proper communication or learnt how to cope with feelings. She said it’s also really understandable how I react so quickly and getting angry and shutting myself off because it’s really how I’ve always protected myself in my family. She pointed out how I dislike the lack of communication in my family yet I still end up using the same method of communication (or lack thereof) as my family.

She brought up that with the attachment issues and with the ED, no amount of logic or reasoning will be enough to make me feel like I deserve to eat, that I’m a worthy enough person, or make me feel better and safer to open up and she pushed me again, that the key is to act in line with my rational brain and not based on my beliefs. And actually I’m not as stable as I think I am, and I’m not as far along in recovery as I feel. I told her how it’s hard to go against the ED or negative beliefs when I’m more stable, and she pointed out that if it’s a ‘this is too much’ thought, then it’s ED driven. She said that with food, this ‘eating more’ is a lifelong thing and the amount I eat in recovery is the same as maintenance. She said that especially with the ED I need to listen to the logical side because apparently I have an ‘active eating disorder’ that will fight to say otherwise.

She said one of my biggest struggles would be to keep seeking help and going through with treatment even when I’m stable and fight that ‘not sick enough’ feeling. She said it’s good that I’m trying to act opposite to my emotions but I also have to keep in mind that sometimes reaching out *a little bit* might not give me the results and support that I need, and I might feel like ‘well I reached out and nobody is responding’ and just retreat. But in actual fact I just am not good at communicating needs yet. And she really pushed me to focus on making more behavioural change, because I can’t just wait to feel differently, that recovery is constantly taking small steps to act in line with what I rationally want. she also brought up that the key to coping with the feelings is to just accept them because she feels like I’m still holding them at a distance with some disdain.

I realised this back in July- “I want to be better but I’m forcing myself to be better without first allowing it to be.” I think I’ve been a lot better at allowing myself to feel and not shutting the feelings out. I’m a lot better at accepting feelings and I have been feeling so much more. But like Dr k pointed out, when it comes to coping with emotions I’m still not fully accepting them. That ‘yes I know it’s okay to feel feelings, but I don’t want to feel them’ whether is conscious or not. Just like with food, this is ‘quasi-recovery’ where it’s better, but not full recovery just yet. Dr Kelly says it’s highly unlikely for me to be eating too much, and it’s also unlikely for me to be ‘wallowing’ or ‘allowing myself to feel too much’. I have to remind myself of this over and over but coping isn’t to stop feeling it, it’s to accept and survive it and not act in line with it. I asked her how to cope with all these intense feelings and she pointed out how I have to keep working on accepting them. I have to just let myself be sad or angry, and fully let it exist instead of trying to quickly ‘cope with it’ or ‘get over it’. She pointed out that recovery is a long term thing, I don’t just stop eating when I’m done, or stop feeling, for that matter.

I think I need to keep working on accepting that I’m always going to feel a lot of emotions and it’s ok. I just have to accept the feeling and almost embrace it, to surrender to it instead of resisting it. I’m scared I’m going to wallow, and end up in misery, but I forget that I can cope. I just don’t feel capable of coping with emotions yet because I haven’t had much practice. I’m wallowing if I react to my feelings negatively and act in line with them and make them worse, but I don’t have to do that because now I am in recovery and I can allow myself to feel & accept feelings without having to act on them. Just like how Dr K sensed my lack of motivation in recovery, she sensed my resistance to feelings, and I was taken aback by both of those because I’ve already come so far but she’s right. I do still hold onto the ED and I do still carry resistance against feelings. It’s like.. holding something icky. I’m holding it, at least. But I’m still holding it at a distance instead of letting it sit on my lap or sit next to me(like that file exercise we did) and that’s tiring. To cope, I really have to keep working on accepting it and letting it exist instead of trying to control it.

I have made so much progress though. Back then, I said that “I am scared of feelings and emotions. I cannot fathom allowing myself to feel unconditionally. If I allowed myself to feel everything- I would just be really sad because there is a lot to be sad about.” And I was so scared of feeling, and feelings unconditionally, and so scared of what would happen if I stopped numbing. I do still numb, but I’ve also been letting myself feel a lot more, and a lot more unconditionally and I am a lot more comfortable with the idea. I’m no longer scared of feeling ‘too much’ because I know that it isn’t too much, I‘ve learnt especially through art therapy, that I can contain myself and I am not too much. I suppose I just need more practice and more time to build that self trust. I have a bit more trust that people aren’t going to abandon me once they see my vulnerability and pain, I have a lot more love for vulnerability itself.

I realise now how, once again, the food and feelings are mirrors of each other and my block is my lack of willingness to let go completely. It’s like ‘I’ve already made progress, we can stop here’, and I’m still holding onto the things that don’t serve me. I’m not surrendering. I’m not accepting what I don’t like, and I’m not accepting the unknown. Emotionally, I do think I am ahead because at least there is a lot less fear around letting go? And that comes from the practice I’ve had, opening up in my FYP, allowing myself to feel, journaling, reading on mindfulness, connecting and speaking to my inner child and going over and over reassuring myself that I can carry myself. Seeking support and reassurance from my friends. I’m less scared of feelings and less scared of my true self and I actually want to let go of control over feelings. But food wise, there is a lot a lot of fear involved and I don’t really want to let go over control over food. Yet I have to figure out a way to do it anyway.Being is the exact opposite of running. I need to allow myself to be unconditional without letting fear stop me. I don’t want to deal with recovery and the painful side effects of it but I can’t separate emotional recovery and ED recovery. It’s not going to feel good, but there is no point in holding onto what no longer serves me.” My past self is right, in the sense that I can’t recover in terms of emotions without looking and focusing on food and like Dr K emphasised so much, recovery about what I do and the actions I take, no matter how I feel. It’s about what I choose to do in spite of my feelings.

All of this really makes me think about what I really want. I tell her I don’t know what to do and how to cope, and she says I have to accept it and do it, I know what to do but I have to get over this ambivalence. She’s right, she said that I’m good at coping and I have a cycle of stability especially when I need to, but that isn’t recovery. So now that school is over, I’m here to pick up where I left off. I only worked so hard to keep myself stable because I needed to do my FYP. What now? What am scared of? What do I really want? Am I willing to go through the difficult parts in order to get to where I want to be? What do I have to do? Where am I, really, in recovery?

rage

i used to think
i do not anger easily
yet i am coming to find
seething rage
knife in chest
tears that soak
blood stained sheets

pain turned rage,
rage turned inward,
always inward
and i am coming to find
i do not deserve
to be kind with me

anger that slips out in blood that runs down my skin and empty stomachs and tight fingers clutching blankets fists on walls screaming pain pain pain it hurts. it hurts and I don’t know what to do, I have tried stepping out of this skin a million times over, it hurts and I have etched hundreds of scars on me, and it hurts and I have run and run and nothing has worked

it all happens in a split second. insecurity means unsafe means pain means anger means relapse. it comes from not feeling safe. it comes from fear. from pain. from the deep hatred and need I have towards vulnerability. Nothing is as comforting as the soft whisper of ‘you don’t need anyone or anything’ nothing is as safe as a growling stomach and emptiness and focusing on numbers go down. I always go back down the rabbit hole. I am ok and then I am not. I am so angry and tired I could rip this girl apart. I want to destroy her. I want to not exist. I do not know how to stop this so I always end up here on the way back down the rabbit hole. I want to give up because I deserve nothing good.

Dian told me that whenever she hears about little-ericia, she seems like a girl who was so, so alone. Dian is right. She was so alone. Still is. Or at least that is how it feels. I remember the anger of that 10 year old. Remember we share the same anger. She is loved. She is. She deserves to be okay. She deserves to be happy. She deserves to be heard. She is not alone for I love her. Her pain is mine. Her anguish is mine.

I say I don’t know what to do but now I do. My healthy voice tells me to reach out. I have. I am trying to ask for what I need. My healthy voice says I am not alone. I don’t have to communicate via self destruction because I can actually communicate via words. The voice of my pain is screaming bloody murder. The unhealthy voice is handing over solutions of starvation and isolation. My healthy voice is but a mere whisper but it says that this pain is not mine, but little ericia’s, and I need to cope with her pain accordingly. She feels really unsafe and alone. I need to love her and give her what she needs. Yet how can I, when I am filled with so much self hatred?

What do I really want? I want to be okay. I want to be safe. I want to feel okay. My healthy voice knows the ED isn’t a permanent solution, though it is tempting. I will be okay if I keep pushing through the hard part of recovery. I will be safe if I can go home to myself. Giving into relapse is giving people and pain power over my life and how I feel. I don’t feel deserving but I know that little girl is. And I love her. She doesn’t have to destroy herself. I am here for her. She’s the one screaming because she’s in so much pain. I want to hold her tight.

My healthy voice, the big Sister says hey. You’re going to be okay. You’re going to be okay, I promise. I know it hurts, I know how everything seems to collapse in a split second and your entire world is in jeopardy but it is not, because you are stronger than you think. You can carry yourself. You are your home now. You do not need to destroy yourself to prove anything, you can just tell them instead. Why are you hurting yourself? What have you done to deserve this? Why does pain make you bad? It doesn’t. You get to choose the beliefs to listen to. You get to choose the voice to listen to. You get to choose if the past pain continues to hold you captive. That choice is on you. You do have a choice to relapse or keep pushing even though it’s hard. And I know it’s hard, I know it’s so hard. You are doing such a good job and I am so proud of you. I know you’re in so much pain. It’s going to be okay. I’m here for you. You are stronger than you think, you can cope with this. You can cope with these feelings. You don’t need to numb. You don’t need to run. It’s okay to feel these feelings, actually. It’s normal, you went through so much. What matters is how you choose to react. Is relapse really, really going to make things better? Is it really going to make you happy? Is it really safe? What truly feels safe? Empathy. Love. I have that, we can build a home founded on love. How nice would that be? Go home. Go home to yourself. The choice to listen to the healthy voice, or listen to pain, it’s up to you.

Surrender & Honouring Home

I went for yoga again for the first time in months and it was really nice. It’s not in my comfort zone in terms of recovery and learning how to be comfortable with myself, but I’m trying, and this is a step in the right direction I suppose? I can’t control how I feel, but I can choose what I do. It was a gentle flow class, and I expected it to be easy but it was actually.. not. I realised in yoga, I tend to be so perfectionistic and want to push myself to be ‘good’ but yoga doesn’t work that way. I think a lot of art doesn’t work that way. Even pottery- like I’m taking up, it’s not really something to rush? And I’m not used to that I suppose, I realise I have such high expectations of myself that I expect myself to be good at everything and if I’m not, then I won’t do it. I think that is something I want to learn to change with yoga. That constant need to be strong, to be good, to DO instead of BE. I think yoga is an interesting mix of both yin and Yang energy, and it’s a lot about finding balance, which I’m not the best at.

Today, the instructor talked about 2 things that hit home for me a little, and the first was about trusting your body. She got us to just.. stand, with our eyes closed, and be still. She told us to feel our muscles and our legs under us and feel all the parts of our body we couldn’t before. ‘What happens when you close your eyes and let go of control? You can learn to trust your body to support you. Your body will work in ways, outside your control, to support you.’ I thought that was such a good metaphor for recovery as well, and just the whole process of learning how to trust myself for the first time. Maybe it’s not always taking a leap of faith, but just closing our eyes and being still and choosing to trust. In small ways. Small steps. She also talked about alignment, and in the second half of the class we focused on alignment of the body/hips/legs/shoulders. And it wasn’t about perfection, or being the best/most flexible, but about finding the right alignment and center. She ended off the class wishing us to find alignment off the mat as well.

Before class, I was feeling anxious I think, having been hungry and yet struggling to eat all day. I’ve been complacent with recovery and I don’t really know what I want out of it or what my goals even are. I’m just kinda tired and the emotions have been so overwhelming over the past month that eating has been the same. I didn’t really know what to do- to focus on the food, the emotions, or both? I didn’t feel like I’m trying hard enough. But then again what is too much? What if I’m being black and white? It was all of these thoughts about what is too much and what is too little and what is right to do. About not being good enough. About people. About change. After class, those anxieties are still here, but they aren’t as.. dominating. Perhaps those are just anxieties.

Because I realised life is never what we make of it, not matter how much I worry, or plan, or control, or even idealise something- the truth is often so far from that picture in my head and so much out of my control. Even my feelings aren’t in my control.

If I keep holding onto all these anxieties and expectations and worries and perfection and control, its not going to make the result different, as much as I think it might. It will just exhaust me, it will breed disappointment and self loathing. Sometimes if I have no control anyway- it will be so much better to simply let go. It will not make the bad feelings go away, but it will make them more bearable. I think part of that is learning how to trust, how to surrender. I think I have a very hard time trusting myself to be capable of carrying myself and capable of coping. I think I’ve felt so, so overwhelmed with no coping skills for so long that I don’t believe I can do it. Yet recovery is this exercise in learning how to trust myself to fall without needing the safety net of the ED. To build not just a home for myself, but to trust that I am capable of relying on those around me, and I will be supported. I think part of that process is to trust what feels right for me in recovery? Instead of what I perceive, instead of what I fear.

I was telling Kelly that authenticity isn’t about telling everyone your truth, but it is living your truth & doing what feels right for you.

So deep down I know that part of that, what I can’t avoid, is learning how to eat and trust my body again. To let go of control of my body which I’m still trying to hold onto. I know that have to push myself to eat, but I cannot isolate emotional and behavioural growth because I don’t think that works for me. Today after yoga, I went and had dinner, alone. An actual, proper meal. A safe meal but still more than I would otherwise have had. I decided to do that because I wanted to eat and because I wanted to nourish my body after yoga, because I felt ok in my body. I think yoga would be a good way of not just finding emotional balance, but learning how to trust and honour my body. My ultimate goal is to feel strong in my body but for now, my goal is to honour and appreciate my body and what it does for me, how it supports me. That is my goal in recovery. And still, small steps are good enough. Every meal I push myself to eat, every time I eat when I’m hungry, every time I resist the urge to purge or exercise, that is a step.

And I am taking steps. I just have to honour the process and honour myself. That includes all of who I am, my feelings, my hunger, my shame, my pain, my inner child. Surrendering is a funny thing because it is not passive at all. It is an active act of relinquishing control, an active act of letting go, and active act of trusting myself and my strength. I used to get confused because surrender sounds like giving up but it’s not, I think it is ‘I’m going to set my intention to try my best, to accept wholeheartedly.. and what will be, will be’. Moving forward, I do still feel lost. I do still feel so, so scared. But I trust Dr Kelly and Dian and Dr Lee and I trust myself.

I can carry myself through this. I know where I am going, and it is inward. Home. Every time I feel lost, it is because I am trying to control instead of trying to surrender. It is because I am trying to find safety in something external instead of my soul.

And I think I have to trust that it might be a long journey but I will not get lost because this home is one I am building. And when I think about this home within myself, this wise mind and loving older Sister, it is calm. It is love and empathy and safety. It is unconditional acceptance because nothing is too big or too much. It is home settling into these bones and it carries the spirits of little girls and women alike for it is love. And when I think about this home within myself, I am okay. I am okay. Home starts with honouring my body. And when I think about this home within myself I remember what it means to be vulnerable; to surrender; to trust. To be soft, to be. I remember what Dr Kelly said, that having a safe space within myself doesn’t mean closing off to other people- and I do, I want that same relationship with others, but I have to build that with myself first because I am the one who will be here with me for the rest of my life.