A Journey from Victim to Survivor…to Living Freely

Recovery Is NOT Linear

on September 11, 2016

I always lose sight of this fact…I lose sight of it when things are going well and the carpet is pulled from under my feet…I lose sight of it as I spiral downward, terrified how much lower I can go below rock bottom.  My inability to remember the ups and downs of recovery, the naturalness of stumbling, falling, getting back up…has me panicked at many points of recovery.  I’m sharing a list I found yesterday, in an “Oh my God…I will never be “fixed”, my best isn’t good enough, why am I fighting like hell to no avail” moment.  I lost sight of the 37 consecutive days of spot on meal plan…because, “what does it matter?” when I’ve met plan when I’m still not cured?  What does it matter that it’s becoming “easier” when I still need to try with all of me, still need to record equivalents, email my daily totals…and still am not fixed?

Four years in recovery from this eating disorder and it finally hit me last night–It’s not *just* about food.  It’s not only about feeding my mind and body.  I know all the intricacies tied in eating disorders…many in my personal circle are battling and the commonalities among each of our ED’s are so similar.  The neurobiology is the same…it’s all there…not matter if Ed is anorexia, bulimia, EDNOS.  I know my experience in 25 years with AN/EDNOS (depending upon which points the diagnoses came and which DSM version was in place) and with 4 years in recovery.  It’s not about food.  Yet, I still thought–if I can get food in place (mostly because I didn’t want to deal with a higher level of care), it’ll all be fine.  I’ll be fine.  If I couldn’t bee fine, then at least I could pretend to be fine.  Right?  So I began piecing meals together…bite by bite…I bought foods that would allow me to meet my equivs…and protein powder that would allow me to catch up when I was still at 50% of protein for the day.  Bite by bite turned into meal by meal…and then into a day of spot on–actually, the first spot on day, 37 days ago, was announced in a “SPOTFUCKINGON!” email to J.  However, the days still included bite by bite…and that frustrated me.  When was it going to get easy???  When was I not going to freak out when eating a restaurant meal???  When was I going to be able to stop setting the alarm reminders??? When could I stop recording???  And I got discouraged…and, many times in these last 37 days, I thought “Fuck it.  I’m done.”…I sent emails to J saying “Fuck it.  I’m done.”  More times, I thought–and did–“FUCK IT!!  I am not letting Ed win” and ate the next bite.

DBT (Dialectal Behavioral Therapy) skills focus on Emotion Regulation, Distress Tolerance, Mindfulness, Interpersonal Techniques…there are skills within each that I’m supposed to chart from week to week.  A skill that is not listed, but is the one I add and use the most is the “FUCK THIS SHIT” skill.  Because, although it may be being effective or one-mindfully or build mastery or distract or check the facts–it feels like “Fuck this Shit”–I’m eating lunch to plan.  I don’t think Marsha Linehan will ever add it to her DBT Manual AND, it works for me.  Skills use allows me to use skills other than harm or Ed.  They are a necessity for me…because, dropping Ed behaviors without having something else in place means I revert to self harm…cold turkey dropping self harm allows Ed back in–UNLESS I have healthy skills to choose…my toolbox of “Not this…How about that?” keeps me safe.

If I am being completely honest, I am in a better place than I was 37 days ago…my body feels better, my mind clearer…every bite is not a battle, even if I did stare down dinner for 1.5 hours last night before eating it…Recovery is not just one choice…although, it does come from a series of next right choices.  When I am overwhelmed and thinking “That’s it.  I’m out.”, I need to remember I don’t have to be doing this perfectly…it’s about progress, not perfection…slips and falls are part of this…this process isn’t linear…it’s messy and frustrating…yet, here I am…I’m still here.  With all the squiggles and expectations of “cured” not coming to fruition, my progress is moving towards health…I may not be in the percentage of people who can refer to their eating disorder in the past tense…and, I’m becoming okay with that…I can be “in recovery” and authentic…I am no longer the Greatest Pretender.  I am me…flawed and imperfect and trying with all that I have.




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