October 28, 2011

Farewell

And maybe this is life, what happens between posts.

I have achieved every item of my recovery to do list, and more. I feel ready. Fearful, but ready to embrace my life as the evolved, improved, peaceful and assured person I have developed into. My life has been on hold for a long time and the future is now. No more excuses, no more delays.

Thank you for being so loyal, thank you for encouraging me along, thank you for not giving up on me.

I feel this is a good place to end.

I feel this is a good place to begin.


October 22, 2011

Entitlement

When I hear to other people's stories, I truly question my entitlement to my disorder. Sometimes I ask, in disbelief, why me.

Brie was repeatedly molested between the ages of 5 and 8 by a family member. So was Wanda. Jana was verbally and physically abused by her mother, who taught her to be ashamed of her "disgusting body".

See? Them I can understand. I can clearly see why they reverted to an isolating disorder that attempts against the very thing that caused them so much hurt: their bodies. I can understand their shame and distress.

I have no similar experiences. And yes, I understand struggles are not comparable. However minimal it may seem to me, my experiences have affected me and it's just as "valid" for me to have coped this way.

But because I understand the pain of this illness... I don't wish it on anyone who has already suffered so much. They must have been in a deep emotional abyss to swap their sorrow with this agony. I just cannot imagine anything worse than this.

October 20, 2011

Super me

How could I consider this a nightmare anymore? How could I call this a curse at all? How could I not value this experience as the ultimate opportunity to evolve and make my life into what I want?

Through the fear and pain, I evolved. My philosophy and approach to life will never be the same. I now see life as a triangle, divided equally into Affect, Self and Ego. These three dimensions must coexist in equal states of development and demand similar investments from me. None should thrive at the expense of another. That has proved unsustainable. But what does that require? Well, it requires having a high self-esteem and a low ego. The former pursues the value of balance, the latter accepts that perfection in all three realms is unattainable.

The beautiful thing is that I have found gems and treasures to highlight the importance of the different aspects of my life. I think increasing my appreciation of them will allow me to value and want to nurture them forever.

My Affects are so much deeper. Not only am I able to experience a fll range of human emotions now (was I robot on crack before?), but I have numerous new people to share those with. My family is closer and stronger, my life-long friends know me even better... and then there are the new friends. Those that have gotten to know me during my recovery process and still haven't given up on me, and still have found something in me to like. Am I not lucky?!

My Self is significantly more real. I have arrived at the core of who I think I am. And I like it. I haven't fundamentally changed, however I feel like the much developed and centered version of myself. I will never be the exact same - Hallelujah for that!

My Ego is quieter and less dominant now. I no longer measure my self-worth by my accomplishment. Developing my emotional side emphasized how my insecurities found relief in my drive. i could mask them in success. No more. I love my passion and dedication to my goals, that has not changed. I continue to be ambitious and a high-aiming... but I can treat myself with compassion and gentleness.

I realized I am not Super Woman and, most importantly, I don't need to be.

October 13, 2011

Revelation XIII

It is not easy to admit (of feel) that my dad brings out traits of my character that I detest. I truly dislike the person that I can be around him. I find myself being short-tempered, impatient, sarcastic and snappy. I really don't know where those attitudes comes from, but I know they do not raise to the surface unless I interact with him. This is not his fault, it is simply my ill reaction to his influence.

After doing some work with Dr. K, I realized that a lot of it comes from a certain intolerance to my dad's actions and to his behaviour. A certain rejection. I needed to get to the bottom of it... after all, why would I reject someone I love so much?

Dr. K asked me questions that slowly moved me toward defining my perception of my dad a child. I used strong words to describe them. He was a strong presence in my life. I saw him as a giant, as full of strength and power, and the epitome of charm and intelligence, a colossus, the ultimate example of success, a titan, the life of the party, Tony Soprano. That was the father I saw as a child. This was not, however, a man I really knew.

I came to know my dad as an adult. Once we had both immigrated and had settled into our new realities. During his adaptation struggles, he relied heavily on me. I was his safe blanket, where he could project his expectations of himself and find some empowerment for my achievements. As I came to know him, I was confronted with a much different image than that I grew up with. This was a sad man, insecure, with a hard time recognizing his needs and even more difficulty asserting them. This was a man that lived trapped in the cage of the persona he had created for himself, and who was now isolated. Titans don't need help.

I now realize the "rejection" I feel is not towards my dad, who I love deeply, but towards those traits that I find do not suit him, do not fit him. I do not allow him to err. He is not supposed to. I do not tolerate his indecisiveness. He is supposed to be assertive. I do not condone his passiveness. He should be proactive. Wow... I believe I do to him the exact same I do to myself: set unrealistic expectations that go against my humanity.

So, maybe it is me who sees him as a projection of myself and reject all the traits I would find impermissible to live out. Maybe as I discover and accept my own weakness and vulnerabilities, I will come to embrace his more fully. Maybe I will end up understanding that I was blessed with an amazing man as a father... and that titans don't exist.

October 10, 2011

Thanksgiving

My sister loves the game where you go around the table and say what you are thankful for. I think it's awkward, but conveys a nice sentiment. Even though I originally established a resistance front to the activity, I ended up giving into it when genuine gratitude invaded me.

I am thankful to have you all in my life. I am grateful you haven't given up on me.

Thanks. Sincerely.

October 7, 2011

Measuring cups

It often helps to think of clothes as external items that in no way define or reflect anything about your identity. It often helps to think of sizes as an adjective pertaining to the clothing item, not to you.

I am not size 2. The pants are size 2.

Get it?

Size is just a number. Weight is just a number. Age is just a number. Calories, fats, sugars, starches are just numbers. Numbers are one of the only entities completely created by humans. They were developed as a way to quantify our world, our environment... not ourselves! So, when did that change? When did we start letting these meaningless figments of our ingenuity rule and constrain our lives?

When did I?

Maybe when I started finding comfort in what I could tangibly measure. Maybe when my emotional sphere got so out of control that I resorted to soothing myself with quantifiable musings. Maybe when I did not know what I was... unless I could measure it.

October 5, 2011

Loaded question

Al asked me the one question no one wants to answer. The question that summarizes all our fears, all our struggles and all our hopes. It's a simple one, and she sent it over a text.

Do you really think I will overcome this?

Loaded.

Thankfully, I had time to gather my thoughts and put together an answer that wasn't blindly optimistic, but accurately realistic. I want to write these lines, because when I feel my own certainty weaken, I must use the same assertiveness with myself.

"You know, I'm not a fan of cheery pep-talks, so I will base my answer on facts. You are young and haven't been sick for very long. You have an unwavering team of supporters (myself counted in a two-way tie with your mom as your Biggest Fan). You have clear goals to keep you motivated. yuo have a rich, full, deep identity that thrives much despite anorexia. There is so much more to you than sick Al...
I ask you, is anorexia something you do or something you are?
I have the feeling it is the former. It has been a chapter of your life in which you resorted to the best coping mechanism you could devise to regain control of a life that was spinning out of centre, and losing its shape to mold to external pressures and expectations. You were losing yourself and this was the only way to ground you. Yes, nothing to gain a false sense of power and control like being sick. That is why it is so consuming.
But now you have thoroughly explored and understood the functionality of your disorder. You have identified the root emotional causes and the practical triggers, you have clear insight into what anorexia does for you, what it makes you feel ... and an amazing capability to recognize and externalize toxic thoughts. Recovery is not "not having the thoughts", but identifying them as foreign and not obeying to their commands. In that separation, you detach yourself from the illness. you break free.
However, anorexia is a sticky, slithery, clingy beast that has brilliantly seductive strategies. It is deeply rooted in our self-esteem because we have allowed it to find fertile ground in our insecurities. This is why it can easily convince us we stand no chance of emancipation. Action is the only path to liberty, and you exercising freedom of choice that much transcends anorexia's orders. Al, you are finally being YOU, but it had been a while since you did so, which is why it's understandable for it to feel like an unsustainable charade!
I have had these fearful lapses of certainty and hope as well. I know how frightening they are. But I always remind myself anorexia is something I developed for a purpose, it was a survival tool, a means to an end. I am not its victim... Forget that! I've been victimized enough! It often helps me think of myself as the manipulative mistress that used anorexia and can now discard it. That way I take power away from it and allocate it to myself. It takes a certain degree or strength and intelligence to be so calculated and resourceful, doesn't it? Well, I use those thoughts to empower my recovery.
Whatever happens, remember you are not alone. We are in this together! But it takes ripping off every single root to heal. You cannot "shave" anorexia, you must wax it! Otherwise it grows back stronger. Waxing hurts way more than shaving... but we have endured much stronger pain. This is nothing!"

Makes sense? I truly meant it.

October 4, 2011

Working girl

I just did it.

I just hung up the phone with my employer. I need to arrange my back to work date. This is exciting and empowering. I'm slowly moving toward the healthy, independent life I had before. I'm slowly moving toward sustainable goals and true living.

Bear no doubt, I am nervous. I love my job and want to give it a fair chance. To be fair, I must go back healthy and with a solid self-preservation plan. I am terrified of failing, I am scared of not being able to perform. But I am certain that my health will remain my first priority and will not suffer as a consequence. I have developed enough humbleness to accept this may have been my "career-ending injury" and that consulting, as engaging and intellectually challenging as it is, may not be conducive to the lovely life I deserve. I am willing to take that, but I am not willing to give up before giving it my all. My healthy and honest all!

Now, to finish off my "hit list" for treatment... let me get planning this trip of mine!

September 30, 2011

Change - Over

I realized today that recovery lies in change. Program simply allowed me to identify what needs changing, but true healing is done outside those hospital doors. Health is in actions. And so, the next 24 hours will be packed-full of recover work. I will:

- Submit my MBA applications
- Move to my very own place
- Finish Core Treatment
- Start Day Hospital program

Anorexia wiped my life clean. Now I have a blank slate to make it into what I want - what I deserve.

September 29, 2011

Ready to play nice

Our perceptions of other people's intentions are unequivocally tainted with our ingoing biases. These are often predetermined by our insecurities. Finding even the trace of confirming evidence in an outsider's actions is demoralizing and promotes defensiveness... finding reassurance for out weaknesses is not pleasant.

Likely the most useful conversation I have ever had with my father happened yesterday. We were level-headed and even-tempered. We did not over-dramatize or exaggerate our feelings, we tried very hard to base every claim on tangible evidence and provide specific examples for each allegation. Yes, it felt a bit like a court case or a business discussion. Unfortunately, though, those are the terms I communicate in most efficiently.

The conclusions were painful. But the solutions useful. It took everything I had to lower my guard and admit to my vulnerability. My ingoing bias is that nothing I do is sufficient for my dad and that I am a constant stream of disappointment for him. This is deeply rooted in my core belief of insecurity and insufficiency. Even my best efforts fall short of pleasing him. Exhausting, isn't it? to try to live up to absurdly high projected expectations when, inherently, I consider myself incapable of ever fulfilling them. Messed up too!

The anxiety over my vulnerability was quickly replaced with pain. My dad voiced his ingoing bias, which is that I am trying to hurt him and reject him. He truly believed I do not love him. Harshest words I ever heard.

Going forward, we decided to work on our core beliefs individually. I intend to use a lot of self-talk and reality-testing to achieve this. I also will try to minimize the behaviours that I know exacerbate my father's insecurities. I will make a conscious effort to be gentler and sweeter in my tone and communication style.

Anything. I will try anything to make this work. I'm not ready to write off a parent.