Sometimes I feel like a different person.
Before recovery I was living a half life, a disemobided spirit simply working my way through a series of tasks until I could sink into binges and purges and self harm and depression fuelled sleep.
It was like bulima was my breath, the only time my lungs were full or my eyes were open, it was my moment of calm and pain and indulgence, it was the arms I longed to have wrapped around me, squeezing me so tight that the safety of their embrace was crushing me. I knew it was self destructive, I knew I was unhappy but I also knew no other way.
Almost two and a half years since I began recovery I'm slowly beginning to find these feelings else where; the comfort of an embrace and the indulgence of a treat come every time I'm with the man I love, when I sink into a hot, deep bath, when I put my pajama's on after coming in from the cold. I feel the pain and the grief whenever I'm able to cry - still not as often as I might need to - but it's there, I feel it at times like this, when I sit quietly and write blogs or in my diary or letters. The release I used to get only from a purge comes from naturally going to the toilet, something I haven't been ok with doing for fifteen years. I feel cleansed and refreshed when I achieve something work related, or muster the effort to go for a long walk.
I still struggle, turning to my eating disorder and self harm when I'm in pain, it's like when the first touch of it reaches me I turn immeadiately to bulimia, but now the journey I have to take to get to it, that once so sacred binge/purge cycle, is so much longer now, and as I walk toward it I'm allowing myself the time to contemplate my other options, sometimes even calming myself down alltogether.
It has been such a fight to get here, test upon test upon test; the first hurdle was structured eating, both the forcing of myself to do it and then the slow development of almost allowing myself to do it, allowing myself to use it and move with it and not be so tight and forceful with it.
Now I eat three meals a day and usually one snack about 4 or 5 days a week.
Then came the purges, where I had to allow myself to leave food in my body, I still struggle with this, only truly giving laxatives up in the last six months, although the desire is still very much in my mind, and even now I compensate for eating by restricting. But I have been sick three times in the last 11 months. A mind blowing accomplishment for me.
The binges continue, but on a much smaller scale than ever before, never ending in a purge, simply happening when I'm particularlly upset. I still think of an afternoon with the house to myself as an opportunity, but am able to busy myself with other, more productive and rewarding things, nowadays binges are breif interludes between a moment of being upset and a moment of consolation. Little more than a habit, a ritual that must be performed before I can truly deal with the problem at hand. After the binge I am able to turn to my friends and family for help or reach into myself for reassurance.
I guess that was the next step, developing the healthy coping mechanisms, learning to talk to people, listen to myself, write letters and diary entries, not degrade myself for the moments of fear or depression or poor performance. I am still filled with a huge sense of self loathing, desperately wanting to self harm, but I know these actions won't bring me the comfort I seek or release the pent up frustration inside.
I still have many days that I can barely face getting up, where eating is a chore, social activities make me anxious and I have panic attacks following moments of personal pressure and "poor performance". It's still a dark place in my mind and I can't deny that on occasion I still feel utterly hollow, but it's like there's this tiny candle burning in my soul, casting the tiniest light on my darkness. And no that bulmia isn't my breath, now that my life, my hopes and dreams and determination to recover exist in every inhalation the candle is slowly beginning to burn just a little bit brighter. maybe one day it will light my way completly.
Sticking with the slightly bizarre candle metaphor that has arisen here I worry sometimes that I will breathe too deeply, too suddenly, and the candle will snuff out in the gust of wind; I'm scared to push myself too far too soon incase I sink back into bulimia. And I am trying so hard to accept that it's ok to be afraid and the best thing I can do is to just stay calm and breathe steady, I can take it slow, take gentle, tentative breaths and build up to things; provided I keep breathing my candle will never go out.
So here I am, bracing myself, breathing slowly and continuing to walk along the road that I thought lead to recovery, but that I am starting to realize now is simply the road that will wind through my life, taking me on the wild, bumpy and unpredictable journey that being alive is all about. Things might be tough sometimes, I might loose my footing, but everytime I breathe that candle burns a little brighter and it's guiding my way.
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