Wednesday, June 29, 2016

butterfly

i found this old journal today, with entries from march 2006-may 2008.  let me tell you what just happened to occur during this period of my life:
  • i started binging and purging; 
  • i became consumed by bulimia; 
  • i met the person i thought i'd spend my life with
...and subsequently avoided dealing with the eating disorder because many of its symptoms were masked in the early stages of this relationship.

there were other events of course: a few weeks in italy, visiting my sister who was studying abroad;  my own study abroad experience in germany, with many additional trips around europe; the successful defense of my dissertation; and getting engaged.

though i was just completing my phd, the journal reads more like a young adolescent's diary.  the painful extremes i felt in relation to food and to my body were hard to re-read.  there was shame embedded in the writing, and i felt immediately ashamed while reading my own words from ten years before. i cried, without realizing why. later this afternoon it clicked: i was mourning the years i lost, the experiences i lost to bulimia.

in an entry i wrote while in london, i talked about an amazing gym i went to.  in an entry in an airport, i wondered whether the bathroom was crowded and whether there was an empty stall with a sink in it that i could use to throw up.  and though this part wasn't an entry, i was reminded of my stay at a hotel the night before a flight back to the US where they had an all you can eat buffet bar. i went back up the buffet several times until my binge cycle was complete, and then i went up to my room to throw up.  i clogged the toilet throwing up and prayed i wouldn't get charged any additional fees.

during this period of my life, my whole being centered around bulimia (which i affectionately called "mia," as if it were a friend).  i knew there was a disconnect between my mind and body: i wrote about it, i drew about it, and i summarized articles and books about it.  but i also wrote about the need mia was serving in my life.

in the parts of the journal where i wrote about this new relationship with billy and then engagement, it was scary to feel the differential between how i felt about myself and how i felt about him. i mused to myself today that there was no way my relationship with billy stood a chance.  anyone reading this could tell that all of my attention was focused on mia.

reading back through this journal gave me the range of emotions any loss spurns (the loss of experiences over the past several years): i felt denial in the first readings; like "it couldn't have really been like this." i felt anger at myself for taking so long to recover, for somehow ignoring all the things i knew. i felt deep sadness for myself and those that were in my life that weren't receiving my full attention.  moving through the grief was how i spent a majority of my afternoon (while multitasking through my day).

and, on the other side, i felt acceptance for where i am now; happiness for the support i have in my life; gratitude for the ability to change.

June 29, 2016: butterfly
that ability to change though.  yes i still think about food and exercise more than the average person.  yes i still panic about desserts or missing a workout.   yes i still workout on vacation. 

but i am not the same person i was then.

on the first page of the journal i wrote "i'm waiting to become the butterfly; i'm 1/2 way there--"

so much gratitude that i kept evolving.  and for all those on the journey with me.

and so much hope for anyone else going through that shit.  or any shit.  because if i can get from "mia is my closest friend" to butterfly--there's hope for anyone. 

evidence that change is possible.  that miracles happen every day.

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