Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Magical Thinking?

Is it possible to control your world to the point of avoiding all things frightening and spontaneous? For anyone who has or has ever had an eating disorder, they will know all about the magnanimous effort it takes to attempt to do this. Often, a person who is suffering from an eating disorder, or one who suffers from OCD, obsessiveness, or anxiety, will also develop a certain pattern of thinking, in an attempt to find a solution for their life that feels safe. Because all of these disorders or conditions involve an attempt to avoid discomfort or pain, the aspect of 'magical thinking' may occur with all.
Think about the rules and rituals that often accompany an eating disorder. We feel a desperate need to ALWAYS do certain things, and NEVER do other certain things. I believe it all comes back to a need for certainty and an attempt to control our environment....an avoidance of harm or pain. We truly believe that by following a certain routine, using a special spoon or plate, cutting our food into certain sized pieces, chewing each bite a certain number of times, etc., we can prevent pain or harm from coming our way.
If you think about it, it's very dichotomous. On the one hand, we feel unworthy, weak, incapable, bad, or any number of other negative labels.
But...for some reason, we feel almost superior in our ability to control our environment to the point of controlling destiny.
If we do this, that will happen (or won't happen). If we don't do this, that won't happen (or will happen). It's a maddening way to live, and it keeps one totally imprisoned. There is only one way in our minds when this takes over. Our way. But the reality is, our way is slowly killing us.
Magical thinking?
Today, for me, magical thinking is simple. There is no perfect, so I don't have to be perfect. That's pretty magical to me! I can't control what happens in this world, but I can choose to live each day to the fullest, and to take the best possible care of myself along the way. When I look at my husband, the love I feel is magical. Being able to cry is magical, as it also allows me to laugh and sing.
I'm not running away anymore!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My Armour

How can I protect my heart and my soul from the pain and grief associated with my memories? My 'former' life? I can't just cut my family out of my life, nor do I want to. I can't pretend those years never passed, or the painful memories never happened. How did I survive as long as I did? And why?
Going back to my small hometown was hard this past weekend. Seeing Matt living out of a motel room breaks my heart, yet I know it's not my fault. No job, no driver's license or car. I can't help him at this point. I bought him groceries.
I saw and talked to Andy's Mom. Andy shot and killed my youngest son eight and a half years ago. It was an accident. Andy is struggling emotionally with his memories and grief. We cried. My instinct to comfort was totally off balance. How can I possibly reach out to this young man? How? Why?
I went to the county High School and picked up a 2002 Yearbook that someone had donated to me. It contains a memorial page with pictures of Tim from age three, up to ten days before his death. I cried. My heart hurt, as it hurts now. I will always be aware of a hole in my heart just as Tim suffered.
The hard fact is there is no 'protection' from my memories. The truth is I don't want them to be erased. I am now able to embrace my 'former' life, as well as the life I live now. I have accepted that THIS is my life. I am who I am because of both my 'former' life and the life I live today.
The pain and grief that accompany my memories parallel the joys and love that I experience every day. They are all a part of ME. I am in love with Dave. I live my life with no apology. I embrace the opportunities that life now hands me, and I accept the responsibilities that sometimes cause me anger or resentment. I would not know what to change if I could. I tried that for years, and it only caused me illness.
How did I survive for all those years? Not for me to figure out. Why? Does it matter?
What matters is that I am alive and I want TODAY to count, for myself and everyone else in my life.
My armour is my awareness, my health and my willingness to continue to learn and grow.
I am thankful.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Many things to share...

I'm about to leave for a drive down to see the family, with a small detour to 'meet' my newest great-nephew on the way. Very excited about that! There are many things I'd like to write about, so for this moment, I will share a 'preview'. For any of you who happen to read my rambling writings, I am quite passionate about sharing facts and information about the dangers and the myths that are believed about eating disorders. Some of the things I want to elaborate more about are: Weight is genetically determined....when we try to 'make it' what we want or what we think is our 'healthy' weight, we are likely to either end up with a deadly eating disorder, or at a much higher set point weight than ever before. You can't mess with biology! We are led to believe that we CAN pick 'our' weight, and we will be happy and healthier forever. It's not true, and that belief has killed many women and men in their attempt to achieve that. Can we change our height? Can we change our genetic make-up in other ways? No.
Also, how did our society become so obsessed with proving our worth by external evaluation? Perfection? Perfection itself is a fallacy. How can be begin to help ourselves, our children, our friends, to change the ways that we determine or base our worth? Society fights any attempts to look internally, but it is possible. It's all about focusing on developing those genetic characteristics, our talents, our values, and our personalities in such a way that we can embrace those things as who we are..not what we weigh, what size we wear, or if we are able to make straight As. What are we sacrificing in our lives in an attempt to achieve some impossible perfection? Freedom from this trap is possible. Recovery from eating disorders is possible. What do YOU value about yourself and about your life? Think about it....more on this later....Namaste

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Why So Ashamed?

Why are so many people ashamed of who they are? Where does the shame originate for a person who is suffering from an eating disorder? What is it about society today that causes so many people to question who they are, and if they are 'good enough'? Everyone has an opinion. But it goes further than that. Society seems to imply that there is a 'stamp of approval' that we all must meet in order to be acceptable members of society.
This pressure is especially damaging for those who are already sensitive to the opinions of others, and is sometimes noted to be a factor in the development of an eating disorder. This sensitivity, along with other factors, is also what causes such an intense fear among those suffering to reach out for help. What is this fear all about? Again, it comes directly back to the judgments of society and the criticisms of those who are different or unique.
When I first developed anorexia about forty years ago, I consider it an advantage in this respect that not much of an opinion had been formed about eating disorders...they were virtually unknown. When I found out that I had an illness, I had no fear of seeking help, there just wasn't good treatment available.
Today, because of common views of much of society about eating disorders, those who are suffering are often seen as defiant, selfish, attention seeking, and just not caring for themselves. This couldn't be further from the truth. Or, for some who are suffering, there is pride, and a sense of accomplishment for being stronger than others because they don't 'need' food, which also appears as 'virtuous', which is not at all factual.
Eating disorders can be fatal. People can and do die from eating disorders. Anyone who is suffering from an eating disorder needs to know that with the proper kind of treatment, recovery is possible. You can't get help if you don't reach out and ask for it.
My recovery truly began in 2002. Until that time, the treatment that I had received was not based on research, facts or scientific models. I found during my recovery that my worst fears did not come to fruition when I challenged them. I expected rejection from others when I opened up to them, but I found support, and openness on their part as well. I was told for the first time in all my years of illness that recovery was possible! The staff at the River Centre Clinic ( http://www.river-centre.org/ ) told me there was hope. I had never been given that.
If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, the least important thing is that others understand. The most important is that you (or they) get the best help possible, and as quickly as possible. I found from experience that even if the people that you want to understand don't, in time, when they see that you are recovering and starting to reclaim your life, it won't matter any more. You deserve to live, and you deserve to be free!! No shame. Please step forward and seek the help you need! Namaste

Friday, October 2, 2009

Reflective Vacation

A week ago tomorrow morning, we left for the airport to fly to Las Vegas. How can you predetermine what a vacation will be like? You can't, but we both knew FOR SURE that we needed some time away together. Ahh....
I began this vacation tired. Tired of the daily responsibilities of life, and tired of preparing for time away. Why does that happen? Yet, I was excited to be getting away for a change of pace and some time with just Dave. Ahh....
We are sitting in the airport, and I see this young man...he's probably 16 or 17, dark-haired, tall, with those ruddy-looking cheeks I remember so well....just like Tim. My eyes welled up, and I tried to distract myself. He's on our flight.
I was finishing a book about a young girl with a congenital disease. Her Mother fought hard and sacrificed her entire family's happiness to gain support and financial help for her...only to have the girl die a year later by accidentally drowning in a nearby pond. Tragic. I sobbed...for Tim. Why couldn't he be with me, going on vacation, growing up to laugh, fall in love, and continue to be his special silly self? And Matt, sitting in jail, none of us knowing his future.
Is it OK for ME to be happy? To laugh? To fall in love? To be silly? Why did my boys have to miss out because I was sick? No answer. Life isn't fair.
We arrived in Las Vegas, hurry down to claim our luggage, and there he is. Standing with his parents. My eyes are filling with tears. What would he do if I ran up and hugged him? I would probably be arrested. So I cry. Why are my emotions so 'right here' when we are beginning our vacation?
We were in Las Vegas for three nights. We had a wonderful time, laughing, loving and enjoying our time away. We had the lunch buffet at the Mirage. Hundreds of foods to choose from. I loved it, and could never have done it even two years ago. No fear. Ahh...
I continued to think often of my boys and wish I could take them both on vacation. Maybe I can take Matt someplace, I only hope that Tim knows my heart. He does.
Driving to San Diego I am enthralled at the beauty of our Earth, and I am filled with gratitude for the life I have been given, for the love I feel for Dave, for my health, and for the wonderful friends I have.
San Diego. The Zoo. The beauty of the foliage nearly made me high. I took more pictures of flower blossoms than I did of animals. I loved every moment. Why did it take so long for me to come alive?
I see all the little children, and I regret that I missed those moments with my boys. Pregnant women. An impossible dream that is forever past. If I controlled the Universe, I would be pregnant and give birth to a daughter. But I don't, and I won't.
Combing the beaches and climbing the rocks along the shore. Another gift of recovery. True amazement at the beauty of life and this Earth. I have strength. I can climb. I smile a LOT!! Ahh...
Tonight we are going out for some fresh seafood and our last night in San Diego. Matt was released from jail on Thursday. The facility is overcrowded. What a strange world. I want to take him someplace magical for a vacation. Ahh...
We have today. No guarantees beyond this moment. What am I waiting for?