**Trigger Warning: Talk of Eating Disorders, Eating Issues, Vomiting, etc. If you are sensitive to this sort of thing, please read with caution**
When I was twelve and thirteen, I was living with an eating disorder. I restricted food, I counted calories, I ran instead of walked, I drank Diet Coke to keep my stomach feeling full, I chewed gum to trick my mind into thinking I was eating when I really wasn’t, I felt perpetually dizzy and weak… all to try and lose weight and become “skinny.” What I didn’t, or couldn’t, realize was that I was already skinny. Terribly skinny, in fact.
What I could never do was purge. It wasn’t for lack of trying. I tried, on many occasions during that time, to bring back up the minuscule amount of food I had just eaten, in a panicked fear that it would make me horribly fat by letting it remain in my stomach. But for whatever reason, I was never actually able to do it. I would engage the gag reflex, but nothing ever came up. Not once.
I have actually thrown up probably less than five times in my entire life. I don’t know why, but I get the sense that in my childhood, the times when I did throw up were horribly traumatizing. I’m not even sure why I think that, as I have hardly any actual memories of it. Just a gut sense, I suppose.
In my adult life, I have only had one single incidence of vomiting. Strangely, it wasn’t nearly as awful and traumatic as how my mind had always imagined (or remembered?) it to be. However, I still carry that fear around with me. When I’m having particularly bad nausea (which has been very strong tonight), I will do whatever it takes to shut that process down and stop it from getting to that level.
The reason I bring this up is, I think this is deeply symbolic. I hold onto things, I obsess over things, I ruminate over things, I desperately cling to things that are unhealthy for me and ultimately toxic to my well-being and my own healing.
An example of this is friendship. Up until about four or five years ago, the only type of friendship I knew was the extremely co-dependent kind. I had no sense of self, of who I was, and in a friendship I became whatever that person wanted me to be. I molded myself to fit their needs. It was never about my wants or needs in the relationship. What’s a bit ironic about this is, I may think it was about putting my needs aside for others, but the reality is that my own needs were very much getting met by doing this: my own unhealthy need for acceptance. I would go to any and all lengths to be liked and accepted. It was all about avoiding rejection. Because for me, rejection was worth than death.
But the point is, I clung to these people, since they were what I identified as being. If they were happy with me, then I was okay. If they were not happy with me, I would go to whatever lengths necessary to get them to like me again. Even if the relationship or friendship was horribly detrimental or toxic, I would not purge them from my life because that meant losing myself.
Since then, I’ve evolved quite a bit. In the last several years, I’ve begun making myself a priority in relationships. I think the strength and wherewithal to do this came as a general strength and self-esteem began to develop within me. Perhaps this is just a side effect of getting older, I don’t know. Or perhaps this was the result of years of therapy and working on myself. Or maybe being, finally, in a relationship with someone who was extremely stable and had a good healthy self-esteem and was able to model that for me. The reason(s) behind the change is unknown, and in all honesty it doesn’t even really matter. The important thing is that I began changing. I began to develop a sense of who I really was and what I wanted in relationships. And like I said before, I began slowly but surely making myself a priority in these relationships. And perhaps this is why this most recent friendship ultimately didn’t work out. I put myself first. I stood up for myself. I didn’t let myself get walked over. And that was when this person’s true colors emerged. As I get some distance between myself and all that has happened over the last number of days, I realize that there are blessings behind all of it. These deeply painful events and interactions that have taken place have revealed the true nature of my friendship with this person. I see now what an unhealthy relationship it was. I see how I was resorting to old habits and patterns of putting this other person’s needs before my own, to the detriment of myself. And even that was not enough. This person demanded more. And that’s when I had to put my foot down and say no. And that’s ultimately what cost me this friendship. Had I wilted under the raging heat of her angry wrath and profusely apologized, and heaved loads of blame upon myself (which I am quite familiar with), I have a fairly good feeling I wouldn’t be in the situation I am now. But however painful this process has been, I am deeply grateful for it. I have remained strong, and true to who I am. I have been able to keep my integrity intact without lashing out in retaliation or slinging insults. I have been able to remain fairly calm through this very powerful storm. And I feel (or maybe I should say I hope?) the storm is now finally starting to subside. I have made it through, and I am okay. And I will be okay. I will pull through this.
Now the goal is to try to calm this very overcharged nervous system. For the last three nights, I have woken at 2 or 3am in a state of total panic and haven’t been able to go back to sleep. I probably have had a total of about seven hours of sleep over the past three nights. That is not enough. And my body seems to be going completely haywire. Panic has been overtaking me a lot, and it seems that really nothing I do is able to calm it. No amount of hot tea, or quiet music, or holding of stuffed animals, or even acupuncture has created even the slightest dent in my overanxious nervous system. It’s like my nervous system is being revved too high, and I simply can’t bring the spinning down no matter what I do.
Perhaps what I need to do is run. To run and to pant and to sweat it out. I think perhaps I’ll need to wait til this weekend though, because I have a feeling I’m going to need an entire day to allow myself to crash completely afterward. For now, I have other responsibilities, most importantly the child I care for. He is my top priority.
Again, trying to focus on the good things in my life. Here’s another list:
– My back is getting better, slowly but surely, each and every day
– I am starting to accept my diagnosis and that is bringing me a deeper sense of peace
– I bought something special for R recently that she really wanted. Her feelings of joy and elation, and therefore my feelings of joy and well-being simply by association, was something to be cherished.
– I am grateful for such an amazingly supportive online community, both here on my blog as well as on a mental health support forum. I don’t know if I would be getting by nearly as well without all of your support.
– I know I talk about her a lot (or maybe I don’t talk about her enough, I don’t know), but I am so grateful for my amazing partner. She has been so wonderful and supportive over the last few days and helping me get through this very rough time. She is my rock, my anchor. She is leaving to go out of town tomorrow (erm, well, okay I guess it would be today since it’s now actually morning) and I am determined to hold onto her strength and support, even over the distance, while she is away.
That’s all for now. I am ready to purge all toxic things from my life. Including my own bad habits that have kept me locked up and bound. Negative thinking being one of them. I am determined not to wallow in self-pity but instead focus on the positive, focus on what is working, focus on what is good in my life. Because there is so much positive, so much that is working, so much that is good. I must hold onto these things.