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“I got all my sisters with me”

on June 20, 2013
A sister is a gift to the heart, a friend to the spirit, a golden thread to the meaning of life.
~ Isadora James
Things have been a bit up and down this last month or so. The beginning began rather gloomy, but things are beginning to feel a little brighter. This weekend just gone though has been a definite high – more on that later.
I have been feeling as though I have been swirling around in a bit of a dark hole. Not really able to climb out and reach the opening. My therapist said that I am a bit of a spectator at the moment. Looking in on the world, but not really connecting and being a part of it. I am in a weird transition period. Still adjusting to my new body is a daily battle. I went home to my mum’s a few weekends ago and cleared out my wardrobe. Nothing fitted – three bags of clothes for the charity shop. I am doing my best to be pleased that I am no longer an unhealthy size, but on occasions the desire to be tiny creeps back in.
Perhaps the saddest part of my return back to the UK came when I had to clear out three boxes full of journals and folders. For the entire twelve years of my anorexia I have documented every single thought and feeling about food and my body. I described each unsatisfying meal, each morsel that passed my lips. It was career entirely dedicated to self-deprivation and punishment. It was to put it quite blankly, same s***, different day for twelve long years. It bought up so many feelings. Sadness mostly, but also anger. Anger that this cruel illness robbed me of my twenties. Time that I will never be able to get back again. I stood there in the garage reading journal entry after journal entry and they all said the same thing. “Eaten xxx today – feel rubbish. Must try better tomorrow.” BORING. Since being back I have barely written in my diary and I am seeing this as a positive. I no longer need to document every minute of my life, every thought and feeling that arises. I don’t have the time or inclination. I left the journals in a pile to be burned. What it did make me realise is, how much better I am than I thought. I get frustrated with myself that I am not ‘cured’ or ‘fixed’, but when I read back my journals, I can see just how sick I really was. Just how insane I have been and the crazy lengths my eating disorder would push me to – just to have it’s wicked way.
So this weekend just gone was one to go down in history. For the first time EVER, I spent Father’s day with my dad and two sisters. For many reasons (I will leave out all the minutiae as to why it has taken more than twenty years to happen) but it finally did, and what a splendid day it was. Dad, both sisters, brother-in-law, two scrummy nephews and step-mum all together at last. I could see the look on Dad’s face when he saw his three daughters standing together. It had been a long time coming and whilst I feel sad that it has taken so long, I feel sure that we are now united. I coped well with my food and was determined to show that my time in America had not been in vain. I was present and engaged and did not feel intimidated or lost for words. I really did enjoy myself and I hope that there are many more good times to come in the future. There is something about having a sister that makes me feel complete. I know that there is always someone there for me to talk to and to listen. I have had the luxury of having my sister all my life, but up until recently my half-sister has not had this privilege. Well we can not undo history or get back all the years that have gone, we can only look to the future and build on our relationships and I am looking forward to spending time together as a threesome.
What else have I been upto? Well I have gone back to work and that feels good. Being surrounded by lovely people and where I have a sense of purpose and belonging really helps to take myself out of my head. We have a new computer system since arriving in our new shiny offices and it is a little testing. I used to know my way around the system fairly well, but have been feeling as though I am the new kid on the block. Fortunately I have been reassured that it has taken everyone a little while to get their heads around it, so I am trying to be patient with myself. A few weeks in now and I’m feeling a bit more at home which is nice.
I have been thinking lately about where I am at in my recovery and the word ‘stuck’ keeps springing to mind. Neither going backwards massively nor moving forwards. These past few weeks I have been treading water and on the verge of sipping back into the grips of the terrorist. I get weighed each week at the clinic and my weight has dropped. I had a few stressful weeks with a few changes which unsettled me and I didn’t cope very well. That is my downfall. My eating disorder takes it’s comfy familiar position whenever life gets a bit tricky. It’s ugly head raises again and takes hold and this is something I must endeavour to stop. Life will be full of lots of ups and downs and I must not allow the downs to dictate my food intake. I think I thought that dropping a bit was ok, but when a bit became a bit more, I realised that it wouldn’t take long to be back in it’s tight grip. That is the difference between someone with an eating disorder and someone who embarks on a diet. Someone with anorexia can’t stop the diet – they just plummet further and further. It began with having a smaller snack here and there – missing one, missing two and you know the rest. I gave the monster and inch and it took a mile. I have had numerous lectures from loved ones. “How could I go backwards after all that time you had in America, surely you don’t want to get ill again?” I have heard it all. The answer. Of course I don’t want to be ill again. I do not wish to spend my thirties as I did my twenties, living a miserable existence. SO I have been reigning it back in again – fighting back and remembering the bigger picture. All the things I want in my life, and all of which are only possible if I stay firmly in recovery. This week I can report that my weight has stabilised.
Being stuck is a horrid place to be, but it represents so many people living out there ‘managing’ their illness. Millions are struggling and are left untreated. They appear ‘normal’ both physically and mentally. They do not look skeletal, yet they are battling abusive and disturbing thoughts and feelings. The media doesn’t help with it’s constant need to criticise and analyse women’s bodies. When did it become acceptable to despise our bodies and punish and deny ourselves of pleasure? ME- I got complacent and lost motivation to push on that bit further to the next level. I accepted second best. A ‘better adapted’ life. Anorexia takes a lot of energy but so does fighting it and you can loose the spark inside of you when you feel as though you are getting nowhere. Battling an eating disorder is like falling down a well. It’s pretty easy to fall down, but damn hard to pull yourself up and out. The more you try the harder it gets because exhaustion sets in. Being stuck can feel safe – you follow a food plan. People can see you eating, so what is the problem? The problem lies in the fact that you are always one bite away from relapse. You are never fully embracing life, merely existing – plodding on. Afraid to take a risk, to let go that bit more. While I know longer feel as though I am ‘existing’ but I do feel as though I am hovering in a murky grey area – so close to the rainbow, yet so close to the storm too. There isn’t really anything anyone can say to me anymore. I have heard it all and more. The choice lies within me. Am I prepared to accept a life functioning on two cylinders or am I going to push on ahead at full throttle?

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