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 276

6PM:

With this week on the job coming to a close…

This week on the job, taking the reigns, being aware to support my mother…

Doing this has led me to the following (or should I say continuing) thoughts: now, the starbursts of support may be in warmth or in echoes, while light years away the supernova has dwindled, used up its primary energies, become a secondary star.  Now, maybe I am meant to be the brightest star, the supernova that’s meant to provide the strength and courageous care – Tz’u.

It was me who called my aunt as the voice of reason, to make sure that she took care of my grandparents in my absence, ignoring her neglect (my birthday message to her that went unanswered out of “busy-ness”) and instead focusing on my grandparents and inspiring care.  It was me who has been my mother’s sounding board, her unwavering resolution through some trying marketing dilemmas during this job, her idea-bouncer-offer (and often creator).

It was me who has been bolstering my mother’s self-confidence this week, making sure that she does not feel obsolete, out-of-place, purposeless, but also balancing this with making sure she does not feel inferior, that she still feels like she is the best at schmoozing, at taking care of others, at being the silent upper-hand.  For example, last night she went alone to a schmooze-fest with another sponsor, much bigger than us.  I wanted her to go alone not only because I am fucking exhausted and sore (feeling it beyond my bones, but in my marrow, in my coldest physical parts), but because she needed to feel important, she needed not to worry about me being there, she needed to feel the best, she needed to feel “solo,” like she could conquer the marketing world all on her own and be seen as a super-woman.  Much of that is true, but much of that is about emboldening her and avoiding her feeling an iota of negativity towards herself.  I love my mother and would never want her to feel that way.  The difference is that it wasn’t about short-term pain for long-term gain.  It wasn’t about making her emotionally and intentionally healthy so that she could support my recovery, so that she could be the Don.  These intentions were about making her feel loved, feel cared about; these intentions were solely about her.

As such, I am led to the inevitable – no, the approached, not “rapidly approaching” – thought: am I the new dawn/Don of Tz’u?

Day 263

8AM:

We will make mistakes.  We will stumble, we will falter, we will collapse.  But we’re still on the road, we’re still on the path, we’re still in recovery.  Looking back on the last nearly eight months, there have been lists and plans and lines to set the recovery on the me path, on the us path.  Some of these have worked and worked masterfully.  Some of these have worked for a time, for that version of me, but no longer, not for the more colourful, soulful me.  And others have practically not worked, even if theoretically they “should.”

We cannot hold these against ourselves, let them be the burdensome, cumbersome prevention.  By that, I mean we cannot let them prevent us from moving forward, let the blackness take hold of them and use it as ammunition for spiral thinking and self-hate and mind-fucking attacks.  I have not been eating breakfast for the week I’ve been back.  I eat twice and act as if eating two times a day means a smaller margin for error, less of a chance for me to eat too much.  But because I’m oblivious to my hunger cues at Meal 2 (as I wrote a couple of days ago, traditionally hungry is not what I’m being aware of), there is actually a larger guessing game when preparing this meal, more of a chance for me to eat disproportionately, to eat out of my nature.  As such, it is a bad habit, one that the blackness has taken a hold of, feeding off my insecurity and using it against me, turning it into a bitter flaw and causing me to make daily mistakes.  These mistakes may not have served to propel us forward on the path of recovery, but they have the ability to give to the wisdom that makes recovery that much more powerful.  The strength of recovery, the respect for what works and what doesn’t, the love and courage that drive us forward – these are intertwined with the wisdom acquired along the path.

In Tao of Pooh, Benjamin Hoff writes the following about the true nature of wisdom: “In the final section of the Tao Te Ching, Lao-tse wrote, ‘The wise are not learned; the learned are not wise.’ … From the Taoist point of view, while the scholarly intellect may be useful for analyzing certain things, deeper and broader matters are beyond its limited reach” (24).

If these are not mistakes for the sake of mistakes, stumbles and falters and collapses in themselves, we can gain strength and courage and respect and love from them.  Being respectful of one day at a time only came from looking too far ahead.  The closeness of failing together ends not with error, but with loving embraces.  Bitter loss serves as an emboldening, one that strengthens the courageous ferocity in the true versions of ourselves.

A post-it note once told me an important life lesson: “remember, we all stumble; you have to fall before you fly.”  I will eat breakfast tomorrow, knowing the problems it causes later in the day with hunger cues, drinking and respecting my true nature.  If we gain from our mistakes, in this way, they serve to make us wise.

Day 243

10AM:

Three days into this and there is definitely doubt – especially because of the length at which we have been existing in this stage of recovery, the one that needed the portion control, the calorie counting, the external voice to keep me in line.  Doubt brought on by my wife putting herself in another careless, thoughtless situation last night with drinking and work and neglecting her home-life, her whole life, her life of intention.  Not doubt of her, but doubt brought on by the stress of staying up all night waiting anxiously for her to come home safe.  Doubt brought on by a soul less powerful today to fight off the blackness.  Doubt that has questioned and will now question every fucking food decision, constantly: Too much? Not enough? Waited too long? Should have waited longer?  Doubt that analyzes every time a piece of food enters my mouth.

That doubt says maybe I need a plan to follow for eating – maybe that’s just me, needing some sort of organization.  Maybe I can’t be eating “willy-nilly?”

But wouldn’t this still be restricting, be suppressing emotions, which we think is what killed the other emotions (sex, love, sadness, rock and roll)?  Wouldn’t this be perpetuating the dulling of my soul, as opposed to reclaiming its beauty?

That doubt says why not keep the portion counting and set breakfast, lunch, pre-dinner and post-dinner = fuel the brain enough throughout the day to fight the blackness that screams loudly when I am hungry (e.g. suicidal thoughts, self-harm, self-doubt, self-inflicted pain, guilt, and all the other dwarfs who missed out on Disney).

However, to the point made yesterday, those lines are old lines, too bold for the me version of me, too solid for these colours of my soul.  Quell the short-term anxiety for long-term harm?  That doesn’t sound like what brave, strong and smart bears do.

And what would you do about activity levels?  Regimented eating is one thing, but to truly “do this right,” you’d have to regiment movement, stress levels, activity duration and strenuousness, sleep times… (get the point).  Dealing with the movement anxieties of “not sitting down because it isn’t compensated for naturally” (as it would if I just ate, like the new stage of recovery suggests) prevents calmness of mind and soul, feeds the perfectionistic qualities, brings out the flawed nature of my obsessive imperfections.

That doubt says today – given how hard things are setting up to be with home stresses, crappy sleep, potential for restriction as a result of both (just because hunger has had a hard time speaking through these before, not an intentional restriction), Summer School midterms to turn around in less than 18 hours (assuming sleep isn’t a priority…) – maybe today I count, I take it out of the context of yesterday and the context of tomorrow and I pick up the calorie/portion counting for one day.  I can’t get out of control for one day…

If I can get through today, if we can get through today, on Day 3, not taking a sabbatical…  I have always been too stupid to fall down, to know when to give up, forever tilting at windmills because I’d rather find the giant among them.  But this is more than that, getting through today will give us strength.  It will embolden us and more importantly for me, it will embolden her.  Show her that when times are tough, she does love, and MOST importantly, she does care.  Stay the course.

That doubt says I have felt bloated over the last three days, and I don’t think it’s the blackness talking.

That is anxiety fucktard!  It probably always existed and you just ignored it because while the cause was unknown, the intake was known (used to tell the blackness that I couldn’t get fat, because the intake was regular, regimented, controlled).

I’m scared.  I need to record these because even though they aren’t real, they are real to me, right now.  I know that these are just fears and that these fears and anxieties are temporary (but I’m an overachiever — and I really want it to stop) and that I need to focus on the positives (like the fact that I haven’t had a desire to binge at any point during the day, except yesterday between lunch and early-dinner when I waited too long – but the voice stopped when I ate reasonably, turning off the demon that screams in times of restriction) and have faith.

I know these things because of my grandfather who emailed me within minutes of me asking for advice.  I know these things because of my beautiful wife, who (yesterday, before the carelessness) in a step on her recovery of the her version of her, reminded me that maybe (just maybe) these anxieties are because I’m not at my appropriate weight and that will fluctuate when I accept my hunger, my feelings, my emotions = evidence of care.  Even after last night, that is what I want to believe in – the unicorns, the penguins and her.  That is her reclaiming healthy, being my support system, holding my hand as we walk this path of recovery together.

And suddenly, I’m not as scared anymore, even though the path ahead seems dark.

Day 240

7PM:

A week after the Fourth of July and a week and a half after Canada Day, I’m declaring my Independence…

 

Cue the dramatic, but this is a huge step.  A step on the path of recovery.

And no, it won’t be perfect.  The blackness will still scream in my head, telling me that I will get fat, telling me that I am not doing enough, telling me that I am wrong.  The blackness will force me to use the tools I have at my disposal, to find new tools, to use my support system.  However, consider that neither of these examples were perfect at the time either:

  • Canadians still had Western Canada to bring into the fold after 1867’s Confederation.  It took over a century, but they got there.  Now, all the provinces and territories celebrate.
  • In 1776, the Americans still had the ghost of the British looming over their shoulders and a Civil War that was a hundred years away.  But there was progress.

Signing of Confederation, signing of the Declaration of Independence – these things, these showed progress, these were steps on their paths, these were hope.

And just like them, I can have progress, I can have hope.

And just like them, I deserve both – for me, for us, for all the people it will allow me to focus on in the future and for all the Intentional Acts of Niceness I will be able to do because I won’t be concerned about food or hunger or the things I’ve avoided as a result of the portion-system (because the food or activity or activity level couldn’t be measured or quantifiably compensated, because of the anxieties around not getting it all out of the blender, because of not being able to stop moving and doing extra).  We all deserve for these things to be gone.  Reclaiming healthy through recovery deserved.

The portion controlled system will always be there if needed, in times of stress or in times of relapse.  But for right now, it has done its job.  For right now, I have done my time, my 25 to life

Now, it’s my day.  Not a day of endings, of forgetting the history leading up to this moment or of ignoring the continued progress that needs to come, that will come.  But today, today is my Independence Day.  And tomorrow, we wake up and take the next step.

Day 239

Plan of Attack:

Prioritize vegan and healthy, the true colours of my soul

Juice — Breakfast — Lunch — Dinner (Snacks as needed, which will be the tougher part out of all this, listening to my hunger cues to determine if I need to eat something between Lunch and Dinner, or after Dinner to “touch up” the day [which should be much more manageable than playing catch up at the end of the day with the massive meal])

At the three meals, hit four of the six vegan food groups (dividing fibrous vegetables into greens and non-greens) to ensure that I am combining the two colours of veganism and healthy – thank you Thrive Foods and Brendan Brazier for the graphic:

Vegan Food Pyramid Graphic

Also at the three meals, making sure that one of the four is from the healthy fats section (this may change given its placement on the above graphic – which is more for visual purposes than anything – but it is a hang-up of mind, a remaining blacklist item that I want to make sure I quash early and often)

If cooking these meals becomes too difficult, anxiety-inducing, etc., we will look at getting pre-prepped stuff (Whole Foods, your prices be damned!!!)

No coffee or booze, at least for the first couple of weeks – they are appetite killers for me, things I’ve used in the past to ignore my hunger cues and I want to get firmly entrenched in this new system before I reintegrate them

No weighing myself or my food (I can’t wait to destroy those fucking scales!)

Use the tools we have developed, those mechanisms to fight the blackness – use them willfully, intentionally and without hesitation to battle the urge to move too much, the urge to hurt myself, the urge to portion control or predict, the urge to make my imperfections into flaws, the urge to not be the version of me that we know is there and screaming to come out

My girl, my beautiful wife, will be crucial in keeping an eye on me, making sure the lines are appropriate, my safeguard, my love (and she will bring me home one meal a day – I can’t wait!!!!)

Let hunger cues be my guide, let resting cues be my guide and trust that my support system will help me along this next step in recovery (I will need to prepare them for this, so they are ready for this and may take a day or two).

This is reclaiming healthy, this is progress on the path of recovery, this is a continuation of my soul’s awakening and growth, a vividness that we seek.

Day 235

5:30PM:

What is reclaiming healthy in this stage of recovery?

Reclaiming healthy is respecting my appetite, respecting my desires…

my appetite for food;

my desires for rest, for sleep;

my appetite for movement;

my (true) desires to eat vegan, to eat healthy [AN ASIDE: vegan test yesterday — found out I ate non-vegan food accidentally and didn’t freak out about calories or fat, just thought about the dairy I had consumed — I cared more about the vegan than about the eating disorder — there is trueness there, evidence of true appetite];

my appetite for emotion and connection;

And later, my desires for sex, for sadness, for love.

We are still trying to figure out the how, the lines for this stage of recovery, but it’s about trusting the soul we have looked to find, coaxed out through the darkness and nurtured to grow.