continued changes and transitions

I’m just kind of in this weird transitional funk where life feels like it is slipping through my fingers and the changes are overwhelming and I’m drowning in a sea of uncertainty.

Feeling all the feels, and I don’t typically like feelings. I like numbing feelings instead. But experiencing them is an entirely different experience, one that I’m still learning how to master. 

I’m going to be leaving the agency I started working at a year ago in about six weeks. I already told two clients– I have three more difficult ones (meaning long-term clients who I have very strong rapport with) to break the news to. I hate this. I knew it would be difficult, but I’m struggling to shake off the sinking thought that I am letting people down, that I am just another disappointment in a string of rejection and abandonment. This sadness is different given that the therapeutic relationship is probably the only relationship both client and therapist enter knowing that it will end. It still hurts. Goodbyes are very hard, even on the other side of the couch.

I don’t know where I’m going to be living in the next few months. I have no idea what this new job actually entails (except that it involves at-risk adolescents and involves briefer, more solution-focused as opposed to my more traditional, insight-oriented therapy). I’m stressed about money. I’m stressed that I’m not doing enough. My inadequacies and insecurities keep cropping up, and everyday feels like an emotional swing.

The rock and anchor of all this, of course, is my loving boyfriend, but even that has had its own set of challenges, as we both try and maneuver and develop our own professional paths while simultaneously designing our relationship path. Thankfully, we are on the same page, and we keep each other sane and happy.  He’s doing a lot of great work, and the competitive and controlling side of me that gets jealous (since we are in the same line of work). It makes me question whether I am capable, whether I am doing enough, whether I will succeed or not.

I want to do a million things. I want to write. I want to go into private practice. I want to research. I want to see adolescents. I want to see adults. I want to pioneer new types of therapy. I want to become an expert on certain models. I want to get increased training. I want to work with eating disorder clients. I want to brand myself as a label. I want to make money. I want to get my name out there. I want to help people- above all and through it all, that’s the main one. 

Without the cushion of school to catch me, I now feel immersed in this strange land called adulthood, and even though I’ve been existing in this realm for several years, it has only felt like pseudo reality. There is always the, “I’m a student” excuse to make up for lack of money, full-time work, professional success, etc.

And I’m being impatient with myself. And hard on myself. I recognize this. I’m doing more than anyone I know my age, and I’m one of the only students in my cohort to have landed a job (even though it is part-time and very low-paying) BEFORE even completing my program all the way. I want to be more grateful for all that is GOING WELL, rather than focusing on what I cannot control and what is making me stressed.

It’s easier said than done.

I do feel overwhelmed, and this usually motivates me to go out and fight, but right now, this is making me feel somewhat frozen. I’m not sure what my next step is. Boyfriend keeps telling me to practice acceptance; he is right in saying that things will get better, that I am competent and will kick ass in this work, but acceptance of the journey is key.

I know this. I do know this in my flesh and bones, but it’s still hard. It’s really painful to doubt yourself and worry that the rest of the world is speaking some language you don’t know, that you are on the outside looking in, that you won’t get your chance to shine when you’ve been working so hard for it.

Self-doubt runs deep.

The good news is that I haven’t engaged in my eating disorder. The good news is that I’m talking and expressing and seeking support. Feelings are intense, but they pass. They pass, they pass, they pass. 

 

and there is life

I feel guilty for my semi-abandonment of this blog.

What used to be such a lifesaving crutch has become just a faint thought in the back of my mind, something I tell myself I should do, something that has become more of a chore, rather than a gushing desire to just write, write, write. 

I tell myself that this is not a bad thing. That I am evolving in different ways; that I no longer need to hide behind a computer screen to express the pain and feelings I experience. That I now have some other outlets that I feel safe with. That I can talk more about what I used to only be able to write about.

Everything is so weird now. I finished my last EVER class, and having been a student my entire life, I’m still in relative denial that I won’t be enrolling in another full semester of courses this fall. I have two jobs now and an internship. My boyfriend has a job and an internship and another possibility in the works. We may be moving.

It’s going fast, fast, fast.

Suddenly, talk has shifted to budgeting and career planning and licensure hours.

Suddenly, life has felt very grown-up.

Suddenly, I have a new plan everyday for what I want to do and who I want to become.

Suddenly, I just keep feeling all the feels.

Embracing them is hard. It’s so much easier- in the short-term- to just escape into my predictable chaos, which is the eating disorder. Focus on my weight instead of my character. Focus on the number-crunching instead of the job applications. Make myself feel good with a binge just to relieve the edge, the anxiety, the pressure I often self-induce.

I am used to following a specific path. I am used to 5-year tracks and mapped-out classes and work schedules. I am used to structure and living in limbo, waiting for the next step…I am used to being “in progress” of something. I am used to filler jobs. I am used to doing what it takes to sacrifice my present in order to have a successful future.

And is the future here now? Because there certainly isn’t a path paved for me. There’s a million paths now, and maybe there have always been a million, but it’s the first time I actually SEE a million.

Nobody is telling me what to do or where to go. I have to make my own, big-girl decisions.

The eating disorder always feels easier, and, paradoxically, it never is. It’s the same irony as wanting to be the thinnest, most delicate person in the room while being allowed to binge and eat all the most glorifying foods in whatever capacity I want. It’s wanting the dialectic–it’s wanting something that is literally and scientifically impossible to have.

So, I don’t know where this blog will go. And maybe that’s because I don’t know where life will go.

But that’s all okay.

I tell myself that. I have to hold onto that positivity, as sugarcoated and glossy as it sometimes sounds…those affirmations work the more I practice them.

 

cha cha changes.

Life, I’m always reminded, is defined by mere moments. By spurts of opportunity and rare offerings that suddenly change the entire course of action.

Things are happening. And they seem to be happening quickly and intensely.

In a few hours, I have a job interview for a counseling position I haphazardly applied to, without thinking much of anything. And they seem to really like me. I’m feeling really confident about it.

On Friday, my old therapist-YES THAT ONE- contacted me. Asking if I would potentially be interested in working for an eating disorder residential facility running groups and providing individual psychotherapy, and could I send her my resume- she’d like to pass it to the CEO? 

That’s obviously a different story, and all the weird transference and feelings about her and this opportunity will be addressed later. 

On Friday, my boyfriend met with a psychologist in private practice who is looking for interns. She loved him (no surprise) and now he is thinking of taking that opportunity. The kicker is that it’s about one and a half hours away. We’d be moving from my cushiony Southern California hometown into the jungle maze that is Los Angeles.

I’ve never moved.

My job opportunities are down here. My internship is down here. My current job that I’m working at (which is just to supply some income) is down here. I’d leave everything I know and start over fresh. This is terrifying; it is also exciting. 

We have the world on our shoulders, and yet, I wasn’t prepared for any of this. 

I love my boyfriend. I love him more than I thought I could possibly love another person, and I always use the phrase that relational health remains strong when the we comes before the me. This is a prime example of this. Figuring out budgeting, figuring out living accommodations, figuring out how to be a grown-up in a professional world I don’t necessarily feel equipped to deal with…

None of this is a rehearsal. None of this is a trial or a practice run. This is real life- this is it. Right here, right now, in this moment…

I have everything I ever wanted- the career I envisioned, a supportive and loving boyfriend, opportunity…

And yet, there is reluctance. And fear. And skepticism and doubt and the activation of those core beliefs, I’m not good enough and I’m not going to make it. 

There is the desire for movement and change and risk with the apprehension that the novelly will somehow destroy what I am preciously holding onto now.

I am a therapist. My job is to push people from their comfort zones, to expand their horizons, and to encourage them to take risks they may have not wanted to take before. That is where the magic and growth lies.

All of this– it’s overwhelming. But I’m going to make it. Because this is where I’m supposed to be and this is what I’m supposed to do.  

The Apartment Hunt Continues: Pros and Cons List.

Apartment Advantages & Disadvantages 

Pros

1. On the beach.

2. On the beach.

3. On the beach.

4. Affordable rent.

5. Roommate seems relatively chill (yoga instructor and esthetician). She is also older than me and seems financially responsible.

6. Month-to-month lease

7. Move-in date works perfectly with my schedule

8. Fully furnished. Won’t have to Craigslist a bunch of furniture and appliances

9. In one of the nicest parts of town 

Cons

1. No overnight guests. Um. This is problematic. I’m not some 18-year-old-college-freshman-who-can’t-handle-her-one-night-stands nor do I have a moocher boyfriend who intends to crash on my couch. What’s the point of having my own place if I can’t have people over?

2. One bathroom. I’m as low-maintenance as it gets, but…?

3. Fully furnished. Won’t feel like home. May just feel like a guest in someone’s residence. Can’t bring my bed or any of that. 

4. No parking. In a metropolitan city. 

5. Age difference- Roommate is at least 10-15 years older than me (I didn’t want to ask). 

If I’ve learned anything in this process called recovery, it’s that my intuition is right. And as much as I’m trying to convince myself that this is the right home, something feels off. I know these concerns are valid. I know my needs are not too demanding. It’s just like dating- don’t settle for less than what you can deserve (or in this case, afford). 

why I don’t regret a single moment spent with my eating disorder

Dear Bee,

I just want to say that I understand why you do what you do and why you exist in my life. I understand why you entered my life when you did and why you will leave it when you will. I understand how you work, and I understand WHY you work.

As much as I may loathe and resent your presence, I appreciate how my recovery from your toxicity is turning me into a more genuine and wholesome person than I could ever imagine.

For about a third of my life, you have been the caretaker of my unmet needs. You have been the mother filling these voids with your distorted version of nourishment and love. You took me under your wing, provided for me, and wrapped your secure blanket over my young body. What vulnerable girl, living in this world of heightened anxiety and fear, wouldn’t want that comfort? What vulnerable girl wouldn’t let you take her in?

Before my eating disorder, I never thought I could have an eating disorder. Now, I realize that I practically embody a textbook example for developing one.

I didn’t know any better. I thought you were just my inner critic dictating my food. I didn’t understand how you trickled into every aspect of my life, from my family dynamics to my interpersonal relationships to my professional and academic pursuits. I didn’t understand how recovering from you entailed literally healing and changing my perceptions and actions on ALL these aspects.  

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I want to thank you for all that you provided for me. Sincerely. I don’t know how many times I have stepped on a scale in my life. Maybe a million. I wish that was an exaggeration. I don’t know how many times I have turned down food out of fear of what it would do to me. I don’t know how many times I have emotionally eaten or binged. Hundreds? Thousands? I don’t know how many events or activities I declined because I had to work out. I don’t know how many minutes I have spent dwelling over what you do to me. Those may be minutes I never get back, but they are not among the moments I regret or would change.

With you, I remain a child trapped in a young adult’s body. With you, I am still dependent on your logic, rules, and decisions. With you, I am unable to fend for myself and live life on unrestricted terms. With you, I remain afraid, insecure, and skeptical.

I can outgrow you. I AM outgrowing you. 

What if I could live in recovery under the premise that you were one of my most precious gifts? That you were one of my greatest teachers? What if I could channel all my hatred towards how you make me act, believe, and think into unadulterated, uncompromising love?

My recovery is teaching me the most amazing lessons about myself. My recovery is absolutely, overwhelmingly beautiful. Because of my recovery, I cannot regret my eating disorder. Because of my recovery, I have realized just how SPECIAL this life can be.

I sat on the floor today with my therapist and strung bracelets with plastic beads. After spending all this time learning play therapy techniques for my own clients, I wanted to play myself. So, that’s what we did. We talked about my life sagas, sure, but I also realized something fundamental in this session: It’s okay to have problems. It really is. It’s not so much about how my life will be once that problem is eliminated, but, rather, how my life CURRENTLY IS as I work through and cope with that problem. 

 

And it’s okay to get down on the ground and spontaneously take a breather and play. It’s okay to make pretty bracelets designed for ages 6+. Life doesn’t have to be serious. It doesn’t have to hurt. It doesn’t have to feel heavy. 

Last week was necessary. Last week reminded me of the LIFE I once lived: the life you dominated, the life riddled with compulsion and control, the life labeled by my own sense of worthlessness and powerlessness. Last week hurt. It hurt a lot. But I needed it. I needed a reminder of who I want to be and who I absolutely CANNOT be. 

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Sometimes, we need to brave the most treacherous storms to see the brightest rainbows. Sometimes, we need to dance in the rain before we can see the sunshine again. 

My world right now, the breath I am breathing right now, is rocking those rainbows and sunshine.