On the struggle bus to destination Recovery, I’ve had a few unwanted passengers lately. With ED driving as usual, I’m riding in the first seat with some “friends”.
Struggle Friend #1: Isolation – I’ve only let Husband and Daughter visit me. A couple of others have checked in but I’ve avoided having them visit. A couple of others from further away have texted and I’m slow to respond, and generally keep it vague (“It’s okay” or “A little rough”) before moving on to how they are doing. I know support is good, but I’m not sure how to access it.
Ten years ago, after my dad died, I talked a friend a few times on the phone. I’ll admit, I was in a pretty negative state overall, and she told me I had become a burden. I was very hurt, and our friendship was immediately severed. Though no one else has told me I’m a burden, I have made a lot of efforts to not have that happen again. This includes not talking about myself extensively and not reaching out very much.
Also, being in residential treatment (or any treatment, for that matter) is fairly embarrassing. At 40 years old, I have made choices that have gotten me into a pretty big mess. I flunked out of the day program and got sent here. ED has a stigma attached that makes talking with others awkward and uncomfortable.
So, I’m isolated and not sure how to ask for or receive support.
Struggle Friend #2: Extrinsic Motivation – Right now, Recovery is not for me. Recovery is for:
- My daughter. I know I need to be a good example for her. Also, she’s learning and changing so fast. Husband now tells me what she’s doing new or some new thing about caring for her. I used to be the one telling him.
- My husband. He is doing everything right now, and reduced hours at work. He has not complained once and told me they are doing well and not too feel guilty, but…
- My job. Co-workers and my boss are covering for me while I am out. They are SUPER supportive and tell me my only job is to get better, but… #alltheguilt
I debriefed this in a therapy group today and others related to both. With the extrinsic motivation, the therapist encouraged us to “trust the process” which requires us to take action steps before we necessarily believe in what we are doing. And it’s okay to be motivated by extrinsic factors right now, even normal. As we practice using the skills we are learning more and more, things may start to sink in. Also, apparently when you are underweight and have been restricting for so long, your brain can’t think very clearly so as you refeed and nourish your body, your brain starts working again which can help with developing intrinsic motivations for thinking clearly.
Struggle Friend #3: Body Check – The only behavior I can really engage in somewhat at residential is body check. I can’t restrict (well, technically I can but the consequences keep me from it) and I can’t exercise, but body check I can. And body check I do. In the shower. In the bathroom stall. Quick glances in the mirror. Pictures and videos on my phone. Looking down.
I practiced my new skill of cognitive defusion (reminder: this skills gives space between me and ED as I consider/question, rather than simply accept, it) today when I body checked and thought my leg looked fat and gross. Then I thought, “I’m having the thought that my leg looks fat and gross.” Then I questioned it and considered it more:
- Doesn’t everyone’s leg, no matter what size, look bigger in a seated position?
- Can my leg really have become much bigger if I know I hadn’t gained any weight only 3 days ago?
- Why does it matter if my leg IS bigger? Does that make me a bad person? A gross person? A fat person?
So, I am engaging in the behavior of my struggle friend Body Check, but at least have started trying to combat it. #mommystrong
I hope the Struggle Bus stops soon and lets me off. I need to catch the Recovery Bus.