I’m not big on anniversaries. My own, at any rate: I remember important ones that other people best not forget.
Anxiety-extension: the fallout from other people’s screwups and potential screwups. I don’t like feeling other people’s pain when there’s an easy solution: keep them in my thoughts and on my calendar.
I wish I weren’t responsible for the world.
I quit smoking last summer. Six months plus now, and I expect the one-year mark to pass by unnoticed. I also don’t remember the last time I took recreational opioids. [i]
I don’t remember my last benzodiazepine.
I don’t even remember the last time I threw up (though that one’s noted down on the calendar in my phone). I don’t generally keep track of those things for myself. I never cared about the sober coins when I went to the twelve-step meetings. I like things to be done when they’re done. When you let something go, let it go.
Remembering and date-marking works for some: to me, it feels like a tether holding me while I’m trying to escape. Regular reminders bring the realization that freedom was always possible. Sober feels like a win. Too much remembering, for me, feels like regret.
I don’t even remember the months of the last time I threw up. On purpose, I mean. Current health problems have me tossing cookies a couple of times a week: I don’t enjoy the vomiting or the irony. Besides, bulimic vomiting is more manageable: there’s a level of control that’s absent here. [ii]
I almost never pulled noodles from my sinuses when I threw up on purpose.
I don’t remember the date I stopped vomiting. I’ve given up some of the other behaviours, too. I’m not sure when; they just drifted away. I’m also not attending to the inside voice as much.
My eating disorder behaviour has become half-assed: I’m just not giving it my all.
It’s just, I’ve got stuff.
I’m still imperfect. I still hate my body, still think it fat and soft and fleshy. The nasty, torturous, abusive voice hasn’t left. She points out my stomach rolls when I sit down in the tub. She notes that my legs are exceptionally gooey. [iii]
I hear her, I do. And, I absolutely care.
Not really. I want to care. I feel bad about letting my eating disorder down. My eating disorder used to be a full-time, twenty-four-seven enterprise. Lately, however, I haven’t been giving it the attention she’s used to. And, if I’m honest, the recent internal dialogues aren’t her best work. The insults and attacks are old and stale. Maybe she recognizes that my attempts to lose interest are sincere? Perhaps she’s starting to see that our relationship has run its course?
Because I kind of don’t care what she says anymore. I sort of do, but it takes work. Ambivalence is a good change. Even better would be her silence (in an oddly terrifying-to-contemplate way).
If you don’t feed things, they die. The life truth eating disorders attempt to obscure. That truth is why I’m uncomfortable celebrating personal changes into perpetuity.
I’m not pretending the problem never was. I’m living “never again” instead. I don’t need to count the days going forward when not smoking and not throwing up is now my life.
You don’t need to celebrate the absolutely ordinary.
Don’t watch me walk.
Eating disorders change your brain. The abuse and starvation screws things up. Recovery can be hard (impossible) when you’re actively engaging: you literally can’t think properly. Thinking only returns to normal when you stop.
I didn’t believe that. I didn’t believe it would take time for my brain to come back online. I didn’t believe it was ever offline.
I hate it when other people are right.
My thinking is better. [iv] It’s not like a light switch: things didn’t magically improve the second I stopped and meant it. I didn’t immediately regain neural control. It’s only now, after months of not vomiting and years of eating semi-regularly (I’m six years out from my last inpatient stay), that my thinking is starting to shift away from dire and deadly.
The thoughts are still there. I can “hear” them. I’m just not as quick to believe. I don’t feel them in my bones as much anymore. They’re becoming diffuse.
I still hate my appearance, I still do bad things with food and exercise, and I still wish I looked like a Kardashian (Kendall and model thin: I would find the overt sexuality of the others difficult), but it’s dispassionate. A habit-attack from an eating disorder not sure I’m paying attention.
It reminds me of toddlers acting up when you answer the phone.
I’m paying attention, just not as much as I used to. The not-vomiting helps. So does gaining weight, a truth part of me still wishes was otherwise.
Progress isn’t perfection. If I were aiming for perfection, it wouldn’t be progress.
I’m not cured. There’s much to unlearn and abandon. The behavioural web is immense, and the path to recovery is long. But there might be, at last, an end in sight.
I hope so. I’m tired.
[i] I’ve done a lot of things to get rid of the pain in my head and heart.
[ii] Unless you use emetics. Then, control is out the window. I was pretty sure I was going to die every time I used them. That didn’t stop me, of course. Not getting the food out seemed worse than possible death, even ignominious death by esophageal rupture. “Ignominious Death by Esophageal Rupture” would make a hell of a band name.
[iii] My eating disorder has a problem: I’m no longer an ardent believer. My legs are imperfect, it’s true. But I’m pretty sure she’s currently snarling about fluid retention. Which is totally not cellulite. At least I hope it’s fluid retention. I also looked up “lipedema”. Don’t do it. You’ll be sorry.
[iv] Some of the time, in ways that are related to my eating disorder. My PTSD still likes to make things like thinking, difficult.
photo credit: I haven’t been able to find the credit for the image of the woman holding the world: I love it and think it absolutely beautiful. I find it used in a variety of places but so far, I haven’t found the identity of the artists. As to the image in the header, it’s very attractive. This is, of course, what bulimia looks like. A pretty woman in a lovely bathroom with good lighting.