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 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 248

11AM:

Cue Mr. John Lennon…

I am in my hour of darkness, struggling through this new stage of recovery because it will be for the best.  And therefore, I have tried to find that metaphorical “Mother Mary.”  Two days ago, I found it in Habitating Family Friend, using a wireless printer that was wired in his room.  Three days ago, I found it in my grandparents and their new-found interest in veganism that stemmed from their not-so-new-found interest in me.  Four days ago, I sought it in digital companionship, digging into the silent online community who have gone through or are going through stages of recovery, of their reclaiming healthy.

Yesterday, I tried finding it in Intentional Acts of Niceness: smiling at anyone I could to get a smile back – the grocery cashier, cyclists going the other way, drivers who I let pass ahead in stop signs = NOTHING!  It was as if the world had taken a giant step backwards in the graciousness department.  [AN ASIDE: On a more dramatic note, there was a story in the New Yorker about suicide attempts made off the Golden Gate Bridge — the following story has relevance:

Dr. Jerome Motto, who has been part of two failed suicidebarrier coalitions, is now retired and living in San Mateo. When I visited him there, we spent three hours talking about the bridge. Motto had a patient who committed suicide from the Golden Gate in 1963, but the jump that affected him most occurred in the seventies. “I went to this guy’s apartment afterward with the assistant medical examiner,” he told me. “The guy was in his thirties, lived alone, pretty bare apartment. He’d written a note and left it on his bureau. It said, ‘I’m going to walk to the bridge. If one person smiles at me on the way, I will not jump.’ ”

How far do you think this gentleman walked?  How many opportunities for Intentional Acts of Niceness – simple smiles – were missed on his way?  Clearly, I am not that close nor do I ever think I will be, but it does resound given the mental thunderclouds of the last month].

So being unable to find that metaphorical “Mother Mary” in my bag of recovery tricks, I sit here in my hour (oh, what I wouldn’t give for that to be a metaphor) of darkness.  I sit in the dark, worrying about having sat down for too long (even though I biked for almost an hour uphill yesterday and will probably lift weights or run later today), about small flaps of skin around my waist (that very well could have always been there, fucking hypnotic, body dysmorphic voice of the blackness) and about a stomach that touches my T-shirt a little too closely (even though I did core work on Friday and that always causes a tighter stomach).

Don’t worry trusted readers… this is not feeling sorry, indulging in self-pity or even clocking in the five seconds of Lost fear – it’s just crossing the tools off that are not working at the moment.  Instead, I will seek wisdom in the Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff, a wonderful discourse on peace of mind and quiet of soul.  I’ll let you know if…

When I find myself in times of trouble
Winnie the Pooh comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
And in my hour of darkness
He is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
Let it be, let it be
Let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

Day 244

12:30PM:

We are filling the emptiness with normal, not euphorial.  That means there will be good days, there will be bad days and there will be Eastwood ugly days (as a couple of nights ago showed much too clearly, but we made it to Day 4).  But we are doing it because we are reclaiming healthy, because we are reclaiming the me version of me that the blackness stole, stripped away and hid for years.

Reclaiming normal is being honest with my wife that I needed to eat before we made love, and that the decision had nothing to do with sex or anxiety or blackness, just recognition of hunger.

Reclaiming normal is enjoying being slightly hungrier than I should be (not ravaged with it like I would be), because it meant I could be the most comfortable pillow in the world at that moment.

Reclaiming normal is finding out the next day that I’m not strong enough to eat when I am hungry enough.

Reclaiming normal is believing that if I respect when I’m not hungry (as I feel today), I have to respect when I am (the aforementioned yesterday) and not having the strength to do it just yet – but trying to be a little better at it today than yesterday, recovering one day at a time.

Reclaiming normal is finding joy in reading and listening to music and have these things be undistractable, without hunger-created daze or alcoholic haze.

Reclaiming normal is looking for salad dressings based on taste and a desire to be a healthy vegan, not based on portion control/prediction (or more commonly, restriction).

Reclaiming normal is not wanting to throw up to alleviate the pain.

Reclaiming normal is trying to find digital companionship on this path, reading through the notes on my desktop and knowing that others feel the exhaustion of recovery.

Reclaiming normal is fighting through the body dysmorphic, mentally disemboweling blackness; fighting through its new direction, because while we are strangling it, the gurgling sounds very much like “you feel like you are getting fatter,” “you should not be sitting down right now…” – it is an issue with not knowing, fighting through the uncertainty; but it’s dysmorphically hypnotic, isn’t it.

Reclaiming normal is hoping that the anxiety in my gut is going to ease tomorrow, with one more day under our belts.

Reclaiming normal is one day at a time, as Victoria Moran says in Main Street Vegan: “The great thing about … a day at a time is that there’s nothing keeping you from doing it today.  All you have to do is eat foods from the plant kingdom for this day’s meals and snacks, and you’re good.  You don’t have to worry about your sister’s wedding next June, your company’s Labor Day barbecue, or what you’ll eat if you ever go to Argentina.  Today you’re enjoying a plant-based diet. … Understand that moving two steps forward often has one step back as part of the package.  Taking it a day at a time, though, is insurance against slipping because, in the early days when this is still a little bit daunting, you only have to make it to bedtime” (22).

Reclaiming normal is one day at a time, because looking too far ahead is fucking overwhelming.