A Journey from Victim to Survivor…to Living Freely

Building up to…..Week One

on August 1, 2012

To say that it took me 22 years to get to this point is not an understatement…and in understanding the hows and whys, it starts to make so much sense.  With that, I say…proudly and with some anxiety…that I began treatment for an eating disorder this week.  ED had become my comfy blanket and way to deal with all sorts of difficult things (although, I never realized that until recently…I really thought it was a control thing…which never really set right with me, but it wasn’t something I was dissecting).  I won’t share my tricks or secrets with how I could make it work for so long and people had NO IDEA (the idea is not to give people a ‘how-to’ guide!!), but I’ll say that the biological factors (brain based), combined with a parent who was bulimic (I knew there was weird food stuff, but I never officially knew she was bulimic until recently), combined with an abusive upbringing (verbal, emotional and physical) and a desire to ‘be good’ and ‘do the right thing’ and to gain approval, that comfy blanket became very cozy.  And I was very ‘good’ at restricting…for a long time…until college…when eating with friends on Twister mats on dorm-room floors seemed much more fun…and I was comfortable and loved and could be myself!!  I didn’t need the comfy blanket.  In my marriage, I relied on it in times of big stressors…and as my brain illness progressed and the marriage was truly failing I began relying on it more.  To the point that in the months following the 2nd surgery, I was cycling through massive restriction and lost 40lbs.  And then started losing hair, having really dry skin….and realizing that, after surviving TWO brain surgeries and beginning to love myself more and to find so many other great strategies, the ED comfy blanket wasn’t so comfy…in fact, it bothered me…because it just made me feel worse…but it was still my go-to strategy.  And I didn’t know where to turn…I checked out various centers and counsellors…and was so freaked out by the programs on their websites that I stopped looking.  But (in one of my brightest moves ever), I told my pastor…who looked upon me kindly, with love, with no judgement and said “We can help you.”  I felt such relief.  And then spent the rest of the evening in a panic attack because ED (now the name of the berating voice!) was telling me “How could you be so stupid????  How could you tell someone????   This is your best secret?  And you TOLD someone?????”  I nearly called my pastor to tell him “Just pretend I didn’t tell you” or “I was making it all up”…but that other inner voice was stronger and said “You did the right thing. Now is your time to heal. Breathe…..”.

And so…after 8-9 weeks of working with my pastor and a psychologist, I made the call to an ED center…and was seriously shocked when they said I qualified (I still thought I was overreacting and this is just what people do and they’d tell me I really don’t fit)…Imagine my panic when they said I qualified for an intensive outpatient program!?!?!?!?!?!??!?  This was after they’d mentioned I could qualify for a partial hospital program…at which point I said “I refuse to do that” (not a finer point, but it took a lot of nerve to get me to that point to call…and pick up the phone when they called back…partial hosp was not on my radar!!!!  I still wasn’t sure I really had a problem!!!).

The in-person interview was interesting…a friend went with me for support and was wonderful…at the end of the 2 hour meeting we looked at each other and she said (with tears in her eyes) “You deserve this…this is your time to heal.”  And I cried and cried….It felt right…and I knew I’d gotten to a place where I knew I mattered…and was loveable…and deserved to learn to nourish my body…because, I want to be free…and I want to live this life.

But, because anxiety is always under the surface (although not my standard mode these days….this is huge!!!!…being peaceful and calm at times feels wonderful!!!), I spent the next week contemplating backing out and thinking about all the reasons I should back out…but I kept coming back to “You deserve this…this is your time to heal.”…and in the panic over reading the orientation materials and realizing over and over that this is BIG…I remember to breathe…to journal…to pray….to meditate…to reach out to friends…to shower….to move….and I can get myself back to “You deserve this…this is your time to heal.”

And so, I will…and I hope I will find others on this journey to provide support and encouragement…both to and from me…



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