Stranger in a Strange Land

My classmates and I were discussing what classes we were going to be taking next semester, what internships we had secured, and so on. One of them (the lone Y chromosome in us stew of X's) has two internships, is teaching, and going to school full time.

After I got over the "you must have gone batty" thoughts, I realize: I'm jealous.

That he can do all of that. And that I can't. Or at least I couldn't do all of that and not end up in a psych unit.*

I'm angry at myself that I need to do things like eat and sleep and I don't function at all on less than I need. I hate that I need 9 hours of sleep a night when others do just fine on 4. Ditto for the amount of food I have to eat. I feel large and lazy.

Logically, I know that we all eat and sleep and poop and all of those fun things. I just feel like I'm too much, too needy- which is a most unpleasant feeling. I want to not need. If I could just not need anything, I would be perfect. And then I could rest. Then, I would have a chance at liking myself.

Even now, I have a hard time feeling that I ever get enough done. There's always more to do. And something else always comes up. So many little things- interviews to do, articles to write, dinner to cook, gifts to make, cards to send, floors to vacuum. And it all adds up and I feel I am never free. So if I didn't need to eat and sleep and all that, then I could get more stuff done. Be more productive. Contribute more. Do more.

I'm looking around at my cluttered-up apartment. Ugh.

On the other hand, I realize that part of the reason I'm not up to par on my usual pace (besides the inexorable advance of age) is that I have to spend so much time working on the eating disorder. Planning a meal takes so much forethought. Processed foods are Evil. Microwave meals mean that I Am Lazy. Will my dinner include enough vegetables? Do I eat enough fruit throughout the day? Am I eating too much? Not enough?

I hate that recovery takes up so much damn time, and I hate that there really isn't an alternative.

And I also kind of hate that most people who haven't been there (or been direct observers) have no idea how hard this is. Sometimes I want to say, "No, really, you don't get it so STOP TRYING." It really sucks. I'm tired of it.

This is the in between time, the corn time, and no one really knows how to help me with it. There's the usual platitudes about "love yourself" and "you're worth it," which are quite admirable. In theory. But if you have no idea how to do this- how to love and value yourself because you can't remember ever doing so- then it's not all that useful.

I want someone to tell me What To Do. To give me A Plan. Step by step instructions that say: do A, B, and C and you will see X, Y, and Z happen. Only recovery (and life) doesn't work that way. It doesn't. And I'm left trying to muddle through and cook food and exist in this world in a very foreign way.

I know this is the only way. I just don't like it.

*Though, truth be told, this could be an issue for him, too. At least I'll have some good recommendations.

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Anonymous said...

I wish there were some sort of "recovery manual," some sort of reference that we could use in case of A or when B happens and how to handle C. Man, that would be nice sometimes!

Jeanne said...

My queendom for a recovery manual!!


I hear you. Oh nelly, I hear you - about the envy of others (non-disordered people), about the hatred of being needy, about how much recovery sucks.

While the platitudes are all true (you being deserving and loved and beloved,) I think what helps me the most is knowing:

we're not alone.

There are others who get it, who do understand.

thinking of you with lots of love,

mary said...

First of all Carrie, when you assume and compare you are forgetting a very important little fact. You are not them. You get to be you. You do other things. There may be someone who envies you for being able to go to JH and have written a book and for all the support you receive. You know how hard it is even though on the outside you your life may appear just peachy. There's much to be admired about your bravery.

As for loving yourself, the statement "I AM", is powerful medicine. Popeye had the right idea and a secret message there all along. Us women need to use it too. Loving oneself needs to just as simple. We needn't over think it or try to explain it. In fact the more we do that the further we get from arriving at a place where we can accept ourselves exactly as we are PERCEIVED flaws and all. I mean we already did this as infants and young children. Why not now?

Laura Collins said...

I haven't been where you are, but I remember once when my life was hell, had been for a while, and wasn't likely to be getting immediately better. I was sitting there and I suddenly had this sense of living at that exact moment - not in the past or the future - just there. I don't know why, but that moment sort of re-oriented me. I wasn't happy, or comfortable, or particularly hopeful at that moment, but the sense of the present was profoundly strengthening. I'm sitting here hoping for a moment like that for you. Just one. It got me through until a patch of better life.

zubeldia said...

Carrie, I really hear you... I feel as though I've wasted my entire sabbatical trying to recover from this damn ed. It's infuriating.. trillions of appointments aside, I spend my life worrying abuot what I have to eat next, and after that I worry about trying not to purge it.. It's exhausting. When I could get on with my life without worrying about it - i.e. before recovery - life was simpler, but I was slowly dying... and so I have to believe it's worth it.

You're worth it...

And, man, do I hear you on the needy front.

Take good care,
love Z

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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