Recovering from my eating disorder required – and still requires – a good PI: the Private Investigator I like to call Personal Inventory.
For me, recovery transcends abstinence; abstinence is just one piece of the pie. I can abstain from dieting and restricting and still have disordered thoughts.
For me, recovery transcends abstinence.
Recovery addresses the root cause of the behavior, bringing it to the light for healing. It lets me play “Private Investigator” in my own life. I love role play, so it’s pretty damn fun.
Recovery allows me to become my own Private Investigator.
Once I got abstinent, my PI promptly revealed a deep-rooted fear of intimacy, as well as the tools I use to protect myself from it. My kryptonite? Bolting and Control.
I’ll start backwards, with Control. I try to control lots of things I can’t: my food, my body, relationships. Nowadays, the real struggle is relationships.
Say I make plans to meet someone: I might tell them I only have an hour, even if that’s not true. I do that to guarantee we don’t have time to hit sensitive territory. I think this keeps me safe, but it actually stunts the connection. It closes my heart.
My other M.O. is to bolt. Moment of silence? I’m up. I leave. In the time it takes one person to breathe, I am halfway down the street.
Today, I engage in these behaviors far less frequently – but they do happen. In a perfect world, recovery would be perfect. But in this imperfect world, recovery is imperfect. For me, the real recovery is tending to my slips.
For me, the real recovery is tending to my slips.
Two weeks ago, I had a slip while having dinner with a friend. She invited me to her apartment and graciously offered to cook. We ate, we gabbed, we bonded – finding humor and common ground – when suddenly, after an hour, I felt the sudden urge to bolt.
I gave into the urge. I bolted. And I had an allergic reaction. My soul broke out in anger and despair. My mind assumed the role of inner critic. All I wanted to do was escape. I wanted to abandon myself.
I followed the urge to bolt, and my soul broke out in hives.
Self-abandon used to manifest in exercise or restriction; when I was a child, it manifested as binge-eating. Nowadays, since I’m *through with* all of that, it looks more like playing solitaire while watching Netflix until I fall asleep in dirty clothes.
And yet, I have a program. That program has 12 steps, step 10 of which says to take personal inventory. As loud as my inner critic was, I could hear the voice of recovery say, “Keep at it, Bella. Keep showing up.”
Did she listen? Did she listen?
Yes. I listened.
When I got home, rather than turn to my computer, I turned to my journal, and I wrote standing up. There’s something about writing standing up that keeps me present in my body. I called my trusty P.I. and let her speak through my pen. Here is what she said:
I left Jane’s apartment abruptly just now and I’m triggered, as I know it came from fear. Leaving itself wasn’t the problem; it was how quickly I did so. I got scared of the intimacy and vulnerability and ran out of there as fast as I could.
My guard had been down, down, down all evening and like a rubber band, I snapped and put a wall back up. I wish that I could acknowledge the full scope of the evening. I wish I could collect my sea shells. Why do I insist on giving my energy to the final moment?
How easy it would be, how tempted I am, to abandon myself right now. But nope: I’m right here. I’m taking inventory. Showing up.
My question is, could Jane detect it? My sudden shift? My intuition tells me she could. I feel guilty, and sad, because she’s a loving, caring person, and I treated her like a threat.
I feel that I owe her an apology. But rather than apologize directly to her, I should take this opportunity to step inside myself. I need to understand what went on before I jump into action. I need to keep the focus on myself.
Higher Power, if you will it for me, I will open up to Jane about this. And if it’s not necessary or in my highest healing interests, I won’t. I ask and trust you to guide me to show up in the right way at the right time. If she weren’t somebody I wanted to be close to, I wouldn’t consider explaining myself. But she is.
We were bonding tonight. We were getting closer, and I got afraid. I know that something deeper is at play here. Higher Power, please guide me, show me, and tell me. When it comes to my soul-being, what is coming up to be healed right now? How can I grow from this? What is the message? What is the gift?
At this point in the entry, the perspective changed, and I channeled compassion from my higher self:
Look, Bella: you pushed yourself tonight. May I remind you that you’d been in fear all evening? May I remind you that 30 minutes out, you felt the urge to cancel? Guess what? You didn’t! You showed up, and you did so with humor and love.
What happened at the end was spiritual panic, a momentary burst of doubt. You know what happens when you threaten the disease: it tugs at you. It pulls you back. But look at you, you’re pushing forward. You’re pushing forward by being here right now.
Let this entry be proof of your ability to take care of yourself.
What if, Bella, you thought of conversation as a form of meditation? A shared meditation, with other people? Accepting where there’s silence, accepting where there’s noise, letting your voices ebb and flow, observing what comes up…
You asked for knowledge of the gift in this experience. As far as I’m concerned, you’ve found it.
You are safe, both in words and silence.
You are strong, and you radiate love.
You are always taken care of.
All you must do is show up.
What if we thought of conversations as meditations?
That girl sounds pretty self-assured: she should have the last word. I’ll quickly add, however, that I showed my friend this entry, pre-publish. Vulnerable as it was, I left feeling confident. Funny what can happen when we just open up…
In closing, I would like to say that the opinions expressed here are entirely my own; take what you like and leave the rest. If this post spoke to you, I invite you to share it, as recovery is for all.