Tuesday, January 12, 2010

three years later...

This past Sunday was the 3 year anniversary of the day that I truly began my recovery. That was the day that I was admitted to an inpatient treatment center (where I stayed for the next 7 months). I had lived with this illness for so long before that day that it had become a huge part of me. It was me. It was my identity. It was "just the way I lived". I had been to many different doctors, therapists, & specialists and also different hospitals, but none of them had been able to help me... because I wouldn't let them help me. I refused to admit I had a problem (even though it was often obvious to anyone who witnessed my "strange" behaviors or even just looked at me and saw my appearance). When I would be sent to see these professionals by my parents, I wouldn't let them in and when they got close - I would stop seeing them and make up an excuse to my parents as to why I couldn't see them anymore. I was in complete denial about what I was doing to myself. I think I was in denial for two reasons: 1- my e.d. had been in my life for so long (since middle school) that it had become my "normal" and 2- I think I was terrified to really allow myself to see what was happening to me because deep down I was afraid and I knew I was powerless to let my anorexia go.

So, one month after my 26th birthday - my condition was so grave that I had no other choice but to go inpatient and I knew this. There was no denying it any longer. I had been seeing a new therapist for about two months prior to this time and she is the one who got me to admit and accept that I needed help. I credit her a lot for helping me start on this road to acceptance of my illness and my recovery. I truly thought that this was going to be the start of a new life. I guess I was naive to the reality of just how entangled in my anorexia I was. But I didn't know that at the time. All I knew was I had lived with my e.d. for so long and I honestly thought that this was finally my time to get better and move on. I thought that I would go into this treatment center and come out recovered. How naive and stupid I was... because when I was admitted to the center and started to work the program I realized that this was going to be the hardest thing I have ever had to do. At the center, I quickly retreated back into my denial thinking and was hesitant to let go of my behaviors. I was afraid to let go, and the e.d. was so much in control even in this place that I thought I was "safe". It took quite a few months of being there before I was finally really ready to accept the idea of letting go of my e.d. And it was then, that I finally saw that change in me and I started to honestly try to work the program and even stop all the behaviors I was still trying to engage in secretly (dumping out my feeding tube, hiding food, exercising at night, ect.) I was ready to recover, to get better, and to have my life back! 

I didn't think that I would still be in treatment (I honestly thought that was going to be the time I let my e.d. go for good!) and still be struggling as much as I am three years later...

A couple of days ago, I was looking through my recovery journal. I haven't looked through it for quite a while, and I came across this letter that I wrote. One of the assignments that we had to do at this treatment center, was write a letter to our eating disorder. When I wrote this letter it came from my heart and that place inside me that longed for freedom from this horrible illness. This is that letter:


Dear ED,

I am writing this letter as the first step towards my recovery from you. It has been 13 years since you first came into my life. I was a young, naive, and awkward girl and I fell right into your arms. In a world that felt so chaotic and unsure, I felt safe and in control with you. You were a place that I could escape to when things got too hard or scary. You promised to protect me, and not only did I believe you - but I defended you from anyone who told me otherwise!

But as the years went by, you became more and more addicting! And even though you were hurting me, I was so terrified to let you go. I just had to accept the fact that you would always be a big part of my life, and I would just have to try and live some sort of a "normal" life. But you couldn't even let me do that! So here I am in a freaking treatment center because of you!!! You have brought me so close to death more times than I can count - but I am still here and I am still going to fight! I know that I am not strong enough to fight you on my own, but I have an amazing treatment team and lots of people who love me and want me to recover.

You have deprived me of my innocence, my morals, (and above all) my health!! You have taken away my happiness, my right to make healthy and positive decisions, and you have cut off my emotions and replaced them with your own. You have convinced me that these harmful behaviors were acceptable ways to deal with problems and emotions. You have convinced me that these same behaviors would protect me from feeling any kind of hurt or pain. But instead, it numbed me of any emotion I was feeling! I thought that by participating in our "secret games" I was in control of my life and my feelings - but in reality, I wasn't in control of anything, you were!!!

You told me what I could and could not eat, to purge if I did eat, how long I had to exercise, and you even convinced me to take all sorts of harmful pills! And if I would start to question you - you would make me feel guilty and tell me that I needed to work extra hard that day! I thought that by listening to you and trusting you would make me perfect. I can't believe how naive I was to have let you into my life!

You took away my self-esteem and confidence. You have taken away my ability to handle simple everyday tasks, because of your controlling grip! You have wrapped me around your finger so tight, that every aspect of my life has to be cleared through you first! I believed you when you said that you would never hurt me or make me cry - so how come every time I think of our relationship, I can only remember pain, sadness, and countless tears as what you've contributed! You have kept me isolated from so many of my friends and family, and you have destroyed very special and intimate relationships. There was never room for three in these relationships, and I always picked you! Because of you, I am struggling to find out who I am and what my purpose in life is at the age of 26! Instead of 18 or 19 like most people. You have taken away so many years from me that I will never get back! I'll always feel like I am trying to catch up to everyone because you have pushed me so far back! You have taken away anything that once gave me joy. You have made me feel so shameful and guilty about so many things in my life.

So today is the day that I am finally saying goodbye! I will no longer accept your phone calls, text messages, emails, or any of your tempting "sweet" offers. I will not allow you to come to my home or visit with any of my family or friends to see how I am doing. I am cutting you out of my life!!! I know that it will not be easy, it won't be a clean break by any means, but I am prepared to fight! I have people on my side whom I do trust, and who truly love me.

Our relationship has spun so out of control - I am too dizzy!!! The longer I stay with you, the worse off I am. Every time I have managed to stand up - you have been right there in front of me ready to push me down again. But that is coming to an end. You have ruined my life in every way and you are not worth it! I am worth it!! My recovery is more valuable than anything you could offer me. So with all of my heart and soul, I am closing the curtain on our foolish and deadly relationship and taking my final bow.

Jennifer


When I read this, I started to cry because I feel like I have lost this girl. The girl who wrote this letter is not me anymore. Who I am now is a girl who is exhausted and beaten down by this illness. Who keeps trying to let it go but for some reason can't - the e.d. doesn't want to let her go... Or maybe, I am just not strong enough to let it go... I don't know, but what I DO know is that I want this girl back! I want to be the girl who wrote this letter! I want to feel like recovery really and truly is in my grasp and that it is achievable! I want to fight, and I want to win! But all I feel like lately, is that I am losing, and that I am hanging on to a rope that is so frayed and worn that I am not sure how much longer I can continue holding on before it breaks or before it slips out of my hands...Where is that girl, and how do I get her back?

9 comments:

  1. I love you Jenn! I think you are an amazing person, right now! I know life has been hard... but I believe that there are reasons recovery just doesn't happen. Recovery is just that... time for you to recover and to find the new you. Enduring is the most important part of recovery. You can do this... that girl is still there. I love you!!!

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  2. Hello there! I can relate a lot to this post. Hang in there. You deserve more in life than anything the eating disorder can offer you.

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  3. She is still in there! Nourish her and let her flourish. Remind yourself of her by reading that letter often. I often wish I had the same enthusiasm for life and recovery that I used to but there is no need to yearn for the past when I can create it in my present and future.

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  4. Your post made me cry... I can connect to this on so many levels. You are a beautiful writer and a beautiful person. I'll be following your blog and wishing you well along the way. Take care. Xoxo, Tia
    http://dietcolagirl.blogspot.com

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  5. Jenn this was such a beautiful post. You ARE that girl still and you have so much soul. I just think that somewhere inside you can find her and bring her back out. You are an amazing person and I really hope you are able to continue to hang on and move forward. This was an amazing post. Don't feel you're so far behind everyone else. I know how that feels but I always try to remember that we each have our own journey. You are such a wonderful person and I think about you often and will pray for help for you. If you ever need anything don't be afraid to ask. Love you girl!!! HUGS!!!

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  6. Thanks everyone for the encouraging comments :)

    I REALLY needed to hear all of your words, and they brought me a lot of comfort!

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  7. I relate to this post in so many ways. I am going to write my first letter to my ED, I have never done this, and your have inspired me to do so. I am going to follow you. This post was really amazing. thank you for sharing it

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  8. Jenn,

    Your blog is amazing. Thank you for sending me the link so I could start reading it. I know that we haven't seen each other since college but in reading your blog, I am reminded of the person you are and how much fun we had. You are an incredible writer and I'm sure you inspire so many people. I love to read your writing. Keep up the writing, you are great at it. I would love to get together with you and hang out since it's been so long since we've seen each other. Keep up the positive attitude and keep doing your best. I can tell you that from your writing, you seem like the same "Jenn" that I knew and loved at college! Please let me know what I can do for you. Thank you for being my friend. I treasure our times at Snow. I will never forget them. Write me back!!

    Brittney

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  9. Thanks Brit! I am going to get on fb and write you back because I am horrible on writing people back lately... :(

    I do want to get together because it's been waaaaaaaay too long, seriously! Thanks for the comments, you are super sweet and it means a lot to me!

    I love you girly, and can't wait to see you!

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