Day 47

7:20PM:

I have been up for twelve hours and I feel like I don’t have time to write this entry.  I have run around all day, doing things, but now I feel exhausted and like I have wasted a day.  I still have school work to get done and reading I want to do and TV shows I want to watch, but may not get to any of them.  It’s like when I eat too much and regret it, but keep doing it the next day…

I said to my wife that I hope the one lesson I gain from this particular Winter Break is the candle – the beautiful reminder that I am worth sitting down.  I probably still don’t see it as a worthwhile activity without exhausting myself first, but that will come later in the exposure list.  But just like the kind Science teacher’s cookie told me that a cookie won’t be the death of me, something as beautiful and amazing and loving as a candle to signify my worth cannot be evil and cannot provoke a negative response.

Someone out there believes I am worth it, and more important and timely than that, she’s showing me that I am worth it.  I need to do the things that treat me like I’m worth it, now that she’s showing me.

Day 46

10PM:

Today was fucking tough.   Today, my durability was put to the test with outside forces making small cuts all over, sometimes blunt batons, other times sharp pierces.  I held up through it, but afterwards, showed definite signs of wear.  My wife calls it my armour and she’s probably right in that analogy = the more hurt I get, the stronger I get to deal with it and get through it successfully (putting on the armour); but once the armour is on, it suffocates emotions and takes time to strip off the layers.  I am full of analogies, but she really hit the mark with this one (kind of explains a lot through my teenage quest against Dad’s drinking and the last year and a half – without making the concerted effort like we are, I am doomed to suffer by this analogy forever).

Alcoholics anonymous and other support groups ask their members to call on a higher power to “grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference” and to “live one day at a time.”  Today was really hard, but part of beating the blackness is trusting that (with the support of the non-armoured) I have or am capable of the serenity, the courage and the wisdom, I just have to trust this today and tomorrow and the next day…

Day 45

1PM:

A couple of hours ago, I had an anxiety response, a spinniness about food intake/schedule for the rest of the day, a shaming response, a response that didn’t allow me to concentrate on what I was reading.  So, I used a tool, part of my “prescription for peace” = exercise.  I gained the following awareness after that workout, and I am writing this as I sit in the change room of the gym.

The anxiety could have been because of boredom or loneliness.  The response sees sitting and watching TV (something that wouldn’t have been boring and would have been enjoyable all by myself) as not worthwhile, even if it is what I want to do and need to relax/rejuvenate (AS A SIDE NOTE, perhaps this is where the calories came into play to a certain degree, because shame around calories makes a whole lot more sense than shame around perfection/worthwhile activities; I don’t sit down because I will gain weight makes a lot more sense to a logical man than I don’t sit down because it makes me worth less; this opens the door for using other elements of the “prescription for peace,” such as mantras and positive affirmations, experiments around sitting down and not gaining weight or being unhealthy, breathing exercises).  The anxiety was definitely separate from controlling my appetite for better food experiences, which I definitely make the choice of doing sometimes (case in point, snacks at school), separate from the eating disordered parts of the blackness (could very well be normal and separate from the blackness entirely) and could be because I am not finding joy/connection in other things (like not watching TV shows I’ve wanted to watch because they aren’t worthwhile activities).

In calming down from my workout (mostly during and enhanced by the stretching/music/alone time elements of the cooldowns), I find a peace of mind and ability to see through these things (and later, an ability to sit and read without the blackness/eating disorder voice in my head).

  • ADDED AT 2PM: Came home and fucked with the blacklist in a handful of ways (see how many you can count) = made a decision by myself to work on the food blacklist and have a slice of pizza as a snack/just cause.

This brings me to the following learnings from today (and yesterday, to a degree):

TOOLS:

  • Euphoric exercise (especially cooldown)
  • Stretching to music/mindfulness
  • Taking the “edge off” with booze [didn’t say they were all GOOD tools]
  • Therapy/consult (formal, but more informal including friends)
  • Quiet coffee/tea and fireplace

Leads to CALM – PEACE OF MIND

and RESULTS:

  • Perspective/self-awareness
  • Concentration
  • Ability to sit with no shame or anxiety response
  • Emotions (often tears)
  • POTENTIALS: Nap? Sex drive? Transition from work?

This growth and understanding I have gained brings me to something I need others around me to understand, something that I have to make them understand.  This is incredibly timely given that today is my wife’s Letter D-Day (she wants to give a letter about my blackness to all those we want to include in the support system, many of whom have not understood or understood the extent of it or paid enough attention/affection to see):

Recognizing progress (and more importantly, believing in progress) means understanding that the rules of the past no longer apply; well, not necessarily anyway.  From one encounter to the next, they need to believe that rules can and have been pushed and progress has been made.  It is true, it means that they will be wrong sometimes in assuming that those rules have changed and they will have to be a comfort in these times, but they will definitely not impede the forward progress and growth – the blacklist doesn’t get chopped down, sexual desire doesn’t increase, calmness can’t be there, conversations about sex can’t happen.  The belief that progress cannot happen doesn’t occur between my wife and I around food, and to a certain degree with Mom, but it certainly does with other things or with everyone else.  The belief that progress doesn’t happen around food is the case with the rest of my family (whether it be due to lack of desire to know/look, the fact that they aren’t worth suffering for or asking to suffer for me, or my self-sufficient keep-it-to-myself-ishness); the belief that progress doesn’t happen around sex is the case with my wife, when she frames it as not pushing or causing stress (for the most part, stress is just anxiety and it needs to be pushed through to grow and avoid plateaus); the belief that progress doesn’t happen around my rigidity is the case with Family Friend and she made a huge mistake in withholding affection because of it.

I need to make those willing to suffer come to believe in progress as well, but I need them to understand what this is, it is about growth so that I can be a better me (which is different from an improved me; it is more like a more complete version of me, a more ME version of me) – a better husband, a better son, a better friend, a better human.

Day 44

4PM:

A perfect storm occurred, just now, in front of my own two inward-facing eyes.  The stars aligned and I just finishing sitting and reading for over an hour.  And no, I don’t want praise and I don’t want congratulations for this – it seems like something I should be doing, not something that I should be striving for.  Congratulating this seems like the cursory and meaningless “way to go, buddy” bullshit that so many give our Developmentally Delayed students – it takes away from the actual awesome things that they do.

Anyway, even though it was scaffolded to the nines – novelty of a new place, reading a book about an obsessive and self-involved topic (the content of which I’m sure will appear in here tomorrow or the next day), in front of a fireplace, quiet environment, gave blood (which like drinking or euphoric exercise, seemed to quiet my mind enough to allow me to do so, seemed to take the edge off like medication and therapy should/claim to do) – I burned a metaphorical candle.  The thing that impressed me was the fact that I still have “stuff to do” today: put away the groceries, unclog the drains.  But I didn’t do them right away.  My never-ending to do list (or at least, one that ends at 9:30PM and leads me to “oh fuck”) will be there when I return and if it doesn’t get done, I won’t suffer because of it.  Yes, it took a little bit of distraction to get through the initial stages, but once the book started getting engaging, these feelings were put on the back-burner.

I will have gained by doing this.  I have gained the knowledge of a good book, one that I could follow because I wasn’t too tired or tipsy or distractible.  I gained the rejuvenation of relaxation, even an hour, which will let me get in a better workout later today or tomorrow.  I gained the strength to be a little more tolerant, to smile and be stronger for my wife now that she’s home sick.  I will gain the patience not to be irritated by the cats’ loving affections.

Part of me does feel self-conscious.  It tells me that by doing this, I wasn’t doing the right thing or that I wasn’t being productive.  But as the last paragraph showed, I was being productive (I am even getting anxious/nervous about approaching the subject right now, but I will carry on, because it needs to be said “out loud,” so to speak).  In fact, life’s balance sheet would have been:

GAIN

LOSS

– timely putting away of groceries- today’s unclogging of the drains (that have been clogged for a month) – energy expended- patience and empathy

– potential sex drive

– opportunity to enjoy a fire

But instead, it will look like this:

GAIN

LOSS

– energy through recovery- patience and empathy

– potential sex drive

– opportunity to enjoy a fire

– putting away of groceries (not timely, but nothing will spoil in the Winter temperatures)

… ummmmmaybe irritability?

The point is clear, the stars aligned to show me that this is nothing to fear, that even though I am self-conscious about it, I did the right thing today and gained.  I still don’t find true comfort in it, but at least I was very close to being lost in comfort for a little while.

Day 43

9PM:

And on days like today, even knowing the triggers isn’t enough.

On days like today, when the anorexic/disordered voice is loud enough to scare you, bring you to tears and drown out your own AND is quiet enough to sneak up on you when you least expect it, when you can’t see it coming or when you are raising your hands in a perceived (or smaller) victory, all you can do is…

I came so close to tears today.  I screamed so hard into my towel that I scraped the inside of my throat (in fact, it kind of feels like the inside of my heart; it’s distracting in that sense).  I got angry at the innocent, blissfully happy cats.

Want to know why?  It is because I slept like crap and am so run down that even after a week off, the voice in my head telling me I’m fat fought hard today.  This voice told me in the shower this morning that I was losing my definition.  This voice made me feel like I was actually fat, that there was a way of feeling fat.  This voice took me feeling my stomach as an attack on the scale, that I was gaining weight for a whole host of reasons and that gaining weight was to define how I was feeling today.

I didn’t weigh myself because it would justify this voice.  I know that 99% of the time, I have either stayed at the same weight or even lost a touch when this voice appears.  However, by weighing myself today and finding this out, it would have meant that the scale defined my feelings for the rest of the day, that the scale defined my worth, that it told me whether or not I was doing a good job.  Instead, I tried to gauge how I was feeling today through other means, and truth be told, I am doing a fucking shitty job.  My weight is not a deciding factor in my human value or in my human experience; whether or not my weight fluctuated does not dictate my worth or whether or not I am living my life right for me – at least, this is what I told myself.  The voices were too loud today though, they were too strong.  I still didn’t weigh myself, and that is a very small victory, but the damage inflicted was not shrapnel.  The bomb-blast tore me apart today.  And I still feel fat and crappy about that.

Day 42

10AM:

Signs of tired/fatigue are quite prevalent today: worried about my stomach/abs, getting really bugged my messiness and anxious about deciphering feelings (and guess what, no one is a mind-reader fuckhead; part of life is belief/trusting other people, including your wife).

I don’t want to bubble-wrap my days when this happens.  This is an indication, a sign – one that we are so much better at understanding than we used to be and as such, one that we don’t get sucked into anymore (spiral thinking 101).  Instead, we need to understand it and use it, not run away from it.

But the fact that we do understand it, that it is in an open forum, that it is clear to both of us (the symptoms and the reasons behind them) and that we can fight it together.

I love that.

Day 41

11PM:

Just a recap of some of today’s thoughts:

My wife is amazing and gung ho, on board with the self-therapy/acceptance piece of this.  There is part of me that wants to be sure that she will always be holding the flashlight, that I won’t just be put down, but I don’t think I can have that security – not with the way that my head works and not with the things that have happened over the last year and a half.  It will just have to be proven with time and love.

Some people are worth suffering for – some people are also worth asking to suffer with and for me.  Christmas was good in showing who those people would/could be.  I have had “nice, but not caring” at work, at home and now with family.  Some people fall into this category naturally – self-indulgent wiener cousins and assorted relatives – but others surprised me.  I have had that response from people who should be the closest to me and the time for it is gone.  I deserve genuine emotion and overt acts of kindness, not just sentimental words (yeah, that’s you Family Friend).  You claim to be on the boat; well, it’s time to paddle.