You’re keeping me up so late! Maybe that’s because I’ve slept more the past weekend than I probably did all last week…crazy, CRAZY fatigue. It feels good to be home, even though I’ll be leaving for another mini-vacation in just a few hours.
In brief, I still haven’t 100% picked myself up from that deep and treacherous low point I hit last Thursday. Last week was really hard. Between the small fire, feelings of utter hopelessness with the ups and downs of my recovery process, wicked bout of food poisoning, and a six-hour drive in the pouring rain with little to no visibility last night…well, I’m ready for some positivity 🙂
I have good people to lean on and I am grateful for that. Where you used to keep me outwardly social but inwardly isolated, I am slowly learning how to ask for help from others when I need it. And I’ve definitely needed it.
I had a very good therapy session this afternoon (what else is new, right?). The other day, my therapist disclosed to me that she has full faith in my recovery and that I’m one of the most successful people she’s ever seen do this. I know she’s not just trying to appease me, and I have mixed feelings on such compliments. On one hand, this just stokes my people-pleasing tendencies and satisfies my need for approval and praise from others. On the other hand, this sentiment put me on yet another pedestal, in that I felt more pressure to continue doing a “good job.” This exchange happened over the phone last Thursday (the day of my terrible meltdown; she was a saving grace at the time), but we processed it in today’s session.
She told me she that she absolutely understood the pressure I felt from others (now that I also have a sponsor and more people know about my eating disorder), because I think I have to “fess up” my mistakes to these people, and that, in turn, makes me feel guilty when I slip. I struggle with not feeling guilty, because I think I am disappointing the individuals who appear to be sacrificing their time, energy, and kindness on me.
I know I am being much harder on myself than anyone else has ever been (or will ever be). Nobody expected me to recover overnight and nobody expects me to have this “perfect” linear journey.
We talked about my high-achieving, successful life and how I constantly exceed people’s expectations for me. It makes me feel conceited for feeling exhausted at people gushing that they are just so proud of me. I have heard it my entire life.
Parents, teachers, friends, even strangers. She can do it all. She’s just so smart. She’s so talented. She’s so well-mannered. She’s an amazing writer/student/athlete/girlfriend/friend/daughter.
I remember my ex-boyfriend telling me that he could count on one hand the number of times his father had told him he was proud of him. I felt a powerful mixture of sadness, shock, and confusion upon learning this, for I had heard it probably a million from just my parents alone.
Then again, I know I revel in other people’s opinion and praise of me, so them doing it just reinforces my perfectionist complex. I like when people like me, but I love proving people wrong. Fortunately, I now realize the drawbacks of this dependency of such approval. In doing so, I often neglect my own needs because I am constantly seeking to impress everyone else. This stems from insecurity and an inability to accept myself and has consequently become a subconscious drive. Only recently have I become aware of this flawed need, and I am determined to work on it.
My therapist told me I need to write a letter of forgiveness to myself. At first, I dismissed it, thinking, well, I already have this blog. I write letters to myself practically every single day. And then it occurred to me: been able to apologize to myself for engaging in self-destructive behaviors; I’ve processed my mistakes and discussed my shortcomings and talked about the lessons I have learned. But, that’s just awareness and self-realization: I have never taken the next step in absolutely, wholeheartedly forgiving myself.
I just wrote that letter. I think that’s why I’m unable to fall asleep. I filled four notebook pages back-to-back. Eight pages. I lost track of time. I haven’t read it over yet and I don’t think I will until my next therapy session. I don’t have any desire to even post it on here. That letter is for me and it’s something I need to read aloud and think about. I forgave myself for many things: for being a perfectionist, for letting other people influence my own judgment, for believing I wasn’t good enough, for the relationships and people that I let hurt me, and yes, for my eating disorder.
I am able to find the positive strengths in everyone; this is innate to me, and I did not recognize that it was even a skill until I realized not everyone thinks in such an optimistic way. However, until now, I have not extended that same generosity towards myself. Nope, I have mentally beaten myself into oblivion, doubting and questioning nearly every decision I have made, comparing my everything to everyone else.
I cannot say I will absolutely wake up tomorrow and fully embrace the virtues of self-love. But I am damn well going to try my hardest. Because I am good enough. And I am going to get through this, no matter how long it takes, no matter how many times I break down, no matter how much it hurts or scares me. I know that I have no other choice. I have too much awareness, and one of my favorite quotes is: A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.
I can never return to the girl I used to be, the one shackled by the bondage of her own deceit, denial, and lying facade, the one buried by you, the vicious, conniving monster, who swore up and down that I needed you.
I don’t need you and forgiving myself will set both of us free.