May 16th, 2017
I relapsed for the first time since being in recovery last summer. During the 4 months that I was “sober”, binging, purging and restricting never crossed my mind. I was astonished at how ED seemed to have been completely banished after 10 years of living with it daily. Recovery looked like it would be the easiest and surest thing in the world. So I was completely surprised when I found myself in the middle of a binge for no apparent reason and knowing very clearly that it would end in a purge. I wasn’t stressed and I was unapologetic about what was going down after the longest stint of sobriety I had experienced in a decade. Fortunately, during this time, I was still seeing Dr. W. every other week. I was very open when I confessed to the episode and relayed how shocked I was both that it occurred and that I was so indifferent to it. We combed through the seemingly minor events that preceded it and there were 2 things that she got stuck on. Both involved me not speaking my truth. One included me offering forgiveness, reassurance, and wishing happiness upon #3’s mistress when she reached out to me two years after being caught to offer an attempted explanation and apology. Being motivated to a fault by peace and the avoidance of conflict, it is not unusual for me to attempt to comfort someone who has wronged me. And I wasn’t fake. I did feel at peace when I offered this woman compassion and wished her well. But what she’ll never know, is what I had to pass through to offer her that compassion. Or the many times going forward that I will have to talk myself down from one of the memories involving her.
Purging, is not easy for me. I’ve read about women who could purge any amount of food anywhere. And to be honest, could I do that, I may never have actually sought help. For me, purging is a strenuous, difficult and timely process. It is violent and messy. It is so damn hard for me to throw up that there really can’t be any question as to how bad I must hate myself to intentionally do this to my body. And it’s because of this that Dr. W. presented an explanation of sorts for my particular brand of body image fuckery. Her belief that my inability to speak my truth and my attempt to keep the peace at all costs might well have something to do with me physically forcing myself to violently purge. Some metaphorical substitute for the word vomit that we could argue SHOULD actually be coming forth.
The months that followed continued in the same manner. Because of a wreck on his dirt bike, my son required every bit of extra income to repair a broken scapula and I had nothing left in the budget to continue with therapy. Looking back, I realize that it was way too early in my recovery for me to go everything alone. But the cost of individual and group therapy plus a specialized dietician wasn’t covered by my insurance and a year’s worth of those weekly expenses had depleted my savings and caused me to incur credit card debt for the first time in years.
To be honest, I’m not even sure what I’ve been doing in the months since then to get through this really long relapse. I continued going to the gym. In fact, I ramped up my weight lifting and tried to keep cardio and calorie counting from being the focus. I managed to avoid restricting, but binging and purging came and went with no obvious triggers and no real signs of stopping. So at the time I’m writing this, I can only claim one week sans ED. And what may have started out as slow and sporadic, became monstrous and continual. With the help of a couple of personal setbacks, to which I will speak on later, I was as entangled with ED as I’d ever been. So for the first time I am publicly owning one big ass relapse.
Slowly and without professional help, I am trying to implement as many processes as I can. Ironically, one of the things I was doing faithfully before my relapse was writing. And when the writing stopped, ED found a place to reside again. That just may validate Dr. W’s theory that purging is maybe a physical replacement for my inability to verbally purge. So one of the things I am recommitting to is writing. Even if it’s nothing more than a haphazardly scribbled journal entry. I’ll keep track of activities that seem to be helping and even record my falls. I’ll continue to focus on feeling whatever needs to be felt and working through it without numbing. And if there’s anyone still out there, I’d love suggestions on what has worked for you.