Posts Tagged ‘re-connecting’

Giving myself a chance

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

There are two sides to this post.

I considered splitting it down the middle – a post for each – because the one seemed so disparate from the other – but they seem to go hand in hand.

It has been that kind of month. Half shot through with a dizzying energy and an indescribable sense of awe; half like a nightmare that I didn’t ever expect to find myself in.

I have struggled to reconcile the differences. To have these sudden moments when I step out of myself and realise that, shit, I actually feel hug-the-world happy; and then a few days later, wake up with aching post binge limbs and the sense that I’m sinking.

Opposites?

Or not.

There is a tug of war in the middle. A part of me that doesn’t trust I deserve this kind of happiness and therefore pushes me towards self destruct. That expects rejection and acts out the expectation until it eventually takes place…

Still.

This is the relationship between the two sides. How they co-exist despite the seeming contradiction. I have been playing out old patterns, without even realising it, and in the process, got myself stuck.

And so, I can keep the circle going, which is what the eating disorder is trying it’s damndest to achieve; or, I can step out of the loop and ask myself whether I really want to keep going round and round and round –

Or if I’m prepared to give myself a chance

Over Analysis

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

I was sitting in the pub the other night complaining that I didn’t understand how people “did” relationships and met their other halves and found that one connection when there are so many people in the world and also no fish left in the sea – when my friend stopped me, and said that the problem wasn’t me, it was practice.

Practice.
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A belated online thank you…

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

For the past few weeks, I’ve had a dodgy internet connection. It has upset me more than the fact that I am living out of a suitcase and am not sure, at the moment, where I am meant to call “home”. It means that I want to tweet something – and can’t. And that I want to join in the conversation – but am stopped at the last minute by a “lost internet connection” box.

I have found it quite upsetting.

My online community has become as important to me, over the past year, as my “real life” friends. I have wanted, desperately, for them to share the next stage of my journey as they have been so important in me getting this far –

This post started out as a pulling apart of some of those fears that a sense of disconnection brings but it got railroaded by an overwhelming desire to say a big thank you to all the people who have been so wonderful and supportive of me online. After going round and round the real life / virtual life debate, I have given up trying to work out whether a line exists and analysing the risks of throwing it all out there – because my world is far richer if I extend the parameters and I, far stronger, thanks to the people I’ve met online.

So, this is a shout out to the people who stop by and visit my blog, and the comments that offer me a new perspective, and keep me moving forwards, and make me realise that I’m not trying to make sense of this on my own.

It’s a huge thank you to a wonderful Twitter community that has reminded me of how generous and caring and loving humans are; that has put up with the ups and downs of my tweeting, and helped me to find a sense of humour, and kept me inundated with a stream of fascinating and beautiful and inspiring stuff –

Isolation is one of the most devastating effects of an eating disorder. We need human connections, I think, like we need food and sleep and water and air. I’ve been getting back in touch with the world over the past few years and growing in leaps and bounds, but I’ve been surprised to find that the connections are as powerful and the relationships, as rewarding, when they start off online. I didn’t realise this when I started my blog. I didn’t realise quite how much I’d learn from people online, nor how important those connections would become –

They’ve grown my world and helped to change my life.

Thank you.

xx

p.s. I’ve brought a netbook and a spare wifi card. :)

Dating and the things that have been unsaid

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

This evening I helped make a recovery vodcast. I was planning a post about it on the way home, and then this tweet hit my timeline. It was for an article from Jezebel called ‘The Delicate Balance of Dating and Mental Illness’.

I will come back to the recovery vodcast post. I will write it, another day, when I have moved beyond the hot relief that people are talking about the things that I’ve been too afraid to say. Now, though, I’m writing before I lose my nerve because I’ve known, for a while now, that this is a subject I will end up exploring.

I just thought it was only me.

And that it was because I was me.

Knowing that other people have had similar experiences makes all the difference, and this single quotation from Carrie Arnold (ED Bites) – “I was in survival mode, so [dating] wasn’t even on my radar” – summarises exactly where I have been. Relationships were another part of life that I rejected without even realising it, and I am only now beginning to get a sense of what that omission might mean.

It is glaringly achingly absent.

I am not quite brave enough to dig deeper into my experiences at the moment. There’s a sharp kick of shame, and a sense of failure, and a very very high wall that I’m finding quite overwhelming. I wanted to write this post though, to draw attention to the article and to start tentatively exploring how difficult it is to have a relationship when you’re hiding from the world -

How impossible it is to let other people in when you’re ashamed of who you are and every action is an expression of self-hate. How the few relationships that slip through the net are quickly complicated and twisted and tangled up with a relationship that’s already stranglehold strong. How you can wake up, when the illness – and then the recovery – stop consuming your every moment, and realise that the rest of the world has paired off and you’ve missed out on one of the most beautiful aspects of human existence and would kill for a weekend strolling hand-in-hand with a special someone…

I was blind to this when I focussed on food.

I did not miss it because I did not realise it was there.

It is. It just feels like, yet again, I’m on the other side of a very wide abyss.

Nb. For anyone who missed it, here’s a link to ED Bites article.

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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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.
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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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The Capacity for Compassion

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Since starting Finding Melissa and beginning, finally, to join in, I have discovered a capacity that I never thought that I had. It is warm, and gooey, and the fuzzy-haired end of soft; and I think it is called compassion. It is like an unexpected ray of sunshine and the first kiss of warm air after you’ve been shivering, without an umbrella, in the rain.

I had always considered myself to be a rather brittle and cold person.

I am not, by nature, particularly tolerant and tend to lose patience pretty damn quick. I can rarely be bothered with explaining; am only just learning to listen; and, had become accustomed to life as them – and me. Compassion is not a quality I have associated myself with, nor something I thought I’d ever get –

It turns out I might have been wrong.
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Caring, Connecting and Parliamentary Reform

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

Yesterday, I went on a rally for Parliamentary Reform. On a grey and drizzly afternoon, we joined a group of people in Trafalgar Square who were pushing to change the system, in the hope of ensuring that all voices could be heard.

This is something that matters a lot to me.

Spurred into action by an indignant anger – and propelled through my discomfort of changing the day’s agenda by a sense that I should put my feet where my mouth was, I am still tingling from the excitement – and have learnt as much about myself as I have about Parliamentary Reform.

This is what I mean about recovery taking place in context.

This is why it’s important for me, every now and again, to take a deep breath and say, “yes, I’ll come, I’d like to do that” – even if it means that my lunch will have to shift back a time-slot, or I do something that I wouldn’t normally do –

Because I am richer for the experience, I think; and I have learnt some things about myself – and other people – that I didn’t previously know.
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Friends

Saturday, May 1st, 2010

Because it’s a bank holiday weekend and I have been struggling a little, lately; I am going to stay with one of those rare friends who can miraculously reel you back in – when your head is starting to drift – and help you put down the baggage for a while.

I am lucky to have a few of these precious friendships. They are like gold dust. The people that ground us when it feels like we’re being swept away; and offer a refuge when it all gets too much.
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OMG I Feel That Too

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

Recently, I started following an account on twitter called ‘OMG I do this too’. A couple of times a day, I therefore receive a tweet which reads something like: “Do you ever get a really good idea, but when you explain it to someone, it sounds terrible so you don’t end up doing it?” or “Do you feel cell phone vibrations, even when you don’t have your phone with you?”*

Most of these tweets bring a huge smile to my face. “YES!” I want to shout: “I do do that too”; and “YES! That is exactly like me”… and I’m not the only one?

In that 140 characters of connection, there is an instant click to other people and the warm reassurance that I am not on my own.
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The Hug

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

I was walking back through the park and there were a couple, hugging, on the path in front of me.

His head was bowed on her shoulder; her hands were clasping his back, so tightly that I could sense the strength; and I wanted, as I side-stepped around them, to scream.

This is what the eating disorder stole from me.

That kind of hug – and that kind of union – is what it stopped me from enjoying; and has put so far away that the distance feels too vast to bridge.
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Outcast

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

I am ashamed of my isolation.

It is like a stamp of failure.

I can understand, when I’m in a logical frame of mind, that the circumstances have not been conducive to a bustling buzzing social life, and that maybe I need to give myself a break –

But it’s hard not to take it personally –

And it hurts that the problem might well be me.
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Institutionalised

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

I am just beginning to realise how institutionalised I had become. I am finding the ‘normal’ world a scary place. It speaks a language that I don’t really understand. I am comfortable in terms of CPAs and meal plans; supervision, bloods and BMIs. I know where I am with meds, and ward rounds, and care co-ordinators, and agency staff at the weekend –

It’s the stuff that everyone else talks about that I find harder to get the hang of.
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The Frontiers

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Blogging has been a step out of my comfort zone for me. Not all the time, I hasten to add; but sometimes, when I’ve hit on something critical, or written a piece that’s a bit more open to contention, I can feel myself pushing a little – and then waiting for the backlash. It is something like putting your finger near an electric fence and seeing how close you get before the shock burns.

I was describing this to a friend last week, when she was trying to help me make sense of how I move forwards now, and she had a slightly different take on the experience. For her, the shock was electrifying, not an electrocution. It was about energy and finding my frontiers and sparky positive things.
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The Little Things

Friday, March 5th, 2010

The guy next door offered to walk me home.

I forget sometimes, that it really doesn’t take a lot.

One kind word or a gentle gesture, and suddenly, the bridge between me and the rest of the world seems infinitely smaller.

It is important, every now and then, to remember this.
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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
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Filling in the Blanks

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

After hiding behind an eating disorder for so long, explaining my absence from the world is proving slightly problematic.

There are gaps, where there shouldn’t be gaps; and, holes, left, right and centre. Questions that should be obvious, are unanswerable; and small talk raises some pretty major issues –

My favourite food? Not sure. I’ve just got to grips with eating, full stop, and normally describe things as safe – or unsafe.
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A Terrible Mistake

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

I have made a terrible mistake.

I chose an eating disorder, over my friends.

It hurts like hell and I didn’t realise what I was doing until I woke up, one day, and understood what I had thrown away –
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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.
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Weight Gains

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

I seem to have stopped being invisible now that I’ve put on a little weight.

People are no longer looking through me or averting their eyes.

I didn’t realise that they were doing this until I had a comparison – but now that there’s a little more skin on my bones, the reaction is a whole lot more positive…

I actually feel quite good.
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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 –
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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.

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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.

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A Sympathy with Sounds

Friday, July 24th, 2009

I haven’t just been reading the world through books; music works the same way.

It’s a little harder to pick out the salient bits, to identify exactly which bits you’re connecting with – and why – but the premise is the same: music transports you.

It takes you somewhere else and reminds you of where you’ve been.

It’s an emotional rollercoaster, a miraculous way of moving you from one headspace to another – an expression, a way of speaking without words –

I’m using it like I’m using books – to work out what I’m feeling and what I’m thinking. I’m using it like I’m using the characters I identify with – to bridge the gulf between myself and the world a little.

It’s therapy all by itself – to make me happy when I’m sad; to energise and elate and excite; to speak what I can’t say; and feel what I can’t always reach -

There is in souls a sympathy with sounds:
And as the mind is pitch’d the ear is pleased
With melting airs, or martial, brisk or grave;
Some chord in unison with what we hear
Is touch’d within us, and the heart replies.

William Cowper

Some of the music I’ve been listening to:

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.