Last Sunday, I gave the keynote speech at the Denver NEDA walk.
It was meaningful, full of women and men I got to meet in person versus online.
I felt a lot of connection and intimacy – and an environment where people understand each other.
I also felt lonely.
Despite being surrounded by like-minded people, I felt a strong sense of despondent loneliness, which leads me to this post.
My life is in a prosperous place – the bones of it are strong (#punny). I have a life that I continue to strive for that truly feels like it has ‘purpose’. (Cue the self-help quote.)
… Look, bear with me. I’m not a Mark Manson lovechild. BUT, there is something to be said about absorbing perspectives like him and Tony Robbins.
Anyway, I feel my life is headed in fulfilling places. I’m in my version of flexible recovery. I’m comfortable with who I’ve been and who I’d like to be. I have hope for a big future and am finally starting to financially budget in a thoughtful way that will allow for opportunities to travel and live that “van life” one day.
I’m connecting with people every day – whether through email, blog, Instagram, or happy hour/coffee meetings – and that’s my top value.
I have a family that is supportive of this blog and my endeavors. And I am healthy and my PCOS symptoms are fairly mild.
… At this point, you’re probably rolling your eyes – which, LOL, fine. It’s obnoxious when people state why their life is sunshine and roses. It’s like “Yeah, got it Cinderella. Piss off.”
So, lemme state all that while also reiterating that this, too, is my current reality as well:
- In the past few months, I’ve rattled through three relationships. My ‘real ex ex’ whom I love dearly, a short-lived fling with a man who lived in Michigan, and a Boulder manbun free spirit with a beautiful child. Two of them mattered: all three of them hurt – and I have a hand in it all.
My ex and I are in that grey area that I so often like to live in. We ‘break-ed’ up in May, but broke up in June, I still went to a wedding with him at the end of May in New Orleans, and we’ve never stopped talking.
There was a lot of good in our relationship – a lot of solid goodness. Also, a bit of disconnect. We don’t communicate the same in terms of how we express ourselves. I’m a wild child – a verbal cookie monster. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I wear my emotions on my guarded heart. I want the big gesture.
There were many times I expected him to read my mind without having to express it. And because of that, we ended over a series of conversations involving ‘what are next steps in this relationship” and “I don’t know how to love you the way you want.”
In retrospect, I formed a narrative after that break up that mostly ended with the belief that he ‘just didn’t love me enough.’ I wrote about it. I stuck to it as I moved from him immediately to another fling – and then to the more recent one.
I’ve been writing about it, as you might know.
Over the past month, we’ve talked about getting back together. Giving it another try once he’s settled at a new job.
And then he read my blog – which I wasn’t expecting.
Lemme cut to the chase: he wasn’t thrilled.
It’s easy to characterize things in writing – in short sentences that ‘define’ a relationship as a whole. But, relationships can never be summarized in a sentence, can they? Not the ones that matter.
At the end of the day, it’s not the flings that bothered him, but the way I summarized him in my posts.
I’m not sure what will happen there.
We’re talking despite the two-day ‘blog-gate’ I’ll call it. We’re talking and perhaps being more raw than ever before BECAUSE he read what he read.
The things honesty can provide. Who knew?
But, in the midst of that I also was ending the other ‘fling’ in Bolder with hippy manbun dad who found me “lovely, beautiful, intelligent, empathetic and articulate” but found it “reckless and inappropriate to share himself with me right now.”
Ah, the reckless and inappropriate “it’s not you, it’s me” email.
Naturally, we continued to talk – because I don’t have boundaries – and the truth is we do care about one another.
Again, nothing can be summarized in a sentence.
But, at the end of the day, we continued to lead the future on, both knowing it wasn’t really going anywhere because I’m not a top priority to him, I still love my ex, and because we want different things.
He’s not a bad guy. Our relationship was always overtly known to be fleeting. I’m not surprised, but needless to say – neither men were at my speech on Sunday.
And it felt lonely.
I value a lot of my self-worth on relationships. It’s an issue.
I went home that afternoon and laid on my couch. I wrote – mostly about purpose. And values. And in the midst of the cluttered chaos of my life – I realized that so often I let things happen to me when I am perfectly capable of handling them like a big girl.
I play victim.
It’s time to make a change.
I called manbun Jared-Leto-Anarchy-Illuminati dad. He was great – open. I am done with the grey. And I told him that. No whiplash. We met up – hugged on a swing. Shed a tear in our funny little matching love languages. Promised to ‘be friends’. And we left.
What might sound like a “no shit’ situation to you has truly been impactful for me. And I realized, in the past, when I’m single and my love life (typically) in some fledgling HBO ‘GIRLS’ chaos (it happens so often I could write a novel. In fact, I’ve even deemed the title “27 Relationships: 8 Countries: 1 Girl.)
… Okay, I made that up on the fly. It’s pretty lame. But, you get the gist.
Anyway, this is when I typically go to my eating disorder. Call it rejection or loneliness or confusion or shame…
Wait, yeah. Call it all that.
I restrict out of self-punishment. I restrict because it’s a ‘known’ when things are unknown. I restrict to feel attractive; feel attention. I restrict to keep words from tumbling out of my mouth. I restrict to feel less vulnerable.
I’ve been better about it this time around. I’m actually just ‘okay.’
I’m bored, don’t get me wrong. My typical mentality is that life is inherently meaningless when I’m not invested in someone LOL. So, I’m kinda just… here. Mulling around. Going to bed earlier. Writing. Focusing on my future. Working longer. Probably drinking a glass of wine too many at night… but eh.
I’m not relapsing. And I’m not sad or angry at manbun Legend-of-the-Falls-Brad-Pitt. And I’m upset that I hurt my ex – but maybe it’ll make us stronger in the long run. Who knows? The options are endless.
That being said, I thought it might be beneficial to share these five questions I came up with when searching through ‘purpose’ and what it takes to ‘be aware of relapse’ since that is so clearly what I DON’T want in my purpose. Maybe you’ll relate –
5 Questions to Ask Yourself:
1.) What are the shit sandwiches you can handle?
I stole this from Mark Manson, but seriously. What can you handle.
What can you handle better than others?
I can handle rejection online… but I don’t handle criticism from friends well.
I can handle putting my life online, but I can’t handle telling someone in person that’s new in my life about my life online.
I can handle staying up all night to write an article and talk to one of you, but I can’t handle the idea of giving up the desire for a family for a career.
Things like this. We’re so multi-faceted. A bunch of double-edged swords.
2.) Are you walking into a situation with triggers?
Are you going to a cereal party? A Thanksgiving buffet? A July 4th beerpong marathon? Hell, do you have the flu? Or simply, a weekend away with your partner’s parents? (Let’s be honest, we all smile through the pain.)
These are situations that you HAVE to choose to be cognizant of. These are NOT the moments where you can sit there and think to yourself “I’ve got this, Felicia.” (Is that a saying? Likely not, I tend to make them up as I go.)
You don’t have it. You didn’t before. Don’t tell yourself a story that you’ve made up a different ending to.
This is not the guy/girl that ‘may like you’ if you ‘just break down their walls.’
This is your fucking life.
And you have to treat your life like the fragile, fleeting existence that it is.
I was emailing with the wonderful Allison Cardwell the other day (check her out. The way she talks about disability is so clear and so damn real), and we mentioned this exact same premise of walking into triggers whether it be a bachelorette party or a gym session.
Sometimes, it’s just having the cognizance.
3.) Are you ‘really fine’ when you buy that food?
If you can have that gallon of ice cream in your house and not binge, you’re cool dude.
But, if you’re like me, it’s not ‘really fine.’ It’s the first thing I run to when I’m down.
It’s my punishment tool.
Don’t lie to yourself. Ask yourself “Am I tempting myself with this as a form of self-punishment?”
Am I trying to relapse.
Am i trying to feel good for a second – only to feel worse later? Think about that when you’re in the grocery store.
4.) Is that ‘instant gratification’ really worth it?
… Which leads me to this question.
Man, I know what it’s like to be in the trenches of this binge and anorexia shit. I know there’s a certain point you won’t come back.
I’m not talking about that point. I’m talking about the before. The moments you have that resilience.
IS IT WORTH IT.
IS THE INSTANT GRATIFICATION OF PLUNGIN’ THAT DAMN FINGER DOWN YOUR THROAT WORTH IT?
Think about what happens: the throat ache. The stomach ache. The bloatedness. The esophagus closure. The shame. The guilt. The time it takes my god.
Think about that binge. Does it really feel good after you puke that shit up? Or hey, even if you don’t. Does it feel good to feel your pants around your waist, clamping you. Does it feel like it helped your life?
5.) Are you looking for a reason?
Are you committing to do something that will involve … IDK… an ex? Are you committing to something that involves a lot of food when you’re already feeling low?
Are you committing to something out of obligation or fear or necessity?
You’re going to have triggers forever, sure.
But, you HAVE to think about yourself within the situation.
One of the final ‘moments’ for me with Leonardo-Dicaprio-Saving-The-Environment-While-Riding-A-Private-Jet-manbun-dad was being put in a situation where I knew we wouldn’t have food for hours and hours.
I knew it. But, I said nothing. Cue five hours later and manbun-Harry-Styles-In-New-Music-Video dude is like “Oh shit, we didn’t get food.”
And I’m like “OH WHOOPS!!!!! TEEHEE.”
You have to be on the alert for that. You have to know yourself better.
You have to treat yourself like you’re the only relationship that you have.
Because you are.
Otherwise, you’ll do what I’ve done – and mosey from human to human looking for them to set the framework for you, when it is always – and will always – be up to you. <3
4 thoughts on “When You Miss Anorexia: 5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before A Relapse”
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Thank you for this. Many times I have to ask myself these same questions. Sometimes my reason for not relapsing is the struggle of health. I don’t want to go back to the living hell that was my life. But I’m sure there are times that I still “manage” my ED in other ways. Like I exercise so I can feel good about my food choices. But I still struggle…I had these meetings at work and they offered a buffet of food. I felt like I made some good choices with my food, but the scale told me otherwise. I know the scale can fluctuate, but I’m apparently still a slave to it. (oh to long for the day of freedom – insert William Wallace from Braveheart). But to see my weight increase even while trying to make the right choices tells me that I still have so much to learn and change. I feel like I have no self-control and when I do, it’s my ED not me. One day I will experience true freedom from this bondage. Until then, I’m a constant work in progress. It’s comforting to know someone else who can share with my feelings and knows that the struggle is real.