I know I haven't blogged in a while. No real reason for it, just felt like taking a break. But now I feel like writing about an experience that's been taking place over the past week.
I had the opportunity to go back to the place where my ED started and developed. To clarify, at the beginning of my recovery I moved to another country. As much as I hated the thought initially and still struggle with it from time to time I now know it was the best thing that could have possibly happened to me. Living in a place where my ED and I have so much “history” together makes everything all that much harder. But I really wanted to go back – to see my old friends and just get away from the routine a bit. I was worried though how I would react to being in a place where all I have are ED memories of restricting, starving and purging. Every room has a memory, every place has a behavior. Scary as it was during this trip I learned several important things.
Let's start with the good – I faced some HUGE challenges while I was there and did rather well I think :P. I ate at a party – without binging or seriously restricting. That was freaky. Last time I was at a party I had starved myself all day so I ended up binging, purging and spending the rest of the evening crying over what I had done. I was soooo scared history would repeat itself. But I looked at the plates of snacks, had a few that looked appetizing, ate dinner and that's all there was to it. No binging, no need to hide in my room so my impulses wouldn't take over and make me devour everything in sight. No guilt attached either. It was great.
Second challenge – Chinese fast food. God, I hate that stuff. I went out with a friend and she was dying to have some. I ordered a small soup, but she then insisted on ordering a whole plate of greasy fried noodles. Was I pissed? You bet! I didn't want to eat there and I certainly didn't want to eat that. But guess what? I did it. I sat there and talked to her and ate some of the food. Didn't eat it all – I wasn't hungry enough and I also didn't like the food (very very bland). Her sweet and sour chicken was a million times better. I felt guilty afterwards but I refused to restrict and ate later on in the day. It was a good reminder to me that fears are just that -fears- and I can overcome them.
I had some major triggers while I was there too. I felt the urge to restrict from the second I walked into those surroundings. Most of the time I didn't give in, but I sure as hell was tempted. My hunger disappeared almost instantly and I felt drawn. Drawn to that scale in the bathroom, drawn to eat just a fruit instead of a meal, drawn to cope with my emotions and stress by depriving myself. I did not weigh while I was there, I did not exercise. I had only one small slip up. But it was hard, so hard.
I saw some friends from IP there. Though I was happy to see them, it didn't make things any easier. One of them only left the hospital 2 months ago and she's already lost 10 kg. I saw her and the first thing that went to my head was “Oh my God!” She was pale, skin tightly drawn over her cheekbones, layers of makeup trying to cover the utter lack of color in her skin. Through her clothes I saw every bone and I wanted to cry. I wanted to cry because she is happy in what she does. I want to cry because I know she won't stop. I want to cry because she studies 10 hours a day and works another 6. I want to cry because I know she is unhappy, but she doesn't know it yet. She was telling me about how cold and tired she was, how she has a potential relationship in sight but can't stand the thought of getting intimate because she knows the guy will tell her to gain weight and she doesn't want to. Most of all I wanted to cry because I saw in her an image of myself. I saw who I used to be, and still am in some ways. And it scared me. What if I don't beat this thing? Will I go back to my illusion of security while my whole life slips away? Will I truly believe that that is the only way I can live and be happy?
The other friend was better. She's also binging and purging, but she seems not to be falling as fast. I know she longs for a way out. She wants to believe it is possible, but she's lost hope. I want to be an example to her. I want to show her “Look, I did it. You can to. ” She realizes that she is numb, her life means nothing to her. And though it hurt me to hear her say it at least I know she wants help. And that means there is still hope. If I can only find a way to reach her, to empower her with the same motivation that I have, maybe she'll find the light in her life again. All I can do for now is hope and pray that she will not give in, that she will find the strength within herself to fight and that she will find people along the way to help her.
But what I learned most of all through this past week is that I am not as strong as I thought I am. I still have such a long ways to go. Those thoughts, although quieted, are still there. They wait for a moment of weakness, a moment of struggle, a moment where I lose focus. And they call me, they draw me. I am not invincible and I mustn't underestimate what lies in front of me. I need to keep fighting, I need to keep moving forward. If I don't I will slip back. And that is the most terrifying thing for me.
Do any of you have a triggering place where you ED thoughts become especially strong?