Thursday, June 21, 2012

Familiar Unfamiliar

I've been away from writing for a while. It doesn't always flow so easily when I sit down at the keyboard and this month has been busy in all the best ways and I really haven't had or made the time to write.

I'm coming up on one year in treatment. Today marks one year since my final discharge from hospital in Canada. It's odd that as I approached this time, I had a little ache in my chest. It wasn't quite sadness, not anger or regret. It wasn't necessarily a longing but all those feelings give me similar sensations. I thought, if I really analyzed it, maybe it's grief. Recovery and attaining wellness is amazing but it is also a big loss: the loss of something very familiar; a way of being; a me I thought was true.

Some days I say that I miss it. I have to work to remember the 99% of that life that I don't miss. The only thing I ever miss is the predictability of that existence. I always knew what came next. I understood what my ultimate goal was: death – and I just plodded along the path that would get me to that goal. In the meantime, as all those around me tried to wake me up, to save me, I knew what would happen. I would have time by myself in which I would sabotage my health and I would be admitted to hospital in a worse psychological if not physical state than the time before. I didn't do anything spontaneous because that might interrupt what was “supposed” to happen. Of course there were other reasons, larger and more practical reasons that I didn't do much outside of what became my norm however, predictability played a big role.

Anorexia/bulimia gave me an identity. It was my job, my extracurricular activities, maybe even my style or at least my presentation! It was my thoughts and speech. Now, I've happily walked away from that and I am discovering a person who somehow held on and has now been brought out. All the lies that I suffocated myself under have been stripped away and the real me is shining brightly over all things negative. But right there is the loss. Now I have me and nothing else that defines me. I don't seek to define myself through my work or friends or activities completely but those are things that I hope to incorporate into this Self. So when I miss the ED, I know what it is. I miss the familiarity, the predictability, and the identity.

Real life” is less than predictable and I enjoy all the “normal” things that happen – positive and negative – in my days. I laugh when it rains on the day I have my whites out to dry; I can't help but raise my eyebrows when my washing machine, oven, fan, and dishwasher and internet all choose to stop working on the same day; when I drive the wrong way on a one-way and get honked at, my reaction is almost always, “Hee hee!!! Oops!” and I carry on. I've come leagues from where I was in being alright with others being late for appointments or cancelling and with those same things with myself. I really don't care if things change very last minute as long as it's done respectfully. I don't need to know that menu at a restaurant or every ingredient that's in a meal and have it presented the same way every time or as expected. I created predictability in my life through what was diagnosed as OCD. And then the medical side of the ED was quite predictable. I always knew that x+y would result in z but it didn't mean I could stop.

The most unsettling unpredictable thing about my life right now is actually me. My moods, reactions/responses, feelings, interests, etc. Are ever changing and that's tough! I'm getting to know myself as a becoming well person and it is kind of like meeting a teenager.
So for now, I'm just letting myself feel whatever comes along. I'm not fighting it, I am talking about it a lot, and I'm just letting it be. I really can't change my feelings but I can change how I react to them and what thoughts they lead me to have and eventually, I think, that will change many of the feeling reactions I have. There are still two paths in my head: one of positivity and one of negativity and I need to make an active choice oftentimes to put blinders on to the familiar negative and beat down the path of positivity and what's actually real and make that the new familiar.

There's a song by School of Seven Bells called “Lafaye” that has an amazing line that I could never have imagined I would apply to my life, “the familiar unfamiliar will be the only thing you knew.” So true. I'm becoming familiar with the unfamiliarity of being a well person. So far, I still know a bit of the old ways of being too well but I'm winning over it and making a new familiar unfamiliar.

It's actually a lot less unsettling than it sounds!

Still, all these thoughts don't stop the strange ache for that life I lived but it is less with each day. It's still confusing when I feel like I think I want that again. I hear that when I'm actually, fully well, that will seem even more absurd than it does now and I really look forward to the time when I don't even have a moment of that ache. Like everything at this point, I don't imagine there will be some monumental event where I realize that things have changed and my world shifted. I expect it will be a gradual occurrence that will result in a completely well me looking back and smiling at this time of “bambi legs” in the beginning of wellness.

On that note, this tired girl is heading to bed. I just returned from a whirlwind trip to Lisbon. Now, the focus is all back on me and how to make the next steps forward towards the goal I came here with: eradicating the negative. It's just so possible and so imminent...

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