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.