March 28th, 2016
It happened. It wasn’t expected, it was slightly humiliating, mostly terrifying and humbling, and also probably many months in the making and, therefore, long overdue. But it was also beautiful and comforting and everything that it should have been and exactly what I needed and a testament to love and friendship. I broke down. Not for the first time, but it was the first time that I didn’t do it alone. That I reached out. That I passively and hesitantly and very self-consciously summoned another to my rescue.
I’m fiercely independent and strong willed and life has given me reason to defiantly stand on my own. I’ll handle it, so long as it has nothing to do with spiders or car stuff and maybe a small appliance issue, and possibly some other handy-man shit. Otherwise, I got this. And as a Cancer, I fix you. I do the comforting by delivering precisely the right words or giving the perfectly thought out gift.
I went to group tonight. And I wasn’t even all blubbery like the last time. I was composed and brilliant in my delivery of validating and affirming words. So it was totally weird that it would turn into one of *those* nights. #3 dropped G off at the usual time and we were cordial as we’ve been since my emotional upchuck a few weeks back. She and I snuggled in bed with our standard story selection until she fell fast asleep nestled in the crook of my arm. But as is my new standard, my sleep didn’t come. And even as desperately as I attempted to employ all of the normally useful techniques that I’ve come across over the last few months, I found myself on the floor completely unable to stop the rush of emotions, namely hopelessness. This isn’t an entirely foreign location for me, but it seems like it’s been ages since I’ve been there. I was relieved to find that I had no desire to court ED tonight. But another truly bizarre and uninvited thought found a place in my mind as I lay sobbing on G’s bedroom floor. I didn’t even consider beginning the long and arduous cycle of binging and purging. I did, however, hear the question “but how can I hurt myself”?
I’ve never been a cutter. I know that it’s not entirely unusual for cutting to partner with ED. But this was new to me. As soon as my mind began exploring the logistics of how one would do this, I had this moment of realization where I understood that while my eating disorder may have had roots in the desire to attain physical perfection, it was a symptom of something bigger. After all, what logical reason did I have to physically maim myself during a moment of despair. ED served my need to be physically attractive, but cutting, wouldn’t that be in opposition to that goal? I can only think that the mental battle raging inside the heads of those of us who have engaged in ED or self-harm, is so wholly consuming and deceiving that the ID existing inside of us all instinctively seeks some form of controlled hurt to escape what appears to be complete mayhem.
As a Christian, I was taught and groomed to call out to God in moments like these. While the last few years have caused me to falter in my faith, I tested God in that hour. Literally, calling out for a reprieve in my grief. I won’t deny the frustration that set in when my breathing and tears weren’t instantly calmed. But maybe that was God’s intention. To put space between the crisis and the comfort. In that space, my mind raced to find the balm. My first thought was of #3. Maybe if he could tell me why he left me in this place, I could stop the continuous quest for answers. Instead, I sent out a short text to my BFF. “Are you awake?” was all I had to say. Within minutes there was a knock on my door and my normally non-hugging BFF had engulfed me in an embrace so tight it was likely that her 8-month fetus could feel my shaking, sobbing body.
“Do you want to hurt yourself?” she asked even though I’ve never done or said anything that would lead her to that conclusion. With my head buried in her neck, I nodded and cried harder. I’m notorious for being a non-hugger and have admitted to giving a very awkward side hug. But in those moments, I accepted her shoulder, her arms and any other support she would give me until I had calmed enough to be led to my couch.
For the next three hours, she listened. She listened as I expelled illogical thoughts, unimaginable sorrows, and exhausting statements that she’s surely heard a billion times over the last two years. She didn’t promise me that I’d get through this. She didn’t dispel my concerns with rationale. Nor did she discredit any of my perceived injustices or even minimize my suffering with her own even greater series of tragedies. She offered instances in which the grief cycle had rewound or replayed itself in her own life. She assured me that while time does heal, the scar will remain. And she perfectly and poetically concurred that yeah, this really does suck. And you know what? At 2 a.m., I wasn’t crying any longer. And I wasn’t internally running through a list of ways to stop the pain on my own. I was exhausted and ready for bed. And reaching out to my best friend was the realization of my hurried, desperate plea to God. And in that moment, I learned that I didn’t have to be alone.
But sometimes it may take me having the hope in others and the courage to be vulnerable to receive the blessing of peace. And that just maybe, it’s us. We are the answers to another’s prayer. We serve as the angels that so many are desperately calling out for.
And whatever magic or sorcery or divine intervention brought this human into my life, I will praise. And I will work to be that answer in another’s life. To find them on the floor and stay with them until they can see that the morning will, in fact, come.