“Love After Love”
by Derek Walcott
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
We watched a youtube video by Jon Kabat-Zinn in treatment tonight and he closed with this poem. It really touched me. It seems like a poem about eating disorder recovery in so many ways.
Tonight we also did meal planning. My nutritionist doesn’t seem to think I should be eating the same breakfast, same lunch, same dinner every day. So, we planned out some different meals. We have a sheet for a week’s worth of meals, but I only got through 3 days of meals. I am supposed to finish on my own. I also learned that my breakfasts and lunches weren’t meeting my meal plan. Oops! Well, I know how to fix them now.
In other news, I booked plane tickets to visit southern California in May and my hotel room for a trip to Albuquerque in April!
On Monday, in individual therapy, I went over my values cards. It’s pretty neat, you have a stack of like 100 values and you start by sorting them by “very important,” “sort of important,” and “not important”. Then you get rid of the sort of important and not important stacks. You take the very important stack and sort it into “problems,” “shoulds,” and I can’t remember the other stack. Then you discard the problems and shoulds and start over with the other stack sorting into “very important,” “sort of important,” and “not important.” There are more steps, but I don’t remember them all. Anyway, you get down to 7 most important values, then 5, then 3 core values, then your single most important value.
My 7 most important values are: (in no particular order)
My 3 core values are:
And my single most important value is love.
I think it’s good to know your values as they can act as a compass to guide your actions throughout the day. Am I working right now toward one of my values of family, friendship, growth, connection, love, discovery, or spirituality? If so, I’m probably on the right track. If not, I may need to reassess. And is my overarching direction in life moving me toward love? Love of others, love of nature, love of my Creator, love of myself, love of learning, love of growth? If not, I’m going the wrong way.
For evening snack Friday night, I had a challenge snack and at a half cup of ice cream. Earlier that evening, my dad had, I thought jokingly, told me I couldn’t have any ice cream until I moved a lamp he wanted me to move. The lamp isn’t in a place I normally see, and he always reminds me when I’m in the middle of something else.
So when he saw I had eaten ice cream, he asked if I had moved the lamp. I said no. He told me to go to the bathroom and stick my finger down my throat and throw it up. I was in complete shock, and didn’t know how to respond. I already wanted to purge the ice cream. And my dad knows I’m bulimic. He knows I’m in treatment for bulimia. He takes me to and from treatment every day!
I went to my room and texted my mom, in tears, and told her what happened and how I wanted to purge and how his comment just kept going through my brain. She told me that she knew my brain was probably being really loud, but to try knitting or watching something and distracting myself. So I did. I got out my knitting and I put on Parks and Recreation and I just sat in my room trying to pretend me father didn’t exist and I distracted myself for the next couple hours until I eventually went to bed, purge-free.
Last night I had a very hard time with dinner and I couldn’t finish and had to boost. When the staff member was talking to me about it afterward, she asked me what kind of thoughts were going through my head during dinner. They were standard Kyle-lies, things like “I don’t deserve to eat” and “I’m too fat for food.” She told me to give her counter thoughts to the thoughts I was having like we had practiced before. I couldn’t. I could not say the counter thoughts out loud. I couldn’t get them to come out.
This, after a bit, made me really angry. It made me remember the wheel of abuse we discussed in group and how my eating disorder felt, in that moment, truly oppressive. Something about that made me really angry. And I don’t get angry.
After dinner, we had art therapy. The art therapist asked me what I felt I needed to work on and I scared her by telling her I wanted to kill something. I worked with paint, which normally scares me because I have no experience with paint and I don’t like to get messy. I painted the above 3 panels.
I painted the middle panel first. That is the death scene. There’s an explosion of blood. That panel, while simple, was intense to paint. In that scene, I killed my eating disorder. I murdered Kyle. But that son of a bitch had it coming.
The first panel represents my eating disorder. It’s dark and oppressive with words that represent my eating disorder.
The last panel is my life after the death of Kyle. It’s bright and hopeful and, yes, there’s a residual effect of his role in my life, but most of my life is filled with what I want to fill it with.
Recently, in art therapy, I drew my eating disorder, and named it Kyle. Today in experiential therapy, we talked about abusive behavior and how our eating disorders are abusive toward us. Then, we wrote down lies and mean things that our eating disorders tell us, and then a neutral or positive thought to counter them. Below are some of the common thoughts Kyle tells me, and the neutral/positive thoughts I wrote down to counter them.
- You are disgusting.
- I am a beautiful human person.
- You don’t need food.
- I am a human person with physical needs.
- You aren’t human.
- I keep your emotions in check.
- Emotions are healthy and a necessary part of the human experience.
- You don’t deserve to eat.
- I am a human person with basic physical needs who deserves food.
- You are worthless.
- I have great worth and value to give to this world.
- If you do what I say, you’ll be happy.
- I am not happy living with my eating disorder.
- Dying of anorexia would be an accomplishment.
- Dying of anorexia would be a tragedy, and pointless.
- No one loves you but me.
- I am loved by many people.
- There’s nothing really wrong with you.
- I have a serious mental illness that needs to be addressed and treated.
- You are ugly.
- I am a beautiful human person.
- You are too fat for food.
- All people need food, I am a human person with physical needs. I deserve food.
I went to bed early last night. Partly because I was up all weekend playing video games and drinking with my brothers, and partly because I just didn’t know what else to do. Today, I should be working on school, but I’m not. This afternoon I should be going to treatment, but I don’t want to. I could be knitting, but I just don’t have the motivation for anything. I barely got through a shower. And I had to really work up to taking it. And only because I knew I actually can’t skip treatment tonight because it could jeopardize my insurance coverage. If I wasn’t going anywhere (like I want) I wouldn’t have showered. I stayed in bed 2 hours late. I haven’t eaten today. I’m considering taking a nap, just to pass time.
Sorry for not updating lately. I’ve been super busy this week. I know I left my blog on a down note. It’s been a hard week, but I’ve been trying (with varying success) to follow my meal plan and stay recovery focused.
Last night in treatment, we had art. I decided I needed to work with clay because I wanted to worked with something 3D and tactile. I found I didn’t really like the clay because I wanted the objects to be smooth and pretty and I couldn’t figure out how to get them that way no matter what I tried. However, I’m happy with what I made.
If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you may remember when I was dating the boy, and how he told me he didn’t actually love me and that he was only in a relationship with me because he was afraid of not being in a relationship. How I felt so used and broken. Well, the boy and I stayed friends since I broke up with him. I think because we were together for 5 years and I couldn’t imagine my life without him in it in some capacity.
However, I realized last night that by staying friends with him, I’ve been holding onto a hope that we would eventually get back together. That at some point, he would truly love me. I realized last night that I need to let go. I need to start moving forward. I need to have an open heart to what’s going on in my life right now and what can happen in the future and by doing that, my heart can grow, and can be open to something new.
I have a date for Valentine’s Day. I realized that even though I’m starting to move on, I was still holding onto the boy. I need to let go of him to fully embrace the new things that are happening. It’s not fair to the new guy and it’s not fair to me if my heart isn’t fully in it. So here’s to letting go, being open, and growing into new things.
In group last night, we had to write our song. It had to be our song apart from our eating disorders. We could either write something original, or cut and paste lyrics from a large stack of lyrics. I’m not at all a song writer or poet, and many of the lyrics spoke to me, so I opted to cut and paste. Above is the song I “wrote” (read plagiarized).
The process was hard. It brought up a lot of emotion for me while I was working on it. Then, I had to read it aloud in front of the group (which was pretty large last night) and I had trouble getting through it without tears. I let the tears fall once I finished. It’s very hard for me to be vulnerable. It’s hard for me to be seen. I don’t like the feeling of being seen. The openness of this project overwhelmed me.
Luckily, we had process group right after and I was able to work through what had come up for me and talk through it with the core group (just the two others in my program).
Oh, that reminds me, we get a new person tonight! I’m excited for fresh blood. Each person in our group provides great insight and perspective, so I look forward to gaining even more insight and perspective from a new mind and heart.
I was supposed to have physical therapy this morning. Their office called me this morning and said my therapist had a family emergency and had to cancel.
Just now the eating disorder clinic called and said they’re cancelling program tonight because of the snow.
My stomach turned when I heard this. It was a hard weekend and I have been looking forward to being back in the safety of treatment. Yes, treatment is HARD, but it is also safe. Now I’m left doing it all on my own, still. I haven’t eaten today because I ate 100% of my meal plan yesterday and that was ridiculous hard and overwhelming and I just can’t cope with more food right now. I don’t know whether I will eat dinner or not. I was supposed to have dinner at treatment, so I was already planning to eat, but now I feel like I have options. Right now I just want to take a nap and forget about the world.
Yesterday was day four of treatment. Before treatment was rocky between entering my food into the school software that calculates my calories, trying to follow the meal plan, stopping laxatives, and flushing my laxatives. By the time I arrived at treatment I was absolutely frantic and couldn’t eat dinner. I cried through the first group, which was dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT). After DBT was proccess group, where I was able to talk through my day and process everything that had happened and get advice and feedback from the group.
Process group was sooo helpful. I felt so much better after processing my day. I was able to eat and finish my evening snack.
I am still working on increasing my intake to get up to my full meal plan. I’m supposed to eat 3 meals and 3 snacks a day. Today I’m going to try to eat 2 meals and 2 snacks. It feels overwhelming. Especially since I no longer have laxatives and I’m trying not to purge.
All the changes I’ve made this week have been hard and exhausting. I wish I could just have something magical happen and I just be recovered! Why does it have to require so much work?