It’s hard to ask for help, especially when I felt like such a failure for having relapsed with my eating disorder. When I see so many people doing so, so well, I remember being at that place almost. I could almost touch their level or platform of how high they stood in their recovery. I almost didn’t feel worthy being around them.
When my slipping finally turned into a slide, it took me a while to be honest. Part of me felt lIke I needed it. Part of me acted like it was okay. The other part of me didn’t want to ask for help because I had become so addicted, once again, to the eating disorder behavior. Then, the piece of me that has been pushed down inside and silenced was begging to be heard, but I couldn’t listen to her.
Perhaps a large piece of this was denial. I never fully understood my own denial. I liked having my eating disorder be my secret again; but we are only as sick as our secrets, right? Right. I spent Saturday with a friend from AA. I was being honest that I was “struggling” with the disorder, but after I kept talking, I should have inserted my foot into my mouth, for I was not aware at how rapidly unsettling and worrying the behavior had gotten. It became this; “no big deal” and then finally became a big, big deal.
That part is hard. I think the part that kept me from reaching out when I was getting worse and even more worse was the feeling of failure within myself. This was a new sense of failure I had. Of course, I had relapses before, and felt disappointed, but the arms of my eating disorder swooped me up and I didn’t feel as much remorse. But this time, I felt more than remorse. I felt like I had failed my closest friends and especially, my therapist, who probably believes in me more than anyone I know.
The friends that I had sort of were doing this “intervention” but not as a group. They were talking about my status out of concern behind my back, and I started receiving texts and phone calls. Today, i had therapy and found myself angry and embarrassed. How do I get out of this hole? Back to basics.
New accountability, frequent doctor visits, group, meetings, check-ins daily, throughout the day with accountability supports and my therapist. Re-feeding, once again. I think the worst part of this, in addition to feeling like a failure, is finding the way to fight back. And, I am and I will. I just have a lot of fear right now, doubts, and honestly, I am sad and I am surprised that I can name that.
So I guess I need to not only throw the red cloak into the face of the wolf… but I also need to stare the wolf down, make the wolf cower and back away, going back into the cave.
I’ve come to relate to my own spin on the story of the girl, the red cloak and the wolf… for I am all three.
I was frozen in a fragile world
Of make believe and empty lies
Dressed in the rules of a virtuous game
Captured by the thought of fear and loneliness
Afraid to cry suffocated for trying to scream
And I want out now to find myself
Cause perfect only makes you crazy
There is no way that it can save me
I’m sick of feelin like a traitor
Is this the price for good behavior
Oh my naked skin feels the warmth of the sun
And my eyes are opened to the brightness of light
Driven by a force so free to live this life
Noy paralyzed but with reckless abandon
So now I can breathe I wanted out to find myself
She hid underneath a crimson cloak, shielding herself from danger, terror and pain. She liked to care for others, tended to their needs and illness. She held them, nurtured them with positive thoughts and kindness. She had an innocence in her heart, one that was rare in the world today.
Her crimson cloak, a red hood covering her eyes was a protection. No one could look into her eyes for she feared her eyes would tell all. Her brown eyes would scream out the horrid things she had done, and there would be no more protection. She wore her red cloak, as a marking. The red poured out shame and guilt. But no one could see the girl behind the cloak.
It covered her body, one that she practiced to starve away or the marks on her body that told more stories than her words. Her cloak caused a separation from reality, a wall between memory and imagination. Her cloak kept her warm from the bitter ice winds, the biting air that blew secrets around. Her mistakes and her memories hit her cloak, but she remained warm inside and hidden.
Her cloak protected her physical body, one that hands of another could no longer touch, a safety between man’s hands and her own. It covered her legs, her rear, waist and breast.
The cloak worked perfectly for this girl, until she came face to face with a wolf; a wolf so attracted to her blood-red cloak, the color reflecting for the wolf, luring him. The girl stood frozen staring into the eyes of a wolf; reflecting images of her soul and herself. She stood gazing into the eyes of the wolf and she found words softly coming from her mouth as she spoke:
“What big eyes you have…” she said. The wolf responded with a harsh “the better to see your truth with my dear.”
The girl then lowered her gaze, focusing in on the wolf’s nose. She commented, “Well, what a big nose you have.” The wolf snarled, whispering back, “The better to smell your fears with, my dear.” The girl then stared at the fangs of teeth jutting out of the wolf’s mouth. She whimpered, “What big teeth you have.” The wolf grinned and responded, “The better to chew you up and spit you out.”
The girl then realized the cloak that had been protecting her all this time worked until it ended up luring the danger and fear she had been avoiding all this time. She was face to face with an enemy, until her life was at risk. The girl then had a choice:
A. She would remove her cloak, throw it distracting the wolf’s vision, and run in the other direction, escaping or B. she would keep her cloak on, burying herself deeper into the fabric only to find herself being eaten alive.
I’ve heard many, many times that gratitude is key to recovery from any addiction or alcoholism. I am a firm believer in this, but I also believe that I have much growth in this area. So I have decided to create a gratitude page on my blog. I am off and on with my gratitude list, a suggestion from my sponsor, other alcoholics, group support and a few others. I don’t want to come off as ungrateful, but I can be honest and say, perhaps I need to focus more on my gratitude. If I can find five things in the day, no matter how small or big, then I can try and focus on those things for what I have, not what I don’t have, so that way in time, when the pieces align, I can practice patience. I will start, once again, my gratitude list here… I will start with 10 items (not that I don’t have them in my journal but it is the first time I am posting this online). I may add to that list on my gratitude page at the top bar next to my resources, my story, links, etc.
In addition, I am going to attempt to set up a forum or way for readers to post something they are grateful for and I encourage ANY ONE OF YOU READERS to submit anything at any time once it is set up, to help yourselves and your gratitude and by sharing your gratitude with me, it will help me with my own gratitude. There is no room to drink in a grateful heart.
1. God, and my developing and growing relationship with him
2. The rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous
3. My sponsor, my therapist, my good friends, my family
5. Heated blankets and comforters with puffy pillows
6. My cow pillow pet
7. Having a job and steady income
8. Extra large, comfy sweatpants
9. Having somewhere to live
10. Sobriety and the hope of full life recovery.
These, and then the additional five items I will add as much as possible throughout the week (my goal is 5 a day) will be located: Here.
I am not sure the origin of this poem, or who to give credit to, but one of my subscribers, dedicated readers and friend sent this to my by a comment and I wanted to post the poem, for it speaks well.
I am asking for you to be gentle with me,
for I am healing from wounds
that you cannot see…
I carry the wounds deep in my soul
and only by loving (myself, others & God)
will I become whole.
So, if my walls ever seem too high,
please use compassionate words
to ask me why…
For I cannot grow if I hide from pain,
and by me risking being vulnerable
I trust, we will have much to gain.