I haven’t journaled regularly like this ever. It was never a strategy I had explored to this depth, but I had written periodically (sometimes daily or weekly, other times not for three months) starting about four years ago. Similar reasons: stress management, working my thoughts out, screaming for help on paper. As such, there aren’t many entries, maybe 30-or-so (took me a couple of days to read through them, thus the double-entry), but I have kept them in the same place. The journal was there when I needed it; I didn’t feel the need to go back into it though. They were timely thoughts, not ones that needed to be revisited, until now.
I pulled out this four-year-old journal = born on July 9, 2010, at a time after my first year of teaching when I had lost 25 pounds in eight months, having been shocked back into disordered thinking, over-thinking, perfectionistic tendencies and hyper-vigilance (AKA the blackness) by stress or lack of support or chemical imbalances…
The pages were very familiar. There was a commonness to them, a familiarity that I’m sure I hadn’t imagined I was going to have four years later, three years later, two years later. And yet, as I read through over the last couple of days, common threads (or common frays perhaps) presented themselves.
Feeling guilty, exhausted and damaged by all of this:
“Right now, right this very instant, I hate myself. Not in the self-pity way and not in the someone-tell-me-everything-will-be-alright way. I hate myself in the angry, beat-yourself-until-the-pain-you-feel-is-somewhat-close-to-what-you-inflict, punch-yourself-in-the-face (facing a mirror, to enhance the self-hate element), never-forget-what-you-have-done way. Just please make it stop. What do I do to make it stop? Why am I not fucking hearing anything? Fuck you for doing this to me. I fucking hate you. I hate me because of you. Fuck me too, but fuck you just as much. You took away everything from me, but only the things that matter. You took away my ability to relax, my ability to love uninhibitedly, my ability to do without thinking, my rationality, my fucking soul. I am a decrepit corpse of a human because you raped me of what matters.”
Finding glamour in pain and martyrdom:
“I still find glory in most of these things – the fatigue, the bags under my eyes, the weight loss, the spinniness. I know that I find glamour in being cracked and take pride in abandoning all that could make me whole again. Find glamour in redemption, in recovery. The toxicity of my eating disorder, of my control, of my mind needs to stop and I want it to be over. Steep is the climb, but deadly is the fall. And worse still, the fall takes down everything I hold dear. And no rotting soul or corpse has glamour to it.”
Searching for strength:
“I need to schedule relaxation time and budget energy for relaxation in order to test my tools out. Where next? = exploration for a peaceful mind. There is no one who can tell me this is not worthwhile. Success is there for those who seek and desire. And my desire is great.”
Questioning who I could turn to in times of need, crying for help and trying to find answers/strength in me:
“But it feels like the cobwebs have me trapped, but not only trapped – forgetful. I am forgetful of the enjoyment, the joy, the release of living and laughing, the belief in the present. There are glimpses where I see these, but somehow my head is always there to remind me. The cobwebs block enjoyment and relaxation, they blot out the light and only show the sun at peak times of the day. … In the end – and this is the most painful role they have to play – they are only cobwebs that the human monsters can brush aside in the morning walk to the lake. Then why is it so hard to shred them from underneath? … Why is there hope, but no chance of grabbing onto hope’s supple (yet worked) hands and getting all the way through the webs? How many hands do I need? … Do I realize that spiders and webs are real – that if they are real to me, they are as real as anything else that matters in this world – and take my sword and shield into the fight, reinventing the story to not lose myself, the voice, the love, the glimmer in her eyes, but to brush back the cobwebs and the lies and allow the voice to guide my sword?”
“’I need something or someone to help me get rid of you once and for all.’ With that, my shoulders drop and defeated, I say, ‘But how?’ The blackness is laughing now, hysterical and maniacal laughing.”
But not being ready:
“Talking myself down from the ledge though is only effective if I have somewhere to step down to! Where do I step? Right now, I am stuck on the ledge. I am no longer looking down and freaking out, but I am closing my eyes and not worrying as much about the fall (or in the case right now, going to the gym, eating enough to do so and having to sit down all day), but still peeking every once in a while and not finding a tool (or place) to step down.”
“I would love to look back someday and thank my old soul for knowing that the only way I would change is through the power of error. Now though, I fear how dramatic these errors need to be before my wisdom saves my life.”
There are similarities in the blackness’ manifestation, similarities in the metaphors, similarities in the way I look at things and the way they look back at me. But the one thing that was clear was that this was me. It was a younger version of me, one less experienced in this recovery, one less capable to seeing the path, one not as strong. There was a lot more hope, but a lot less action; more waiting on others, not seeking them out and depending on them for support. It was only until the last few entries (ones from last year), that I started writing about concrete strategies, things that came from me, and even though I was hesitant to try them at the time, I began finding the source of my recovery and the ME expert = ME.
It was the same path though. It’s been an ongoing evolution of me, not an ongoing “make-work” project. I am constantly evolving in the right direction, in the ME direction, in the direction of my stereo. I have hard times and good times, but I don’t have regression. My stereo doesn’t change – and I’m kind of glad about that. It shows that my stereo – that I – react to stressors in a very ME way and have for a while, longer than I’ve been writing, I’m sure. Mathematically, it shows that I’m able to deal with the level 6 stressors in a healthier way than I used to three years ago or four years ago, that I’m stronger (or at least, more self-aware) now, even through all the shit. I am stronger now; I say time to eat instead of just thinking that I’m hungry and doing nothing about it. It means that the hard work that we’ve put in – not just the improved self-awareness, but the hard work to reach out for supports and gather tools – allows me to deal with it. The sheer fact that I didn’t hang myself when the stress level was at an 8 or 9 last year is a testament to this.
So, I didn’t get from that exercise, “what the fuck have we been wasting our time on?” It does mean that “breathe” was the same then and now. It does mean that “clear the cobwebs” was the same then and now. I’m okay with that though. Have fun, breathe, stop and smell the roses – these are recurring themes and probably will be for the rest of my life, but I will keep getting better at being me, at being a more ME version of ME. Next stop, here we come.