the change and progress 2018 has brought

I’m having a hard time. I’ve been sad a lot, and crying a lot. I just feel so volatile all the time. Last night, I had a full blown flashback, crying about how alone and awful and scared I felt. I can’t stop thinking about therapy ending and abandonment. The attachment issues are blowing up in my face and it’s a constant struggle. Previously, I isolated myself and pushed people away. But now that I’m reaching out to people more, I’m so needy and I just need reassurance that I’m not being abandoned and I need people to show care. I’ve been talking to Callista a little, I stayed with Twinnie last night, I’ve been talking to Kelly and Eunice, as well as the other interns.

Being in the office still makes things hard though, because I’m surrounded by people that I trust and want support from (Grace and Katie.. maybe even Anisha or Laika or Salina) but it feels like nobody cares. It triggers the attachment issues so much. I can’t bring myself to ask, because ‘I can’t be a burden’ so I just wait for them to ask but they never do because everyone is so busy. It’s gotten so much worse now that everyone is going on leave. I was waiting for Grace to come today, but she didn’t and that really left me disappointed and upset. I really miss her. I didn’t want to ask her for a session because I was wondering if she would ask me instead. But she hasn’t, so I don’t know. It’s also hard because Katie is important to me, but I wonder- what if she sees me as just another client? I don’t want that. I don’t really need more ‘therapeutic relationships’ right now, that’s why I feel like I don’t need psychotherapy. I care about Katie, she feels like an older sister to me and what I need (or want) is to spend a bit of time with her, or just checking in- small ways of showing care. I need a safe space where I can be reassured that I’m cared for and I won’t be abandoned and it’s okay to feel. With Grace there is slightly less attachment anxiety and more security? I don’t know why but I just feel safer with her, she’s like a mum, and I can feel cared for in our sessions because there isn’t that much of a distance so I trust she cares about me.

I’ve been thinking a lot, naturally. Last night I had a long conversation with twinnie and we talked about 2018, about how much we’ve changed. It’s so hard to wrap my head around just how crazy this year has been, and Dr Kelly hit the nail on the head when she said ‘two opposite things can be true, and there is no doubt you are in a lot of pain now more than ever, but you are also doing so much to help yourself’. It means so much to me that she felt my pain and saw my pain, but she also saw my effort and progress, and validated both of it. She knows me. Therapy left me with so many thoughts. I told her about how 2018 has just been an absolutely crazy year- it’s been the year where the puzzle pieces of my life finally started to come back to me one by one over the course of the year. My childhood isn’t a blank anymore, everything finally fits and that has helped me so much. I told her how it’s helped me be better able to point to the origins of some negative thoughts & beliefs that I have, which makes it easier to go against them. It’s so much easier to feel angry for myself, to feel compassion for myself…if I allow it.

Remembering, unfolding, unraveling has been one of the most painful processes I’ve ever been through, but also the most important part of helping me heal.

Remembering, in itself, has taken so much effort. I told Dr Kelly how I had to be really really soft and kind with myself so that I could start to put the pieces together. I had to choose to care for myself, choose to feel. If I never stared recovery, I would not have remembered what happened because my brain wouldn’t have felt safe enough to let me feel. My brain would have just shut it off. So to even get here has taken all this work to feel safe with myself and be kind to myself despite the awful thoughts and feelings. Last night I was telling twinnie that I think acknowledging trauma is something that has and will play a huge role in my recovery. Because whether I face it or not, whether I minimize it or not, trauma has shaped a huge part of my life.

Learning about, and remembering my trauma has been so important in helping me understand why I am who I am today. It’s helped given me some compassion to understand the pain that drove me to self destruct all those years.

Only when I started unraveling trauma, when I started allowing myself to acknowledge it and feel it, when I really thought about my parents and the incidents, then I could start to understand and untangle some of this shame and pain that I have carried for 15 years. I still remember in the hospital, writing that for the first time it isn’t an overwhelming ball of pain that I cannot carry, but an overwhelming ball of pain that I can start to cope with. When I can see that pain, I think that is when I can create even more distance between who I want to be and what my trauma has caused me to be. Even before I knew all of this, one of the biggest things that pushed me to recovery was Dr Kelly telling me I had a choice to choose my beliefs, and I had the chance to live my own life where I don’t have to be with my parents. I never thought about it like that before, and that really flipped a switch for me. I didn’t think much of it at the time but looking back, that was the first time I really took a step back and saw my pain. I remember how I had to sit down and force myself to face it and acknowledge the pain. I saw it, and I was told that I will still have to carry it, but I don’t have to act upon it and I don’t have to stay in these awful cycles, that I can actually choose differently. You see, I think I was sick for so long because I was never able to distance myself from this pain- I was never able to see it because it just overwhelmed me so much. Trauma causes so much learned helplessness. The inner critic and shame is so loud, so pervasive that I never once thought to question it.

I recently realized how much it means to be to be able to distance myself from my parents, because the thought of going back to family therapy and going back to them feels like a trap and it’s almost a promise of relapse. I always knew my parents triggered me and triggered the negative beliefs, but now I see it so clearly, how they drive all of the negative thoughts and how even just being with them is reliving my traumas over and over and over again- reminding me of how unloved, how alone, how unsafe I am, how inadequate, burdensome, awful I am. So the reminder from Dr Kelly that I don’t have to stay with them, that I no longer have to be trapped in the trauma- it means so much. It gives me hope, and that was one of the biggest takeaways from therapy. Hope.

For the first time I really sat down and looked at where I’ve come from, how far I’ve come and the trauma I’ve been through. Being able to identify trauma helps me to see that I feel the same as I did in the past but it’s no longer the same. For the first time I really saw just how much I’ve grown, how different I am, and how I am not stuck in trauma anymore. I can move on. It makes sense because initially, a huge part of recovery was trying to go against that learned helplessness to convince myself that I can cope. I’ve been slowly working on it in recovery, and that’s what recovery has been- hope, change, self compassion and being honest with myself. After all these years of self-abandonment and self-hatred and pain, recovery has been a step towards allowing myself to get the compassion I’ve always needed. It’s hard, it’s always been hard and it’s been 6 months of painstakingly slow change but therapy really helped show me just how huge that change has been.

It opened up the possibility that I no longer have to hurt myself to be seen, it confirmed that I am indeed changing and growing and outgrowing old coping strategies that have helped me survive these 15 years.

She asked me an interesting question about how this has changed the shame I carry and the way I’ve always viewed myself. I didn’t have answers, but thinking about it, I think the change is really really small for now but it’s there? I feel like my pain is less of a ‘big bad thing’ and more of.. just a thing. For all 15 years, I’ve felt so fundamentally broken and different and wrong. I’ve carried this pain without knowing that it was, I’ve carried all this pain thinking that it somehow made me uglier, less love-able. I remember how I’ve always been so terrified of showing people my pain, even up till this year. I carry so much pain, self-hatred, darkness & awful memories- I’m so broken and my pain is so horrific and ugly- that pain taints me & defines me. How could it not? It has been the only constant in my life. But now,  I want to go back and hug my 14 year old self and tell her that people aren’t going to leave when they see her pain, her pain and everything she does to survive her pain, doesn’t make her bad. Now, being able to step back and see the bigger picture, it doesn’t make sense to blame myself for the pain I’ve been put through because now I finally, finally understand that this pain I’ve had to carry isn’t because of me, it’s because of what has been done to me. Why would this pain make me an uglier person, when all I’ve done was do my best to survive it? Just because I feel so broken, just because I have been so broken all my life, doesn’t mean that I’m fundamentally broken. I still feel like I’m a bad person & what happened was my fault but.. we’ll work on that. You know, in the beginning recovery was a struggle because I didn’t know who I would be without the ED, but it was also exciting and beautiful to know that I could be whoever I wanted. I had a clean slate to build upon. So maybe now that I am not just ‘broken’, I am not just my pain- I can make room to find out who I actually am outside of it.

I never, ever thought there would be hope. That I could be more than just this overwhelming pain, that there is more to life. I look back on the past year in itself, and I see how hard I’ve had to fight to pick myself up from rock bottom.

In a way I am grateful life has thrown me into the bottom of the ditch because it has forced me to have to claw my way out and fight, it has forced me to have to really truly think about life, about what I wanted. I started from nothing and I was forced to have to re-parent myself, to focus so much energy on unlearning maladaptive ways of coping and learning things how to cope with emotions, to carry them, to be with them, how to care for myself, how to show up, how to meet my needs. I’m still learning and it will always be a process, but I feel like having to start from ground zero has forced me to have to consciously learn all of these skills, whereas someone else my age wouldn’t have had to do this work. I’ve been forced to spend all my time just working on myself, working on changing and caring for myself in recovery.

Rock bottom forced me to find something to hold onto, it forced me to really truly think about what I needed to do and face. Being in recovery forced me to find the strength and tenacity to keep trying despite the extreme fear and discomfort.

This year has just been something else entirely. I started off the year with the ED being really strong. I’d been toying around with the idea of recovery for a long time, yet I never did it because every time a trigger came up I would ‘relapse’. I didn’t even know it back then, but now I see how every time an attachment trigger came up, every time I felt unsafe or alone or inadequate or abandoned, it would push the ED. Self-abandonment is a vicious cycle. I also needed a baseline of safety, comfort and numbness the ED gave me. After that, I got triggered by my research paper and all the memories about my family came flooding back- it wasn’t the first time I talked about my family but it was the first time I actually realized that what happened wasn’t okay. It was (maybe) abusive and (maybe) traumatic. More and more memories came, the flashbacks came and I had no way of coping. I felt all of the pain, that unbearable lack of safety- I was seeing the trauma for the first time. It spiraled me into probably lowest and most suicidal I’ve ever been.

I spent months trying to survive it. February was the worst it has ever been, with constant flashbacks and no way of coping. The ED was really, really strong, mirroring the trauma.. I was also being forced into ED treatment at the same time and it was hell. That admission was the most painful few weeks I think I’ve ever had, dealing with the ED and the trauma both at 100% intensity is something I never want to do ever again. But that was also when I first started understanding more about complex trauma and how it felt like something finally fits. I started trying to recover a bit back then, but quickly relapsed because the ED was just too loud. Looking back, I know it’s because of the trauma- it tends to make the ED go crazy. I relapsed when I discharged, spending March and April in a lot a lot of pain. I did everything I could to run from it. The months passed in a blur, all I remember is constant self harm, starving and fasting and binging purging, the urges to drink and go out and hook up and put myself in danger, the voices in my head that never stopped yelling. It just snowballed, the pain, and I couldn’t cope anymore. I would rather die, I needed something- anything. It ended up in The Incident.  16th April. Everything from then on was a blur of dissociation, more pain than I have ever known possible, ED, flashbacks, fear, nightmares, anxiety- every trauma symptom. It was rock bottom. I was destroying myself.

23rd April was the turning point, the therapy session that changed everything. That was the lowest point in my life and I knew, even then in all that pain, that I couldn’t live with the ED anymore, everything I was doing to run from the pain wasn’t working. I didn’t even know what that pain was, and I didn’t want to know.

From then, it’s been up and down in recovery. I struggled so much, therapy ending has been the biggest trigger for my mini relapses- but I’ve always come back to recovery. I’ve faltered over and over again but I’ve grown in so many ways I never thought possible. Self compassion has been the biggest one. Accepting feelings. Choosing recovery. Building a home in me. Eating was living and it hurt-did it anyway. Starting recovery, I never thought it would end up this way, I never thought recovery would mean this unfolding and unnumbing and remembering memories but here we are. As I grew, as I started trying to learn how to find my compassionate self and healthy voice and wise mind, I grew to feel safer in my body and that left me remembering more. It felt like petals unfolding and every new layer hurt so, so much. I was getting better, I was putting in so much effort, more than I ever have in my life– yet I’m forced to cope with more and more difficult things, making it harder and harder on me. It’s hard to feel like the small changes I’ve been working towards make any difference but I have to trust that it does in the long term: I’ve connected with myself in so many different ways. My intuition and true self. My inner children.

That leaves us here. There are so many things I still struggle with, especially when it comes to acknowledging pain and memories. Denying and minimizing pain is still a huge coping skill for me- it partially comes from fear of feeling, and partially from my lack of self worth/being used to it. Dr Kelly said that it’s hard for my mum to accept and lean into my pain.. and it seems like I model after my Mother. That I’m scared of pain. She asked me what the drawbacks of pushing it away are.. I don’t know. I know it’s not healthy, but it makes the pain less real. But from everything I’ve written, it’s been so important to acknowledge all of my past and all of my trauma and see it for what it is. It is what helps me unlock self compassion. It hurts too much, to remember, but I also feel like I should validate my inner children. Even if I don’t validate myself.

Dr Kelly is right. I’ve come far enough in recovery to know what I want and I am genuinely making so much progress, my intuition is louder and it is guiding me to keep going in recovery. I can choose to listen or not. The only thing that’s stopping me from continuing to grow is fear.

With all the love I feel towards my inner children, I actually no longer hate myself. I can reassign this pain to trauma. I know what’s the right thing to do, and I want to do it, but I also feel so lost because I am hurting so much right now. I have never felt so much pain and grief, and I don’t know if I should allow myself to feel it or not. For a while before therapy yesterday, I was certain I needed to relapse to cope. I chose relapse and I abandoned myself and it’s made the ED so much louder. The constant ‘you don’t deserve food’. I’m in a place where I need to make a choice again and I have to choose to get better even though I’m in the middle of the worst storm I’ve ever been in right now and everything is falling apart and I don’t quite know how to move forward, I have to choose and I have to try. I’m just struggling to have the energy to bring myself to do it. I feel undeserving of recovery, I want to be noticed and cared for and it feels like relapse will give me that. I’m also just scared. Even though now, 6 months later, I’m so much better ED-wise and recovery-wise, I’m still so scared of ED recovery. The voice is loud and mean.

I need to give myself permission to help myself. I need to try. Stop being so mean to yourself, Ericia.

I wrote a poem today in support group about hope, and how I’ve made it through more than anyone knows. I’ve clawed my way out of this pit and my fire, my strength will lie in my compassion, sensitivity and vulnerability. It’s hard but that is what will keep me going in recovery, the compassion and safe space I can have for myself. I’ve felt this same fear before, this hopelessness, this abandonment and I’ve survived it. I’ve pushed on in recovery for 7 months because I wanted a life outside of pain, even if I couldn’t see it. I’m not who was. For now, doing my best is enough. I have to have grace with myself.


this is what it feels like to be held

I came to work after therapy and cried. I cried and cried and it was the good kind of crying, the cathartic kind. I was crying not just because of pain but because of how much I feel, because of what it feels like to be seen and heard and understood. Because Dr Kelly cares and she understands, because I said it out loud: things are different now and she’s right, I’m outgrowing a lot of coping skills that once worked but no longer do. I have people now, they hold space for me. They’re not my parents. She believes in me and she says that she sees & validates my pain despite my growth, and that makes me feel more okay.

It makes me feel like I don’t have to hurt myself anymore.

I’m crying because I don’t want to hurt myself anymore. I told her about how I struggle to acknowledge my pain and stop minimizing it. If I acknowledge just how much it hurts, then it will hurt (but it already does).. but then it will be real. The thing is, if I allow myself to feel all of my pain then I don’t have to hurt myself anymore. Then I wouldn’t have to deal with the constant trigger of invalidating myself, like she said. It hurts anyway. And if all of this is real then maybe I was never as broken as I thought. Bad things just happen and I’m brave and strong and I’m dealing with it the best I can.

Look at these falling tears
This gentle heart
I know fear lingers in
every inch of your mind,
demons waiting to pounce.
But this is what it feels like-
even in the midst of the storms,
the confusion,
this is how we begin

Stepping into your skin
Growing into your home
After breaking
and again,
unfolding into open blossoms
receiving with the gentlest
of touch

This is what it feels like to receive what we always needed, even before we knew we did. This is what it feels like to be held, to be safe, though it’s so brand new. This is what it feels like to meet yourself for who she is, to love your inner child after what they did to her, finding courage to look beyond the layers of safety nets. With the most loving of hearts, opening space for seeing pain as what it always has been, not more, not less. To validate without self destruction.

It is simultaneously so terrifying and so amazing to allow myself to be vulnerable and self compassionate and open enough to get what I’ve needed all my life. To allow myself to be able to feel heard and validated. To not self destruct. After I’ve spent my entire life feeling so unworthy and so much self-hatred, for the first time, opening myself up to any other possibility is so wild. It feels so good because I realize all I ever needed was this comfort, this love. Listening to myself and letting myself be listened to. Being held. Trusting people to be here because it isn’t the past anymore, it isn’t abandonment anymore, it isn’t unsafe to feel and express feelings anymore. Opening to the possibility that I am not broken.

But it’s the scariest thing I’ve ever done for myself, more than staying the same.

Healing and Feeling

Words from @Lisaoliveratherapy on instagram

I’ve always responded so deeply to all life throws my way, both beautiful and painful. It all seeps into my bones and I hold onto it, let it go, hold onto it, let it go. I feel the experiences of others, my own experiences, the losses and hopes, the dreams and stories that arise so wildly fully. I would rather live a life feeling all of my feelings and experiencing great joy right beside deep pain, than I would spending it only lightly feeling, halfway experiencing, and partly living. To feel means to be awake. To be awake means to let it all in. And, to let it all in means not living a life lightly.

To create change, we have to first face the truth- what’s underneath. We know that in order to heal, we have to feel. As hard as it can be, we have to stop numbing/hiding from/burying/projecting, and really feel it all. What a task – but how freeing. From here, we can move. From here, we have choice. From here, we can take steps towards letting go of what no longer works for us, and create more space for what does.

I imagine my inner child and I tell her what she needed to hear. I offer her compassion she didn’t receive. I name how she was feeling for her and validate it. I answer the questions she was too afraid to ask. I remind her she is safe and cared for. Caring for our inner child is a gift. We cannot change what has happened to us. What we can do, though, is hold space for it now. We can acknowledge it in the present, and name it, and tend to it with tender care and compassion.

If you are knee-deep in your feelings, in the muck of it all, in the uncertainty and the joy and the fear and the sadness and the unknown… remember the gifts that reside within those feelings. Remember the gift it is to be open to really feeling them. Remember that none of it is permanent. Remember that feeling = alive, and alive = there is always something else, another chance, another way of being, a different path, a new discovery, another chapter around the corner. Always.

Allowing ourselves to be seen – truly seen – is a radical act, and perhaps the most important gift we can offer ourselves and others.

Healing isn’t something we complete, finish, or cross off our to-do list. It is an ongoing and ever-shifting process that ebbs and flows throughout our lives. It isn’t something to “get to” – it’s something to allow. It asks us to really, fully look at ourselves. It needs our bravery, vulnerability, and courage. It is in the healing, rather than the avoiding or numbing or running from, that we discover the very parts of ourselves we need to become more whole, present, and alive.

There is no arriving. There is only now. When we can arrive into who we are in this moment, we don’t need to be anywhere or anyone else.

Feeling our truths is one of the bravest things we can do, and ultimately one of the greatest gifts we can offer ourselves. Take a deep breath. Lean on those who support you. Make time for what nourishes you. Practice self-compassion. And, know that you are enough. Your strength is remarkable, your courage is immense, your overcoming is inspiring.

inner warrior

It would be an understatement to say that the past 2 months have been really, really difficult- I don’t think I’ve experienced trauma, flashbacks, triggers and depression this bad since I was last inpatient in February. Yet I’ve survived it, somehow. I got through it, without attempting to kill myself, without going inpatient (though I wanted to), without fully relapsing in to the ED, without much self harm, without self destructive behaviors like drinking or hooking up. I don’t ever feel like I’m doing well in life or in recovery, but like my therapist said, my periods of stability and coping are getting longer and I need to give myself some credit for that. It doesn’t seem like much, but none of this would have been possible even last year. I’ve made progress, as invisible as it seems. I see myself trying- trying to help myself, trying to keep choosing recovery, trying to ask for help- despite being in a lot of pain. I see my healthy self trying her best to be present, trying to lead and help us move in the right direction even when we are in so much pain. It doesn’t always work, but she tries, and she’s there, and that’s much more than I can say for the past… well, 19 years, actually.

Struggling doesn’t take away all the progress I’ve made, all the healing, all the self-compassion, everything I’ve learnt.

I’m trying really hard, I always have, and I’m so proud of myself for that. I’m doing the best I can with what I have, all the parts of me. I need to have more compassion for myself, recovery is never linear and the way I feel isn’t an indicator of my progress. I’m feeling more pain than ever because I’m not numbing myself anymore. That’s a good thing. I’m feeling scared, anxious, uncomfortable because I’m actually trying to change and heal. That’s a good thing. Like my therapist says a lot, recovery isn’t an overnight change, it’s not even going to make me feel better, building helpful long-term coping skills and letting go of unhelpful short-term coping skills means there are no short-term results.

I feel like I need to stop measuring my progress and stop being so hard on myself for struggling. I need to try to stop judging my feelings, as if feeling bad means that I’m a failure and everything is going badly. I mean, yes to be fair it isn’t great, but I feel like this is a huge aspect of my perfectionism. Needing my life and my mood to be a certain way, or else it’s ‘not good enough’. It’s okay to feel bad and still be good enough, still be doing a good enough job at recovery, still be doing a good enough job at life, still be a good enough person.

Trying my best to cope, is enough. Trying my best to care for myself, is enough. I forget self-compassion all too often.

So the past two months have been really hard. That’s okay because I made it through. I did the best I could. All my parts did what they could to help protect me, and my healthy self did my best to help us choose to do what’s best for us, to recover, to have self-compassion, and my healthy self is writing this. It’s okay that things aren’t perfect, it doesn’t mean it was a waste, it doesn’t mean I’m a failure, it doesn’t mean anyone is judging me for it, it doesn’t mean I will be any less loved- it’s always okay be where I am. To just be. That’s something I’m really trying to help myself learn. Because, things could be really hard for a long time- does that mean recovery was all in vain? that i’m not living?

I remember once wrote this post, that life is happening right now whether I like it or not, time is passing and it will continue to pass. Life isn’t about what I want it to be, but it’s everything, the highs and the lows, and often because of my expectation of perfection I postpone ‘life‘ (eg, needing to get to a certain weight). But life is never going to be perfect. I have to live now. It’s okay if life is hard, it doesn’t make it any less meaningful.

I survived the past two months, as painful as it has been. I need to give myself more credit. I need to give my inner warrior more credit because she gets us through all of this. She’s strong, almost scarily strong sometimes. And I will survive whatever comes my way, and do the best I can to cope. Do the best I can to help myself and be kind and live according to my values- that’s recovery and life. It’s not about what happens to me or how I feel, it’s what I do. I will be okay.

You belong to you

I sink into this unwavering heartbeat and look around home, remnants of a battlefield. A home doesn’t always feel like one, nobody really knows what lies behind polished facades- the boxes that carry secrets, cracks in the floor and walls that bear witness to destruction. Chest locked up, gasping for breath as lips attempt to mouth unspeakable words//thoughts//things. How do you begin to explain the devastation of this home? These horrors on your skin.

It was never your choice yet you’ve ripped this place apart with your own bare hands, try to burn it to ashes because what else do you do with the pain you carry? Where do you put it? Where do you put the shame, rage, grief, terror? The deep reservoir of hatred for this home, the desperation to deny it’s existence. To deny the sickening feeling of disgust that comes with being in this body. This home that’s betrayed and abandoned you.

This home that forces you to remember.

You watch, as you dissolve into emptiness, everything stops working, nothing makes sense. Your eyes stop working/time stops moving/the world isn’t spinning/night and day is the same/the mirror reflects nothingness and nothing is real, nothing is real, nothing is real. not even yourself. especially not yourself. Nobody seems to notice how you stopped existing. Nobody seems to hear your anguished screams. Nobody seems to understand how nothing is chronological, you just live in these moments of blurry images and sounds and terror. These moments that end up replaying themselves, haunting your days.

I know.

I know what it’s like to want to keep your eyes shut tight. To Run. Run from the wolves, run from this home. Sometimes it’s almost comfortable to stay in familiar pain, as if pain is all you deserve. Shame lives in your bones and all the places that will never see light. I know. I see the boxes you never want to open, I see the scars from battles fought, I see the dark corners you cannot revisit. I know how it feels to be robbed, to have strangers intrude and try to burn this place down. I know how it hurts to not be able to hold the fort and protect this home the way it needed. I know how it feels like your fault.

It is not your fault.

You never asked for this. It is not your fault because how dare they do this to you. How dare they. This is your home and you have the anger and ferocity of a Mother, woman turned wolf. Be angry, for your sacredness was never theirs to steal. Let your fire burn, for it will fuel change. This is your home and you have the grief of a Daughter. Be sad, for it was never meant to happen. Be sad, and let your tears wash away the anguish and destruction you have suffered. This is your home and you have the love of a Grandmother. Be gentle, for it is your temple. Be gentle and let the love and compassion you carry, create space to heal. Let your strength be the matriarch that holds the fort.

So open one box, then two, and keep doing it. Some days, we clear out stacks of boxes and some days we can’t bear to look at what we keep inside. It’s okay to take the time you need. It’s not easy I know, I know. But I promise you, this home is worth it. You are worth it. You are worth the love, healing, time, space. One day flowers will bloom in the spaces that once carried fearful heartbeats. One day the cracks of your soul will read bravery and the strength of overcoming. One day, this unbearable heaviness will lift and one day, you will wrap your arms around you and feel safe. You will heal.

You belong to you, only you.

Post therapy thoughts // my therapist believes in me

It was a surprisingly good session today and we had a Long talk at the end where she gave me what I needed. I told her I just needed someone to believe in me. She said she was really really proud of me, that I’ve come so far from when I first saw her and she’s really amazed at my resilience and strength in moving forward. She said she has no doubt that I’ll be able to move past these issues, move forward and go on to live the life that I want, that I’ll become great at psych, that I’ll have fulfilling relationships. She said again that she’s seen many people in her personal and professional life who have gotten over or learnt to deal with attachment trauma and gone on to lead healthy lives and have fulfilling relationships, so it’s possible and it’s definitely possible for me. She said that she believed I would go on to have wonderful intimate relationships because she believes I have a lot to offer, and I would have relationships that would fill my emotional needs without having to be in distress. She said I had a few unhelpful models of emotional support like my family, the mental health system as well as friends whom I’ve met through mental health related things. She said that she’s really really proud of me for sticking through with this transition, and for still trying and being here. Like the analogy I gave her about my tendency to not go to the airport to send people off, she thanked me for ‘coming to the airport’.

She said instead of focusing on recovery from everything (because surprise, surprise- black and white thinking), I can focus on things I can do to build my resilience and distress tolerance. She even talked about the inner child, how I didn’t have that emotional support growing up, so now as an adult I almost have to re-parent myself and re-learn how to support myself and have a healthier internal model. She said there’s no magical change. there’s no unicorn change, and the emotions aren’t going to go away but I can do things to cope with them better.

She also talked about herself which was nice. She said she was really really sad about transition for different reasons, and it’s really impacted her as well. She said she’s really been upset by it and she knows I’m struggling and feeling stuck, in a large part, because of what’s happening with transition. She said she was sorry the past week has been so hard for me and she’s also sorry how had all of this has been. she wishes there was something she could have done to make transition easier, and to avoid re-traumatizing me, and she feels really bad about that. But she hopes that this will be a helpful experience for me to go bank on, that as awful as it is, I can look back and say ‘it’s okay, I got through it and I am capable of sitting through this anxiety and struggle’ and be able to open up to new relationships. She said she would miss me, she would miss seeing me and having sessions with me. She really does care about me, about how I’m doing, she really cares about my wellbeing. She reassured me again and again, what’s happening isn’t her giving up on me, it isn’t her hating me, it isn’t because I’m not good enough. None of it is true. She said it wasn’t about me as a person or even what she wanted- it’s just an external situation. She said it wasn’t about anything I did or didn’t do, it wasn’t about not not being good enough or not going well enough, there was nothing I could have done to stop it from happening because it’s not about me. She said that the people who care about me, care about me as I am, right now. She said that I am enough.

She said, with so much certainty, that I’m not a bad person, that I don’t deserve to be hurt, that I don’t deserve to be going through this. She said that I deserved to be mentally well and have healthy relationships. She said I was insightful, intelligent, likeable, compassionate, and I would be able to build a better life moving forward and move past this feeling stuck. She said I was passionate and loving, and I had so much to offer. Not all my problems are going to go away. And she said it’s okay to struggle, it’s normal to struggle, it’s normal to feel this way especially after everything I’ve been through, and it doesn’t make me weak. Normal people struggle too. She struggles too. But she said what matters is how we identify and validate that struggle and choose to deal with it.

Because we talked about some coping skills and DBT stuff and I told her about how I do know these skills but it’s so hard to apply them or use them. It’s hard to let go of beliefs of ‘not good enough’ because it triggers the feeling of lack of control, that bad things happen and I’m helpless. But she said that once again it doesn’t have to be black or white, it doesn’t have to be ‘I’m a bad person it’s my fault’ or ‘I’m completely helpless’ because I do still have control over how I react to situations. She said she understood how it would be hard to even want to use all of these coping skills, especially in the context of what I’ve been through. She suggested trying to just practice opposite action, because practice does make it easier. I also told her about the struggle to use logical mind because my model for that is my dad and it’s such a terrifying and mean voice. And she said that was a really important point, that I didn’t have a model for that. She said my ruby & sapphire model was a really good example, though, of a healthy relationship and conversation. She asked me to focus on wise mind instead of the logical mind, and she said a good thing, would be to focus on first validating my emotions and acknowledge that how I feel is okay. She also asked me to focus on doing what’s effective instead of being judgemental about my actions being ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

She does believe in me and she’s not ‘giving up on me’. She does believe, ‘with all her heart’ (I quote her) that I’ll be able to move past this and live a life that I do want despite my struggles. And I’ve been through a lot. I really have. She said I’m really resilient for doing all of this, because even day to day life is hard enough. She made me feel better about myself. I feel better. I really do, it means a lot to have her believe in me. I just need to know that someone does. That I’m not alone. Like I told her, I’m really trying to get better, I don’t want to die. It’s just.. all so hard right now. She really urged me to push forward and reach out more, especially because I tend to isolate myself before I go into a bad place and crash. I told her how I’m having such a hard time with reaching out because nothing I say conveys how I really feel especially when I’m so overwhelmed and shut down.

She said that sometimes you can get settled into a groove with a therapist and get comfortable so having a new therapist and a new perspective can be really helpful, having new thoughts and moving onto adult care can help to reconsolidate things and help me figure out where to go on from here. She said that as hard as this transition has been, it’s not something either of us have control over and she really hopes it will help me to learn how to trust people and not avoid relationships in the future, that the ending of a relationship is something I can get over. I also did ask her what Jing Xuan would know, and I don’t really want to start from scratch or have to re-explain everything. I think what I want to know is the direction that we would be moving forward in therapy? What are our goals? Dr Kelly said she would give some suggestions to her, like continuing to work on attachment struggles, working on my negative beliefs and if I’m ready and in a better place, to do some trauma work as well. She asked me to think about it, what I wanted to get out of therapy as well.

I don’t know. I haven’t been able to think about even starting with a new therapist because of how distressed I get when I even have to think about it. But like I told Dr Kelly today I’m starting to accept it? At least cognitively… rationally. I’m not okay with it and I don’t want it but it’s a part of, for lack of a better word, growing up? I knew that this was coming and it’s unavoidable, it’s only a few months from when I was planning to leave anyway, and it happened differently than I thought it would. But if I have to be honest, I’m glad I get to see Jing Xuan? I’m glad I get to see a therapist. I can accept the end of therapy and I guess I’ve been getting better at reframing it? Seeing it as ‘graduating’ from therapy, almost. I still have a lot of work to do but I’ve really learnt so so much from our sessions together that I feel like it’s enough to help me move forward? As painful as it is. The worst part of it all, is not that I can’t accept it, but the trauma that it brings up. How often it made me feel small and abandoned and awful and hated and alone. But when I remember that I’m older and stronger, when I remember that I’ve learnt so much- it’s easier to feel more empowered? And that’s what I really want? That’s what helps. Knowing I have the tools to help myself and the strength. Knowing that i have a future outside of this therapy room and outside of KKH and outside of my own mental health issues- moving away from this is moving closer to the life I do want. And she said that too. I can have a life with real relationships and real people who care and can meet my needs, she said that maybe not right now but it’s possible that what we have in therapy can be found outside and I can build safe spaces.

And her constant, constant reassurance that this isn’t happening because I’m an awful person, or because I’m not good enough. This isn’t happening because she hates me, or because she’s abandoning me, or because she doesn’t care about me. She literally looked into my eyes and said that she really does care about me. What’s interesting is what she said about having control, that it’s hard to accept that sometimes with just don’t have control over situations and things happen. But we do have control over how we choose to cope. And it’s literally what’s going on with termination. It’s what Katie said too, that it really sucks how this is happening and I can’t do anything about it except try my best to cope with it.

With all that said, what am I going to do? After today’s session I genuinely feel better and for a moment I felt like things are going to be okay. She gives me hope. But it terrifies me too, moving forward terrifies me, being healthy terrifies me. I’ve never had any of that. She really really said it, and she meant it- that I don’t deserve to get hurt or hurt myself, that I deserve to be able to cope in healthy ways, that I’m not a bad person. She’s always had compassion and she’s always looked so, so upset when I’m in pain and when I talk about bad things that’s happened because she said I didn’t deserve it. I want to move forward, but small steps. Like I journaled about, I need to take small steps and do what I need to do to help myself. We wrote down some of the things I could do to help myself build emotional resilience: eating well, using support, positive self talk, not abandoning myself, affirmations, using coping skills and activities that promote mastery and activists I enjoy. All things I can do. I just cried again and I realised how much of my childhood she represents. How huge a part of my life she’s been. And I’m really, really going to miss that. And I’m really upset to leave that behind because it’s really really scary to move forward.

But I need to believe that things can get better. That I can learn how to cope better and be happier and healthier in general. I need to choose to believe what she says, and say it to myself over and over again, that I deserve to be healthy, that I’m not a bad person. Even if I don’t believe it, just saying it. I know it’s a lot a lot I have to unpack and heal from but I don’t have to do it all at once. Dr Kelly also said that my periods of stability are getting longer which is good, and in my case, mental health is going to be a long term issue. It’s more about managing it than making it go away. I need to believe in myself to make this work. She believes in me. She believes I can get over this. That it’s hard but it’s okay that it’s hard.

I need to believe that I deserve better than destroying myself. That being at this weight isn’t the worst thing in the world. I need to want to heal. I need to be vulnerable and be brave to want to break free from everything in my past so I can build a life and move forward. And if I search my soul, of course I want that. I’m just bloody terrified. But I need to believe that I deserve care or I’ll never actually care for myself. I need to re-parent that inner child and validate my emotions. I have the tools. I have the support. I just need to be really, really brave now. I need to let go of control, of the past, to let go of my denial of pain, to let go of control of myself, to let go of control over the world around me. It’s so painful. To think that I am enough. That I am strong. That I deserve to be okay. It’s so painful and uncomfortable yet it’s what I need most. Love.

I want to get better and I deserve to get better and I want to live. I want a life.

I can’t get over it. I can’t expect myself to get over this. I can’t make the pain go away. I can’t control what happens to me. But I can care for myself. I can do my best to cope, I can do what’s effective for me. That means fighting the ED. That’s one demon I have to Squash. A really, really hard one. It keeps coming back. But the truth is I want recovery. i want a life and I have to do what it takes to get there. It’s not going to be perfect but it’s better than this. I can’t give up now. She said she’s really amazed that I’m still fighting. Me too. But I’m strong. Why is it so hard to own it? To own who I am, the good and the bad. I Guess because I’ve never had a healthy model for anything. But I have to own it now. My wants. My intentions. My choices. My feelings. My pain. My needs.

There is always light, I just have to be brave enough to recognise it and hold it and know It’s okay to be in the darkness and have darkness too. It’s okay to have both and be both.

But if I want to move forward I have to move forward. One step at a time. I know it’s scary and it hurts. I know. I know how lost and awful it feels. But things will get better. I can find freedom from all of this. I can live the life I want. I can break free from my beliefs, my family, everything. I told twinnie how I feel like the real healing is going to come when I move away. Dr Kelly once said that family is such a small part of our lives and I’m going to move away someday and build my own life. It’s so painful but I have to take everything I have in me to find the courage to break free. To love.

In terms of what I want moving forward, in therapy, and in life, I want to work on feeling more stable in myself. I want to work on processing trauma, actually. I want to understand and create a better narrative of where I’ve come from so I can understand why I am the way I am. I want to work on being able to help myself better regulate my emotions and show up for myself and meeting my needs. I want to recover from the ED. Fully… as hard as that sounds. I want to learn how to cope with feelings and sit through them. I want to be able to live normally and live according to my values. That’s a good life for me- living in line with my values and doing what I love. It doesn’t mean not feeling awful and not getting triggered and not struggling. It doesn’t mean being okay. It means choosing to not give up on myself because I know I deserve better. That’s what I want. Then I’ll truly never be alone. Because I’ll be here with me. And I can learn how to use resources and ask for help and communicate feelings. I want to be a better feeler, to be able to identify and communicate emotions better, to be able to tolerate them better. I want to find stability within myself instead of holding onto control through food or through numbing.

One step at a time. But I have to be here for myself. I have to believe that I can cope and let go of that learned helplessness. I have to make choices that help me. I have to make choices from my wise mind. To care for myself like a child. Right now, that means eating even though I don’t want to. Eating Everyday, eating 3 meals a day because relapse gets me nowhere, does it?

hand and heart

and i know the pain of it all

the pain that wraps itself around your chest

over your mouth

around your arms and legs


as the world around you blurs

and you cease to exist


know that you are seen.

you are loved.

you exist in quiet moments

of bravery

you exist in the things you love

the people you meet

you exist in the safe space between

hand and heart.


Trying & Trusting

I just went for my first (and only) yoga class this week and it was really hard. Not the class itself, but the emotional aspect- having to be with myself. Having to be mindful. It sucked. Halfway through the class, my mind had space to drift, and I was just thinking about recovery and how pointless it seems. I was also reminded of how awful I feel. How everything hurts and all I could think of by the end of the class was a repetition of ‘I hate myself’ and ‘I wish I didn’t exist’. I really do hate myself and I hate my body and I don’t want to be kind or gentle with myself. I wanted to cry during class. It reminded me of pottery class, when I almost started crying in the middle of it, I think the mindfulness aspects of these classes help me to be less dissociated from my feelings.

I was reminded of how lost and alone I feel. In all honesty I don’t want to relapse or go back to the disorder because I hate it, in a way. But the disorder is also safe and nothing else is. Right now, I don’t know what to do. I don’t want recovery, I don’t want to eat or get even fatter or be normal. It still terrifies me. I don’t feel deserving of recovery. But thinking of ‘what to do’ also reminds me of what I’ve been learning in recovery: being. I actually got annoyed at myself for reminding myself, that instead of doing, I can just be, and when I feel lost it means I’m just not trusting myself. Yet how can I possibly trust myself? I can’t. I can’t even trust others. I can’t even trust my therapist. The feelings of betrayal and aloneness have been so strong. My body doesn’t know how to trust, or how to feel safe. I can’t trust myself when I can’t even be in my body- it feels icky and shameful.

The pain I carry reminds me of how much I don’t want to exist. I don’t want this body. I don’t want to be. But maybe if I make it smaller, maybe if I control it, I’ll feel less awful about it.

When thoughts of relapse come, it’s hard to argue with its logic. Why not? I ask myself. Why not? I’ll be alone soon enough anyway. I won’t have help or support. Nobody will care about me. At least hunger is safe. At least control is mine and nobody can take it away or leave me. If you stepped into my brain you would understand how horribly tempting relapse is, even if I know I don’t want to. You’ll know how much everything hurts. How it sucks when my best isn’t enough. My therapist is leaving no matter what I do. And I tried, I’ve been trying so hard. So what does it matter? What does it matter if I destroy myself? If I relapse? It all hurts anyway. I don’t want to be fat. Eating will make me fat. I don’t deserve to eat.

I don’t deserve anything. The self-destructive thoughts I had over the past weeks have just turned into despair and hopelessless and utter agony and a desperate need to RELAPSE NOW.

DO SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR FAT BODY YOU’RE DISGUSTING I HATE YOU SO MUCH. YOU SHOULD’T EAT, YOU DON’T NEED TO EAT, THEY’RE ALL LYING. YOU CAN’T TRUST ANYONE. THEY’RE ALL HURTING YOU. STOP BEING SUCH A FAT GREEDY PIG I HATE YOU YOU DON’T DESERVE FOOD. STARVE. YOU’RE THE FATTEST YOU’VE BEEN IN YEARS, I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU. The voice hasn’t been this loud in a while. Well, it has been around but I’ve just gotten good at ignoring it in recovery. How easy it would be to listen to it again. How simple. A voice that loud is an awfully good distraction. I mean, I’ve managed to run away from this pain for 7 years haven’t I? Maybe I can run for the rest of my life.

I mentally facepalmed as I typed that. I know I can’t. I’ve been there. I can’t run, it gets exhausting. Running is so, so exhausting. I remember those days. I remember rock bottom. I can’t run from the pain forever. Maybe I can’t relapse but I can still starve. Lmao. But I look down at my tattoo. The light is in my hands. The choice to recover is mine. I have to choose what to believe and what to do. How can I trust that there is light?

If you’re quiet enough, that is when you hear the soft whispers of intuition. To trust. Breathe. Be in your body. Let go, surrender and you will be okay. I don’t feel okay. I haven’t, not for a long time- but I deserve compassion, my younger self deserves compassion and if I have held on for so long, I have to keep going. I cannot recover halfway, I cannot give up.

Maybe here’s a new intention for next week. To experiment. To try. I haven’t tried eating unconditionally for a period of time. I haven’t tried giving recovery all I have and not giving up. I haven’t tried embracing myself and holding myself through all the pain. I haven’t tried trusting myself. I haven’t tried being open and asking for support. I can’t let myself give up now, I haven’t tried my best. It’s a fine line, because ‘trying my best’ often translates into ‘achieving’ in my head. Maybe I am scared of trying my bests because trying is vulnerable, what if I try my best and I fail? That’s not an option. Failure is never an option in my head. But what if I just experimented and tried my best in recovery? That means trying my best to eat unconditionally, to eat what I have to, to eat new things, to actively stomp out the eating disorder. But also trying my best to trust myself, to be open, to be soft, to have compassion for myself. Like Dr Lee said, what’s the worst that could happen? I’ve come so far and already gained the weight anyway. I can lose it again if I want. I have to take the leap and trust myself because semi recovery will never cut it. So try. Experiment, overeat for a day and see what happens. Sit through the voices and see what happens. Be honest and open and see what happens.

Fuck fear and treading in water.

20th Sep // Tree of resilience & pizza challenge

Today was a really rough day, it’s been emotionally draining with family group, pizza for lunch, art therapy and then counselling at AWARE. But it actually.. has been good, I think? It started off rough, with a breakdown about my weight in the morning, and then I struggled through lunch. I didn’t feel comfortable enough to express my feelings during lunch, but when Dian came, I immediately burst into tears because the pizza was really really hard. I felt awful, I felt like I was going to get fat and nobody is going to love me, I felt vulnerable and unsafe and just plain crap. I cried it out, and she helped me ground myself a little before we started art therapy.

We did a visualisation exercise during art therapy, where she read out a visualisation about a tree of resilience, and she had us relax into the feelings of strength, love, groundedness, and she asked us to think about what this tree would say to you. I had a hard time visualising resilience, so I choose a feeling and went with it, and one of the words mentioned in the exercise that stuck with me was ‘abundance’ so I went with that feeling, that colourful, magical abundance. I painted this tree (I’ll probably use the picture in this post) and it reminded me of my favourite poem. I also wrote this:

Grounded in wisdom,

Serenity in difference,

Whispering, come,

Your abundance

Is precious

And Dian asked me ‘what would that wisdom say?’ and I immediately said ‘it’s not your fault, it’s okay that it’s hard’ and then burst out crying. I pushed myself to talk about how I was feeling, the pain, the feeling that everything that happened to me was my fault, the feeling of abandonment, not being good enough, of not being seen or heard. I told her how this situation with Dr Kelly mirrors that with my parents, that no matter what I did or how hard I tried, I would still get abandoned. I told her how I’m in so much pain and it doesn’t feel like anyone is seeing it. I didn’t even realise that was inside. I cried and cried and it was actually really cathartic, and they were both so kind and empathetic. Dian really tried to drive home the fact that resilience and this wisdom is inside all of us, and its hard to tap into, but it’s in the subconscious. She asked me to picture wisdom, because she said I have a lot of wisdom- and what would that wisdom say about my situation? I feel like it’s similar to my healthy voice, that inner strength.

She said that resilience is not about not being broken, but about bouncing back from it as well.

I feel like the painting gives me both a sense of safety and calmness as well as strength and groundedness. I realised ‘abundance’ is the opposite of what I seek in the ED- to not exist. Right now what makes eating painful, is having to exist. And existing hurts like hell. But I said I have a lot of abundance in me, of feelings, of colour, of love, and I think I’m trying to be okay with abundance. That poem kinda represented that strength I needed and wanted, and most of all, acceptance, that it’s okay to be different, it’s okay to be abundant- it’s more than okay, it is safe and it is cherished.

This was enforced in therapy with Grace, she went through some grounding exercises with me, a physical position of deep breathing with my hands on my head and belly and reminding myself I am safe, creating ‘a felt sense of safety in the body’. She asked me to think of a ‘trauma break’, and for me what worked was thinking of Garnet from SU because she makes me feel safer and stronger, and okay. It was a lot of work for a day. I mean, even in physiotherapy, we did some body scanning and deep breathing and stretching.

But all of this made me think that maybe it’s true that I can cope- that I have seeds of resilience, a reservoir of wisdom to tap into, a deep intuition and trust in the universe that is supporting me. I crashed, badly, after therapy was cancelled on Monday because it felt like I could never cope without therapy. But I have coped with all of that, the abandonment, and I have even coped with the pain without really being too self destructive. It’s been really hard, but I’m actually coping, which honestly surprises me. Maybe I am stronger than I think. Maybe it’s okay to actually use these coping skills I’ve learnt, to ground myself. To find my heart center. Maybe I do deserve it. Despite struggling, I actually do still want to recover, I’m not going to relapse and throw away everything I’ve worked for. It’s hard, but one step at a time.

feel the earth beneath your feet


energy coursing through your soul


wind that sways without falling


open chest expanding in crisp air


the weight of the universe

supporting you, carrying you

you are safe