Archive for the ‘Building Bridges’ Category

Available to Life

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

I bumped into a friend on Clapham High Street last night. Mid flat-hunting panic, when it felt like the city might swallow me and I was feeling scarily alone, she walked past and invited me to come along for dinner.

I hesitated (because I had planned my supper already) and scrabbled around for an excuse (because they were going for pizza, and I haven’t faced that challenge yet); and then realised that it was more important – given the loneliness – that I was fully available to life.

How to make friends…

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

….is a question that I have been asking myself rather a lot recently.

Now that I’ve realised that people are preferable to an eating disorder, I’m eager to make up for lost ground and appreciating just how much we’ve got to offer each other –

Only, it’s a little harder now that I’m nearing 30 and most people seem to be settled; and, I’ve hit a few unanticipated questions – like where do I go, and what do I say? – and some overlooked assumptions – like what do I have to offer? – that have put a few barriers in my way.

Making friends is far more complicated then I remember.

Given that the last time I tried to make friends, the other 30 people in the classroom shared my sentiments, this is, perhaps, unsurprising. However, after doing lots of things that I thought I couldn’t do, and as I’ve already come this far, there’s no points in shying away from a challenge – and this is what I’ve started to learn:

1. Being my own friend

Saturday Nights

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

Now that I’ve made some space for a life, I am enjoying the Saturday night experience.

After the loneliness of an eating disorder, you don’t take anything for granted: a night in with friends may be commonplace – but after years of me and my food, even the mundane is strangely precious; even the smallest of pleasures is noted as an achievement –

Because Saturday nights still feel like a novelty – and friends are proving far better company than food.

A little social re-positionning

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

I am having to undertake a little social re-positioning now that I am emerging as a person – and not an illness.

The parameters have shifted somewhat; and, there has been a little lag in the transition – which is only to be expected after 17 years of living within the clearly defined cage of an eating disorder.

So, I am having to re-navigate relationships and re-set the expectations. I am learning to show that the things that weren’t possible before are now okay; that the concerns that were so palpable are no longer overwhelming; and, that the hope that was previously cloaked behind self protection and past disappointment, can finally be enjoyed –

After a lot of pain, the best way to do this is by example.

The Risk of Relationships –

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

I had forgotten that there was an element of risk involved in any relationship.

Writing a blog has heightened the experience.

Start an interaction and you’ve got to be able to handle the response –

An eating disorder protects you, to some extent. It’s a risk reduction when the social interactions decrease; a comfort when they go wrong.

The real world does not operate on these terms and self protection comes at a cost. You do, quite possibly, lose far more than you gain –

Building Bridges

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

As twee as it sounds, there’s lots of bridges to be built when you’re getting better.

Recovery may be a personal thing but humans are inherently social. It’s the connections and the interactions and the relationships that provide the context – and make the real difference.

Having created quite an impressive gulf between me – and the rest of the world – this bit’s about some of the things that I’ve been doing to start, tentatively, re-making those connections:

Working Nine to Five

Saturday, August 1st, 2009

Who’d have thought that stuffing envelopes could be an aid for recovery? I wouldn’t recommend it as a lifetime career; but, as a stepping stone to the real world, the value far exceeded the income.

At first, it just gave my head a break from tying itself in anorexic knots.

Then, it gave me a reason to eat.

Eventually, it gave me the motivation to get better – and, a context to get better within.

All the way along, it helped me build up a little faith in myself.


Unspeakable to spoken

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

There are strict rules of etiquette around what you do and what you don’t talk about; socially acceptable themes of conversation – and those that should be kept behind closed doors or under a stiff upper lip.

We’re scared of giving too much away, of putting ourselves in the firing line of judgement or criticism or idle chitchat – self-editing’s an easy habit to slip in to.

Most people aren’t that bad. Most people appreciate a little honesty. Most people are willing to listen –

- if you’re able to talk.


Social Re-integration

Friday, June 19th, 2009

I’m going to be practical here.

I think I’ve dwelt on the ache of isolation enough; I’m starting to depress myself.

It’s not an easy ride; but I’m beginning to see a way out. I’m beginning to see where the cracks in the glass door between me and the rest of the world are.

The first step – recognising the loneliness – was the most painful. And now I’ve taken my head out of the sand: it’s plain sailing from here onwards – with an eye out for pitfalls, of course.

Lesson 1: Don’t expect the world to come to you. It’s easy to get caught up in the misery of loneliness: this will make it worse. Accept it, take a bit of responsibility (you did start the brick wall) – but don’t get hung up on your mistakes (the eating disorder’s probably punished you more than enough already).

Lesson 2: Try and fix it. It’s tiring and a little scary and potentially disheartening – but take the initiative. Start with a smile – they do smile back – and go from there.

Lesson 3: Learn a little patience. Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’s the small connections that lead to the big ones in the end.

“Always, Mrs Ramsay felt, one helped oneself out of solitude reluctantly by laying hold of some little odd or end, some sound, some sight.”

To The Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf

As I said, you’ve got to take the initiative.