Day 365

One year.

I have been writing every day, for one year.  The chronicles are lengthy and deep, laugh-inspiring and dangerous, loving and deadly, long-winded and diminutive.  365 steps in the direction of recovery, that’s what that means.  But perhaps not.

Yesterday, my wife had a risky yet eye-opening foray into job-people-asshole-relationships.  This foray showed us that her next steps require some sort of job search, career path.  I am on board; ultimately, I want her happiness, for her to be grateful and appreciative, above all else.  I love her and we will make it work.  Luckily it was just a warning shot though, a burnt orange instead of a bright red, one that will allow us to take the next steps – while tenuously – on our own terms.  Given how things have been articulated here, recovering herself would be a way to frame this.

As for me, I am currently stepping into a new form of self-reality (I know that self-actualization is a more proper term, but the douche factor requires a less-accurate synonym), stepping into a new understanding of myself.  I started writing because we understood its value as a recovery tool for me, because we were looking for experts on me when we were the only two true ones.  As a result, we know many more of my triggers, warning signals, agitators and alienators than we did one year ago.  We also know that when stress gets away from me and us that dire consequences ensue: judge and jury, I give you broken hand.  I also know many more of my feelings, my loves and desires, my cares and Tz’u, my purpose as Don and my hopes and faith.  I feel more comfortable being who I am after 365 days, partially because we have expanded the me version of me, but also because we have explored the me version of me, which has given us an understanding of shoulds and the parts of me that are me, not black.  As we discussed earlier in the week, my wife and I know that my next steps in recovery include rest and managing the inevitable stresses of living on the edge, of giving 100% to do good and be beautiful, amazing and loving.

Odd thing is, if I hadn’t been pushed off the edge two weekends ago, I wouldn’t have had cause to have the difficult conversation with my aunt last weekend.  And if my wife hadn’t had her encounter of the fucked up kind, I would not have gone to my aunt for counsel about college teaching (a reach out that wouldn’t have happened without the difficult conversation), she would not have seen her potential for vivid expansion and I would not have found a potential perma-support in Kind Science Work Friend.  So is this really about recovery?

Through blogging, I have learned so much.  By writing, I have faced demons with my wife, with her affair, with my family, with my brother’s illness, with my blackness.  Like our summer before life happened, writing allowed growth beyond belief.  However, I will stop blogging after today and this is my final Tale as the Recovering Recoverer.  Not because I don’t love writing – I will continue to do that as a tool.  But given the acquired understanding of the last 365 days, I now understand that this is not a path of recovery, not solely.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I am recovered by any means.  I will continue to understand that I am recovering from anxiety and hyper-vigilance, perfectionism, orthorexia and disordered eating – my personal blackness.  I understand that the potential for that blackness taking over will always be there.  I understand that we will need to face every day one day at a time, with serenity and courage and wisdom.  I understand that I and we will continue to adapt our vivid to fit the current lines and colours, to use my tools and support system and stay vigilant against the blacknesses within us.

But I understand that this is only a part of me.  I have realized that I have not been writing about a path of recovery, not solely.  This is not a story about recovering from a deficit; this is a story of growth.  No, there is not an ending here, but that’s because this is a tale of a different sort – this is 365 days of life.

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…

20141031_192103

This means nothing

20141031_192301

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 345

6:30PM:

I cannot even trust myself with my judgment about Grilled Yam Soup.  My first reaction was that this would be great!  A second later, my second reaction was to question it.  “Ooooh, that looks good” VS. where does that come from: the calorie-less brothiness or my actual soul?

Am I missing a part of my heart?  Or have I fractured/fragmented/frazzled/fractioned/frayed so much that because this reaction felt like it came from my head (my thoughts, my perception), it is somehow less?  Do I need to expect something more visceral?  Is the ME version of ME more visceral or does the ME version of ME that if it comes from my head, then it comes from me!?!

I think about it thirdly, as I like the idea of Grilled Yam Soup.  I like the idea of coming home to it, taking it to school, putting it in boxes and being able to focus on enjoying every morsel.  But I cannot trust the why – I question the why.  I am so disjointed/disassociated/disgusted/dismayed that I cannot hear the voice fairly.  Or is it that I am so tired (no synonyms for that one; maybe just FUCKING tired), that I cannot hear it, that my soul and desired do not have the loudness that they should?  To bring it back to this recovery stage, stress is bogging down my soul?

Extrapolating from there: let’s say it is about the brothiness.  Maybe I just prefer quantity.  Maybe (in terms of my wife’s recovery), I am a finisher.  I can avoid the mistake by finding comfort in this.  The first stage though, is about dealing with the stress that’s bogging down my soul…

Day 335 & 336

Recapping the last few days, the more ME version of ME appears, the more we learn about ME.  The more we learn about ME – not through mistakes, since I have gained wisdom by experiencing and experimenting with intuitive eating – and what ME/WE want to be – not what we should be – the better we are able to reclaim healthy, take it back from the blackness.

Imagine that there is a battle – a battle that wages between the blackness that grabs hold when stress is over-stress, a battle that is fought with the tools of recovery.

So, standing at the precipice of the next battleground, the next stage in reclaiming healthy, here are our lines, our path towards vivid, the next steps in recovery:

  • No more drinking before eating two meals, since I am able to separate drinking to cope from drinking to enjoy, but I am not able to separate drinking for calories from these.  I have allowed myself to consume alcohol calories outside of mealtimes (in the same way as having allowed myself to consume a latte outside of mealtimes), and therefore if I am too hungry outside of mealtimes, before the “shoulds,” I will drink my calories (and sensibilities) away.
    • I was ready to go on hiatus, but my wife brought me back to sensibility; I do enjoy a good bottle of wine, I just need to make sure the reasons (interesting, because she was the one that first opened my eyes, palette and heart to social drinking and now, she’s helped do it again with my tummy!).
  • Back to portion counting; albeit a softer version, but still portion counting.  After learning – through non-mistakes – I am comfortable doing this.  I am comfortable saying that intuitive eating is less a part of me than portion counting.  I am comfortable saying that softer portion counting [no weighing EVER, only calorie counting when ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY (since the latter actually allows me to try unknown things, fit it into me)], is helpful to me.  I am comfortable saying that this allows me to be the person I want to be, but acting as a boundary, an insurance that I will not falter.  I am comfortable saying that I want/need portion counting to retain the me-ness of me throughout a busy day.  That’s why it was not a mistake to try intuitive eating – hell, it might be something we go back to someday.  It was not a mistake because now I don’t say “grow” or “be able” to eat intuitively; I say that if it fits, it will be a part of our future.
  • To address the symptoms (and some of the causes) of over-stress:
    • Unrecognized hunger
      • Portion counting and food timing
    • Decreased sex drive
      • Sex drive
      • Pushing through discomfort and communicating openly about sex
    • Increased spiral thinking
      • Food timing
      • Recognizing that spiral thinking are signs/signals, that (insert venomous tool of the blackness here) is more about being in a position of weakness, not about being weak
    • Unrecognized fatigue
      • Re-instituting candles
    • Decreased silliness/gentleness
      • Happy lists
      • talesofarecoveringrecoverer.wordpress.com

There are still gaps, especially in needing to develop more coping strategies and boundaries that prevent the blackness from taking hold of the symptoms of over-stress.  In fact, my wife brought up a point yesterday, that I completely understand.  I understand that this does not deal with the core issue as much as it could.  These lines fight the symptoms more than the disease.  Therefore, while this next stage in recovery means boundaries, stop-gaps and lines that help support the anti-stress movement, it still requires further thought about what to do about this whole stress thing (if I were to put money on it, I’d say there are more beautiful candle and happy list ideas in my future, once my wife digests our talk and taps into her beautiful, amazing and loving vivid genius).

Step by step, breath by breath, one day at a time.

Rivers know this, there is no hurry.  We shall get there some day.

Here we go.

Day 333

10AM:

In preparation for these often-mentioned, aforementioned next phase/lines, it’s time for reflection.

Before that though, since this reflection might lead to thoughts of MISTAKES, let’s go back…

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.

Tao of Pooh on 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 we gain from our mistakes, in this way, they serve to make us wise.

Universal Post-It: “Remember, we all stumble; we have to fall before we fly.”

Keeping that in mind, it was not a mistake to try intuitive eating.  What I gained and learned from the experience:

  • I like drinking an enjoyable bottle of wine, even alone, but I’ve learned not to use it for nourishment and not to do it so often
  • I can trust what others cook for me
  • Soft counting isn’t bad and small differences don’t matter – my body takes care of it
  • Sitting down and reading does not really change appetite dramatically – body self-regulates through healing faster or slower, and therefore, rest allows the body to heal faster and burn more calories in the next workout
  • The fight the urge to eat systematically or by formula might be a created fight, but fighting the urge to “eat later” needs to happen (this is not a created fight, it is a necessary one)
    • Self-consciousness comes from the perception of portion counting, not through the act of it – and it is only after trying intuition that I have learned this
  • Suicidal and thoughts of self-harm increase when I’m stressed and hungry; portion counting becomes less of a source of fear and spinning and self-consciousness when I’m full and rested enough
  • We were thinking that numbing my hunger was responsible for numbing my sex drive, but the latter has not increased since trying intuitive eating – it doesn’t appear that I’m numbing everything else, and perhaps the true culprit is overstress

Now it’s time to reflect on what we’ve learned, what I’ve gained, what will allow us to make the next steps in recovery, in reclaiming healthy.