Since it’s been so long since I wrote part 1 I lost my train of thought so will just start with what I’ve decided to do now, or rather at the beginning of June.
As mentioned I’ve been doing zen practice again. There is a couple, Lilly & Zack, that I met there who have been turning out to be good friends, valuable friends. They were the ones who visited me in the hospital last year whcih was quite a shock. I think I’ve mentioned that in all my hospitalizations through the years I never had visitors. Granted many of those hospitalizations were in crazy wards but still, a visit every now and then would have been nice to assure me that there was at least one person who gave a crap about me. Oh, I meant to word that as someone who cared but you get the point.
The first weekend in June they were out camping and invited me to come and hang out. They seemed, okay, they are well adjusted more or less happy people, fun to be around who have common interests with me – so, bonus all around in my opinion. In those two days they ended up sharing their shocking past of alcoholism and general horrific abuses and tragedies. I identified with much of what they shared albeit my main problem is the eating disorder. Quite a long time ago I realized that much of my anorexic behavior is habitual after having it for so many years, and really has nothing to do with the reasons for having an eating disorder. The habitual because is because it has become my identity as well as just what I did for a longer portion of my life than the protion I lived not active in ED behavior. Also, my response to stopping habitual ED behavior is very much life stopping alcohol, for tha lcoholic, or drugs, dor the addict. I am pretty much addicted to the scale, rules about food, starving, secreting away things like body checks, constant behavior to keep me in line, etc. No point in going into the details since anyone with anorexia, or any eating disorder for that matter, is probably nodding their head in understanding already. Anorexia is a mental illness but maybe I can address the behavior like an addiction… it is an addiction. Think about it… why do you engage in that behavior? For me is is for mood stabalization and anxiety relief. It calms me down and tamps down the noise in my head.
There is a video I watched that also had a great impact on me. It is on YouTube, called Eating Disorders from the Inside Out. You can watch it here: Video It’s 18 minutes which could have been shortened to possibly 10 minutes, typical of TEDx talks but anyway. She essentially shows what happens in the brain of an anorexic when having to eat, compared to a non-ED person. I like when she plays the recorder of noise to show what happens in our head when we are trying to function in real life after having eaten. It’s an excellent video to have friends and family watch. She also talks about food being a prescription for people like us, just another medicine to take to stay alive and functioning. that made a lot of sense and so when it comes to abstinence, I am applying the caloric requirement and the restrictions on limited weigh ins. I tentaively talked to my sponsor about body checks but that will be a later conversation.
So yeah, sponsor. They go to AA so I went to AA. There is a 12 step program called eating disorders anonymous that I had tried several years ago but they rewrote everything. It is written ina way to be permissive of behavior, very permissive. It might be good for some eating disorders but for me, I need things cut and dry. I don’t need coddling, I need it to be, “eat or get out of the program;” no BS, in other words. AA is like that, EDA is not. OA (overeaters anonymous) even ones that are anorexic/bulimic specific play into ED rules and behavior making it easy to stay sick and possibly get worse. So AA… um yeah. I mean seriously, one cause replace Alcoholics Anonymous with Anorexic Anonymous in one’s head. I do that when reading the, obnoxiously named, big book of AA.
My abstinence started June 5th and I started going to meetings 1 to 2 times a day. I hated that I identified with nearly everything, albeit, with anorexia not alcohol although I clearly used alcohol and drugs in years past to get relief from the ED, or rather relief from my own fears and anxieties. Please understand though, I’ve spent many a year railing against AA saying its a cult, unhealthy, blah, blah, blah and never actually investigated it. It turns out to be entirely different than what I expected. Also, having zen practice sort of fulfills that requirement for spirituality. I still hate that they use the word god but interestingly, it isn’t as annoying as I thought because most of the people are not referring to the christian god. Most of the people have had bad experiences with that, as I have.
I should probably mentioned that Zack has 27 years sober and Lilly about 2 1/2. He is cut and dry which is good, she has a trauma background and also understands the issues with eating. She doesn’t have an ED but is naturally thin. She’s actually been accused of being anorexic so used to wear clothes to hide her thinness. When her father deteriorated in a long slow death her reaction was to not eat; not for control like me, but rather as a response to depression, stress, etc. which results in a loss of appetite. When she started eating though she experienced the discomfort of that with phsyical symptoms so understands that part of it which is very helpful. Also, because she is only 2 1/2 years into this she still remembers all the emotional turmoil of getting sober.
It has been an awful roller coaster for me, this last month. In the past, even in supposed recovery, I always kept one food firmly planted in the ED. Even if I wasn’t directly doing behavior it has always, always been an option. This time I stepped my foot out, the first time in all my long life. Needless to say, my life kind of exploted which is one reason I haven’t been on here much, or completed this post. It’s odd really because no amount of therapy was able to get me to this point, that I reached with my peers. I can’t go to ED groups because, for me, it’s all about who is the thinnest. No one in AA really gives a crap about that. You’ve got suits sitting next to bikers sitting next to housewives. The biggest shock is everyone talking about how they were covering up all their fears. I am always afraid though anyone who sees me would never know it. I mask it well. Apparently everyone, well most people, in AA are the same. Wow, weird.
When I first went I mostly tried to become a part of the chair. I refused to talk and hated how nice people were to me. I hated that they actually, really truly cared. I hate when people care because In know I will eventually disappoint them, probably because I’m a huge disappointment to myself. Eventually I talked and always with loads of tears. I’m a cryer, I’ve had to accept that long ago. I think part of it is because I’m so ashamed of being me. The thing is, I shared my long past alcohol and drug experiences in order to share what I was going through right now but eventually that just wasn’t honest. not for me. It was killing me. I had gotten a sponsor in the program who was old school, I later found out. It wasn’t working because I need to address (work the steps) on anorexia specifically, but I was terrified to tell her I wanted to try someone new. I hate confronting people and more than that I hate to accomodate my own needs. I will essentially destroy my own life rather than make anyone else feel uncomfortable.
I went back to Lilly and Zack who were very willing to help me. This all happened right before my surgery. I wasn’t honoring the anxiety I was going through either, nor was I reaching out. When it comes to calling, I mean actually using my phone as a, well, phone, that phone suddenly weighs like 600 lbs and is impossible to pick up. Last friday I completely fell off the wagon. I texted Zack and said I wasn’t going to bother with getting abstinent till after surgery. You know their response? “We still love you.” Seriously? I wanted them to be upset, mean, judgemental, all those things I was feeling about myself. I don’t want people to love me? I hate love, I don’t understand love, it freaks me out… I’m terrified of it. How can they love me, a dispicable person. So that, and having had 20 days to see what recovery, real recovery, might be like, ruined the whole anorexic intrigue. It sucked. So Saturday I stewed in a big wading pool of pity. I did end up eating enough in the end and realized I’d rather go into surgery in recovery rather than having to deal with getting abstinent afterward.
Sunday morning I dragged myself to a meeting and just blathered out that I was a mess because of surgery (which was the next day). How did people respond? They talked about their own surgeries and all the fears, anxieties, depression, frustrations they went through. They actually wanted to support me through this and one person offered to give me a ride to a meeting the day after surgery, which was yesterday. People cared… they wanted to help me… me. AA is not living up to the terrible reputation that I gave it. People apparently just want to live their lives and manage everyday stress. Who knew.
I think the one thing that impressed me the most was a meeting I went to a couple of weeks ago. This woman was saying how she would do a perfect program then go out and drink; come back, do a perfect program and go back out. It was a 90 day cycle. Did she get coddled by the other women (it was a women’s only table)? Nope, they said that maybe she just needed to go out and prove to herself that she was an alcoholic, maybe she needed to listen to her sponsor, get honest, etc. They were like “either work the program or go your own way.” I mean, people were understanding but she clearly wanted sympathy and validation for her behavior. She didn’t get it. No one is there to get validation. Clearly no one would be there if they didn’t already know there was a problem. I don’t want validation or sympathy for what I’m going through, with regards to the addictive behavior I do. Someone even said, “we are not therapists or doctors here…” She was also taking notes, even after someone mentioned that taking notes is a way to avoid actually hearing what people have to say. I know that. I learned that from listening to dharma talks. I understand very little of those but occasionally something sticks. That’s the way it is for me at the meeting. Sometimes something sticks, most of the time it doesn’t. People repeat themselves over and over, not because they are wallowing (well, some people are) but because they need to verbalize it to get it through their thick head. That would be me. I’m too rational and have managed to rationalize every single anorexic or self-harming behavior to the point of ad nauseam on how beneficial what I’m doing is for me, despite all evidence to the contrary.
You know, that day when I first talked to Zack & Lilly, Zack admitted that yes, I am bat shit crazy but also said that if I wasn’t, I would be sitting with them. No one is ever willing to say that directly to me but it’s the truth, I’m completely nuts with my behavior. Seriously, who would do what we anorexics do and even remotely consider it normal?
So that’s that. I’m back on track, day 4. Yes, I’m still going to go argue with my nutritionist, in about 30 minutes, and am still going to have a melt down with my therapist but I’m eating and exercising according to plan. I still don’t believe in any kind of god but I do know that zen practice makes me a better person. I also know that going to meetings seems, for some odd reason, to keep me abstinent. So that’s what I’m doing, and I’m late for my appointment so I’ll post this then come back and edit it. Forgive any grammatical mistakes for now.
Thanks for reading