Day 16

9PM:

Fuck this…

Fuck this lack of knowing.

Fuck this lack of remembering how to live, love and lose myself in the moment.

Fuck this lack of serenity to accept the unchangeable.

Fuck this lack of courage to be wrong.

Fuck this lack of understanding and wisdom to know the difference between what is normal and what needs to be.

Fuck this blackness in my gut that mutes my emotions and heightens my anxieties and angers and fears.

Fuck this thing inside me, my own unique cocktail of crazy.

Fuck this exhausting cycle of self-deprecating humour, delusional victories and hateful selfish rage.

Not fuck my life, because that tries to separate this from what is real = fuck me; that’s what’s real…

Fuck me.

Fuck me

Day 15

9AM:

I used a phrase with Work Friend earlier: I am everyone else’s life lesson.  Old Boss and Family Friend didn’t reach out when I needed them, now they will for the next person.  Mom and Dad ignored the things that made me fucked up, now they won’t ignore them for my brother.  My wife abandoned me on two occasions – one time she wasn’t there physically, giving me someone to lean on, and the second time, she cheated on me, pretending she was there when she was somewhere else entirely – and now she tries her damndest to make sure that never happens again.  Same thing would apply for the family – who knows how that will go around Christmas, but I will most certainly become the life lesson again.  Is this an element of my disease or my personality?  I don’t mind this role; it makes me useful and wanted (and lonely).

And the train of thought continues…

My wife has asked me about forgiveness a number of times, so much so that I’ve had the thought rattling around in my head: forgiveness for all these aforementioned things, forgiveness of my own sins, forgiveness of my own faults.  What she does not understand is that I can’t forgive myself; how the fuck am I supposed to forgive anyone else?  In fact, I would be more likely to forgive everyone else for leaving me to rot in this hole of stress and anxiety and ED; it would be that much harder to forgive myself.

It has never been a question of forgiveness.

Why does it have to be forgive or forget, forgive and forget, or any of these permutations?  Why can’t it just be living the next day, and the day after that and the day after that?  Worrying about forgiveness, regretting what is done, longing for redos – these are the tragic flaws of Shakespearean plays, all leading to self-imposed dementia, deterioration and desolation.  But that’s her and everyone else, they are the ones that worry about those things, not me.  I wouldn’t regret what is done, I wouldn’t long for redos, I would just breathe.  I quack like a duck, walk like a duck and talk like a duck, so perhaps I am disguising moving on as forgiveness – but only for me, not for anyone else.  For the first time in a long time, I could very well be a life lesson for myself (now I just have to figure out how to accept and forgive myself).

Day 14

7AM:

Let’s say that I in fact do accept my relationship to food.  I am thinking about the day and the fact that my lunch time will be taken up by leading an extracurricular group.  It is taking a little thought and I would rather be a little hungry during the day than eat mystery meat patties or skip out on the event just to eat.  The norm?  Probably not… but could it be normal?  This is likely also the immediate reaction of most doctors, therapists, etc., who want to help me find my happy.

Here’s the question on my mind though: would this fix the rest?  Would finding my happy with relationship to food make me want sex more?  Would it make me less likely to want to hurt myself in times of stress?  Would it make the perception of me in my family clearer/cleaner?  Would it allow me to sit down and rest and not feel guilty?  Would it make me not feel self-conscious about telling others that I am not totally exhausted?  Would it make me not care about forgiveness?  Would it make me happy?

So maybe more than the question.

It could also not be that simple.  It could be that accepting my relationship with food as normal is step one or step two or not a step at all.  It is true that when the time comes, I will need to muster up the courage to find these answers, but I would like a little more guidance before stepping into the dark.  A little more light or a little bit of a map or at least an understanding that those things are hopes of a cowardly lion, things that are not offered to journeymen like me.

Day 13

6PM:

As I drive home from the (not-so-useful-I-think-but-I’m-not-sure-because-my-emotional-connections-are-so-very-disconnected-right-now) massage, having not yet eaten dinner, I am a little hungry.  I’m not famished or ready to assassinate my own grandmother for a whole wheat bagel (well…), but I can tell that something is needed to settle my stomach.  The immediate reaction here is not, “ok, time to find something to eat.”  Instead, my reaction is something along the lines of “OH MY GOD, I FEEL HUNGRY!  I AM A TERRIBLE PERSON BECAUSE I SHOULD NEVER BE IN A CIRCUMSTANCE WHERE I FEEL HUNGRY!”  I have not yet been able to understand this “terrible person” connection that comes with this stress management/perfectionism thing.  The food stuff should all connect to getting fat, but it doesn’t always.  My immediate reaction to sitting on the couch isn’t always that I will get fat, just that it is the wrong or a bad thing to do.  There is no clarification of this point, no matter how much I psychoanalyze or probe the blackness.  Perhaps this is part of the whole disconnecting my emotional connections bit – the fact that I just can’t understand how to solve this puzzle.

Day 12

7PM:

I can’t understand why I was the way I was when I walked through the door this afternoon – in immediate and non-immediate hindsight, I really didn’t want to act that way.  I got pretty riled up at the end of my school day and I was a little snackish, but the “asshole-ese” was coming out without me even wanting to hear it.  My wife was being kind and understanding and I just didn’t want to hear any of what she was saying: it seemed forced and false and that she was hiding something.  What shook me out of it?  Love, hugs, kisses – things that cannot be misconceived or misinterpreted.  Honest emotion without my mind misconstruing words or actions – fucked up me, can’t even appreciate kindness sometimes through my own foggy mind.

I do agree with my wife that the MindBodyGreen article truly resonates.  Perhaps I should “mantra” through the stress – a new tool to manage the blackness:  “Treat each moment together as though it could be your last.  Rabbi and author Joshua Loth Liebman said it best: ‘Treasure each other in the recognition that we do not know how long we shall have each other.’”

If I never see her again, I don’t want the disease to have my last words.  I don’t want the asshole-ese to be the last thing she hears coming out of my mouth.  I need to fix me so that I can fix this.  I need to show her my heart and not my darkness (this goes for my family as well, as I can’t count the number of times asshole-ese has come out with my parents).

Treat each moment together as though it could be your last.

Treat each moment together like your last.

Each moment could be the last.

Moments last.

Day 11

5PM:

This has taken so much away from me.  It has been my companion for over seven years and I am barely starting to understand this.  But I am waiting for the cloud to truly lift.  I have read all about how getting through the obsessiveness and rigidity will give me clarity of mind and enjoyment in the true things that should: activities, people, myself.  Will it be euphoric?  Will it be gradual?

A week and a half into this and the rigidity has loosened:

  • I have eaten breakfast every single day
  • I have written in this journal every day
  • I have shared food and guess-timated portion sizes at restaurants (and even been able to put those estimations aside afterwards, not having them rotate in my head for hours afterwards)
  • I have snacked outside of “meal-times” based on hunger and not necessarily on timing (however, with this one, I cannot say whether my level of ease is connected to eating less portions at that point in the day)
  • I have started to recognize that I like having something at the end of the day, possibly because I like that type of food as opposed to others

And I am still angry, I am still not loose, I am still not comfortable, I am still not horny, I am still not getting past or through the illness (just managing it), I am still not quiet, I am still not easy, I am still not happy.

There is one question I haven’t asked here though, one that these last few observations bring to “light” (AKA deeper into the well): will it be a myth?  Perhaps that’s the true test of things: that if that cloud isn’t truly lifted after dealing with the eating disorder, that this thing is something more than an eating disorder.  It is odd how no matter how many times I talk about the blackness being responsible, still I equate this cloud and my issues and the anxieties and the things that have been taken away (lust, passion, feeling) to food.  Solve food and solve these.  That’s not going to happen that quickly though, is it…?  The reality is something darker, more dangerous: what the fuck is the monster inside me, cloaking itself in normalizing food?  The monster that either doesn’t allow me to accept my normal as normal or the monster that avoids me from finding my normal in this search.

Day 10

4PM (recorded at 7PM):

Hope is a dangerous thing.  Resilience is also, from what I am learning, potentially dangerous as well.  I have the ability to fight through the pain, to pick myself up from some of the most devastating of circumstances (at least, from my frame of reference – deaths, injuries, heartbreaks) and carry on.  Resilience and hope keep me upright, keep me going and keep me from giving up.

But like I said, hope and resilience are becoming dangerous things in recovery, because there is a fine line between hope and delusion.  Every time I get knocked down or pushed down or ignored while I am down or trip myself so that I fall, every single time I find myself upright again.  Not always is this independently horizontal-to-vertical, but nevertheless I am standing by the end of it.  Yet, I am still writing and talking about being down, so how come hope survives?  Is it that I am so deluded?  And the biggest question, where has continuing to hope and be resilient and be potentially deluded gotten me?  There is very little logic to this hope – if I really thought about it, all evidence would point to the contrary with regards to the efficacy of what I’m hoping for.  All evidence points in the direction of another fall, another push, another trust exercise where there is no one to rely on.  And yet, hope survives and delusion does not.

Here is a sample scenario.  The world inside my head keeps spinning, through fatigue and self-imposed work, it keeps spinning.  In fact, even after a day cleaning the house, doing so out of love for my wife and believing I was doing something good, I walk in thinking about the dirty spots.  I cannot shut the part of my brain off at times like this, cannot convince myself that perfect isn’t enough.  And the worst thing is that the more worn down I get, the more my head seems to spin about these things, the more it seems to get angry and the worse every breath tastes.  Anyway, in this scenario, the latest breaking point arrives and I fall.  Those who pick me up promise the world, tell me that I will always have their hands and they will carry me to safety.  They tell me to believe in hope and their love, because these are the things that life is about.  And because I have faith, I believe in hope and love, believe that they will translate into answers and assistance and make it so that I don’t have to find solutions all on my own to the way that my head (and the world, it seems) scars as opposed to supports me.  Hope and love make me carry on, every single time.  But the cycle continues… I stand up and everyone loses the urgency.  I am patched up, but the source of the injury remains, waiting for the opportunity to break through the stitches more powerful and poisonous than ever.  At this time, everyone seems to forget that the only reason I am not bleeding due to the anxiety, the eating disorder, the perfectionism and the albatross that I’ve carried for so many years, is because of hope and resilience.  These things aren’t solutions, they are stop-gaps.  They are the bubble gum sealing the holes of my ship while I wait for the real boat to take me to shore.  Instead, I get forgotten in a few days, my head keeps working the way it has worked and in fact, has probably gotten worse because of how worn out it is from the darkness it has to call home, since that’s all it has.  My distress call gets unanswered past the initial S.O.S. and I get angrier, more tired and ever-more frustrated.

Hope makes me believe that eventually I will find quiet, that I will find enjoyment and that I will find the spark inside me that made the world shut off and allowed me to be in the moment.  But at the moment, I can’t very often find the moment with her, with laughter, with nature, with exercise, with books, with myself.  And yet, hope will come around tomorrow.

Day 9

6PM:

There is a worry in not knowing the right answer to any of the questions that have been rattling around my head for the last few days.  I try so hard to be better for myself and my wife and the ones I love – my quest for helpfulness is not limited to Dad’s drinking or my brother’s flakiness or Mom’s issues or the family’s separation.  I want to feel quiet again and I want to feel passion again and I want to feel relaxed again.  I just don’t want to do it wrong for them one more time.  I don’t want to accept that my eating habits are normal and anxiety is treatable with stress management techniques I currently have in my toolbox, because this has been wrong before.  And what happens if I am wrong?: I get anxious when my wife looks beautiful when I walk through the door = WRONG… This isn’t a matter of not thinking I could get it wrong, it’s that I have gotten it wrong, very wrong in doing what I have done, turning myself into this shell for the greater good.   I can’t forgive myself for my past wrongs because that choice isn’t there.  If I do forgive myself, it opens up the distinct possibility that it will happen again, losing the guardedness that will protect me from hurting the ones I love and/or myself.

The problem with having done this wrong so many times, been a failure at getting through this with complete success, is that there is doubt and worry.  It is not like running where you can get out of the run-walk or stop-for-a-breather habit.  Once you break this seal, it can never be unbroken.

Looking up from underneath, from below the depths of the world.  I’m not a part of it.  People don’t concern themselves with the below, not this type of below anyways.  The destitute, the downtrodden, the down-and-out – they are below, but given a helping hand up.  It might be charity or just goodwill, but they are helped up nonetheless.  I do not appear to have this effect on the people around me.  They don’t have the answers for the questions this type of below has to ask.

Given how constant my brain moves and how the off switch is so very far away right now, it seems unimaginable to me that I have never played “what if” in my mind.  Never thought about what would have happened if this had gone differently, if I hadn’t been infected with this blackness.  Guess it’s because I’ve never seen the point, either that or the hope that “what if” is still a possibility, that hopefulness and dream-like imagination was choked out by the questions’ dominance long ago.

I don’t think that anyone is going to solve these conundrums.  I don’t think that ultimately, there is help out there for a sinner like me.  I am destined to bear this albatross for my days.  In which case, the noose is tight around all of us and the unfeeling tidal wave is either inevitable and hard or wearingly gradual and pain-staking.  The only thing I know I can do, without doubt or worry, is make sure the other mariners in my life have rafts and that the albatross is strung only around my neck.

Day 8

2PM:

Something funny happened today.  Ate breakfast – no problems.  Didn’t bring a morning snack because Workout Friend and I were going to have lunch at 12 instead of 1, and so when I got too hungry around 11, I had an apple.  Ate lunch without incident, both were items that I liked and had eaten previously.  Only time I spun (AKA got anxious) about food was when I was trying to figure out the portion sizes.  Didn’t do it when I was eating the apple (by choice, not by the clock – but this could have been because I was already working at a deficit for the day), didn’t when I was eating the Tom Yum or sharing the Yau Choy (something I have selfishly been terrible at recently, because it’s tougher to count that way).  Got anxious (AKA distracted me from the conversation he and I were having about his issues with his family – something I defiled by spinning about this other dark thing) when I tried to fit my meals into the system.  This is a problem, but how should the problem be framed/seen?:

(A)   The structure is the problem – trying to fit an organic, feeling-based thing like eating into a structure of eating is square-peg-into-circle-hole.  There will always be friction (AKA anxiety) as a result.  Based around this thinking, the structure now is the issue.  Therefore, supports for my stress management related to the eating disorder should be the focus.

(B)   My feelings around having to put food into a structure is the problem – I just cannot accept that this is okay and not something I have to feel worried or anxious about.  Based around this thinking, my anxiousness is the issue.  No matter whether the food structure is in place or not, my anxiousness will cause a problem with food structure or time structure or sleep structure or something.  Therefore, supports for my stress management related to anxiety should be the focus.

More fucking questions…

Day 7

1PM:

I spent a large portion of yesterday reading articles on orthorexia.  Many of them referred to Dr. Bratman’s work on the subject, about how debilitating the disease can be – psychologically, physically, socially.  I don’t think I am that far gone anymore (the permitted and restricted food lists aren’t so extreme as to concern the normal people, I fight through the anxiety of eating in front of other people and having them ask questions about what I am eating, I have incorporated the occasional cheat meal without feelings of guilt or debilitating fear).  I might be past it altogether, but I have questioned the line between healthy eating/living and an eating disorder during the last two and a half years of self-imposed and self-monitored recovery stints, and so I can’t really be sure about what the line looks like or whether someone else (doctor, dietitian, therapist) knows what the line looks like or if I need to be the one to draw, accept and find happiness/calm in my own line (I like the sound of that last one, but two problems: it is part of my personality to be self-critical and if I’m wrong, I very well could be a functional anorexic)…

The one thing that made me believe that the line is still blurry and that I’m still fucked is this story from Bratman’s original “Orthorexia” essay:

“[Mr. Davis,’ an elderly gentleman (whom I had been visiting as a volunteer home-health aide) offered me a piece of Kraft Swiss cheese.  Normally, I wouldn’t have considered accepting.  I did not eat cheese, much less pasteurized, processed and artificially flavoured cheese. … But, Mr. Davis was earnest and persistent in his expression of gratitude, and would have taken as a personal rebuke my refusal of the cheese.  Shaking with trepidation, I chewed the dread processed product. … I could not let go.  I actually quit visiting Davis to avoid further defiling myself.  This was a shameful moment, a sign that I was drowning.”

I would have done the same.  The food tracking system could not fit in the cheese easily and even if it did, how vehemently would I have refused?  Or, would I have held it against him in some inconsiderate way, saying that he didn’t consider my feelings (even though I would be entirely ignoring his cultural background)?  The food tracking system prevents me from eating cake or cookies or anything of the sort (totally logically, because how would it fit? – no one has ever sat down and explained that part), and I don’t think that this is a false excuse, but I can’t be sure.  Is the food tracking system stopping my growth at this point or is it the eating disorder?  And why does anyone need to eat cake?

I know that I have a personality that will continue to grab hold of these disastrously debilitating de-stressors – sleep disorder, isolation, eating disorder, anger – unless I do something about it.  They are the things that the blackness grabs hold of in times of perceived need, “for survival,” it says.  So I know that I will never be able to escape it by just addressing the eating disorder.  But that’s where it’s bleeding right now.

When it comes to the eating disorder, does that mean getting rid of the food tracking system (a controlling system which for a personality that gravitates towards control in times of stress, is like setting an ADHD kid loose in a carnival and telling him to do math homework)?  Does that mean learning to eat intuitively again?  Does it mean developing 90%-10% moderation and working it into the system, accepting that the system can be a positive way of life and just being fucking happy with myself and not questioning my motives or reasons and just being?  Driving home, I get anxious just thinking about food – not being hungry or anything, but just the word “food” twists my guts until they wrap around my heart.  So is this not eating disorder shit anymore and is it purely anxiety shit?  Are my eating habits actually normal-ish and I can and should be okay with them (it almost is hypochondriac-ish, rather be fucked up than realize that I feel empty inside)?

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Where the fuck is the support to help me answer these questions?  I have family and friends that care, but they don’t have the answers to this and I don’t think they’ve spent a lot of time looking (that’s my job for them).  I can’t find support at school, where I may as well be physically emaciated again, since that’s the only time they would realize my emotional emaciation.  I have been to doctors, naturopaths, therapists, de-stressing kings and queens, but I don’t feel like the progress I’ve made has been their doing (the pushing through the blacklist, opening up time/quantity/distribution restrictions, lessening the anxieties – that’s been me!).  Even the articles that I read, all of which appeared reputable (National Eating Disorders Association, the aforementioned Dr. Bratman)… all of these fucking pages of information about how this is an undiagnosed disease and stories of emotional harm and death and WHERE THE FUCK IS THE HELP?  Three things; three goddamned things: cognitive behavioural therapy, exposure therapy and mindfulness.  7 words, 63 characters with spaces – not even enough for a decent tweet.  It took me less than twelve seconds to type that – and I’ve had two doctors tell me that cognitive behavioural therapy doesn’t often work with eating disorders.

Great.  Awesome.  Fuck me.  I’m out saving the world (something that I love to do) and out of all these things, I have two things, five words.  So before I can even approach the blackness, I can’t even move the shield it’s currently using.  How am I expected to fix the broken heart when blood still gushes out from every wound?  I have people who cry for me, who care for me, who understand that I’m bleeding and that I need medical attention, but no one who packs the gauze on.  Please somebody save me before… I don’t know what, but it’s by sheer will/stubbornness/stupidity/automaton-ness that those dots haven’t been filled by something darker.