“you are needed to be a part of the change you want to see”

hello my dear friends. this is a hard post to write, so bear with me.

For the past week, I’ve taken the advice of my therapist and have refrained from writing in my journal. It’s been hard at times, as journaling has previously served as a “word purge”, a tool to help me process independently and foster personal growth by clarifying internal ambiguity.

Joan Didion’s words have always resonated with me:

“In many ways writing is the act of saying I, of imposing oneself upon other people, of saying listen to me, see it my way, change your mind. It’s an aggressive even a hostile act.”

Writing has always been an act of solidarity and resistance, a safer way for me to feel like I can be heard, and a way in which I feel like I can express myself more articulately. There are times when I feel bold enough to say that it has felt like writing has saved my life. It’s not that writing has lost this power, but I’m learning once again, the fine line between an avoidance behavior and a coping mechanism.

With this week of “journaling abstinence” I can admit that in many ways, journaling has become a mask that allowed me to stay isolated and try to understand difficult things. Putting thoughts on paper was a sneaky and an unintentional way for me to become less emotionally engaged and aware as I tried to make sense of my experiences. I’ve noticed, that with less writing I’ve become more willing and vulnerable in regards to opening up and verbally saying my thoughts out loud to CJ.

How timely is this realization though? In reality, the results of last night’s presidential election have served as a means for me to work on using my voice rather than writing in my journal and closing the cover so as not to burden anyone with my thoughts.

This morning, I woke up and simultaneously felt the need to be heard and yet, I felt silenced. It was a familiar feeling, but one that I had not felt recently – oh, right. Oppression. The feeling of my voice being taken away from me. Like I’m trying to scream, but my voice passes over my larynx.

When my alarm went off at 3:30 am (for the first time), fear immobilized me. I was working the opening shift and while I am fortunate enough to feel safe in my immediate community and workplace, my body was tense. I could feel that cortisol wavering between fight or flight mode. It’s an all too familiar feeling summoned by a sense of threat and invalidation.

It was almost uncanny, yet in hindsight, I don’t know why I would expect anything else. Almost immediately after scanning the CNN updates on my phone, my eating disorder snuck in and enticed me with a promised [false] sense of safety and comfort. I felt myself being pulled. I felt out of control, disconnected from my body, and was questioning the value of my body’s existence in the face of the majority of the people in this country.

My mind was racing with unknowns. What is going to happen with:

  • deportations
  • refugees
  • immigration
  • voting rights
  • trans health care
  • LGBTQ rights
  • women’s rights (including safe, free, and legal abortions)
  • healthcare access in general
  • gun safety laws

(to name a few…)

This is all terrifying. Especially before 4 am in the morning.

But a healthy part of me woke up this morning too. As that eating disorder voice was trying to win me over for the day, I repeated in my head, “There is no such thing as control.”

The images of our country across news sites, a stark shade of blood red. A shade that is not able to be blended – there is nothing I can do, even with a paintbrush. My eating disorder encouraged me to stay in bed all day, under the covers, in isolation. The outcome of the election has left me feeling small and I wanted to stay that way.

But Step # 1: I got out of bed.

The uncertainty of what is yet to come is terrifying as well. Unfortunately, my eating disorder promises predictability, and the fucked up state of our country right now is making restriction sound so good dammit. The internal war continued as CJ still slept beside me. Was this going to be an eating disorder day or a recovery day?

Thoughts and fears – both irrational and rational – flooded my mind. I looked over at CJ and my stomach dropped, a lump formed in my throat. We were supposed to get married last August and this stupid fucking eating disorder that is still enticing me thwarted that momentous occasion. I frantically started thinking that we have to get married RIGHT NOW (there’s the impulsive side of me!).

But I can’t help it. Like I say, this is all so terrifying. What does the future hold for the LGBTQ community? I shed tears of sadness and fear and anger that my relationship and authentic existence might very well be challenged and not approved of by the government in the country that I’m supposed to call myself a citizen of.

Step #2: I walk outside to my car, somewhat frantically after scanning the interwebs for an article telling me this is the first chapter of a horrible dystopian novel failed miserably. My eating disorder almost successfully convinced me that I forgot to grab breakfast on my way out. But I’m more aware than that at this point in recovery. Those urges to restrict came back with a vengeance this morning to make me feel powerful during a time when I felt utterly lost, meaningless, and powerless. The urges serve a purpose, they just don’t serve it well.

I’m discharging IOP in less than a week. I’ve been close to following my meal plan, but it hasn’t been perfect. I’ve been motivated this week to end on a high note. Yet still, it amazes me how quick my brain can activate that eating disorder/self-destructive thought switch that has etched a facade of safety and control in my mind. I’d say that I’m in a pretty vulnerable stage of recovery right now, teetering at times on the slack string of maintenance.

The following doesn’t help: There’s endless, meaningless, bullshit banter that speculates why women don’t come forward about sexual assault. Correct answer: we don’t feel safe.

There are many reasons, some personally circumstantial, why coming out as LGBTQ is so challenging. It’s a moment of raw vulnerability, and again, we don’t feel safe.

The outcome of last night’s election reinforces the fear I already have around not feeling safe.

Knowing that approximately 1/2 of the country has given their implicit approval of sexual assault last night, reminds me of one of the very things I’m working so hard to overcome: the notion that my body often does not feel like my own. This is a triggering feeling that immediately causes self-harm urges for me. I felt like I didn’t matter, like my lived experience was meaningless.

I know the answer to my fear, shock, sadness etc. is not resorting back to my eating disorder no matter how well the bastard tempts me. Just because I can control my body, doesn’t mean that the aspects of life that I want to control will get better. AKA news flash!: changing my body by depriving it of food will not change the presidential election of the United States of America!

While a challenge, I tried to channel my energy that so wanted to be put into restriction into self-care and self-advocacy. I arrived at the two appointments I had early and sat in the waiting room since these feel like safe places for me. That’s what I craved today more than anything: safety. It’s hard to feel safe when so much of the country doesn’t view you as substantial.

Yet then I realized, as I connected with other like-minded individuals on social media, that there is a community of others who share similar sentiments and sadly, experiences. Gosh, this world is so destructive already, and today, I made a decision not to add to the destruction by using eating disorder behaviors.

Step #3: I walked into work sad. Tears were shed in the car as I listened to Trump’s acceptance speech on NPR. I showed up though. I didn’t turn inward and shut down like I wanted to. Instead, I wrote small messages of love and hope on people’s coffee cups.

As I sit here writing this, I’m drinking a small cup of coffee (because it’s my 5th of the day), and I am actively promising myself that I refuse to make myself smaller despite the urges telling me that I don’t deserve the space I occupy. I tell myself that I must keep striving to make myself stronger by utilizing the amazing supports I have. Now is not the time to pretend I can do this on my own. Now is not the time to grab the journal, write for hours and throw it back in the drawer. Now is the time to use our voices to spread messages to stop the hateful forces and rhetoric.

I will continue to fight to recover. To recover fully, I should say. I refuse to be quiet during a time when I feel silenced. I will use my voice (outside of my journal). I will try to turn fear into empowerment. And I will use empowerment to continuing advocating.

I know that sounds like a grand gesture, but it’s a long-term goal. For right now, aside from catching up on shut-eye, I’m going to listen to my wise dietitian who told me today to

“get grounded and then move to the place of clarity, feel the feelings, but cope and know that you are needed to be a part of the change you want to see.”

Please, let’s take care of each other and ourselves.

in MUCH strength and healing,

OJ

*You are not alone. If you need support, please reach out for help by calling one of these hotlines: *
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
24/7: 1-800-273-8255. You can also chat:http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org

*National Sexual Assault Hotline (RAINN)
24/7: 1-800-656-4673. You can also visit online.rainn.org to receive support via confidential
online chat.

*The Trevor Project Hotline (LGBTQ+) 24/7:
1-866-488-7386). You can also chat online here http://www.thetrevorproject.org/pages/get-help-now.

*I’mAlive 24/7: https://www.imalive.org An online chat crisis network staffed
with certified and trained volunteers, for people uncomfortable talking on the
phone.

*Trans Lifeline at (877) 565-8860

 

 

 

“you are needed to be a part of the change you want to see”
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