“Always love a woman for her personality. They have like 10 to choose from.” I feel like whoever penned this good bit of satire may be on to something. I’ve mostly lost all pride or luxury of concealing all the less than ugly parts of me. I take no shame in admitting that there is a whole chorus of voices participating in my mental dialogue every bloody day. Some of them are dead useful and there’s a whole harem of charmingly, witty ones. But for my friends who have ever lived with ED, you know he is an obnoxiously loud, over-talking, pessimistic asshole. While it’s likely that each woman has her own compilation of both helpful and unwanted contributors, I’ve been thinking on mine and all the ways that each has contributed to either my psychosis or recovery.
ED – If you’ve never actually had the misfortune to engage in a conversation with ED, while reading this you’ll feel much like you’re listening to your BFF whose boyfriend is demeaning and controlling and super-obviously a really, big jerk. From the moment you awake and become conscious of the beginnings of hunger pains within you, you’ll hear ED telling you to ignore it. Ignore it all together or for as long as humanely possible. And if you make it to lunch time without having ingested anything but coffee or water, he will cheer on your super-human will power. Or, ED will wake you at 3:45 am to haul your butt to the gym and if you obediently engage in two hours of cardio and weightlifting *then* you can have breakfast. If you struggle to get a formerly loose pair of jeans over your thighs, ED will proceed with a very nasty berating as to how you became so repulsively large. And on the contrary, if a once tight fitting dress now seems to hang in the middle, you’re about to experience a very real feeling of euphoria. Every photo that you’re tagged in will be subjected to ED’s very critical eye. Alerting you to a fullness in your face and perhaps a less than sculpted upper arm. ED’s not always a bully though. ED’s your biggest advocate if a friend says your skinny or if you successfully cut out carbs from your day.
My ED therapist – I casually attempted to get better with a couple of therapists before I found Dr. W. From our initial meeting, I knew that she had little tolerance for half assed attempts at recovery. After months of weekly sessions in which she successfully convinced me that my normal thought processes around food/exercise/body image were questionable at best and actually lethal at their worst, she secured real estate in my head. I hear Dr. W and her heavily sarcastic inquiries whenever I’m about to make a meal selection based upon a serving size, calorie count, or it’s place on the food pyramid. Each time I want to excuse #3’s abuse because I *should* have done something differently, I hear her sternly tell me “you’re not a powerful enough person to control another’s behavior”. And when I want to callously accost myself with a sarcastic comment minimizing the trauma I’ve survived, her voice logically reminds me that I would never make light of another’s sorrow. And ever present is her constant reminder to grant myself the time and space to grieve. I think I’ll let her stay.
“You’re not a powerful enough person to control another’s behavior”
My ED Dietician – Adorable, little A is pocket-sized and perfectly pleasant. Unlike Dr. W, she’s softer in her nudging and easier on her reproach. She’s in my head reminding me that if a piece of homemade bread (and by that I mean someone else home made it) smells like it could calm my troubled heart, then I should surely allow myself to sample it. She is flexible in negotiating my meal plan and I can hear her in my head urging me to honor hunger and not the calorie counting app on my phone. But my favorite line that she runs through my head is the command to trust my body. To know that if I am respectful of it, it will guide me to it’s perfectly appointed state. Aw the wisdom.
My life coach and energy healer, D – Unexpectedly, this magnificent, charming, love-filled goddess, is probably one of the most influential of the bunch. I need to dedicate a post, nay my life and my first born to this woman. I need her as hired entourage to follow me around reminding me that only love will heal my soul, and your soul, and his soul and even a UTI. That #3 was divinely appointed as a perfectly placed foe meant to bring me so low that I would be forced to rise up, draw lines, and set boundaries and so that *I* would define what I deserved. All of that. Her soft voice also reminds me that I attract what I am and it is this constant reminder that kept my footing so sure while on the path to recovery. I really need to obtain her for my own safe keeping. Don’t make it weird, people.
“Only love will heal my soul, and your soul, and his soul”
My Sisters – I have two. They are delightful and so very different – from me, that is. And they are like the plethora of cosmetics that I apply to my face each morning; not completely necessary but they wondrously enhance the existing beauty. Except, actually they are not at all like makeup because they are totally necessary and without them I’d be seriously lacking. Scratch all of that. My oldest sister is always steady in her response and guarded in her disclosure, but her calming voice, is ever present reminding me that my choice to be authentic and vulnerable is fearless. She is my champion. I need that. My second sister’s life has paralleled my own, sadly. Yet because of this, her voice rings clear in my head reminding me that I am enough. So very much more than enough. She urges me to continue on, to not undermine my worth or what I deserve as she very boldly proclaims “You could seriously have Luke Bryan if you wanted”. And it is her unwavering proclamation that my value is so much higher than #3 was ever willing to see, that I could even nab my favorite, country cutie that gives me the confidence to say “not today you two-timing mother effer”. Except I’m pretty non-confrontational and would never *actually* say that.
I know what you’re thinking. How do I get an invite to the party that is obviously in her head? As I started to account for all of the voices that have been with me on this journey, the list multiplied. This tells me that each day it is entirely my decision to choose which of these I allow to stay. Today, I choose not to include #3 and all the ways and times and voices that he contributes. Not today, #3. Today I am blessed with an ensemble of enchanting voices as my companions. And with their help, I will acknowledge, send love to and then dismiss the legion of uninvited thoughts and influences that fight for precious space in my crowded mind.
“Of course it is happening inside your head, but why on earth should that mean it is not real?” – AD