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.

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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 331

9AM:

After digesting Thursday’s Naturopath appointment (a part of the support system and a resource, but not a driver of recovery – that’s US!), my own thoughts over the last week, what Guidance friend said to me yesterday about heart and soul and last but fucking definitely not least, what my wife wrote to me on the fridge, here’s what I’m thinking the true culprit is…

The True Culprit

 

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 won with the whites, the tools of recovery.  There are still gaps, especially in the whites, these coping strategies and boundaries that prevent the blackness from taking hold of the greys.  But it’s another step.

This is not yet the next step.  This is seeing where to take the next step, the next puddle in which we will jump, with giant smiles on our faces, holding hands, hands that fit ever-so-snuggly.

 

Day 255

6PM:

Barely enough energy to see straight or piss straight, let alone think or act straight.  No Tao of Pooh – will get there some day (as rivers know).  Sorry, best I’ve got are random thoughts (and bad metaphors)…

Three days = three successful days of reclaiming breakfast, lunch, dinner – never eating too much and never eating too little.  Today wasn’t so great, which we knew it wouldn’t be.  But as my lunch from the gorgeous Gorilla Food demonstrated…

20140727_111950

…just because it looks fucked up, doesn’t mean it is (damn, did that Great Gorilla Salad ever taste good!).

On day three, didn’t over-drink = just had one and that was all – could be attributed to…

That being said, feel like crap – bloated (yesterday’s ill), tired, sleepless, restless, senseless, fatigued beyond belief.  Blackness little louder than is tolerable as a result.  Good news though = didn’t have to cram a bunch of food into me to “fill the numbers” – could skirt on yesterday and my body/nature would figure it out.

Still worry about eating too much/too little at each meal.  Just finished some fruit and chocolate as a snack and worried a shit-ton about the chocolate – maybe this is about realizing that physical signs of hunger (tummy grumbling) are not the only ones of note.  There is also (as today and yesterday have shown, since more than coffee or alcohol, fatigue kills my physical signs of appetite), other signs of hunger: being a dick, distractability and lack of concentration, over-thinking about food or counting or if it’s enough (like the fruit-chocolate demonstrated), light-headedness (shouldn’t get to this) and falling asleep or excessive fatigue.  Still learning…

Got a few more days of running on fumes, then I get to rest for 48 hours (long enough to get sick), before I’m back “on.”  Mom appreciated me being there though.  Mom needed me there though.  So fatigued or not, I am happy to be stuck in an airport waiting to go home to my girl and glad I got to be the swiss army knife again.

Day 252

10:45AM:

I know that I have fallen a little into bad habits over the last two days.  Between an exorbitant amount of marking and travelling, I have not been focused on recovery, on reclaiming healthy.  I have not been eating three meals a day plus a snack or two.  I have been doing the lunch and giant end-of-day meal, with drinking in between.  The drinking wasn’t as bad and the lines were a little softer with the portions, but they were coming a little close yesterday.

My initial reaction is to flog myself, obviously not physically (though the 5:45AM workout could be considered as such).  My initial reaction is to talk down to myself, feel guilty about putting everyone through more because I am not strong enough, be pissed off about recovery going slower and being harder.  Getting outside of myself, there are some stresses that are not manageable (as I’ve experienced before) – foreign land … two jobs at once … lack of support system and transferring my attention, my intention, my care to another … ok, so it makes sense.

Instead, looking ahead (AKA “moving forward”), I have three days that are relatively scheduled.  I will take those three days to realign the compass = focus on breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner (or breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack – four meals being the goal) with two components at each (the way that four of six vegan food groups seems to work out for me – the sweet and savoury, yin and yang, all in one meal).

I don’t know if there is anything from Tao of Pooh that screams relevant with this one, so instead, I will go to the digital post-its I keep on my computer desktop.  These words of wisdom, the proverbial “Mother Mary” for the day, I will find strength to do what is needed in them:

“You need to keep telling yourself that you shouldn’t feel guilty. It will be difficult for a long time, but you must push through it for your own welfare” (http://caloriecount.about.com/forums/health-support/anorexia-recovery-feeling-guilty-eating).

“My lingering moments of weakness are directly at odds with both of those missions [recovery and veganism], and make me particularly frustrated for that reason. But I think anyone who’s endeavored to lead a healthy life after disordered eating might be able to relate to the uneasy discord between a full embrace of good health, and the struggle to let go of the things that used to give one’s life a sense of identity and meaning-no matter how falsely.
As always, I treat these moments of struggle as an organic and inevitable part of the recovery process. Recovery is not a black and white before and after; it’s a journey, and the journey involves missteps and stumbles and occasional moments of looking back at the terrain you’ve covered, thoughtfully and with a touch of nostalgia. I never used to think it was possible to feel nostalgia or longing for any period of one’s life except the happy ones, but I realize that this isn’t the case. Even so, I’ve often been surprised this year by how far I’ve come in my relationship with food, my body, and my commitment to health. I’m so much further along than I used to be, and have made progress even through some stressful times that might have ordinarily triggered me. I am profoundly grateful for this, and can only accept and acknowledge the moments of struggle as they go by” (http://www.choosingraw.com/recovery-musings-learning-to-fully-embrace-health/).

“Remind yourself ‘I’m going to be ok” and “I’m not crazy.’  This is a normal part of the recovery process” (http://www.eatingdisordersupport.co.uk/self-help/grounding).

“There are times when you still think you might have eaten too much that day or a particular outfit makes you look larger or when you’ve gone for an extra stroll around the block because you ate more than usual. Perhaps you’ve still been rigid about some things – eating regularly, or having safe foods or attempting to eat less than others. But look at you – thinking clearly, feeding your body because your body deserves to be fed and looked after because it is PRECIOUS and VALUABLE. As are you, and you know that.
And please, please, PLEASE do not forget how infinitely valuable you are” (http://risforrecovery.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/dear-you-for-those-relapsing-or-struggling/).

Day 250

6PM (+ some late night readings):

So, let’s talk about where we are:

  • One week in to this next stage of recovery, of reclaiming healthy
  • Eating breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Having difficulty eating snacks or eating breakfast or lunch on time (not a “should,” but because I am ignoring hunger signals in favour of eating later)
  • Still worrying a little about portion sizes, but not as much as I thought I would and when I do think about it, it is not as disordered as I think it might be (i.e. having two components at each meal, like a salad and oatmeal or pasta and fruit bowl)
  • Cooking meals is a bit of a struggle, especially when I do ignore my hunger signals in favour of eating later (which was always the case when I let myself get too hungry/too weak), but doing major cooks-for-the-week when I wasn’t hungry and having my wife cook meals the first couple of days and Mom pitching in all helped
  • The voice of the blackness has shifted to:
    1. “You feel that you are getting fatter, you see that your stomach is less defined”
    2. “You shouldn’t eat that much, you shouldn’t eat that soon, you shouldn’t be hungry yet”
  • I have had glasses of wine in the last few nights, none of which was for calorie recovery, and as such, was relaxing and enjoyable (Saturday night, the second glass was for quieting the blackness, if only for a little bit – and guess what, it didn’t work)
  • I tried coffee yesterday and while it did kick my appetite for a little while, the impact later was that I was hungrier, like I had skipped ahead from Mile 2 to Mile 5 on the hunger trail without having to feel the Miles in between (but feeling just as hungry at Mile 5 as I would have otherwise)
  • Using the tools of recovery to keep from going crazy – exercise in moderation, leaning on my support system to talk, reading – but at times of weakness, the blackness still screams through

One of those tools provided some advice about the next steps on the path of recovery, to be used for the coming days and weeks and months of reclaiming healthy: The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff (or at least, the parts that speak to this – there is more that I will refer to in the coming days, I am sure).

“According to Lao-tse [author of the oldest existing book of Tao-ism], the more man interfered with the natural balance produced and governed by the universal laws, the further away the harmony retreated into the distance.  The more forcing, the more trouble. … Everything had its own nature already within it, which could not be violated without causing difficulties.  When abstract and arbitrary rules were imposed from the outside, struggle was inevitable.  Only then did life become sour” (4).

“The essence of the principle of the Uncarved Block is that things [and people] in their original simplicity contain their own natural power, power that is easily spoiled and lost when that simplicity is changed … ‘things in their natural state'” (10-11).

“When you discard arrogance, complexity, and a few other things that get in the way, sooner or later you will discover that simple, childlike, and mysterious secret known to those of the Uncarved Block: Life is Fun” (20).

“When we learn to work with our own Inner Nature, and with the natural laws operating around us … then we work with the natural order of things and operate on the principle of minimal effort.  Since the natural world follows that principle, it does not make mistakes.  Mistakes are made – or imagined – by man, the creature with the overloaded Brain who separates himself from the supporting network of natural laws by interfering and trying too hard.  Not like Pooh, the most effortless Bear we’ve ever seen.  ‘Just how do you do it Pooh?’  ‘Do what?’ asked Pooh.  ‘Become so Effortless.’  ‘I don’t do much of anything,’ he said.  ‘But all those things of yours get done.’  ‘They just sort of happen,’ he said.  ‘Wait a minute.  That reminds me of something from the Tao Te Ching … “Tao does not do, but nothing is not done.” … It means that Tao doesn’t force or interfere with things, but lets them work in their own way, to produce results naturally.  Then whatever needs to be done is done'” (69-70).

My interpretation: a quiet mind, a mind at peace goes with the flow of the river, of nature; for me, this means eating when I am hungry and not eating when I am not – listening to my nature – because when I interfere with this nature, that’s when interference happens to me.  If I ignore my hunger, it makes me feel distressed, amplifies those ghosts of self-harm and makes me more vulnerable to the blackness (as was the case on Friday, when emotions got a hold of me and I cried, often and a lot).  If I restrict during the day, it leads to desires to binge at night (or at least, as was the case Saturday and yesterday, leads to much-too-derailing confusion about not feeling physically hungry at 8PM; derailing because the what ifs start, stemming from the unpredictability and uncertainty, which is probably a less physical but just as loud and telling a sign of hunger – it is just less certain for my re-learning hunger/reclaiming healthy brain).  A little interference by me against my nature, a little interference in return from the universe.  No interference by me against my nature, my body will figure things out.  It will tell me if I am hungrier today, if I ate less yesterday.  It will tell me if I am less hungry today, if I ate more yesterday.  My nature will tell me if my physiology will require more food, if it is going through things that mean it needs more nourishment or if it doesn’t need as much that day. Trying to interfere with something natural – controlling the river – that’s the too many/bold lines that caused my colour to struggle against these lines over the past month.  Don’t get me wrong, because it is not time to throw everything out (the proverbial baby with the bath water).  The harsher lines (yes, interference) were needed before to counteract the even larger disruptions of the blackness and disordered behaviour, but it is only because these latter disruptions were interfering with my soul – now, they are not needed to the same degree.  This is not an immediate call to Zen or to find my inner Uncarved Block (the proverbial running before I can walk – or even roll over by myself, as the case may be), just a step on the path a few ahead of where we are.  For now, the harsher lines caused my vividness to suffer and the friction of that struggle threw the blackness into the front seat and me into the darkness. So going with the flow of the river, means no distress, no bingeing, no hurtful thoughts, just peace?  Accepting my nature with food, listening to my nature, will lead to realigning my nature with the other things (sex, love, sadness, rock and roll)?

For a Bear of Very Little Brain, you are a wise one Pooh Bear.  There is serenity in knowing that the thing that gave you comfort at age 3 still has the power to do so a quarter of a century later.

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.