This is a weird feeling; it is definitely an uncertain feeling. A couple of months ago, and a couple of months before that and a couple of months before that, I sought out anyone who could help support this recovery. I visited a naturopath, doctors, a psychiatrist, psychologists, a massage therapist, a physiotherapist, a dietitian and a social worker – went to all of them for their sage advice on the matter of ME. As the title suggests, this was the recovering recoverer part. I was getting so frustrated that there wasn’t a ME expert, exhausted by the hunt for tools to support my recovery. Less than two months ago, we took the leap to be responsible for my recovery, for understanding that we are the ME experts. However, there is still a lot of uncertainty about the decisions made, about what fits in my recovery today.
Today, I was scheduled to attend a semi-support group “fireside chat” as part of Eating Disorders Week where I was to hear different recovery stories, how they did it, who helped them, what their lives are like today. But as I got close to the time, it was not fear that stopped me from going, it was confidence. Don’t worry, I’m not going to shift my opinion about “recovery” or “recovered” – that’s not what this is about. It is just that, as one psychiatrist told me almost nine months ago when I said to him that I was getting increasingly agitated, angry, anxious and aggravated (I also told him why – job, family, wife all cheating on me): “you’re not my kind of fucked up” (okay, I may be paraphrasing a little, but the sentiment doesn’t change). While he is a doctor who helps people with issues like mine, the tools he had to offer weren’t the right ones and given that I’d had a history with him (he was the medicine prescriber and support that got me to kick the insomnia and left me with the blackness seven years ago), the tools he could offer me were already in my toolbox. Same goes for hearing about recovery stories, which I have read countless times on the Internet and in books – I come to the same conclusion that the tools they have to offer are already there, in my toolbox. I understand that when shit gets tough, I think about my stomach too much. I know that if I do a lot of core work, I will feel my stomach for a couple of days and the blackness will try to convince me that it’s because I’m getting fat. I know (largely because of stories that I have read) methods of fighting the blackness in times like these. I’m not always successful in finding the right tool, but I know that they’re in there. Just like Social Worker wanted to give me one cause for the blackness that was actually a shield (or tool) that it used (emotional detachment), just like the ED Psychologist wanted to give me one cause for the blackness that was actually a shield (eating disorder), just like the Family Doctor wanted to give me one cause for the blackness (chemical imbalance “solved” by medication – leaving the susceptibility and lack of understanding, but not allowing the body/mind/soul to heal), the support group would have spoken to one element of this.
Two other pieces of evidence, that I’m not “their kind of fucked up.” In signing up for this chat, I also investigated an Anorexia Study at CAMH, thinking that given it was confidential, it would be good for me, for others, for understanding eating disorders. I got an email back saying just that: “I’m not their kind of fucked up” (was not within their weight criteria, wasn’t low enough). That’s ok. It didn’t cause me to scream about being too fat or get aggravated about another person who wouldn’t be of help. It made me think that there are some tools that just don’t fit in my recovery toolbox. The second was during a spin class this afternoon, having an instructor fat shame as motivation (think about your perfect body, no love handles – that kind of stuff). I didn’t internalize it. It made me upset in my head, especially given that it is Eating Disorders Week and that we are teachers and should be cognizant of these things. However, I didn’t have a voice in my head telling me that I was fat, or that I needed to be shamed. That’s because my blackness has in its toolbox, an eating disorder; the blackness in itself is not an eating disorder. That’s why it appears to come and go sometimes and why it appears to transform into something else, because my personality is a perfectionistic, anxious one that uses shame and eating disordered thoughts too. I get spinny about food because I get anxious, not the other way around. I understand many of the eating disordered tools that the blackness utilizes, which is why I am not going to the chat today.
On the note of understanding the blackness’ tools (my train of thought just seems to be wanting to continue down these tracks, so I’ll let it), the book on perfectionism that I read a little while ago (DAY 48) provided me with a lot of new insights into my blackness. Compare this to the eating disorder book that I read a little later (DAY 52), which provided much less support. I do not chalk this up to my blackness being more about perfectionism than an eating disorder, but I do chalk it up to having eating disorder tools already overflowing in my toolbox. Just in this way I feel that the next perfectionism book I read will likely provide less insight, where a book on anxiety or depression or peaceful thinking might give me more. That doesn’t mean that the blackness has transformed, it just means that we’re finding more about one element of it because we haven’t looked at it from that angle.
There still is uncertainty. Is it fear of being “outed”? Is it that I want to skip dinner and the best way to facilitate that is skip the workshop? Is it that I’m exhausted right now? Is it that my brother is in the midst of a mental illness crisis and that is a priority right now, so I’m not really thinking about my own recovery in the same way? I am putting these things aside and trusting that my decisions are true, believing that I have the capacity to make these decisions – I have the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. Maybe penguins can’t fly because they haven’t tried yet – maybe I’ve always had these things, this serenity, courage and wisdom – I just need to flap my wings.