12 January 2011

Spirit Rising (Today I Put Away The Scale)

After almost two weeks of unrelenting depression and anxiety, I finally felt today the first stirrings of my spirit rising to the challenge of living. I have no doubts I will recover from anorexia in 2011. I must in order to have any kind of life.

Today I put away the scale, that hated instrument that
I have been a slave to for at least a decade.

 I will no longer be defined by a number (one of my therapists is going to keep track of my weight to make sure I am going in the right direction and not losing weight or leveling off until I reach my healthy goal weight as set by my doctor, not me.)  

I am finding it difficult to put down in words what I am feeling right now. There is a strong sense of loneliness since my husband and I separated. I struggle with ongoing anxiety about the future. I am in the beginning stages of refeeding my body, and it is a time of feeling bloated and constantly full. I am writing and thinking and praying, and constantly learning ways to recover. I have an odd sense that this is my last time at recovery, that I must recover this time.

I am different this time. I refuse to even consider a relapse in my future. As far as I am concerned, I will fully recover from anorexia and then put all the pain and hurt caused by it behind me.

My moods have been swinging from anxiety and fear about the future to raging anger at anorexia for every coming into my life. I am working my way through "Life Without Ed," a recovery book by Jenni Schaefer that has many exercises in it to help people overcome their eating disorders. I find it very helpful to read and work with a book that focuses on recovery. However, I am stubborn about one exercise that has you in one chair and your eating disorder seating in another chair, then you talk back and forth as both yourself and as your eating disorder.

I look at the chair each night, give it the finger, and tell my eating disorder it has had a voice for four years and now it is time to listen to me. I then proceed to tell my eating disorder — no more name for you, as I have finally decided that gives you too much power — how much I hate it for entering my life and almost totally destroying it.

Right now, I am so very angry at anorexia it is almost frightening. Anorexia would already be dead if it was a person. Too bad I can't just put a knife through the evil heart of anorexia.

I wish I didn't have to do this alone. I have learned that having David here made this house a home, and while it still is my home . . . the emptiness sometimes becomes so hard to bear I break down crying.

My husband and I talk frequently. At first our conversations were pretty depressing, and he finally told me that. I was feeling the same way — crying during each phone call — and was grateful for his honesty. It is just I am not sure where our relationship stands right now, it all feels very strange and new and difficult to negotiate.

This is I what I know: we both still love each other very much. He has said he does not want to sit here and watch me slowly kill myself through starvation. I know that I hurt him by almost immediately restricting my eating when he returned home. I have assured him that it is not his fault. Instead, anxiety and depression came roaring back and I struggled to talk about the things that were bothering me.

I was feeling isolated and lonely because I was in the process of joining the Catholic Church and I didn't realize how much I would miss being with my husband at worship each Sunday. But I felt trapped; trapped by the work done to get David's first marriage annulled. I felt trapped by what I thought I wanted, not realizing how lonely it would make me feel. I felt trapped and like I had to continue the process even though my heart ached to be at church with my husband.

I finally told them last week I can't go through with it. I will remain at our church, which is the Episcopal Church and the one thing that was driving me toward the Catholic Church — the belief in the true presence of Christ Jesus in the body and blood of the Eucharist — is shared by both churches. David sounded...well, actually happy that I would be staying there. He said he felt that by joining the Catholic Church, I was isolating myself further from him.

Anyway, that is the past. I must learn to embrace the now. I wish I could be certain . . . well, certain of many things. But I have learned that I can't change the past nor control the future. I also have learned I can only control my own actions. And finally, I have learned that God is in all this and any illusion of control is just that — an illusion.

I must trust in God. I must go to Him whenever I am frightened and lonely, and I must thank him for His grace and mercy. Most of all, I must build the foundation of my recovery on Christ Jesus. Before, the seeds of my recovery were strewn on rocky soil and thus did not take deep root. I must allow the seeds of recovery to land within the soil of my heart, creating strong roots that stay with me the rest of my life. This will create the healthy me, and I will become the person I was and will be able to live a full and joyful life. I will be free!

Beyond that, I pray for this painful period to past; painful for many reasons. I pray that springtime comes to my soul and I become less angry and anxious, and more the healthy me I was before anorexia took over.

I pray, and each day do something toward recovery. I continue to work through "Life Without Ed." I write and ask myself what does loving myself really mean? I am trying to discover who is this person underneath the layers of anorexia? I sure I will find lots of surprises. It does feel strange to be 45 and doing this work, but if not now, when?

I pray, and I repeat to myself often: Believe and it will come true.


Susu Paris Chic said...

Discovering you can come at any age. What a chance to be able to do it! How exiting to be on the journey.

Your personality is beautiful. Food will only let it show. The proper amount nutrition. Not too little nor too much. Think of it as of fuel letting your talents come out. Every day you will shine more and more.

I Hate to Weight said...

you are doing everything you need to do. i am so....relieved and hopeful.

God's love will make sure you come thru. it's not even a question

So glad you posted.

i'm late for work. "talk" to you soon

Liz said...

You are a strong and courageous woman, Angela. You can do this. Believe in yourself and believe in God.

You are in my prayers.

Ashley said...

"I will recover from anorexia in 2011"

That is what exactly what you need to kick Anorexia's skinny butt! I have no doubt in my heart that you will find a way to recover and find that balance within you.

I find so much courage within you. I know you may not feel this way right now, but it is true. I admit that I had tears in my eyes while reading your post today.

I know you can do it, Angela.

Lady Pippa Jemima Fortesque Smyth said...

God bless you - truly. You are in my prayers.

Regarding the Catholic Church, I converted at 17, and have had a very rocky relationship with it since. I left it when I divorced my physically and emotionally abusive first husband and have fought with it since as I am remarried.

Part of me acknowledges that the impulse to be a fully practicing Catholic is both a search for structure and yet another way of hurting myself. The Church sets so many rules that are difficult to follow at all times, and although confession is helpful, it can become a very easy way to ladle on the guilt. Being a divorced Catholic who cannot seek annulment because of the tremendous strain and anxiety that the process would produce (although I would qualify according to a priest I know) is yet another burden. It also feels as if I am 'admitting' that my current marriage is invalid. According to their rules, maybe, but in the eyes of God I do not believe so.

In my own journey of faith I have become independent, and take from each faith that I have explored those things that nourish me. I will always have tremendous affection for the Catholic Church and I do still occasionally attend, but I also know that God is much, much more important than any single Church and He knows what is in our hearts.

In Mass we say, 'Lord, I am not worthy, but only say the word and I shall be healed' prior to communion. I will never be persuaded that those words are not true and that a Priest has the 'right' to refuse you communion because of your marital status, political beliefs or others' gossip. Jesus forgives, He does not judge when we are truly His.

I think that what I am saying to you Angela, is that the desire to join when there are so many obstacles may be due to an impulse to make yourself suffer from the desire to be 'right' in the eyes of others.

God bless

Karen xx

Lisa said...

Giving away your scale is such a huge step and it takes a lot of courage. I am super proud of you!!!


Nicole said...

I am so very proud of you for how hard you are working to recover. Keep fighting, you deserve happiness and a life free from your eating disorder.

You are incredibly strong and you will make it through this. I believe in you.


Anonymous said...

I, too, had tears in my eyes while reading this. I am glad you are staying with the Episcopal church, not because i have a problem with the Catholic church, just because it is what seems best for you, and I want that for you. I pray for you constantly, and can only hope that you feel it somehow, someway. never forget how strong, brave, and courageous you truly are, even when you don't feel like it.

xxoo Robin

Angela said...

I love the sound of your determination in this post. I've been feeling a bit hopeless lately, thinking that maybe it is too late for me, but reading this has inspired me not to give up. Let's make 2011 the year that we kick ED to the curb!
Sending all my love and {{{HUGS}}}