Ive always been an all or nothing kind of girl. Now or never, black and white, in it to win it. My life has been about extremes.
When I gave up drinking I quit cold turkey... I had many failed attempts at getting sober, but when I finally got there it wasn't by cutting back, it was by just stopping. Failures and then success.
Giving up the eating disorder always proved more tricky. I gave up behaviours cold turkey but never could just give it all up on one neat bundle. I would quit one thing, and something else would flare up. The closer I came to recovery, the sharper the ED teeth grew and the more I bit, the more it bit back. The snake in the grass waiting...
It seems lately my ED is sounding some kind of death rattle. Ive found myself recently doing things Id never done before behaviour wise, and which serve no useful purpose. It annoys the heck out of my all or nothing nature that I cant just let it go.
So I settled. I can see now that years ago I settled for some kind of semi-recovered-still-anorexic existence where I was underweight but out of the dangerous zones and back at university and tickety boo. I settled there thinking there was no way I could ever get properly better, since I had failed to get it right first time, it must mean I was not meant to get any better.
Then I gained back the weight. I restored my weight to healthy, without trying or wanting to even, but on medication with side effects it happened and bam healthy weight no more physical health issues. I was living on liquid supplements and maintaining my set point weight and that is where I settled. I realised this was much better! Though I didnt like my weight gain, I could feel the benefits physically, cognitively, emotionally and mentally. Maybe I wasnt eating actual food but I was healthy and getting married and getting my degree and things were so much better. How could I have settled for how things had been before that I wondered... and then again I settled into this new life of being healthy and living on supplements and believing all was fine.
Nearly three years later I decided this was no longer fine. I realised that I had again settled for an existence rather than a full life and that I would need to learn to eat. I went through that arduous process or relearning to eat food and all the lovely physical and emotional effects that come with that. In time I realised that wow, there really was more to this recovery thing. How could I have simply settled for how things had been before? Now I could eat dinner with my husband and enjoy pizza and pasta in Italy and nutella crepes in France on our honeymoon. I didnt like to eat with people I didnt know or at work or eat much variety, but hey, food is food and wow, bang, sorted, settled!
It has been a while now and I have been settled. this last two weeks I have again rocked that boat though. Finally graduated from uni and in a great job in my career field and working with amazing people, social workers and artists who I admire and actually enjoy spending time with. It was getting awkward being the one who always just drank up and go at lunch time while they ate. I wasnt sure how long it was going to be before someone commented, but after three months I certainly was feeling silly about it. I decided to begin August 2011 by eating actual food for lunch with my workmates.
I have been mostly successful I can say. I work 3 days a week and have had lunch at work 2 days each week and the third I have resorted to up and go for a variety of reasons... anxiety, snow storm, laziness, whatever. The main thing is that it felt good to be doing what the others did... eating food for lunch and enjoying the company and not feeling like a weirdo. I cant believe I had settled for less than this before...
So my lessons are many but the main two are that one, I need to accept that I am not wonder woman... I cant do everything right first time, perfect, black and white and that like so many wonderful things in life recovery takes time. And two that it is OK to take things slowly, but I should never accept that this is as good as it will get when there is so much I am still missing out on because my thoughts are still plagued by the ED. I will get there in time and I can rest a bit, but I will not settle...
in non ED news, New Zealand had an awesome polar blast once in a life time storm this week which was dubbed on twitter as Snowmaggedon. Some parts of NZ do get snow in winter, up in the mountains, but in the North Island where I live, we NEVER get snow. There was snow here 40 years ago, but not since then, until this week. The snow fell and it covered the ground and the cities and it was so beautiful. I was like a kid, compelled by sheer joy to take a 'snow day' from work just to get out and play!