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Level 4

on December 17, 2012

So I made it to level 4. Never in a billion light years did I think would, and quite frankly I was told by all the therapists here that they never thought I would make it either.  I have made it to the final level and I am super proud of myself. It has taken four months of hard work, but I have done it. Every minute of every day has counted, but now I can hold my head up and own the progress that I have made. I actually laugh at how far I have come. I was told today that it was a life or death situation when I arrived – I was pretty poorly, but I have been given the chance here to get my life back. I have been shown a different way to live and I am just forever thankful that I chose to stick it out. In the four months that I have been here I have seen a fair few people pass through these doors. For some their time was cut short for insurance reasons, but others got frightened, found it too hard and left when the going got tough. I have at times felt frustrated that people don’t stay when they have the opportunity, but I realise that during my 12 years of being ill, I don’t think that I would have been ready for this before now. Everyone’s journey is different, and as frustrating as it has been, I can’t control anyone’s path or recovery. I am only capable of choosing my own tracks. It is amazing that the power of choice has the ability to completely change your perspective on life. Really there is no greater joy than life itself. I have been reading a wonderful book – it explains that we really do only have one choice in this life. Not who you want to marry, not your career, not where you live. It is much simpler than that. It is about whether you choose happiness. Once that decision has been made then life seems to flow much more freely. You are no longer fighting the current, you bob along at ease. You might think that if your circumstances were different you would be happy… if you had a new car, a bigger house, a partner. Wherever you are in your life, there will always be someone you think is better off than you, but if you decide to be happy and live your life with that choice then there really can be no one richer than you. Throughout your life a billion things could happen. Like I have mentioned before s*** happens, the question I keep asking myself is whether I want to be happy regardless. The following passage explains it beautifully. “The fact remains that you were born and you are going to die. During the time in between you get to choose whether or not you want to enjoy the experience. Events don’t determine whether or not you’re going to be happy. They are just events. You determine whether or not you are going to be happy. You can be happy to just be alive. You can be happy having all these things happen to you, and then be happy to die. If you can live this way, your heart will be so open and your spirit will be so free, that you will soar up to the heavens.”

This week I learned a valuable lesson. I had a bit of an upset with a member of staff that taught me a lot about myself. To cut a long story short, I second questioned something that I was told to do. I have no idea really why I felt the need to double check with another member of staff. I think that it was my eating disorder asking for reassurance even though I already knew the answer. She was obviously displeased with me and told me how she felt. Without going into the minutiae, I learned that when I perceive I am being told off I regress into a child. I retreat into my shell and apologise profusely, to try and smooth things over. I hate confrontation and upset. After saying sorry a billion times I went to bed thinking I had let it go, but woke up feeling hurt by the way that I was spoken to. I appreciated that my behaviour was not cool, but I needed to express MY feelings, so I grew myself back up and said how I felt in a confident and graceful manner. The conversation went well and I learned that two experiences can exist simultaneously, and that is OK. Two people can have different points of view and both be valid. I have now been able to let it go and move on. A few months ago I would have never recognised my mistake, and I would have stayed in my child self feeling hurt and resentful. My work from now on is to say how I feel in the moment, and not to let disharmony sit and fester inside me.

The weeks are going by so quickly here that I can almost see the end in sight. It has been a long journey that has at times felt impossible to conquer. When I mean the end, I mean the end of this chapter. My real work is only just beginning. This place resembles being in a womb, where I am now preparing to enter the world nourished and loved. I will leave here equipped with a toolbox of tricks that I must utilise in order to breathe. I really believe this to be true. My eating disorder – anyone’s eating disorder is at it’s worst life or death.

This weekend has been full of achievements and corrections. A couple of weeks ago when I was highly anxious about my lump, I had an unsuccessful trip to McDonalds where I let my eating disorder get the better of me and order a safe option for my dessert – this week I was taken there to have a “corrective experience”. It was quite a novelty as we went through the drive-thru. I don’t remember ever doing this, but it felt good to have the freedom to be able to grab something on the go. I know my dad would be proud. He thinks the day I “go large” in McDonalds is the day I’m cured! The second corrective experience was with fried chicken. Last week I made fish and chips, but mis-read the cooking instructions that told me to fry my fish in oil. Instead I used the spray oil and then had a small freak out when I was told to use a glug of cooking oil, so last night I went all out and made fried chicken and chips. As disgusted as my eating disorder was, it did taste good, and I made it according to the instructions and felt OK about doing it. Each week that passes is a measure of just how far I have progressed. It has been a grey drizzly day here, so this afternoon I took myself to the cinema. It was the first time I have ever been to the movies on my own, but I really enjoyed it. It’s not as if you speak to anyone while you watch a film anyway!

Today was also the final challenge of the week. I had to buy my snack out and eat dinner in a restaurant on my own. The dinner was the hardest part. The portion sizes still send shivers down my spine, but after being here for 4 months I feel as though I have a good enough idea of what a healthy amount is. I did well. My eating disorder was shouting loudly all day, but I knew that I wanted to be able to come home and have a clear conscience, so I ate according to the guidelines given to me. I had a good day. I even got to visit the horses before the cinema. I also skyped my younger sister and one of my best friends this morning, which helped me to keep strong and keep focused when I saw myself in the many full length mirrors I passed today. My relationships are just too important to me to jeopardise them by playing around with my food. I know that in the future I need to remind myself of the stakes – I have a more to gain from being well than from staying sick. This week has definitely been the most challenging food-wise since I arrived. I have most certainly not been ‘balancing on the pin’ and whilst it has felt uncomfortable, I have done it and I feel proud. I never thought that I would be able to do what I have this week and I am pretty sure noone here thought I would either.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here. The tree is up all sparkly, and the stockings are hanging over the fireplace. It feels strange to be so far away from home without any friends or family, but strangely enough I feel as though I have an adoptive family of sorts right here. The staff are lovely and so are the other girls, and I am actually looking forward to the holidays. This year will be different for all sorts of reasons. It will be the first Christmas where I will sit down to eat a proper dinner without spending a week starving myself in preparation and then another week after to compensate for every morsel that passed my lips. I want to be present, to participate, to laugh and be merry. I will not engage in planet la la. I will be a contributor to each day, I will feel gratitude for making it this far and for being given the opportunity to live again.

“Life is an opportunity, benefit from it. Life is a beauty, admire it. Life is a dream, realise it. Life is a challenge, meet it. Life is a duty complete it. Life is a game, play it. Life is a promise, fulfill it. Life is sorrow, overcome it. Life is a song, sing it. Life is a struggle, accept it. Life is a tragedy, confront it. Life is an adventure, dare it. Life is luck, make it. Life is life, fight for it.”

Mother Teresa.


3 responses to “Level 4

  1. Muriel says:

    Laura our faith in you has been rewarded. Well done, the mountain has been climbed, you have every reason to feel proud of yourself. Have a wonderful Christmas and enjoy your achievement. Love muriel x

  2. Maureen says:

    Laura, this is such excellent news. We were so pleased to read this and your last blog and to pick up how much better you sound; so full of life and enthusiasm for the future. Keep going lovely girl and come home rejuvinated. I know your mum and Roger can’t wait to have you back. Enjoy Christmas. You will be in our thoughts.
    Love Alan and Maureenxx

  3. Laura Taylor says:

    Hey Laura, massive congratulations on your success. I love the positivity in your words, and that you are so proud of your achievements. Well done you 🙂 Have an amazing Christmas and New Year. May it be a happy and content one Lots & Lots of love Lolly xxx

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