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.

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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 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.

Day 332

11AM:

I’ve had a song stuck in my head all week. No, not that unusual for me. But it was Sheryl Crow (at least it’s not Rolling Stones’ Sympathy for the Devil while working with missionaries in Kenya):

Not sure if this quite sums up where we are, where I am on this road of recovery. Mostly due to the irony of the song, it doesn’t really fit (ever so snuggly, he remembered). It doesn’t fit reclaiming healthy, finding the me-est version of me.

What’s better is this:

Never been a huge Sloan fan, but they have a resoundingly appropriate chorus: “If it feels good, do it. Even if you shouldn’t. Don’t let people mess you around.”

I shouldn’t portion count, says majority opinion.

I should eat intuitively,  says majority opinion.

I should be able to rest if I just listen to my body, says majority opinion.

I haven’t been able to. It is not me, at least for now. I don’t feel hungry if I’m not constantly paying attention to it, checking the levels by a watch. I don’t like having to worry, about food in this case. I shouldn’t,  but these feel good, appropriate for me, right. They fit ever so snuggly.

So fuck you blackness and your shoulds, since that’s the source of them, I know.  We’ll do what works for us, the lines that work for us and make us vivid – a vividness that will fight to outshine even the blackest of your dark corners.

Redrawing the lines for the road ahead, so I can be the Don I want to be; seeing the lines form and others fade away.

Reclaiming healthy.

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 282

7PM:

I have had Workout Friend’s voice in head, especially after Wednesday’s post and particularly after the recent Don-ish musings.  If I am not waiting, even if I am and it is temporary, as the new Don of Tz’u, it means being invincible.  Scratch that…

The Don is not invincible.  The Don is not Superman.  These are illusions, but illusions that are part of the role.  The Don appears stone-faced, steadfast, without doubt or vulnerability, because it is from this that others gain strength and trust and security.

Truth is, the Don just makes decisions, uses supports and blackness-weakening tools, chooses to live so that this perception is possible.  For me, that means doing things and accessing supports that will allow me to be a better teacher, a better student, a better husband, a better son, a better employee, a better rock.  Better able to deal with family drama, with my mother-in-law’s impending surgery, with my wife’s thoughts about changing jobs or at least changing the make-up of her current one, even through the job I will face come September, the Masters for which I have gone all in, the house to keep mortgaging along.

That means taking it slow for a few days, recovering.  That means setting the stage so that physical rest can be restful, because physical rest is not restful if my mental health is unhealthy, is weak, is screaming the sirens’ song of the blackness.  Perhaps that means shifting meal-conception to allow for more regularity, more regular blood sugar and blackness-weakening strength spread throughout the day.  I tried varying the times and number of meals per day (trying to act on my natural hunger cues), but ended up eating certain amounts and not spreading it out.

Therefore, perhaps to be a more capable Don, I need to vary the amounts, but make the times more certain, more definite: eat too much at breakfast, eat a light lunch; not feeling hungry at dinner, eat something small.  This will also ensure that I am not drinking to gather up much needed calories (and suffering the aforementioned consequences).  Instead, allow my body to tell me the truth, provide the colour, but within the lines of breakfast-lunch-dinner regularity, and by doing so, finding vividness, strength against the demons inside, rest and peace, the appearance of being superhuman.

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.