stay small, stay safe


i’m stuck. i’m not falling backwards to any great degree but i’m not moving forward either. i’ve landed in this space i call “not too bad” and i’m terrified to push beyond it. it’s a flat life; i don’t challenge myself or reach for my dreams or pursue my goals, but it’s safe. i don’t risk pain. i don’t risk failing. there’s very little chance that i will stumble and fall.

it is, however, at best a half-life. i have to believe we are meant for more.

four people that i shared time and space with during my most recent rehab stay are dead. four that i know about, at any rate. they were funny, kind, giving, and smart and now they’re dead. four people that were working hard to get their lives back together no longer have that chance.

they lost the fight. i wonder what they’d give to be in my shoes; still able to climb into the ring?

i wonder what they’d think of how i’m doing? would i get props for still being here or bitch-slapped for my willingness to make-do? for my willingness to settle for so little because reaching for more seems impossibly hard?

the routines that worked well when i first re-entered the world have become a trap. they fill my days with “have to do” minutiae; missing a step allows my anxiety to poke her head back up. having a list of goals to aim for is a good thing. having a daily plan that’s set down in stone is not.

i realized how problematic it was and how bound to my daily patterns i’d become when i first thought about changing my morning routine of coffee, emails, and social media. waking up that way doesn’t make me happy. it makes my tense and anxious and uncomfortable. it puts me in a negative headspace that infects the rest of my day. not doing it, however, is proving difficult. it’s like trying to get a slot racecar to drive on the other track. my attempts make me tense; the changes feel completely wrong and it’s easy to drift back into my lane. i know it’s just my anxiety speaking, but she can be loud and miserable to deal with and sometimes it’s easier to follow her dictates.

it’s amazing how determined i can be in pursuit of the wrong behaviours, even when all the evidence suggests i choose an alternate path.

it’s hard though, because underneath the anxiety, behind the not trying despite wanting to try, and reinforcing my resistance is fear. i realize that i am terrified. what if i can’t do it? what if i can’t be any different? what if i’m incapable of reaching for my dreams? what if i fail?

vocalizing and reaching for what i want is not something i’m used to doing. i’ve mostly let my life happen to me. i’ve never really articulated my dreams; not even to myself. they drift around my head as half-formed hopes and plans that i neither research nor pursue. the risk of failing always seemed too great; i assumed that everyone in the world would be as hard on me as i am on myself.

i only expect perfection.

logically i know that my fears about failure are wrong; no one needs me to be perfect. i certainly can’t succeed if i don’t try, but the backwards pull of fear is hard to resist.

i replace movement in a forward direction with the thrill of standing still, performing daily the routines that are keeping me shut down but safe.

the problem is that safe isn’t enough anymore. when i was striving to get here, to this safe space, i believed it would be. i thought it was the only thing i needed. it’s frustrating to realize that getting to this point was only stage one and there’s still much work to do.

luckily, i’m here to do it. i’m grateful for that.

(april 9, 2018 )

3 thoughts on “stay small, stay safe

  1. I’m glad I’ve found your blog, and thanks for sharing so honestly.

    I’m in the reverse situation. My eating disorder is bad and has been for a while. Hospital has been spoken about, I have physical tests every week and am back on fortisip.

    But I’m reaching for my dreams. I’m pushing myself with photography, accepting the critique of others so that I can improve, and have a major event coming up where I am “risking” success.

    I find that I have a morning and evening routine, that’s relatively rigid, but enjoyable and that gives me the space to be flexible during the day.

    I’m sorry to hear about your friends.
    Best wishes

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you. i’m trying to be honest; it’s honestly hard. the hardest is being compulsively honest with myself without being mean about it. because eating disorders are really mean to us.

      i’m sorry you are currently struggling. hospital wasn’t so bad for me. it was like a reset button that allowed me to regain some control.

      i’m glad you have a passion you are pursuing. that’s brilliant. i hope your show goes very well.


      Liked by 1 person

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