Recovery

Me>You

comparisonblogSince January, I have tried to eliminate binging and overeating from my life. I recognize that completely stopping is not realistic. Relapsing from an eating disorder isn’t like relapsing from alcohol. If I have one drink, that is considered a relapse. One binging episode isn’t a relapse as long as I get back to a pattern or regular planned eating pretty quickly. With the elimination of alcohol over a year ago and now this “no relief from food” thing….these past couple of months have been crazy.

My hormones and emotions have been WILD. (Just ask the others who live in my house). My eating disorder is alive and active. It has morphed itself into this inner voice that whispers things like, “Just have one more cookie, it won’t kill you”, “You’ve been doing so well you DESERVE a treat.”, “No matter how hard you work at this you will fail, you always do.”, and finally my disorder tries to lure me into complete restriction or purging if I’ve gone “off plan”.  In that moment, it doesn’t matter that people die from purging and restriction. My mind can trick me into thinking that being thin and dead is better than being fat and alive. In my conscious mind, I do not believe any aspect of that statement. But if I let the disordered voice get loud enough, it can drown out the words of reason.

Separately but not completely different are my emotional responses seeing how happy and successful you are.  I want to be happy for you when I hear you’ve joined a new gym and have been there 10 times in a week, but instead I am engaging my inner brain calculator to see how my fitness activities compare to yours. When you post that you bought a new fit bit/applewatch/caloriecounting/miletracker, I can go from having no interest in owning one to ordering it next day delivery and reading the entire owner’s manual online before it arrives. It doesn’t matter that I know tracking and counting eventually shatter me. It doesn’t matter that I know and understand the dangers of dieting and counting steps to my disordered behaviors.  For some reason, no matter how much I love you, no matter how much I want you to succeed, I will try to figure out how we measure up, side-by-side. I will hope that I am “better” than you. I will compare myself to you and that is deadly.

This shit is hard, I have to admit that and surrender to it every day. I refuse to pretend that eating on plan, exercising without tracking, eating without guilt or shame and calming my ever spinning brain are easy. Being honest with you and connecting on this uncomfortable level is hard. In order to live, I have to connect with you and people who understand my diseases. I have to connect to the person who has the spinning brain of an alcoholic.  I also have to connect to someone who undereats, overeats, purges, binges, over workouts, or populates spreadsheets with calories and workout data. Each of these types of people are my partners in disordered thinking.  There are days I am blowing up people’s phones because of my struggles.

In the midst of the struggle…I breathe.  I also laugh…cause if I don’t laugh, I’ll cry.

My final thought is this: my mental health does not depend on a lower BMI. I have to accept who I am, addictions and all.  I can be fucking crazy thin, fat, lazy or active. What I can’t do is relapse. Thank you for helping me not relapse today.  💙 Jen

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My addicted mind

cry for webNot too long ago, I woke up on a Saturday morning, walked downstairs to find piles of things on the counter, dishes piled in the sink and trash strewn around the floor. At that moment I was overwhelmed with stress and guilt. I went from a messy kitchen to fears that my kids might go to prison. You see, my mind is not like yours. A messy dish in the sink is not what it appears to be. It transforms, like in a horror/sci-fi movie into a symbol for all things I have failed.

Here is how it went:

“Oh my god, I can’t believe how messy this kitchen is, why didn’t someone take care of it. Well, Jennifer, you could have done something about it if you hadn’t gone to bed at 8:30. Normal people stay awake till 10 or 11. Why didn’t someone else get these dishes taken care of? Your husband tried to do his best but you never seem to appreciate what he does, only criticize him when he doesn’t do things your way. I wish someone would see the value of having a clean kitchen in the morning. Well, if you had taught you kids to be responsible, you would have a clean kitchen. You have never been able to stick to a plan. You give them consequences and don’t follow through. These poor kids, you haven’t even successfully given them chores. They just tend to get what they want. How are they going to navigate life? What will they do once they go off to college. Hah, they might not even be able to handle that since you have been so remiss in teaching them responsibility. They will probably end up in prison some day because you were never able to teach them the importance of doing dishes.”

On a good day, this is the point at which the insanity stops. I can start walking back these issues, evaluating them on what is subjective and what is fact. Fact is, the dishes are dirty. That doesn’t mean they don’t respect me, that doesn’t mean anyone is going to prison, it just means that the dishes are dirty. Frankly, that doesn’t even mean that the dishes MUST be done. I could leave them there. I could throw them away and buy new dishes. There are a lot of options. My mind just tends to go to the most dramatic. I catastrophize everything. If my husband is late from work, it isn’t because traffic is bad or because he left a little late. He has certainly been killed on the way home.

All of this is part of my addicted mind. These are the reasons I drank. These are the reasons I binged. Today I can settle my brain from spinning out of control and not turn to a coping mechanism that forces me to forget. My most reliable, in the moment release is to cry. Today I cry more like I did when I was 13, but that’s okay. Crying probably won’t kill me. Though, I could probably weave a scenario that makes that a possibility.

Some Days Are Better Than Others

The 8th grade was horrible. My emotions were so strong and I had so much sorrow every day that I cried nearly every day at school. Kids made fun of me and singled me out, including my two best friends. I was ostracized by my entire group of girlfriends for nearly ½ of the school year. Years later my mother told me she worried whether I would make it through the year without taking my own life. The feelings I’ve had this week remind me of the 8th grade.

letting go darkHeavy intense emotions. End of the world sorrows. Little comments from my kids, my husband, and my daughter are slaying me. My son said to me the other morning, that one of the happiest times of his life was when he was in daycare. In daycare the provider’s son chose HIM, every day, over all of the other kids, to take upstairs to play. My heart broke for him. I am not sure that he has had a friendship like that since then. One that he is the center, he is the chosen friend. I wish this so much for him.

My daughter is going through a rough time. My husband and I were talking and we admitted that we worried so much about our son, we always thought our daughter wouldn’t be a problem. I then realized that for years, I had been drinking while my daughter was hiding out in her room by herself or with friends. I was more often than not, too busy searching out the next bottle, encouraging her to put on a movie, or play a video game as opposed to playing with her. This is my negative mind that can bring me to my knees in an instant.

I’ve walked around with puffy eyes all day. I am reminded that “I shall not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it…” But I am heavy with regrets and sorrows today. I wish I could hold that little girl who wanted just wanted her mommy. I am so sorry I turned her away.

366 days ago

I took my last drink. Because I knew it would be my last drink, I finished off a bottle of fireball whiskey I had in my pantry. I woke up with a horrible headache, texted a few friends and family members for accountability purposes, and went to get help for recovery.

Since then, I have been given many gifts, opportunities, and challenges. I haven’t had to experience one of them with a hangover. That, in and of itself is a gift.

Sobriety has given me emotions. Raw emotions that I am forced to sit in without numbing. Sometimes,honestly, they suck. This past year I suffered the loss of two friends to depression, my dog, and at times my sanity. And in the midst of all of that I had the ability to feel the pain, the sorrow, the grief, and the emptiness that comes along with life and living. 

One surprise was….I picked up a skill along the way. I can draw. Who flipping knew? I bought myself a sketchbook on August 22 and finished the sketchbook on October 7. I have a Facebook page and I have a small webpage set up to display my works. I use this as a major coping mechanism. And I love every single piece.

I am blessed with amazing friends from all different times in my life. In this past year I have continued  to meet people that fascinate me, inspire me, and compel me to be the best person I can be. I am grateful. So grateful.

I am reconnecting with my older sister in a way that we haven’t been able to connect in a few years. I’m not exactly sure why it’s been so difficult in the past, but I do know that in the past few times we’ve been together I have removed a lense that I have been using to listen to her with. As opposed to assuming that things she is saying are intended to hurt me, I’ve decided to choose to believe that the last thing she would want to do is hurt me. 

My kids have approached me with unbelievable topics to talk about over the course of this year. This is not something they could’ve done in the past. I don’t think they could’ve trusted me. First of all, I probably would’ve forgotten what we talked about. I mean I used to forget our conversations all of the time. But not anymore.

I’m going to be honest with you, and this past year I have been HONEST with you. Getting sober was the best decision I ever made. Period. 

painting with my sobriety date i did this summer with my gals

  

some one decorated for my 1 yr anniversary

 

Somewhere along the way I stopped trying to figure out why

hurts a bitwmAs a person who struggles with addiction I can feel pretty put upon at times, I will spin myself into epic Tasmanian clouds trying to get to the bottom of it all. I ask all sorts of questions. Why me? Why can’t I drink like other people? Why can’t I be the person sipping on a glass of champagne for  ½ an hour? Why can’t I stop when I felt tipsy? (this is just ridiculous) Why can’t I politely pass the basket of bread without eating the whole loaf?

Sometime in the past few weeks the “why” became irrelevant. All that was left was truth. The truth is I am flawed, scarred, and wounded. I’ve got to move on from that. I don’t need to go deeper into the reasons behind my behavior because frankly, I have lived my lifetime thousands of times in my mind trying to dissect the choices that led me to where I am today. I make myself physically ill from why I stayed at the party in 1987 instead of going home. I spin and spin whirling around choices, conversations, mistakes and wounds all to end up each time exactly where I am right now. HERE.

So today I choose not to look back. I will embrace the sorrowful losses and lean into this discomfort, armed and shrouded by community love and support.

I should be just fine.