Day 351

8PM:

At the end of August, I decided that it would be helpful to re-gig the August Greatist Challenge, continue it for the months to come as loving, supportive inspiration to my wife on her journey of recovery.  In October, it was less a day-to-day set of lines to structure.  It became more of an “open in case of emergency” situation.  Having a shitty day?  Check out the Greatist calendar and breathe five times.  Work using you like a punching bag?  Check out the Greatist calendar and name five things that make you happy right now.

Well, work has treated me like a punching bag for the last (insert what-I-wish-could-be-a-hyperbolic statement HERE [but it won’t be hyperbolic until there is care to remember that I am volunteering for the benefit of the school on a Saturday and that I asked for their blessing in stretching my professional limits for the benefit of my professional development]) and my back appears to be completely fucked either by lack-of-outlet stress or by working out to compensate for the stress, so I looked at the calendar and here are five things that make me happy right now:

#1: I am able to gloat about my grandfather, about the connection that he and I have right now.

#2: I have the means to be a little bit stupid.  And the universe knows it will make me happy, so it went from 10% to 40% to 50%.  Not making it any less stupid mind you, but somehow increasing the right-ness of it.  In setting the stage ever-so-snuggly, the universe made it fit ever-so-snuggly.  I can’t wait.

#3: As a supplement, being in the spirit of happy, of giving, of loving and caring (even for an hour), the parts of my brain that often go unused (because of the whole frosty workplace element), kicked into overdrive.  It gave me a way to combine #1 and #2 that will be beautiful, amazing and loving.  I can’t wait.

#4: Work sucks.  To escape, I went to my brother/sister/mother-in-law’s house after work today.  I was greeted at the door by my nephew, who’s initial reaction was to ask, “Are you staying for a visit?”  I did.  I didn’t because there were some ulterior motives.  I didn’t because there were political gains to be made.  I did because he enjoys the fact that I talk with him, at a level that is him, within his lines and colours, within his vivid.  I did because he enjoys that I read to him, and yes, he and I get impatient, but it is beautiful that he wants to know and learn and be immersed in something.  I did because he and I created love and amazing and beauty in that, because I get lost in that every time, because I got lost in that today.

#5: Work sucks.  To escape, I went to my brother/sister/mother-in-law’s house after work today.  I was greeted at the door by my nephew… no, this is not a repeat.  This deserves its own spot.  In sitting with my nephew, listening to him extolling the various Clash of Clans minutiae, my niece comes along.  Dressed as a beautiful princess (are there any other types at the age of two?), she found her nook = good lord, does she ever act like my wife (even her nose mirrors the cuteness of my love’s scratching and “stop iiiiiiiiiiiittttttttttt” [AN ASIDE: I LOVE IT!!!])!  Not only that, the loving side of this beautiful 831-day-old took her Mickey and Minnie dolls, made sure they were holding hands, snuggled them up to me, made sure they were holding hands, closed my arms around the three of them, made sure they were holding hands and found herself immersed in the comfy, began falling asleep.  I got to notice that.  I got to get lost in that.

#6 (because it’s been one of those mind-fuck days/weeks/fortnights/months/semesters): Even if the blackest parts of me don’t believe it (or the not-so-black parts of which the eating disordered, controlling blackness still has a hold), I can pass on the wisdom of my experiences to the next generation.  Even if the blackness-soaked parts of me scream differently, I can prevent further blackness, further destruction, further disordered thinking, further body dysmorphia and anorexic masochism, further self-hatred through the wisdom gained after being blackened…

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This means nothing

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This means everything

 

 

Day 347

12PM:

Aaaah, the things the uninitiated don’t know…

The eating disorders you inadvertently cause.  The selfconsciousness you unknowingly perpetuate.

No lunch for the vegan.  Lunch for the vegetarian, lunch for the halal, lunch for the allergic, lunch for the picky (no tomatoes?).  But no lunch for me…

All I got was an “oh?!?”

You even asked about dietary preferences and I took the chance with a small breakfast.  I hoped for the best and was unprepared.  Stupid me.

Nevertheless, it wasn’t the mistake that got me, it was the reaction.  I could have brushed it off, had you not brushed me off.

But you don’t know the blackness, you’ve never seen the underside.  That is how you could give it power.  Inadvertently.  But that’s because I’m expendable, isn’t it?

Restaurant industry might be transient, but so are teachers in schools.  I’m expendable; if you treat me as such, it will empower my black bits.  But I will also act expendable.  Want to use me up?  Want to treat me as a cog?  See the blackness you will spawn.

Oh yeah, and the topic of the day was Mental Health and Well-being.  You think I am mentally healthy and well?

Day 346

6:30PM:

Reading some MindBodyGreen articles.  This one, “An Open Letter To Anyone With An Eating Disorder,” stuck:

2. You will get through this.

An eating disorder is not something you have to struggle with your entire life. Some days, it can feel as if you’ll never make it to the other side. I certainly felt this way. However, with lots of counseling, yoga, self-­awareness, and re­defining my beliefs, I did just that. From start to finish, it took me almost four years. For some, it takes much less time, for some, much more. Be patient with your healing process.

3. But once you struggle with an eating disorder, it’s unlikely it will leave you forever.

When talking to a chemical abuse counselor for a paper I was writing in graduate school, she explained that eating disorders are the hardest addictions as you have to eat to survive. You don’t have to drink, do drugs, shop, or gamble to survive. But you do have to eat. Several times a day. This means that even if you overcome your disorder, controlling thoughts about food may linger in the back of your mind. That’s OK.

I have a healthy relationship with food these days, but occasionally I will overanalyze my food choices, eat too much uncontrollably, or obsess about exercising. It is a normal part of who I am, and I have accepted that.”

Always in recovery, never recovered.

Never slowing down, never rusting.

I didn’t eat breakfast until 1PM today.  It happens sometimes.  Sometimes my way gets in the better of my will.

This is one day.  This is not everyday.

Day 300

4AM:

I haven’t thought about this much, but I’m sure the thought has crossed my mind once or twice.  I run a breakfast program at my school, serving 150-200 students a day, so my philosophy runs counter to what a lot of teachers practice about eating in class.  My current batch of grade tens haven’t gotten used to eating throughout the day so that they aren’t hungry after 225 minutes of class straight, very often with a gym class in there somewhere.

I had my first Master’s class last night.  I ate before and came home hungry.  More than hungry though, I was tired.  I ate what I thought would be enough and given the quantity, I thought it would be.

I woke up an hour and a half ago.  I have not made it back to sleep.  I think I am hungry.  I have promised myself that I want to rest now, so I will not be getting up to grab something (even a drink of some sort).  I am exhausted, but I cannot even sleep because I am hungry.  Not famished, but it proves that in not eating enough throughout the day yesterday – being too busy to listen to my nature and act as my Uncarved Block – I could not make it through the night without being woken up and kept up by HUNGER.

I will lay in bed, tire my eyes and hopefully get to sleep soon.  I will wake up tired.  I will wake up and (hopefully) be strong enough to eat more, having not eaten enough the day before, if that is what my nature dictates.  I will wake up and (hopefully) listen to that nature throughout the day.  I will wake up and not forget.  I will wake up and not forget that if sleeping is difficult when you are hungry, imagine how hard learning can be?

Day 299

9:30AM:

http://greatist.com/eat/health-fitness-experts-favorite-coffee

If they can’t agree on something as simple as COFFEE…

One says butter

One says black

One says sugar

One says honey

One says coconut

One says cream

I scream

I used to feel self-conscious, uncertain about taking my coffee black.  Initially, I did so because I didn’t want to consume any incidental milk calories (because logically, we all know the extra 100 calories a day; but the blackness has a much different voice, one just as bitter and distasteful as some of the coffee I had at this time…).  However, I have come to terms with the fact that for me, good coffee tastes better black.  Today, when Science Colleague Work Friend (the cookie saver/savior) asks me how I take it, I have the confidence to ask for it black (that, and Tim Hortons, seriously no vegan alternatives???).

However, I have days where the blackness is riding shotgun (as opposed to having been run over by me, leaving black-stained bloody tire treads along the path), and on those days, it makes me doubt myself.  The blackness tells me that it is about calories, about restriction, about being less – and in doing so, it makes me feel just that, restricted and less.

I scream because why do I continue to have such a hard time coming to terms with my own version of reclaiming healthy?  It is because recovery is ongoing, it is one day at a time.

Day 291

7AM:

Back to school, back to school (tomorrow)…

But to make sure I don’t get left by the bus, or run over the disordered, stressed out voice/bus in my head, leaving tire-tracks and bloodstains on my path of recovery…

http://www.choosingraw.com/tuning-out-food-noise/

Recovery meant giving up my fanciful dream body, my punishing fitness routine, and my ludicrous belief that I could be an exercise-obsessed waif and a healthy woman at the same time.

Over time I came to accept this tradeoff. I realized that changes in my body were a worthwhile price to pay for feeling energetic, healthy, and strong again. I came to feel that having a robust, carefree social life was more important to me than having that “dream body” I’d been so intent on. I decided that the things recovery gave me–health, joy, connection, intimacy–were more important than the things I’d lost. But that didn’t make it any easier to hear about other peoples’ quests for “perfect” bodies, their cleanses, their fasts, their diet regimes, their twice daily spin classes. Such conversations would only open up my deep well of dissatisfaction with my new body–my recovered body, which I was struggling so hard to accept–and my feeling, however unfair, that in letting my disorder go I’d failed somehow.

My best advice to anyone who’s experiencing this stuff is the obvious advice: focus on you. Tune out the noise.

I know my body. We all have an intuitive sense of what works for us and what doesn’t. Here’s what I know about my body:

  • i feel good when i eat consistently throughout the day
  • i don’t feel good when i skip meals
  • eliminating or drastically reducing food groups (carbs, fat) leaves me feeling dissatisfied, and it evokes a lot of the ed stuff that i’ve tried to leave behind me
  • i’m happiest when i eat food that tastes good
  • i enjoy eating in a way that affords me freedom to get out and about and socialize and travel and try things that are new and appealing
  • i enjoy being conscious of the quality of the food i eat, but i don’t enjoy pressure to be health-obsessed, or to scrutinize every morsel that passes my lips, and i never will again (because been there, done that)

Any way of eating that would seriously compromise any of those priorities probably won’t work for me.

Day 285

5:30PM:

Finding value in others, in the challenge of strength training or marathon training; helping a friend; being there for my family, my adopted mother; holding on through the appearance of spousal blackness (coming closer and closer to getting ahead of it, but taking a whipping in the meantime – but more on that another day).

They have the ability to distract myself from, take myself away from the way I look, that ever-obsessive part of me.

Distracting the blackness?  Probably.  Crisis mode?  Definitely.

The only problem with crisis mode is that if I stay in it too long, it will take away the parts of me that are loved.  They will take me from the Don to the automaton.  From inside the world to outside, from of the people to for the people, but not with the people.

I have seen that before, and it is ever-the-more precarious given my increased responsibility at work, at home, with my potential Masters, in the family, in my head.

I am scared that no one will be there.  I am afraid there will be a repeat performance.  I want more than anything to have more than just my beliefs, my faiths that it won’t be like that.

But it only takes once.  It only takes one reinforcement of that belief, one glorious gloriousness to break through.  Getting ahead of the blackness takes practice.  In this case, practice makes perfect(ly imperfect).

Day 279

6PM:

Some universal signs to interpret, from today, a day that has left me realizing I’m worn down and not doing myself any favours by living on the edge:

“Peace is in each of us” (Mennonite Church)

Even though I felt like I needed the Naturopath to be a sounding board, that I needed her to tell me I am drinking too much (either to cope or to fill up the calorie tank at that point in the day), that I am not respecting my hunger out of fear of getting fat (and the never-ending thoughts of belly fat, unknown as to its delusional or truthful nature), that I am not fueling my me-ness enough throughout the day with food and rest, thereby letting my blood sugar drop, my adrenal health plummet and my ability to fight off / ignore / not hear the blackness crater.

Even though I felt like I needed her to say it, I knew these things.  I am scared of trusting myself, of trusting my opinion, even though time and time again, we draw the same conclusions: the only us experts, are us.  Peace is in each of us, or at least, in my case, the ability to find that peace is in me.  I trust my head to think, my heart to love, my soul to feel; now, I need to trust my body to heal.

“I value myself” (Naturopath)

I want to shift the way that I think from I find no value in myself compared to others, worthless in their shadows and that I accept myself as such.  I want to shift it to that I find purpose in others, I find value in helping them (like the happiness I got from doing yard work at my mother-in-law’s house today, not thinking about the selfishness that spawned me doing it, but simply having my heart focus on the love and the IAN).  However, finding purpose in others does not negate valuing myself, it does not have to.  In fact, valuing myself means I can be selflessly selfish, by taking time to heal myself, heal myself so I can engage in that purpose of others; as opposed to being selfishly selfless, making it about ignoring my own needs and ultimately sacrificing my ability to live that purpose.

“Be patient” (Mennonite Church)

We will make mistakes, we will falter, we must before we fly.  We will be patient, step by step on the path of recovery.  We will keep putting one foot in front of the other to reclaim healthy, making mistakes along the way but still going, one day at a time, one breath at a time, breath by breath.

Day 269

11:30AM:

Started this new stage on Day 241 – four weeks ago.  They say it “should” take three weeks to break a bad habit, but this is a giant one and so it might be a little longer, especially because there have been slips and there have been trips and there have been mistakes and there have been falls.

But we’ve dusted ourselves off, picked ourselves up, looked the lines over and adjusted them to fit my colour.  Falling down is a mandatory aspect of life. Getting back up is living.  For instance, the five-day resting experiment is going well.  I have stuck to two things a day and it is allowing me to sit down for longer periods of time (more when I don’t do the two things back-to-back and have an extra-long period of sitting/resting, because that seems to perk up the “move your ass” shaming blackness-voice, and yesterday’s exhaustion might have been due to skirting the rules a LITTLE bit).  It might be the new way of doing things, a new way of establishing a routine for me that does not exhaust me, one that allows me to be vivid, beautifully and perfectly imperfect.

I am still tense, acceptably so though.  I am anxious, acceptably so though.  I am uncertain, acceptably so though.  I am tense and anxious because I am trying to find certainty in an uncertain world.  I am trying to know where I need to trust: in me, in my wife, in my support system, in my recovery.  There is no know of the future, but I am tense and anxious as preparation.  To not be tense and anxious in the face of this – the proverbial bear in the woods (not the one that greets you with Hunny or helps fight off your demons with a sword) – would lead me, lead us, lead us all susceptible to a mauling of epic proportions.  A mauling that we would not see coming because that natural fight-or-flight response would not flutter in our hearts, that mauling is something to be tense and anxious about.

“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled.  For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers” – M. Scott Peck.

So as we walk through the woods of recovery, I worry about my ability to put one foot in front of the other (being strong enough to fight off my blackness’ bad habits and ill-intentioned flaws, and wise enough to know what to do when I cannot), I worry about my wife not always holding my hand (being intentional and aware with her love, being caring and listening to her beautiful, amazing and loving strength) and I worry about my support system being there out of love (and not out of obligation) when we call in the cavalry.  I worry because even after four weeks, I am still inclined to eat less than more or skip the occasional meal or let my hunger get in the way of my gentleness.  I worry because of the obsessive feeling I still get of loose stomach skin and what that feels like when I am riding my bike.  I worry because of that voice in my head when I sit for a lot (not too) long.  I worry because recovery is uncertain.  All we can do is be ready (AKA strong, respectful and wise) if and when the beast emerges from the woods.

Day 266

6PM:

These might all seem like separate things, or even worse, redundancies. Two-hundred and sixty-five days of over and over, dropping one thing and going to the next, picking up one catch phrase when it better suits and putting down an old one, or again, even worse, being redundant and repetitive and (dare I say) edu-speak-ish.

Fuck off.  That is not the case.  These ideas do all fit, they fit around recovery.

Recovery is creating an environment – through lines (structures, respecting your true nature and not shoulds, working through blacklists and exposure therapy, safeguards, routines), support systems (literary and asking for help from the warm-blooded – familial and therapeutic) and tools (regular exercise, expressing gratitude and appreciation, writing a blog, happy lists) – that starves the blackness inside, taking away its power, taking back the things it stole as flaws (taking your thoughtfulness, contemplative nature and warping it into toxic hyper-vigilance and overt control, anxiety and over-thinking, an eating disorder or alcoholism to cope and depression, low sex drive and thoughts of self-harm as a result; taking your self-awareness and bastardizing it into self-doubt and fear, whereby you run and cheat and lose your you version of you) and reclaiming them as your own beautiful, amazing and loving imperfections, and in doing so, allowing yourself to find vivid in recovery one day at a time, reclaim healthy, manifest as the you version of you, your true nature, your Uncarved Block (healthy veganism, thoughtful gentleness, IANs, creative attentiveness and loving care).

Without the breaks and brackets (and questionably avoided run-on sentence):

Recovery is creating an environment that starves the blackness inside, taking away its power, taking back the things it stole as flaws and reclaiming them as your own beautiful, amazing and loving imperfections, and in doing so, allowing yourself to find vivid in recovery one day at a time, reclaim healthy, manifest as the you version of you, your true nature, your Uncarved Block.

See, it all fits – perfectly imperfectly.