"I can do anything. I am strong. I am invincible. I am woman!" Helen Reddy, 1972.
My strength continues to grow as I realize I am strong and can do anything if I really want to. I am determined to leave the unhappiness of anorexia behind forever, and live my life with joy and happiness and love.
The week did not start out this way. I was very depressed by Sunday evening and I didn't leave the house until Wednesday. My darkest moment came on Tuesday night when I decided that my life wasn't worth living, and unbidden thoughts taunted me to just get this sorry excuse for a life over with already.
All my past mistakes, my failures at recovery and the uncertain future of my marriage hammered in my brain. I hated myself for again relapsing and driving David away, hurting him because I was just not able to sustain recovery and I didn't have an answer to why I couldn't.
Then I called several friends and after hours on the phone, I felt as if I could breathe again. I was still sad and anxious and depressed, but I felt a tiny flame of hope that I might someday have a life worth living.
I was calm enough to do some homework on Wednesday, and I left the house that afternoon to go see my therapist. Then I went grocery shopping and bought exactly the types of foods that Dr. S has told me to eat. (I can't afford a nutritionist, so my psychiatrist is taking on that role.)
I proceeded to carry my bags loaded with healthy foods (including Stouffer's, and yes, I know I said I would never eat those foods again, but whatever Dr. S says goes and he told me to ditch the Healthy Cuisine and buy something with more calories.) Then two of the bags ripped apart and my food scattered all over the snowy walk.
I screamed out my rage. My rage at anorexia. My rage at David leaving. My rage at what a mess my life seemed like. My rage and fear of the future. I'm surprised my neighbors didn't call the police. (I think I screamed quietly until I was in the house.)
Of course, it was at this moment that David returned my call and I was crying about the dropped groceries. Then I poured my heart out to him. I said I was going to beat anorexia and put it behind me, and that we would get back together and have love and laughter in our lives again and grow old together and ... and then he said, "I've always loved you."
I'm not sure what prompted him to say that. I don't remember what I said before he said that. But I do remember he said earlier in the day that I had hurt him by relapsing after he returned home, and I told him I was very sorry and that I had not meant to hurt him. I realize how hard it must have been for him to admit I had hurt him so much, and I am sorry.
On Thursday, I decided no more depression and anxiety. I worked on my schoolwork and managed to have a calm day. I went to bed early enough to get a decent night sleep, and said my usual prayers to God for healing of myself and my marriage.
Today I woke up to the bright, cold Michigan sunshine and got up to make my two-hour trek to see Dr. S. I plugged in my iPod and started playing some new Christian contemporary songs. I found myself singing along, and realized it was the first time I had really sung - sung from my heart - since David left. Dr. S smiled as I told him that I was playing music and singing on my way to see him.
Then I asked him if he thinks I will recover from anorexia. Think? I don't think you will. I know you will recover from anorexia this year.
As I shook his hand goodbye for the week, I felt hope rising as I realized this kind, gentle psychiatrist believes in me. And I thought, Yes, I will recover from anorexia this year. Driving back north, I again began singing to the music, the sun streaming through my sun roof, as David and I chatted for awhile.
It was then that I had my epiphany. I am a strong woman. And that's what I need to be, both for myself and my marriage. I thought about it all the way home, and remembered this song by Helen Reddy about being strong. I have been listening to it every since...
"Oh yes, I am wise. But it's wisdom born of pain. Yes, I've paid the price. But look at how much I've gained..."
Dr. S says I am gaining myself and freedom. I will be free. I will break out of the prison of anorexia, and I will peel back the layers and find myself.
"You can bend but never break me, 'cause it only serves to make me, more determined to achieve my final goal..."