Do not compare yourself to others. Compare yourself to who you were, who you are, and what you are becoming. You are not what you’ve done. You are unique and a creation of something bigger than any human can fathom.
– Emily Haines
I’m honestly sick and tired of feeling unheard. Can you please just stop and listen, hear what I am saying? Can you just STOP and LISTEN?
Lately I have been feeling ignored or unheard. I’ve been trying to say no, or set specific boundaries with my treatment team. And I just feel like no one is listening to what I am actually saying. Sometimes, I simply don’t want to be weighed. Sometimes, I just want to share that I had a slip, without writing out a chain about why it happened and what I could do differently. It just happened. Okay? All I wanted was to be honest, be heard, and move on. But lately all I feel like is a patient, or test subject, or even like I don’t have a voice anymore and I am getting so upset about it I keep crying.
Seriously — I’m human and I am in recovery from a damn eating disorder. That includes slips. Sometimes, I don’t want to break every single piece of that behavior down. I just wanted to not feel alone in the fact that I messed up. Just listen.
To be honest, I’m not reluctant to even share anything related to my eating disorder because it feels like it always backfires. Do this, do that, how do you feel? Well — I feel like shit to be honest. Even writing this I feel like I am not going to be able to stop crying. I feel like I’m going to cry and cry, and I’m getting so angry and frustrated that I need to scream. And if I scream, it’ll come out silent.
That title should have been more festive. But, I guess it’s a point-blank headline. It’s true: Christmas is always so hard for anyone in recovery, treatment or struggling with an eating disorder.
Tonight I managed to only eat what I needed to. Enough to fill me and I kept myself going enough to simply just “be” with the food; not over-doing it. I did okay with this. While of course I was focused on what I was eating, I managed to be as best as I could be. Not too many feelings about this. Just, blank.
Everyone was dancing around and my dad kept trying to get me up and joining in and I was seriously tired. I wanted to have fun and dance but I just was not feeling up to it. Then I came home, did my laundry, got a shower, weighed myself (the weighing is a normal ritual when I am here. I always do it to make sure I am OK.) But this is my first Christmas sober and it’s hard.
I have so many bad memories, so much hurt, heartache, pain, here, and no wonder I was always drunk. It’s just hard. I am trying. I had to pray in the shower.
I am really excited for New Year’s Eve, though. It’s going to be my ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY of sobriety! Heck yes! And I am going to an AA dance, sharing my story at an alcathon, and it’s just going to be great. I am thrilled.
And I am grateful for my family and everything about that; it’s just hard because I feel guilty about eating, but I do it anyway, I feel guilty about getting presents because I feel like I don’t deserve it, and I feel guilty because I feel guilty.
Right now, being down here this year, I feel like I am stuck at the age I was when things spiraled, except I am not physically drinking. So, it’s really hard for me this year. I know it’s hard every year, but this is the first year I am doing something DIFFERENT.
***spoiler alert: this post possible triggers for those ultra sensitive ***
Part of my gut was kicking at me, screaming “this is not a good idea!” The ironic thing is that this is the same voice that screamed at me four years ago the night I decided I would sneak out on memorial day weekend. It was the same voice that I chose to ignore as a naive teenager when I was nineteen. It was the exact same voice that had been muted out when I was a girl who was sexually assaulted by a man twice my age. An acquaintance. A customer at my former job. It’s hard even writing this out because instantly I have flashbacks of my job at Starbucks, his face, him touching me, him on me. The scent of the living room, the noises from everything occurring in the small boxed off room. I remember the couch, the cigarette, and the kiss.
So when this reoccurring voice had popped up again, part of it was due to the constant flashbacks of my stripping in an effort to take control of my body in a way that was taken away four years ago and the other part was due to the sober alcoholic in me trying to be wise.
I was invited out to go dancing with some girls from my job. I am friends with all them and I had the conclusion that they would be fun and it would be a good time. In all honesty, there was an impulse screaming out from inside of my body to take on another identity, one where I was in control of my sexuality and my body. I decided when I went off into the city with my girlfriends that they were to call me Gia (my former stripper name). Yes, this is a read flag that among my stripper flashbacks, this was another way for me to manage the pain and self-shame that I was feeling about myself. The identity that people tell me is a lie that I find so painfully true.
But, regardless of my instinct, the neglected and scared, naked inside and exposed girl wanted control and feeling like shit, went along and said, “Hell yeah! I am down!”
The girls all knew that I am an alcoholic, addict and that I would not be drinking. Oh, did I mention that it was my 11 months sober anniversary last night? Of course I didn’t. But it was. Then I found out that two of the girls would be smoking weed. My thoughts were as long as I am not doing it, and I don’t partake, I am good and strong enough to stay clean and sober. Before I finish this story let me say it is not about me losing my nearly a year of sobriety at a spontaneous dance-off. This is not a story of shame because I tossed away a year of hard work getting clean and sober. This is a story about sexuality and sexual shame from another situation of violation. Although minor, it still hurts, and especially because I was trying to fix my problem and ended up being used, again, and feeling like an object and not to be graphic, but a whore. I am not saying that I am–it’s just how I feel.
Throughout the night I felt confident in myself that I would not drink. I am all about having a good time sober. Dancing with the girls is not a crime. But my feelings should be unlawful. What started out as a high anxiety situation, I began having flashbacks of when I was a strung out heroine junkie running around wasted and high in the streets of the city-ERROR NUMBER ONE.
So many bad and scary memories. I wanted to be past this place in my life and I should leave it in the past. But I put myself in this situation, in an extremely vulnerable time in my life (post-rehab and working on exposure on my trauma with my therapist, deep and raw, the darkest time in my life.)
My one friend kept pressuring me to dance with random men in the club. I didn’t want to. I tried keeping my cool, keeping my ground and staying in control of me and my body. In front of the men, she kept pressuring me to dance with them. They said I was “sexy” and “cute” so I deserved to dance with them. I kept telling my friend “No. I don’t want to,” but she just encouraged it in front of them, and I finally gave in.
From that point on, I felt disgusted with myself because I don’t dance like girls do now-a-days. I am unique because I like dancing and having fun. Not dancing like a stripper (not that I have judgment because, well, been there done that). I felt him on my body and instantly I had flashbacks. Suddenly I realized my friends were gone, and I was alone with the kid. Yeah, I caused him to get “happy in his pants” to put it nicely and PG-13.And I felt it pressed against by back. I freaked out, and felt sick and I froze. By the time my girls arrived back to me, I had no idea where they went. But one came up to tell me I had been filmed.
I’m not sure I have the words for this. Other than, sickened. I did not say it was okay for this man to be getting off on me while having a friend video it on his cell phone. From that point on, I just froze, then walked away. I have not been present since because all I keep seeing and feeling is a combination between stripping, being sexually assaulted, and then being filmed and left, frozen.
So, yeah. Fuck. I really hurt myself, again. I feel disgusted and like I am reliving everything over and over again, and I just spilled everything to my therapist and I am just so humiliated because this stuff still keeps happening to me. I should be wiser and smarter by now, but obviously I am not.
I was covering a story about high school students delivering turkeys and Thanksgiving dinners to those in need in a local township. It was a fun story, easy, and doable. I rode on a bus with 12 students, interviewed and shadowed them as they delivered these meals to seniors and families. For some strange reason, I connected very well with the teenage girls on the bus. I laughed with them and became fond of them. Perhaps I was living vicariously through them. Perhaps they were happy, and normal, and I wanted that for myself.
When we came to the final stop, we delivered a meal to a woman named Florence. It was the last stop of the journey so I decided to carry up a pie with a teen girl who was giggly and free spirited. When we entered the woman was so happy and enthusiastic and she was smiling. She turned to the teen and myself and asked if we “liked scarves?” She must have noticed the fall/winter themed scarves we had tossed around our necks. She lit up with so much joy, turned and said, “Oh! I have something JUST for you!” With that, she ran into her bedroom, (yes, this senior citizen rushed) and grabbed two scarves, gave them to the girl and I. She kissed me on the cheek and said “Merry Christmas!” I am so glad she said that instead of “Happy Holidays!”
She hugged me, and said thank you. I will forever keep that scarf. In fact, I will wear it!
I had therapy today. Today is Day 1 again, with no laxatives. I am attempting to completely stay away from them. I am told (in therapy) that I am in denial. She is probably right. She almost always is. But it’s hard to understand and grasp right now. But I am working on it. So Day 1, abstinent from laxatives. Why is this so hard?
Oh, and I am spending Thanksgiving working at the newspaper and then going to dinner at my nurse’s house ( also my pastor’s wife and close friend). That is all.
I had a really good session today, I think. I feel more hopeful in being able to continue working with my team and I am praying on it, that something will work out — time, location, everything.
Although the session was difficult, I felt pushed in all the right areas. Honestly, I don’t think anyone knows where to push and knock out better than my therapist. There were times, while discussing some scary things, that I would clam up, unable to get it all out in between tears. But she always knew when to say “don’t do that” or “keep going.” I felt like she was with me in it, as opposed to me just ranting and crying about things. I left feeling a little better than I had all week.
I think a lot of that had to do with some necessary reaffirming — I need that a lot at times when going through other stresses that trigger others. But I’m glad I went. I think I am struggling with a “denial” if that about my laxative use being a different form of my eating disorder that could lead to a relapse. I would be devastated and heartbroken if I did that and went through everything I did this summer to come to a different form of my disorder.
I guess the only good thing I can take from today and everything else that is going on is that I feel better about my relationships and that no one is giving up.