Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Recovery is easy when life is good

And not so easy when it's not.  Or that's how it seems to be for me recently.  I've finally made my way past the every-meal-is-a-struggle part of my recovery, at least for now.  When life is chugging along I do well.  I feed myself snacks, I don't measure everything, I cook with oil, etc.  But when I'm faced with unexpected challenges I still struggle.  A lot.

I went camping with the boyfriend and some friends this past weekend.  Life was good, even though it rained and our tent got all damp and humid inside and the water went out in the campground.  I ate deliciously burnt marshmallows, snacked on tons of trail mix, and drank beer without trying to get drunk (I still have issues with figuring that if I'm drinking empty calories I should have a goal like getting drunk but that's another post).  I hardly thought about calories all weekend.

Then I got home and my beloved cat that I adopted in college and has been with me through all the moves and ups and downs of the eating disorder slipped out the back door.  She disappeared under the house but we managed to chase her out of there and almost got her.  She managed to dodge though and get through the fence to the front of the house and vanish.  She didn't come back for dinner last night or breakfast this morning despite repeated tapping of her food bowl outside.  It's been almost 24 hours.  She's smart and tagged and microchipped but I live on a busy street and she's only been outside a few times ever.  And never at this house.  To say I'm upset is an understatement.  In fact, I'm tearing up again as I write this.  Everyone keeps assuring me that she'll be back but they don't know for sure.  No one can promise me that nothing bad will happen to her.

I can't help but beat myself up over it.  (Not too surprising considering my last entry.)  "This is all your fault.  You left the door open.  You should have been more careful.  You can't do anything right."  And as sometimes happens when I'm upset or stressed my appetite has vanished.  I know I should be forcing myself to eat, and I did last night, but I'm so sad.  I don't handle strong emotions well.  Not eating numbs things.  I don't have the energy to feel bad.

So yeah.  I'm struggling a lot today.  This makes it pretty clear that I still have a lot of work to do in this recovery thing.  When things get rough restricting needs to not be my go-to response.  In the long run it will just make things worse.  I know this and yet I still haven't managed to eat today.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


I was reminded this morning about how rampant my perfectionism is.  At my work you can get into the stairwell without your card key but since there are companies on the other floors besides our two, you need your card key to get out.  Great set-up, right?  As I have done once or twice in the past I went in there and then realized I was locked in.

Instead of doing what any sane person would do, which is when they heard people on the other side pound on the door until someone rescued them, I waited in that stairwell.  I waited until someone came in and I could pretend I was on my way out, just standing there in my gloves and lab coat with my melting samples.  Of course I mentally tortured myself at the same time with things like "Why are you so stupid?" and "How hard is this to remember?"  I mean, I had to pass the time somehow, right?

I can't even simply forget something without deciding that this is an example of my worth as a person.  And then, god forbid, I definitely can't let anyone know that I'm not perfect.  Other people can forget something and I wouldn't think any less of them but I'm convinced that everyone else will hate me and laugh behind my back if they knew I screwed something up.  It's just so ridiculous.  And so much energy goes into this.  I even found myself saying later when my stomach was rumbling for lunch, "You're such an idiot, you don't deserve it."

What if I could use all the brain power and effort that goes into trying to be perfect for something else?  Unfortunately, I've never quite figured out how to turn that switch off in my brain.  There is a never-ending litany of "Don't screw up, don't screw up.  Stupid, stupid, stupid."  And in some ways it has been helpful in my life.  I've done really well academically and professionally because I have this drive to be perfect.  But at the end of the day is that really worth my sanity?  I don't know.

By the way, if anyone's interested I stood in that stairwell for 45 minutes.  Sigh.