Caught off guard

I threw up this evening. I wasn’t going to write about it because I didn’t want to be all dramatic and this blog has come, for me, to be about hope –

But in the slither of silence, the potential to do it again is hanging and the betrayal that comes from secrecy is already starting to sting.

I am shocked by how easy it was to stumble, when I least expected it, and how quickly the past two years of hard work could be undone. This is not something I could have spotted; it was two minutes of vulnerability where an eating disorder that I thought was permanently gone stormed unexpectedly in –

And, oh, the hardest thing to write is that I was neither shocked nor displeased.

No, for a few seconds, it felt completely normal and I started to talk myself into thinking that it could happen again, maybe just now and then, if I’ve had a really bad day, and no one needs to know, because I am in control now, oh yes I am

Not. Clearly I am not.

And so I will write this post because I am not in control. I am tired, and feeling a little bit scared about life, and a little bit uncomfortable in my skin; and, it is at times like this, when I am at my most vulnerable and least alert, that the eating disorder can rear its head again –

And I welcome it, like an old friend.

So I will write this post, because it is not a friend and, in the silence, the ache is amplified and there is nothing to challenge it’s pull –

And I will write it because I have been reminded, incredibly starkly, of how overwhelmingly powerful an eating disorder can be –

I will write it to say the things that the eating disorder doesn’t want me to hear, like the fact that my life is far richer and I am far happier, now, then I was then –

And to remind me that, however strong I feel, I still need to be on my guard -

Because it can catch you unaware.

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22 Responses to “Caught off guard”

  1. zane says:

    It’s so easy to get tangled up and snared back in – fighting it sometimes feels harder than seems worthwhile. But it is worth it – recovery, living, love: All of these things are worth the fight.

    We slide sometimes. We slip and get caught up (and it doesn’t mean that we’ve failed). We think that we can have some control this time – but it rarely stays a matter of our being in control. If there’s anything I can do, email, find me on Twitter…

  2. Heather K. says:

    Thank you so much for your honesty. I am touched at your willingness to “Call out” the eating disorder in hopes that it will reduce its power. When I “Tell on myself” I find that its grip on me loosens, if even just a little bit. Our diseases thrive in silence.

    So many times I have had “lapses” – recovery is not linear. A relapse for me is something more than a lapse, but if I am not diligent with being honest and treating myself gently after said lapse – then I get closer to that place of danger.
    Please know that you are so not alone in any of this. Try to be gentle to yourself in these moments where we want to just say “F#@& it” and give up. It is so very hard to do, but so very necessary. Sometimes for me my recovery voice is really the ED voice in disguise – masking itself as supporting my recovery, but really convincing me I am hopeless, worthless and thus trying to encourage me to repeat the bad behavior.

    We can lean on each other when we feel our head bobbing below the surface. You are worth taking care of my friend.

  3. Fitarella says:

    ((HUGS)) my love. I’m so glad you shared this because you are not alone and we are here for you. It was a slip, and its ok. You are still the amazing, smart, funny, beautiful, big hearted, wonderful woman I had the honor of hanging with in NY. One day at a time my dear, you have EVERYTHING to live for :-) xoxoxoox

  4. I think this post, while a depiction of a dark place, is beautiful. It can only speak of your strength, courage and how far you have come to be willing to speak so honestly about this. I wish you more strength for the future and the knowledge that even “backsliding” can be progress if you make it so.

    It is because of honest people like you, others are able to find their own strength.

  5. *thousands of hugs*

    I hope and pray this is just a blip for you, that you will go on with your life and not feel the need to throw up again. You are aware that the throwing up is dangerous, addictive and harmful. You don’t think it’s your friend. SO I have hope that this will just be a blip for you.

  6. Rachael says:

    Melissa my love –
    Thanks for your honesty
    It can be so hard, but the strength comes from admitting it and growing…
    much like a muscle needs to be torn to rebuild, so often, do our recoveries and sense of selves. We grow stronger every time we grow back.
    It is not a relapse, it is a slip… and a slip can be just that… a slip.
    Please reach out…. you know where to find me.
    LOVE LOVE LOVE

  7. j says:

    I’m proud of you for writing this. I know it’s easier not to. Secrecy is way easier. Putting it out there like this is brave beyond anything I can express. I know that “old friend” feeling. Your new friends, new life, new heart, new way of just plain being in the world, new everything are better. Scarier, but better.

    You are loved. (And it was a slip. Nothing is undone.) xo

  8. Hidihidi says:

    Thank you so much for the post, for being so honest, for the clarity in your writing.

    Sorry for you that this has happened. Well done to you on facing it. I send encouragement, positive thoughts, and caring thoughts to you.

    *huge gentle hugs*

  9. Vanessa says:

    You are very brave to write this, to make it public, I’m sure it couldn’t be easy. But it also shows your honesty and bravey, and these are things we need to keep us on track and keep our behavours in check. It’s so easy to listen to the EDs lies, and to lie to ourselves, but that can only cause harm.

    As has been said above, new friends, life and everything that’s come since is worth far more that that toxic ‘old friend’.

  10. magicplum says:

    You’ve described so well how a slip can feel –

    “…the hardest thing to write is that I was neither shocked nor displeased.

    No, for a few seconds, it felt completely normal and I started to talk myself into thinking that it could happen again, maybe just now and then, if I’ve had a really bad day, and no one needs to know, because I am in control now, oh yes I am

    Not. Clearly I am not.”

    Thank you for posting this, for being brave enough to post it, I don’t think I could have been. Secrecy is what keeps this going, and is so damaging.
    Hugs to you xxx

  11. Julie Parker says:

    I am reaching out over the many waves and miles that separate us to hug you my friend. I echo everything that Fitarella has said and know you will move through this seeing it for what it is – a bump in the onward road to recovery. xoxoxox

  12. girlundiscovered says:

    Hi Melissa,

    I’m sorry to hear that you’re having a difficult time at the moment.

    I think you’re right when you say you always need to be on guard somewhat, and to me, this is a reminder of why the notion of recovery or being recovered doesn’t quite cut it. It’s more of an ongoing process of moving forward.

    The other thing that jumped out at me is the work I’ve been doing about my Critic (the bit some people call the ED or just Ed) and the other, more positive part of me. One of the big things that helped me was learning that this critical bit does serve a purpose and that it cannot be eliminated. Its purpose is to serve as the wary bit of me and give a bit of balance to the other bit. Not being something I’m trying to eliminate full stop takes off the pressure and allows me to be more realistic.

    This doesn’t mean I’ll spend forever with an eating disorder, but that the bit of me which is vulnerable to reacting in this way will still be around and will still need gently reminding that “well… dieting does look good right about now, but we know it’s not a fix-all and that the weight does come back and then some” or “well… it does feel tempting as I feel so out of control, but we know it doesn’t solve the problem really”. I guess it serves as a signal, even, to let me know things are happening in my life that I’m not 100% comfy with and that I haven’t admitted to myself yet.

    And it’s so important to remember you’ve clearly moved forward in so many ways. It might help to list them!

    A few minutes lapse (and it is a lapse; not a relapse) doesn’t change this. It’s just a moment where the ED “voice” shouted out loudly, and you can push it down to a sort of background murmur again. I know it.

  13. Mel says:

    I can only really echo the comments above.
    Oh, and say that by acknowledging your vulnerability to ‘attack’ from ed and his army of head-shedders, it gives you the power to strengthen your defences.
    Stand your ground Melissa! You have an army rallying behind you (see above!) and the knowledge to launch a successful counter-attack if need be.
    Read back through some of your entries here and you’ll see just how much you have done over the last few weeks and months. Upheaval and new challenges in abundance! You are one of the most courageous people I “know”. But you are human and vulnerable when tired..and even the most courageous folk get scared.
    You have lost nothing..just gained a greater understanding of the enemy. This can be a good thing that can be used to strengthen your defences.
    Be kind to yourself and treat yourself as gently as you can. Ensure you have back-up if you should need it. As you implied: honesty gives you the strength and saps the strength from the ed.
    You are aware now..it’s a powerful weapon.

    Love & Strength

  14. Evan says:

    You’ve done so much and come so far. Perhaps you were under stress – I find it easy to slip back into old habits under stress.

    Thank you for this post and congratulations on how far you’ve come.

  15. Lola Snow says:

    I truly believe that each time we stumble Issa, we stand back up stronger. That’s not just a cliche, it’s almost like an immunisation. To stumble and get back up is so unextreme, it’s like an anti-ED.

    Because there comes a place where you actually, genuinely don’t want to go back. Not “I don’t want to go back” because it gets praise, not “I don’t want to go back” because it’s the right thing to do, not even “I don’t want to go back” because your identity is built on recovery, but a point where you realise that yes, actually, you might just be worth more than an ED. I have found that point harder to admit to than any slippage, the way that I just can’t be as intense about it all as I was, even when behaviours rise up and bite me, it’s just not with that same mind-blowing insensity. That feels like losing a part of me, to admit to being worth more.

    And you are worth more, Issa. You are worth far, far more than that way of life. You’ve changed your entire world, it’s going to be a learning curve,

    Sending a lot of love,

    Lola x

  16. boxelboy says:

    dont beat urself up about it. 1 little event doesnt undo all of that good work. it just shows that ur human and the fact that u’ve written about it just shows how strong u have become. use as something like an exception that proves the rule, something 2 gain strength from and not 2 weaken u.

    sending u hugs :)

  17. Jane says:

    Sending support and keeping you in my thoughts. <3

  18. @donewithed says:

    It’s inspiring how open you are about it. That shows your progress. For me, letting go and being open was the hardest battle to win in my internal war against bulimia. You ARE strong.

  19. Melissa says:

    These comments made me cry. I am deeply touched by everyone’s support – and how much people have shared.

    Today has been harder than I imagined. I thought that by getting it out of my system, I’d be back on the straight and narrow but it is hard to open up a possibility or option that I had so firmly closed and not feel that the landscape has shifted slightly.

    I will keep fighting – there is so much here to remind me of why it is important.

    Zane – yes, “recovery, living, love”. And especially love.

    Heather – I like the distinction between lapse and relapse. This helps me to not see this as a permanent slip, I think. You’re so right about breaking the silence and about leaning on other people – silence prevents this, but people are definitely providing me with a lifeline at the moment.

    Fitarella – thank you – so touched. One day at a time is completely where I need to be at the moment.

    Erin – thanks for commenting and, yes, I am going to make this progress. I think I got a bit blasé about it all, so I have now been reminded of the things I need to do to keep well, which is important.

    Sanabituranima – No, not a friend and yes, I will make sure this is just a blip. Thanks so much for your support. xx

    Rachael – Yes, it’s the perspective that counts, isn’t it? Thanks for being there – and for reminding me of the “feedback not failure” idea that I need to keep using.

    J – It’s the fear that gets me every time I think. I don’t admit it and then I do something to act it out and realise that it was lurking there all the time. I am scared – but I would be more scared if I went back, wouldn’t I? Forwards is worth it, even if it feels like a risk. Thanks for reminding me.

    Hidihidi – very gratefully received and reciprocated. Thank you.

    Magicplum – I nearly took it down. I’m glad I didn’t. There is no room for challenge in silence. Hugs to you too sunshine.

    Julie – Thank you. One of the million lessons that I will take from the past 24 hours if how much more connected with people I am now then I was then, and how much these connections mean.

    Girlundiscovered – yes, a “signal” – this is exactly what this has been and I need to see what’s really going on and work on that. I’m also going to do a bit of the “gentle reminding” as it’s scary how quickly you can forget or be talked into believing something that isn’t really true. Thanks for commenting and for believing in me.

    Mel – Thank you and I have been totally touched by the overwhelming support. Honesty, whilst feeling uncomfortable has been key. Self care, too, is not something I’ve been great at recently; and I think that I probably need to make it a priority for a while.

    Evan – I was tired, and a bit lonely, and a bit afraid about my move…so yes, I think I was stressed. Onwards and upwards, right?! – and thanks for all your support, even when I’m terrible about replying to comments.

    Lola – Lovely Lola – I completely relate to the intensity bit. And then there’s a short period where the reduction in intensity makes the grip stronger – which if you get through, it might be okay. I guess it’s just a long learning curve that I am still quite near the beginning of….but continuing on until I reach the believing bit. I think I’m slowly getting there. xx

    Boxelboy – gratefully received. Hugs have helped today. I like the exception thing – I need to remember that. And that I’m human. :)

    Jane – Thank you. I will keep going and get through.

    DonewithED – Yes – I am arguing with the little voice that wants to tell me off for demanding attention or talking about it, and remembering that honesty is a strength. Thanks for reminding me.

  20. Chloe says:

    There is no failure, only feedback. A very wise person told me that. ;) Keep believing sweetheart, am here if you need me xxxxx

  21. girlundiscovered says:

    I’m really feeling your pain today. Last night I also lapsed, of sorts, and it’s shaken me up a bit, too. Continuing with what I’d normally do and trying to keep going, whilst trying to make time to reflect. I know it’ll be okay – just keep swimming as Dora -fish would say ;-)

  22. Afterglow05 says:

    The fact that you were completely open and honest about it means a lot. I am in an eating disorder group at a church and last night we talked about how a few of the girls have been feeling a sort of peace. They all made it blatantly clear though that this is when the thoughts try to invade again – when you least expect it. Stay on guard, but don’t live in fear of it. It was a lapse, not a relapse. You are so strong and have overcome so much. Please continue reaching out.

    We all care :)