Posts Tagged ‘letting Go’

Unbinding

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

I need to check in over here. I wondered whether this belonged on Finding Melissa or my new blog. If I was splintering off from myself again by reverting back. I don’t think I am. This post is very much part of my eating disorder journey, though the learning of course extends through my life.

I have been struggling to get back to where I need to be with food. The struggle has taken the form of bulimia (and naming it still remains hard). It had been scarily easy to revert to old forms of behaviour (2 years of recovery have very little on 17 years of illness) and scarily easy for the damage to re-emerge. A bloody mouth and shaking hands are worrying but not quite enough.

For the first few months, I tried to return to the strategies that helped me recover the first time round. Planning, preparation, distraction, pick a date, share your intention, put things in place. The strategies didn’t seem to work this time; and, more worryingly, I seemed to kick back against my attempts to enforce a structure. It has taken me a while to realise what this backlash was about.

The first phase of my recovery bound me in structure and routine; and, whilst this swaddling kept me alive, it did not let me fully live.

So this is the tension and the question. How to find recovery in the real world. How to regain control of the food without relinquishing the delight I have experienced in going with the flow. In loosening the rules and routines. In moving away from breakfast at 6:45, lunch at 1:15; bed at 10:37; and next days’ clothes laid out before dinner. Don’t rock the boat with anything too emotional; pick to pieces every decision; kid glove treatment; no rather than yes – and sometimes the other way around.

My life is heading in the right direction; it is only the eating disorder that is trying to yank it back.

And so I think that this is the next phase of recovery, although it is painful and not wholly certain, yet, which way I will tip. It has been suggested that I’m nearly ready to let go and jump in the world – and that it is the snagging of the last remaining traces of eating disorder that are holding me back. I think that this is accurate, given that the immersion does not feel as deep nor as depressing as it has in the past…but as behaviours can quickly suck you downwards, I still need to watch out.

And so I am writing this post as an acknowledgement of where I am, and because I wondered whether this was a common experience for anyone else. Whether after the first part of recovery when you’ve got back to health, there is a wobble as the scaffolding comes down; and, if this is the case, what’s the best thing to do next? I am working along the lines of balance (hooks to hold onto rather than ropes to bind me down) and also refusing to go back (because if I have fought tooth and nail for the life I have built), but this is all new territory and I’d love a little extra support.

Day One

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

A friend mentioned that the eating disorder is back in my eyes. She didn’t need to tell me. I can feel the glazing over, even if I can’t see it.

I am stopping today.

I decided, a few weeks ago, that I needed a date because that was how I did it last time. I know that it doesn’t work like that for everyone; but for me, bulimia has always been all or nothing. I need clear rules and high boundaries or I spiral quickly out of control.

And so, I am writing this to mark the moment and capture the learning. There has been some, even though the lesson was hard.

I have learnt that…
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The next adventure

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

Last week I read an article on the top 10 most common dreams and their meanings. It reminded me of a recurring dream that I used to have, particularly as I was starting my recovery. It went something like this –

I am in my flat. I find a door that I haven’t noticed before and discover three or four unexplored new rooms. At first, the rooms are dated and unwelcoming, and two of them are kitchens, often filthy and filled with food. The dreams are deeply unsettling and I wake up feeling displaced and like something has tarnished my home. Eventually (over a few years) the rooms change and become full of amazing things– like a piano or a spectacular view or a fireplace – and I wake up a bit disappointed that they don’t really exist.

I was telling a friend about this dream when it was visiting me, nightly, and she interpreted it as symbolic of self discovery. As mirroring the process that I was going through of uncovering new parts of my self –

They are there, waiting: it’s just a question of seeing what’s behind the doors.

I have been struck, recently, by this notion of the self. That we might only know the areas that we have already opened, and there are therefore parts of ourselves waiting to be unlocked. It suggests that there is a step beyond self awareness or consciousness which, when I have let go of the knee-jerk fear, is kind of exciting…

I have had three half written posts on my desktop for a while now. This was one of them. The second was a link. I think they are connected. The link goes to this quote:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us”. (Marianne Williamson).

The quote holds me hostage. It is so exactly how I feel – and have felt – that I was too overwhelmed to mention it, at the time. It captures the moment just before I went into self sabotage; and, possibly, is uncomfortably close to what I am feeling now…
The third post was about last weekend. I went dancing, last weekend, on the spur of the moment. It was a sparkling night when I was unusually spontaneous and, for a short time, deliciously carefree. It struck me, as I woke up the next morning, that all the rules and limitations that I have been living by are self imposed. That it might be okay, just for a little while, to wander with no direction and learn what it feels like to relax and have fun….

I think I am on the edge of letting go.

Not there yet, but nearly.

I think I have been trying to stamp out any potential or, at least, iron cage it – and I am curious, now, about what would happen if I stepped out of the constraints. The possibility makes me slightly shaky and might explain why the struggle has stepped up a notch over the past few months…

I can stamp it out, again, as I did however many years ago. Or I can take a deep breath and adventure on.

And So This Is Me

Friday, October 1st, 2010

Once upon a time, there was a girl who spent every minute of her life thinking about food –

I am not sure where I am anymore.

From the moment she woke up, to the moment she went to sleep, it either dominated her thoughts or tugged at the edge of them so that, in returning to the thought, she realised she’d been thinking about it all along.

It has only been two years since I actively moved towards recovery, and the length of time before this is obscene.
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Alright with being okay (the bit I forgot to mention)

Friday, September 10th, 2010

When I was 17, I nearly got well. After the initial plummet and once I’d got over the shock of treatment, I started, gradually, to build myself up again. I gained a bit of weight. I experimented with clothes. I had moments when life seemed a lot brighter. I flirted and giggled and did normal teenagery type things. The eating disorder remained – just not as much as before.

I’m not sure why and I can’t work out what happened; but, at some point, I got scared about being okay. I worried that I’d be nothing if I was ‘normal”, that I was letting myself go because I was letting myself enjoy life.

And so, I put the brakes down. Hard. I re-erected the walls and re-instated the rules. It was not okay to be okay.

We know what happened.

I ended my last post before I reached the end. The moment of insight that had been eluding me has finally clicked into place. This re-animation is the same as I felt at 17 – only this time I’m not afraid of it. It is alright to be okay.

I’m Okay

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

I got home last night and scrawled three words on the back of an envelope. They said: “I am okay”.

The inspiration that I have been waiting for has stalled and is yet to catch up with me. Any insights that might prompt a blog post are suspended, somewhere, far above me; so, for the moment, all I can say is, “I am okay”.

I think this is enough.
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Significance and Stuff

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

I have just come back from yet another trip to the dump. I am finding this clearing out my flat thing hard. It’s not just the slight OCD-tinged tendencies towards hoarding that are so difficult to deal with; it’s the fact that so many of my possessions have been coloured by my past. They are throbbing with association and each wrench aches.

I guess this is normal.
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Letting go of the edge

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

I have a desktop of half-finished blog posts. They are driving me insane. I am not sure that they will ever be completed because at the moment I seem to be in a state of constant change. Things are moving so quickly that each post is elbowed aside mid-flow, and I rarely reach a clear conclusion before the next thing comes along. It is quite disorientating.
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When I Stop Wobbling…

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

I whinged on Twitter all weekend. After a fortnight of heady excitement followed by a colossal nosedive, I think I might have been driving my poor followers mad. I got myself stuck in a bit of a vicious circle: feel bad – complain about feeling bad – feel bad about complaining that I feel bad – feel even worse – complain about feeling even worse…. and so it went on.

The truth is, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed; and, because I’m overwhelmed, I’ve been temporarily blinded by a kind of white blanket of fear. It has seeped everywhere. In the cracks between waking and sleeping; when I step through the door after being out with friends; in the moments when I am waiting for the kettle to boil…
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Two Days

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

I wobbled last weekend. Amidst all the pride at reaching my second year anniversary and after the giddiness of a jam-packed-life-changing week, I had a sudden panic, standing on the beach at Brighton, that the gap between the world and I is still too chasmic to bridge….

It is not the food that has turned out to be the hardest part of my recovery – it’s discovering how far I have removed myself from life.
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Second Chances

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

On Sunday, it will be two years since I last binged and two years since I last threw up.

When I stopped, it felt as though I was wrenching out my heart. Now, it feels like I unclamped it.

I do not miss it at all. It does not cross my mind, apart from when some small, unpleasant reminder, like a shattered tooth or an unexpected flashback, make an unexpected appearance – and these certainly don’t tempt me back.

The first year was about existing through the days and the evenings; this year, it’s been about life. I do not need the film subscriptions and elaborately planned meals and scheduled phone calls to distract me any more; in fact, I rarely have enough time.

Even in my wildest imagination, I did not think it could be like this…

And so, I’m celebrating the occasion – as I did last year, and will do next year – as my unofficial birthday or the date that I allowed myself to come back to life.

It is, inevitably, tinged with sadness and a strange dusting of betrayal, though I could not say who betrayed who –

It does not matter.

The point is that I have had a second chance and I am starting, finally, to feel alive.

The Secret to Patience

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

If you know the secret to patience, I’d love you to share it with me. Patience is a virtue I certainly do not have.

I’ve been waiting for things all week, and it’s left me somewhere between frazzled – and totally burned out. I like things straight away, please, before they might run out or run away…And yes, I know that I am a grown woman.

I also like to know exactly what’s coming and when it will arrive; so there’s some control and anxiety bubbling around in there as well, just to heighten the experience.

This is nothing new – I just haven’t sat with it before. It was one of the key feelings I tried to get rid of during my illness; either by not wanting (so not waiting), or by changing the direction with the violence of a purge. If you want things, you might be disappointed. If you’re excited about something, bingeing offers an alternative high and one that resets the equilibrium…in a very flawed way.

So, excitement – and the need for patience – and managing unpredictability – are all things that are quite new to me; and good, because it means there’s lots to look forward to – but bad, because they kind of mess around with my head and mean that I’m always trying to catapult myself ahead…

A lovely quote from Eckhart Tolle kind of summed up what I think is happening: “Stress is caused by being ‘here’ but wanting to be ‘there.” This is what impatience is all about, for me. The next step, the next thing, the next certainty.

Now.

Of course, life doesn’t really work on these terms. You have to wait for things and you have to appreciate that some things happen – and others don’t…. But it would be good to have a few strategies or approaches to dealing with the interim period, so to speak. To help me learn how to be patient – or, at least, how not to burn myself out.

Any ideas?

Trusting the process

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

A while ago, I wrote a post called Clinging on to the Past. It was a difficult post to write as I had to acknowledge that I might be holding onto my eating disorder; and also, because I couldn’t see how the situation would be resolved.

At the time, a comment was left suggesting that I would know when the time was right to move on. It was a comment that touched me deeply, and has stayed, therefore, alive in my head. I couldn’t see how the miraculous transformation would materialise – but the hope made me feel warm and that was almost enough.
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A Backbone of Steel

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

I have a fractured tooth. It is a front one, which I’m finding quite hard. They have bonded it, for the moment, but it’s only a matter of time. The others are likely to go in the same direction.

It has been 23 months, almost to the day, since I last threw up; but the damage has been done. There is a little network of cracks spiderwebbing from my teeth to my ankle

But I do appear to have developed a backbone of steel.
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Updating My Metaphorical Wardrobe

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

I have been carrying around some stuff for a while, without realising that it’s not actually mine.

I didn’t stop to consider where it came from until recently; in fact, I don’t think the question even entered my head. It has only emerged – upon closer inspection – that a lot of the fears and feelings I have assumed over the years do not belong to me.

It has been like getting home with the right black coat – only when you check the label, it’s wrong.
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Flashbacks

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

Sometimes I will do something little – like flip the lid off a glass bottle – and the ‘pop’ will send me catapulting back, again; to nights standing in the kitchen, screaming with frustration, because I’m desperate desperate desperate to binge.

And sometimes, when I have to go back to the places that it has dominated – like stations, and supermarkets, and hospital waiting rooms – then a smell or a sound can leave me winded, because it carries, still, the panic and chaos and ice cold despair.

Sometimes, an innocent action – like a friend adding an extra splash of oil – will trip the switch into the old ways of thinking; and my stomach will twist and my head close in and I won’t be able to what am I going to do don’t make me

Breathe.

And then again.

It is as impossible to run away from the flashes of memory as it is to run away from ourselves.

We can only notice them, from the safety of distance, and thank God that things are no longer the same.

From Talking to Walking…

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

Things feel a hundred times better now that I have finally started moving. The anticipation is always far worse than the action – and yet each time, I seem to forget.

Change often happens this way for me. The fear paralyses. Then comes the frustration. And, finally, the elastic-band-snap of emancipation and whoosh, I’m free

Come what will.

I went through the same process in my recovery. The same wheel-spinning-yet-not-going-anywhere, until it felt like a miracle that I didn’t implode. All talk, I seemed – and no action. All words – and nothing behind them but fear.
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Dwelling in Uncertainty

Monday, May 24th, 2010

I went to a School of Life Sunday Sermon, and heard a neuroscientist, called David Eagleman, speak. If I’d got round to any pre-event research, I would have gained a little insight into the stuff he’d be talking about; but I was, instead, hooked by a one word title.

“Uncertainty.”

Anything that might illuminate a concept I grapple with, on a daily basis, is guaranteed to grab my attention.
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“Am I Still the Same?”

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Last night, I bumped into someone from my past; and I shocked myself, when it came to saying goodbye, by nearly asking a question I’ve been grappling with for years: “am I still the same?

Am I still the same” is my “do I look fat in this?” question. The reassurance seeker that I continually seem to ask. “Do I look the same?”, and “Am I still the same”, or “How am I different?”. And please answer that I am not.

I have resisted, more recently, from externalising the discussion, but the variants have been tingling, slightly unpleasantly, on the tip of the tongue

Up until now, I haven’t bothered to unpick why this staying the same has been so important. What, exactly, I am staying the “same” as; and why it matters if I am “different”. There is a vague link to weight in there, and an outdated attempt at subtly asking the “do I look bigger?” question – but it is the underlying implication that has left me slightly more disturbed.

If it matters that I do not look different and is important to remain the same, then I am pretty much destined for failure; because if there’s one thing we can all be certain of, it’s change.
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Re Dis-covery

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

I started to write an eloquent post about the semantics of the word “recovery”.

It has stuttered and spluttered, for the past few weeks, and I have made myself feel misunderstood. I do not want to write about it nicely, at the moment. I don’t want to phrase how I’m feeling in pleasantries or flowery terms.

To be honest, I’d rather just sit and cry.
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Stepping Out –

Monday, April 26th, 2010

I have stepped out of my comfort zone. I didn’t realise what a leap it was, until I reached for cover – and it had disappeared. I am still, it seems, hiding under my eating disorder; and not quite sure whether without it, I am enough.

This time it was my writing, which shows just how far the illnesses’ influence extends.
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Dealing With Things That Don’t Help

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

Yesterday I wrote about things that don’t help.

It was one of the hardest posts that I have written. It sent me straight back to some places that I have forced myself not to dwell on; and reminded me of how hard it is to have a voice. Particularly when you’re up against a system and not feeling that great about your own state of mind.

Today, I have been attempting – and failing – to advise other people how to handle these feelings.
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Possession

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

I thought that I had reached my limit and exposed all the deep, dark secrets of my eating disorder. That I had probed every sensitive area, and subjected each to my ridiculously exaggerated analytical-lens.

Nope. I still manage to shock myself.

They keep coming, thick and fast, like unpleasant discoveries or bruises that are so deep they are only felt when you push the exact spot.

This post’s on possession. It’s not something I’m particularly proud of; but it might lessen – this possessiveness – if it is acknowledged and moved on.
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Clinging on to the Past?

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Some of my friends think that I should move on.

Some of my family worry that I’m clinging to the past.

My doctor suggests that I might be making it harder for myself; my counsellor imagines me with a career, a husband and two kids, and thinks I shouldn’t waste another moment; my head is sick to death of the whole subject –

But I am not ready to let it go, just yet.
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Sick

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

I have been feeling a little sick over the past few days.

This is not a good thing.

The last time I was sick was the big d-day; the final swansong before I waved goodbye to a friend that I knew was killing me.

I realised, of course, that there’d be times when I might be ill, or instances when I’d find myself bending over the toilet again, whether I liked it or not; but, I didn’t anticipate the sudden stirring of memories that the once familiar taste of bile would evoke.

Like a horror film, with the flash-lighted-frozen-framed images getting closer and closer, the throbbing in my neck and the somersaulting of my stomach have triggered a slideshow in my head –

And it starts like this.
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Leaving Behind in 2009

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

There are a few things that I would like to take the opportunity to leave behind in 2009, starting with a strange little habit that I have of separating each meal into its constituent food group and then knocking them off, one at a time, in the prescribed order: green (vegetable), orange (carbohydrate), red (protein).

Whilst New Years is traditionally about making new resolutions, I’ve decided that breaking old ones is equally acceptable; and, there are a few lurking habits that I’d like to shrug off as the clock strikes midnight –
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Resisting Relapse

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

Sometimes, when I’ve had a bad day or I’m tired of fighting, then the temptation to go back is hard to resist and I can feel myself digging my heels in, childlike, and throwing a bit of a mental tantrum, because it’s not fair that I can’t have the thing that will make me feel better and it’s so much easier for everyone else –

And, when this happens, I have to take myself in hand, like you would with a petulant teenager, and explain that life isn’t always fair, and that the things that we want are not always the things that are good for us.
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Discharged

Monday, October 26th, 2009

Today, I was discharged from mental health services.

It is a little scary. They have been looking after me for rather a long time.

This is the first time we’ve done it properly. No fizzling out or abrupt terminations or running from the radar. We have, instead, reached a nice ending and said goodbye as people.

I will be looking after myself from this point on -

Which is a little scary (after being looked after for so long) and feels a little vulnerable (although it’s cause for celebration) and has been a tad unsettling (even though I’ve been on track for a while now) –

- and strangely quiet because I am on my own again –
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Feeling the Fear – and Getting Better

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

Sometimes, getting better is far scarier than staying ill.

Sometimes, the apprehension and the expectation and the uncertainty can stop you from changing your life. We’re far more comfortable with what we know –

It will be okay.

It might feel scary, but you’ll be okay.

There are no certainties – but it will not be as bad as you expect.

It just takes a little courage and a few deep breaths; and, when you’ve got through the first challenges, you’ll be looking back and wondering what took you so long –
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Letting Go

Saturday, July 11th, 2009

“This is the Hour of Lead—
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow—
First—Chill—then Stupor—then the letting go—”

Extract from Emily Dickinson

My liberation -

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

This is my liberation.

This is my time to feel alive.

It’s been a long time coming, but I’m singing now and I’m holding onto each golden moment.

This is my emancipation, my thawing.

This is finding my voice when it had been taken and recovering my self when it got lost. This is coming up for air –

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Saying Goodbye

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

Piece by piece, I am slowly letting go.

Step by slow step, I am gradually saying goodbye.

It is a long and painful process. I have been here before, but not this far down the road, not this close to freedom, not this scared and strangely empty.

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The friend foe dichotomy

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

When you’re sick, you want to get better.

Unfortunately, it’s rarely that straightforward with an eating disorder. It’s never just an illness – it takes a while to even recognise it in this guise – and it’s hard to work out whether it’s a friend or an enemy.

Because it’s both.

The paradox screws with your head.

The dichotomy makes moving on and getting better a real challenge.

Ironically, it’s also the key to recovery.

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Patient to Person

Monday, June 15th, 2009

I think I may have mistaken concern for care, confused professional curiosity with personal interest. I think I may have become accustomed to being looked after, grown used to the attention.

There’s nothing like a chronic eating disorder to rally up a medical army. It does a great job of ensuring that you’re well looked after, takes you right back to a parent child scenario – and it’s not hard to guess which seat you’re occupying.

It feels like a safer place to be. It feels like you’re special.

For a while. But then, like a child throwing a tantrum, you find yourself cranking up the volume. It’s not always a conscious thing – you’ve just got to work that little bit harder to get the same response.

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Letting go – weight

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

I had been hoping for the white dove letting go elation. The release of a balloon. A ceremonial burning.

I was expecting the worst. A painful wrenching. A terrifying step in the dark.

It has been like a tick that I have been trying to shrug off.

A recurring theme.

It has been a whole mishmash of emotions. A turbulent and unpredictable journey. A snail’s pace edging towards recovery.

Weight.
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