I’m in a bad place lately, restricting, weighing myself, making plans to exercise and lose weight and obsessing over numbers. I’m still choosing not to recover and this morning on the way to school I noticed the passing thought of ‘well there’s nothing I can do about it, even if it sucks I have to live with the illness’. And then I realised that I want to push the blame to the fact that the ED/trauma are illnesses- ‘it’s too loud’ and ‘I just can’t get out of it’ and ‘it’s stopping me from living my life’ and ‘I can’t cope’ are all thoughts I’ve had. I’m adopting a victim mindset, which I now notice myself slipping into over the past 2 weeks? The feeling of overwhelming helplessness and reluctance to change or try or open up. I feel like especially with trauma, being a victim becomes a default mode? When I got triggered by Dr Kelly & my helper leaving, the fear and helplessness and overwhelm of feelings immediately put me in the place of victim because that’s what my brain knows. Learned helplessness. I truly felt like there was no other way, there was nothing I could do but use my illness, there was no way of protecting myself but shutting off. Even when I’m not ‘obviously’ regressing, I feel like getting triggered made the child-self/victim part of me very very strong which explains the acting out and relapse fuelled by helplessness and fear. I’m constantly overwhelmed and anxious. Now I see my Therapists have been trying to get me to do that, take some power back and get out of the victim mentality/child-self/emotional brain and use my healthy adult voice/wise mind.
Yesterday in therapy with AWARE she mentioned how my fear is so huge that I desperately want to be alone because I’m so scared of being alone. It’s so fragmented. The child-self is basically where the victim mindset comes in and then the relapse and destruction and shutting down. It’s completely understandable that I’m feeling this way because current triggers dig into same past unhealed wounds so it feels exactly the same as the past trauma, the same extreme fear and pain. I’m reacting this way because the only way my brain knows to react to this feeling of helplessness/pain is anger and pushing away. It’s what worked in the past and what I’ve done all my life, a survival instinct. Survival instincts are very strong. Emotions are very powerful.
But the truth is that it might not be my fault and it’s an illness but it’s still my responsibility and my choice. Yes it’s hard, but I can try to recover, I can put in the effort to change, I can choose to ask for help, I can choose to allow myself to sit through the painful feelings. I can choose to get better. Nothing but myself is stopping me. I have help and support now, I have resources, I have a choice now even though my child self didn’t. I am loved now, I am not alone even though I want to be alone. Being sick is not an excuse to stay sick. I’m always going to struggle with this, I’m going to feel like crap. I’m going to keep feeling so small and helpless and hurt. I’m going to keep struggling with the fear and anxiety, I’m going to keep struggling with the ED voice and desire for safety and weight loss and comfort. I’m not going to want to eat or gain weight. Yes, previously it was much easier because it was just the ED fear and anxieties I struggled with (and that was hard enough on its own, like a I-struggled-for-months kinda hard) and now I also have to cope with attachment/trauma fear and anxieties? But I cannot recover from these things separately. The trauma fuels a large part of the ED so there’s no point recovering from the ED without being open to feeling the feelings of the past trauma and allowing myself to not suppress.
Ultimately I have to find my healthy, adult voice and choose recovery for myself. Just like I did previously, when I chose ED recovery. I have to surrender control and safety. I have to eat and trust myself/my body/my team to get better. I have to choose to not suppress, I have to choose to allow myself space and grace to be, I have to have grace with my feelings and body and self. I have to be compassionate with my emotional, child self and let her feel and cater to her needs. I have to choose to let myself feel whatever might come, and I have to choose to stand in the face of the overwhelming fear. I have to choose to be okay with uncertainty and the fear of vulnerability and getting hurt. I have to choose to trust those around me and trust myself to support me. I have to choose to acknowledge the pain I’ve been running from for 9 years.
I also have to acknowledge that I’m choosing not to get better right now. I’m choosing my illnesses over my life right now. Restricting is choosing to not recover, engaging in behaviours is choosing to not recover, shutting down is choosing to not recover. That’s my responsibility, I can’t blame it on being sick or on anything else. Right now I’m choosing to stay sick because it’s easier and comfortable. I am choosing the false comfort of being sick, temporary relief and joy of weight loss, a sense of control and easy self-soothing over recovery. I’m choosing it because it’s easier. I’m choosing it because I’m too tired to fight, because I don’t want to fight. I’m choosing it because I don’t feel capable of doing what I need to do to get better. In terms of how good or wise that choice is, I’m going to have to reflect and think about it. But at least I’m acknowledging that it’s my choice and it’s my responsibility. I have to think about it and take ownership.
It is not my fault this hurts and it is not my fault my brain is this way and I am sick. It hurts more than I can describe, it hurts like digging your nails into a fresh bullet wound. Every trigger deepens those bullet wounds that have not healed. It hurts so much I have destroyed myself for 9 years to run from the pain. It hurts so much that drinking/cutting/starving/purging and even suicide hurt less than the pain of the trauma and fragmented child self. I cannot minimise that child self, the pain she is in. I have to validate her and let her act out. But I am not helpless. I am not a victim. I have to choose to get better or not. I am the only one that can do that, nobody is going to help me if I’m not helping myself. I have to choose to let go of the desire to be thin, the desire to protect myself, the desire for safety and control. I already know that being sick sucks and it’s not sustainable. I know that recovery is going to hurt but things aren’t going to get easier and I can’t live the life I want if I stay sick. It’s going to be hard either way. So what am I going to choose? I am running from the pain again, right now, it’s what I do best. It’s understandable but I can’t keep ignoring the problem and pushing away responsibility. It’s exactly why I chose to get the tattoo I’m getting next month. The wand in my hand, the control in my hand, the light is in my hand. I have to cast the spell and create my light.