Getting By With (A Lot Of) Help From My Friends

This was the first week I spent in my new apartment. I started out on a bit of an adrenaline high adjusting to my new space and enjoying the freedom that living alone affords.  Then Wednesday night hit, and I suddenly became aware of the reality of my aloneness. So I binge ate for the first time in months. And then I went to the gym at 10:30 and ran six miles. And then I came home and puked in the parking lot. And then I spent the night laying on my floor while a very, very confused Tigger meowed at me.

Over the past year, I’ve gotten a lot better at exercising patience with myself (I say “got better,” but in no way mean I’m “good” at it)… except when it comes to my eating disorder. Especially because I’ve been making a lot healthier decisions when it comes to my diet and exercise, finding myself in the middle of a binge without really knowing how I got there and then finding myself at the gym doubling the distance I’ve been running as of late… yeah, that was pretty demoralizing. I realized about halfway through my run that I was doing it for the wrong reasons, but Mean Anorexia Voice was screaming over my inner grounding voice. So I kept going.

I told myself that Thursday would be a new day, but it didn’t exactly work like that. Mean Anorexia Voice invited friends over, so I woke up with a full chorus of self-loathing ricocheting around my brain, telling me I was worthless and weak and pathetic and stupid… and they were still screaming so loud that I couldn’t even hear my inner grounding voice at all. Which sucked because of that whole “finding worth from within” thing I’ve been trying to do. Sometimes, resetting is an all-day process (and involves lots of crying). It took me until about 9:00 Thursday night (and another six mile run) to finally get my inner grounding voice to speak loud enough to hear.

The days when I take all day to reset are really tough for me. It’s frustrating because I want to be okay right now and I confuse going through the process with being weak. But sometimes, what we’re feeling is so much and so intense that all you can do is cry until it’s out of you. I was carrying a lot of toxicity on Thursday: unrelenting thoughts of worthlessness that I was more than ready to buy into, disappointment that I acted on my anorexic compulsions, grief for the life I thought was going to be mine forever, frustration that I couldn’t seem to break through the obstacles in front of me, embarrassment because I couldn’t go ten minutes without crying, fatigue because hurting is exhausting.

The magnitude of that obstacle meant it took a little more time for me to push through it and recenter, and it took me until this morning to remember that it’s okay to take your time. Also, it’s okay to ask for help. I’m working on is validating myself from within, and I’m struggling to find the balance between supporting myself and accepting or seeking the support of others. Yesterday, I needed some of that external support. Not to tell me I was worthy (because no matter how much someone tells you you’re worthy, you won’t believe it unless you believe it already), but to remind me I wasn’t alone. Because I felt really alone yesterday. I was locked up behind the isolating walls of self-hatred and it often takes a kind hand (or big hug) to pull me back from the edge.

It’s okay to need comfort from the people around you sometimes, and it’s okay to ask for it. I am terrible at this, and that often translates into standoffishness or snap frustration when I’m hurt. I had a really hard time yesterday articulating exactly what was hurting so much because I was ashamed of myself for hurting in the first place, and I was afraid of being judged. I was reminded yesterday of the willingness of most people to help, not judge, when they see you hurt. The willingness to remind you that you aren’t alone and that you’ll get through it because you’re strong, and the willingness to help you silence those mean voices in your head so you can listen to the one that’s telling you the way through.

Looking back, I’m surprised it took until Wednesday for me to reach a breaking point. It’s been an intense few weeks full of some really major changes, and I’ve been putting so much pressure on myself to react the “right” way or be completely fine that so much of the hurt and anger and frustration inside me has been totally compressed down. I’m working on it, but just like everything else in life, my approach will be imperfect.

What’s important right now is that I started the day thinking “I am worthless” and ended it thinking “I am strong.” I was reminded of the gifts of friendship that show us how loved we are when we struggle to love ourselves. I was able to claim a piece of worth from within myself, even though when I woke up I thought that would be impossible. It took a day of tears and emotional excess to get there, but I got there with a little help from the people who care about me. I asked for help, and I accepted it, and I found I was able to love myself just a little more than the day before.

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