Have you ever tried to change? I’m talking big change, making a choice from hell, from a trapped existence:anorexia, alcohol or depression; the cages that ramp up insidiously until one morning you wake up wishing it would all go away? That moment when you’re really sick of living this way.
Change is dicey. It’s what we want someone else to do? If they changed this or that, we’d be happy. Really? Really, is that where it’s at? Change is hard because the only person who can change our situation is us. By the time a bad tape has been running for years, we’ve often separated ourselves from family, friends and lovers. Inside our glass bubble live intangible things like isolation, loneliness, fear and pain. Crap company.
Asked recently, when I first accepted that I was recovering, I had an epiphany. I knew my recovery from anorexia began with university, a change of place, people and study. But what went before? What opened the door allowing these me to accept change into my tightly constructed world of restrictive rituals?
When my periods stopped, I finally told my mother, months later, months of fear and fretting. As a child I nearly died, a bad gastroenteritis had me hospitalised, separated from my mother and at heaven’s door. The cellular memory awoke when our GP suggested the treatment for my amenorrhea, a result of my underweight status was a couple of nights in hospital.
Tests! In his defence, it was 1973, the diagnosis and treatment of anorexia in its infancy.
I’d already begun to tire. The ongoing demands, exercise, food restriction, deceit and academic excellence had me running a marathon. I didn’t stop because I didn’t know I could. I didn’t question because good girls kept it all under control and excelled. We didn’t make waves. But the idea of hospitalisation terrified me more than the consequences of not eating enough, of not exercising enough, of failing to achieve my goals.
Unwittingly, I’d begun the process of transition. I just didn’t know it. I vacillated, back and forth, eating more, eating less, saying ‘no’ to the coercive voice driving me to self-destruction and then saying ‘yes’ to appease the inner turmoil. I sought peace but didn’t understand that the disordered voice that shared my inner world lied. it promised peace if I co-operated but it couldn’t live in peace. Time and time again, I gave in to this fake peace until the day I got really sick of it. Sick of the lies, the loneliness, the unhappiness and the fatigue which like the cold permeated into my bones freezing the spark of life out of me.
It took time to unravel the restrictions, to understand that anorexia was nothing other than a pattern addiction that kept me away from the present. The rituals kept me chasing my tail and the lack of nutrition kept me mentally blunted. Every time I tried to break free, fear grabbed me, shouting me down, filling my head with impossible scenarios that seemed so real. Failure. The deep sense of not being strong enough to beat this thing made me feel like I’d made no progress. As a failure, I felt separated from the only thing I felt sure of, Anorexia.
The last three years of my high school were spent in the wash, a messy transition. Although I didn’t fully understand it, I had begun to spiral upwards towards recovery. The real me, that small person who had become buried under the anorexic shadow grew. Little by little with each battle of will, I became more clearly aware of the two voices within me:
- the real me
- the disordered voice.
As the real me surfaced, I realised we’d lost each other. She seemed vulnerable, a child. How would this tiny person be me? I loved her but in the way one loves an injured pet. Our relationship was in its infancy. The road to self-love takes time and patience. Self-responsibility takes courage and honesty. After years of running away from myself, I looked at my creation.
I didn’t like what I saw. It took time to accept that I’d mis-created my reality.
If you are transitioning out of a toxic relationship with yourself or a substance, give yourself a big hug. You are doing really well. Be patient and loving with yourself. Allow the real you to grow, gently and slowly. It takes time to change. Negative self-talk and unrealistic timelines will only hurt you more. No one else needs to know what you find in your inner world BUT YOU DO. I encourage you to be honest about ‘I’m not good enough,’ or ‘I’m not deserving,’ thoughts. Look at the ‘little you’ that is emerging and give it all the love it needs to grow. It is you, the child stepping into its power and leaving the shadow’s tenacious promises of fake peace behind.
If you need help or someone to talk to, click on the links below.