Friday, October 30, 2009

The invasion of Me

I get to go visit K at CFC Sunday... A 4 hour visit...

I was stressing about how to get snack in. I was trying to think it through. I was trying to plan it out. It was one of those absurd moments, because I knew it was not that big of a deal, but it was really stressing to me. I was telling BJ about it. And I told him that I wasn't really stressed about snack, but...

Over the next five minutes, we went back and forth about what it will be like to be back on the unit. I went through incredibly intense experiences there. They are now pretty distant in my mind, but spending time ON THE UNIT. Memories will not be so distant.

Also, I will be ON THE UNIT, but not a patient... Yet, I will still feel like a patient. (The fact that he understood all of this even though he has never been through it is amazing to me. I am SO grateful!!!!) He reminded me that at any time, I can ask them to buzz me out, and THEY WILL! I think I really needed that reminder, because it is very possible I will forget...

Now I am aware of at least some of the things that will be hard:
  • It will be hard to see K... I really want to see her, and it will be fun, but still hard.
  • She's not following rules, and she is telling me some of her sneakiness... I don't want to be a part of that. I plan on talking to her about it, and letting her know its not okay with me. (Meaning, I expect her to talk to Kim about it. If she doesn't, I will... OH GEEZ!!! That scares the living daylights out of me!!!! But I can't watch her be sneaky when I know what that does to HER. I won't be a part of it!)
  • It will be hard to be back on the unit where I went through so much, and I will remember all that I went through.
  • It will be hard to be back on the unit, but not a patient, and now I get to figure out who to be while I'm visiting.
  • I will want to put on the face of "perfectly recovered" for the staff and other girls. I'm not. Things are still really hard, and still pretty good at the same time... I don't know what to share if people ask how I am doing. I will feel judged, even if no one is judging me but me.
  • I am very sensitive to other people's emotions... and CFC is an incredibly emotionally intense place. I don't know how to be around that and NOT feel it all... I will need a lot of time (after I leave) to figure out what feelings were mine and what belonged to others.
  • And snack...
Lest my brain abandons me, BJ and I came up with a plan (at least for the snack part... the rest is too complicated to come up with a plan):
I will leave my phone and food in the car. When K goes for snack, I will go to the car for my snack and text him. (He reminded me that no one at CFC is going to tell me to eat while Katie is... if I don't be assertive and ASK, it won't happen. Asking for help is still something I struggle with sometimes, but I won't want to let him down if I know he is waiting for my text...And once I am out to the car, eating the dang thing will be the easy part. I feel a little ridiculous that I needed this plan and also very grateful to have it!)

Once I get home... I'll probably cry a lot... need some time to think... I might need a friend to talk to... I might really want to be alone... So, I give myself permission to do what I need (whatever that is) to take care of me.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Looking at the positive

I was telling a friend how discouraged I have been feeling...

He had the perfect reply, "Don't be discouraged Jen. Cheer up! You're only up to your neck in shit... Sure you're smelling it, and you're surrounded by it... But its not like its in your mouth or you're tasting it."

Oh.... so that's where the phrase, "Keep your chin up," comes from. I get it!

And strangely, I feel a little less discouraged...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Thanks, Damn You!

I had one of THOSE kind of sessions with Paul... the kind where I take him through a specific flashback, and he says, "You've never talked about this before."

And I say, "I know."

One of those kinds of sessions that I know need to be done, but after, I feel ill.


Monday, October 19, 2009

The Invasion

She came. We rode horses. I felt sad, because I couldn't really talk to my friend... she was incapable of talking about anything besides food and weight and CFC and... she tried. She wanted to be a good friend, but... She finally told me, "I vaguely remember all of those emotions and feelings, but really... They just don't seem to matter anymore." And then I felt a little bit jealous, because there was a part of me that wished those feelings and emotions didn't matter to me either.

We went horseback riding. I love the horses and the mountains and having Katie there was fun and sad all at the same time. It was strange. A few months ago we went horseback riding and we talked about horses and family and we laughed. This time, we didn't. (Which I understand... she was going into treatment, which is stressful even when you really WANT to go, and she really didn't.)

Thursday morning, I took her to CFC. I wasn't quite sure how it was going to work, but she asked me to stay with her through the whole admitting process. I helped her carry her bags onto the unit.

Walking into that place where I lived (and NEVER LEFT!) for so many weeks, I thought it would be really hard. Instead, I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude that I had been there. CFC taught me so much and helped me so much and gave me some of the best friends anyone could ever imagine having. I am so grateful!!! And at the same time, felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude that I was not going back.

It had been a very safe place for me, and I am sure if I needed it, it would be again, but for now, it just felt so different. I was grateful that I went, and I don't want to go back. It was a good feeling and gave me an amazing sense of closure.

I stayed with her while she filled out all of the crazy paperwork, and then Pam said it was time to say good-bye. That was hard. I want so much for her! I want my friend back! And I feel so sad, because I know she didn't really want to be there. She was stressing about FNS, and weight gain, and... I understood that was not the point, and it didn't really matter, but I also understood it mattered to her - A LOT! And it made me so sad to leave her there. I am also so glad that she is safe and I know they will love her and take good care of her.

Immediately after I dropped her off, I went to the barn to get Sunny so we could go ride in the mountains. I went into his stall, and he wouldn't come to me. I called for him, I kissed at him, I asked him... His eyes told me he was far away, and was not coming back until I changed something.

I had been laughing and smiling, talking excitedly about how good it was to get Katie to CFC and how much I didn't want to go back... all of the POSITIVE feelings, but none of the negative. I know I could have forced Sunny to let me put the halter on him, but I also know I don't have to force him if I just acknowledge what is going on inside of me.

So, I sat down in a pile of shit and cried. I was angry. I was angry at her for leaving me. It wasn't that long ago that we could talk about and share experiences related to abuse. She really doesn't care anymore. She really thinks she's fine, and I was angry at her for it. Only that confused me, because its not like I want her to be angry at Jeff forever. I want her to forgive him and move on and not have this crap be a part of her life... but I felt abandoned and lonely and I wondered if she had the better idea. Just get over it. Just force yourself to hang out with him until it doesn't hurt anymore. Just pretend like everything is okay until it feels like it is.

I cried, and I told Sunny all about it. As I cried, Sunny came out of his dissociation. There was light in his eyes again, and then he walked over to me and just stood by me. He never touched me, just stood there and waited. As I finished crying, he walked out of the stall. I put the halter on him, brushed him, and trailered him.

The ride... awesome! AWESOME! The sun was out, the fall colors were amazing, and Sunny loves to run as much as I do. AWESOME!

All day Friday, I found myself living the inpatient schedule inside my head. I haven't thought about that schedule in a long time, and in fact a few weeks ago, couldn't remember it at all. That day, I remembered what group Katie was in, I remembered what time everything was, and it was like I was re-experiencing my stay at CFC all over again. It was like rapid-fire in my brain... it made it pretty hard to concentrate on anything, but I didn't try to stop it. I didn't want to focus on it either... I just let it happen.

I miss her. I miss getting the random texts about her life. More, I miss the friendship we had that has gone away over the last few months... I wonder what it will be like in the next few months.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Just pet the tiger

A while ago, I was talking to a friend who is an alcoholic. I don't know if I posted these analogies or not... But they have been on my mind again. She was telling me how she just decided to stop drinking, and she hasn't touched a drink since. It was hard, but she just had to decide to leave, "That tiger in the cage."

That is a common analogy used in addictions. However, eating disorders are somewhat more complicated than that. I can't just decide to never eat again... or never exercise again... it just won't work. I have to go get the tiger out of its cage, play with it, pet it, and then put it back... at least SIX TIMES A DAY. (I agreed to eating at least three meals and three snacks every day. Add any time spent doing physical activity or extra snacks to that six.)

If I were an alcoholic, I would choose not to go in a bar... ever. I would avoid the alcohol isle at the store. That would be hard, and there would be times that would be sad... but completely doable.

Another analogy that I really like is comparing recovery from an eating disorder to recovery from alcoholism like this. What if I told you (as an alcoholic) that abstaining from alcohol was not an option? Instead, you have to drink EVERYDAY, and you have to drink just the right amount. You can't drink too much or too little. No one knows exactly what the right amount for you is... only you know... but you have to figure out that right amount while dealing with thoughts, cravings, and painful addictive patterns at the same time.

Recovery for alcoholics would be far more complicated if that were the case. I know, some people are going to tell me that alcohol causes a chemical addiction... have you seen what is in food? Food is made up of all sorts of chemicals that cause all sorts of chemical reactions. A person can become just anesthetized by food (or lack of it) as they can by alcohol. I have seen it happen.

None of this is meant to say that recovery is not possible. IT IS! I am saying it is complicated, difficult, and sometimes just plain overwhelming. And somehow, we are doing it. There are so many of us finding our way and overcoming.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Marketing Genius... that kills!

I don't write about this stuff often... But, this morning, I caught a glimpse of a TV show. They were interviewing a 44-year old lawyer who was on the quest to have the "perfect body." She recently had plastic surgery - an amazing new procedure where they remove the fat from your butt and stomach and put it in your breasts.

They showed her before and after pictures, and were commenting on how she now looks like she is 24... No, not really. She looks like she is 10... with big boobs. I can't believe THIS is what we think is beautiful! I felt sad and disgusted. I thought of my friends - some that are STILL willing to die to have that "perfect" body...

The show was on as background noise, but I couldn't ignore it. I commented about it. My friend... "I know, I wish I could look like that." (Followed by the, Jen, how do YOU do it? You look so great. I wish I could be thin like you. Do you have to work out lots? What do you eat? GAH! Stop!!! I tried to share with her about intuitive eating and that I love my body, and size is not important. She didn't believe me... and I don't know if I would have believed me from looking at me either.)

There are so many women that have this strange ideal of beauty. Where did that come from? Greed.

I keep hearing about studies done that talk about the early Americans. They were more fit, because they ate less fat, or they ate more protein, or they exercised more, or there was less processed food, or...

My theory? They ate when they were hungry. They took care of their bodies with a better balance of rest and work. Mostly, they were not constantly bombarded with advertising telling them what to eat and what not to eat... Even the government decided to get in on it and created a pyramid. Where did that come from? How does the government know what is best for for every individual? They don't. They can't!

Now, we are constantly bombarded by advertising: diets, food, gyms, plastic surgeons, the government, clothing and fashion, health care, every where we turn. Even my cereal this morning... It informed that 95% of Americans don't get enough fiber... Why are they telling me that? Because its a high-fiber cereal and they want me to buy it!

The woman with the fat removed from her butt... She is a victim of genius marketing. She has to look like that, because she works in Hollywood, and in order to be successful... Its all lies!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sunday on steroids, but better...

Amanda called this morning... she saw (from facebook) that General Conference was this weekend, and got worried about a "Sunday on steroids,"

Do you know how lucky I am to have the friends I have? I am amazingly blessed!!!

As we talked, it was obvious I was not okay. President Monson's talk was playing with my mind.

She told me not to listen to the last session of conference... instead, find a friend or a horse to spend time with.

She gave an analogy that hit me as absolute truth. Others have been trying to say the same thing to me, but it just didn't stick... And today, she was truly inspired!

She is giving a presentation on eating disorders to 70 RA's tomorrow. Knowing that she is talking to people who like to help others, and are college students, there will be about five people in the audience with disordered eating. She was worried about giving certain suggestions or saying certain things, because she didn't want to say something that would hurt those five. She came to the conclusion that the sixty-five needed to hear what she had to say, and she had to hope that the five would be okay.

Just because they are saying it in conference, does not mean the message was to me personally.

She said, "If I told you I was falling apart, and I really needed you here," and I finished her thought, "I would be there tomorrow... In fact, I have thought about getting on a plane when you were sick, even when you didn't ask, because I love you and I wanted you to have a friend."

Most people (apparently) would not think that way, and would not do that.

At the end of President Monson's talk, I also got a text from BJ:
"He was not talking to you. I listened to the entire talk. Not once did he say, 'Hey Jen, listen up!' or 'Now I am want to talk to victims of abuse that can't say no to people yet,' He didn't say anything close to that."

The combination of Amanda's words, and BJ's text felt like lightning going off in my brain! So, I did what Amanda suggested. Sunny and I had a special meeting. I sat with him and watched him run and felt so much better after just BEING there with him.

After, I came back and we had dinner with the parents. After dinner, Justin asked me to play the piano for him to practice his audition piece. Gladly, I played. Then he left, and my dad asked me to massage his hands, so I did. We were talking about surface things... the kinds of things we always talk about, but in my head I was praying. I WANTED to tell my mom about why I chose to go spend time with the horses, and I wanted her to understand why that was a good choice. I didn't know how to bring it up, so I was praying for her to ask me.

She didn't, however, she said something about the afternoon session of conference. So I threw out a hook. "Amanda called and told me I couldn't listen to the afternoon session - I needed to go play with the horses." In my head, I was pleading, "Please. Ask me. Please! Take the bait."

My dad, said, "huh?"

So I explained why President Monson's talk was hard for me... Not that what he said was wrong, but I used Amanda's example. My dad teared up. It seemed to really touch him.

And then we talked about conference, and the things we liked, and using the spirit rather then the letter of the law, and the horses and some of the amazing things I have learned from them, and my mom said that she was so grateful I found Sunny, and as I described things about him - she said it was no wonder to her why I felt a connection to him, and my dad told me I needed to research more about horses and socio-sensitive people. And... I felt like they listened to me, and they heard me, and it was amazing!

I am SO grateful for Amanda's phone call today. I can't believe how much happened. I don't know what will happen next. And mostly, it doesn't matter. I am enjoying this moment.

Safe Harbors - Michael Mclean

The words to this song came to me last night. I was very angry at some very insensitive people. I kept thinking about Elizabeth Smart... Her case is getting a lot of publicity, but then I thought about all of the others who are not getting that. I think about all of the people who are going through hell, but hide it and carry on.
I think this song is so powerful... and I wish more people would really listen...
Safe Harbors
There are refugees among us who are not from foreign shores.
The battles they've been waging are from very private wars.
There are no correspondents documenting all their grief.
But these refugees among us are all yearning for relief.

There are refugees among us.
They don't carry flags or signs.
They are standing right beside us in the market check out lines.
And the war that they've been fighting - it will not be televised.
But the story of their need for love is written in their eyes.

Can you see through their disguises?
Can you hear what words won't tell?
Some are losing faith in heaven, cause their lives a living hell.
Is there anyone else to help those who have no one else to plea?
For the only arms protecting them belong to you and me.

This is a call to arms
To reach out and to hold. the evacuees from the dark.
This is a call to arms.
To lead anguished souls to safe harbors of the heart.
Can you feel the pleas of the refugees for safe harbors of the heart?
I am grateful for friends who saw through my disguises. I am grateful for friends who listened beyond my words and my smile. I am grateful for those who have showed me heaven... I am grateful for those who have blessed my life and given me someplace safe.

(To hear the song, go to: