great expectations: you’re bringing me down in recovery

Measuring and comparing time always feels strange. It feels like I’ve been home for a long time, but I’ve only been home for about three weeks, about a quarter of the time I spent in residential treatment.

I appreciate the comfort of home right now. I appreciate being with CJ and our new kittens, and I’m grateful for being able to transition home with the support of a partial program.

In three months I’ve made progress in ways I never thought I would be able to. With such progress, I anticipated the transition home to be quite smooth and seamless. ha… jokes. 

I’m learning though that eating disorders, along with gender dysphoria and body dysmorphia are forever-type foes. They have a suffocating grip that comes with self-doubt and negativity.

The fear of not meeting my own expectations has been unrelenting, despite being told my expectations are too high.

 “Can I do this?” runs through my mind on repeat. The longer the rumination, the more self-doubt there is. I struggle with wanting not to struggle and feeling like I “should” be in a place where I am more independent, where eating feels well, easier than it does. I’ve been told this type of thinking isn’t helpful…

Instead of focusing so intently on expectations I’m not meeting, I’m learning the feeling of intolerableness quite well.

It still feels intolerable to be in my body. Changes in the body are still happening even after weight restoration. The changes feel constant. My eating disorder is persistent at letting me know the disappointment of weight gain as the feeling overshadows everything else, even when I try to remind myself of my accomplishments.

At times, the daily effort it takes to appear “normal” is so great that it leaves little energy for anything else. This is just to say that recovery right now takes work, more work than I imagined. And that’s okay. I believe that where I currently am is exactly what I need. I know that it doesn’t help to feel guilty about the struggle, about where I’m finding myself, because sometimes the shit stays messy for longer than anticipated.

Messiness doesn’t always make me feel so hopeful. But I don’t have to feel hopeful to create change.

Change can be learning to stay. Learning to stay with uneasiness, learning to stay with the unknown, learning to stay with the tightening, the itch, the urges. I’m learning to stay.

To stay is learning the magic of recognition that the struggle exists and that things are hard. To stay is learning the miracle of compassionate acknowledgement that it’s okay that things feel hard, and truly believing that it would be weird if they didn’t.

I find myself telling people, “I’m struggling with the fact that I’m struggling.” This is entrapping. The struggle becomes smothering. It is what it is.

In the hazy glow of hindsight, however, I’m glad to be where I’m at right now. I’m glad I’m not back where I was four months ago, but I’m also glad to have been there once, to know how it is.  

In strength and healing,

OJ

great expectations: you’re bringing me down in recovery

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