OJ and CJ’s #imnotsorry Stories

A special treat!  Two #imnotsorry stories are being shared on this post.  Get excited my friends.

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Written by: OJ, recovery warrior and co-founder of the blog thirdwheelED, providing a queer perspective on eating disorder recovery (check it out at thirdwheelED.com).  

#imnotsorry for developing self-compassion after years of self-hatred and shame. For fifteen years I’ve struggled much of the time in secret with an eating disorder, anxiety, depression, and PTSD. For years I wished I had the strength to ask people for help but I didn’t know how to and I didn’t always feel worthy or deserving of help from others. I constantly berated myself and insisted that I “should” be okay, even when I wasn’t. As a queer woman who has experienced sexual assault, I became familiar with feeling insignificant and meaningless, and the power that this can have on one’s sense of self. It is dehumanizing and corrupts one’s identity.

Eating disorders are probably one of the least compassionate ways you can treat your body. There’s a convincing voice constantly yelling at you that you don’t deserve to eat. As I was trying to defy science, depriving myself of food made me feel powerful, hypnotic, and safe, but in reality I became essentially sub-human. I restricted as punishment because I blamed my body for being inherently “wrong”, and the only way to “fix” it was to make it disappear, so I thought.

Finally, I’ve reached a point in my recovery where #imnotsorry for not being okay. Admitting to struggling is incredibly hard, yet an admirable act of bravery and resilience, and I could not have done this without the help my partner, CJ. Accepting my pain as valid was a pivotal point that helped change my perspective from one of self-anger, hatred, and destruction to a perspective of curiosity, love, and self-compassion.

As self-compassion has become a larger part of my recovery, I have been able to hold myself during more challenging and potentially triggering moments, providing safety from within myself, which is where the true sense of power can be found.

Self-compassion is difficult to conjure. I used to equate it with selfishness and any act that I may have associated with self-compassion, made me feel ashamed for not putting other people’s needs first. I’ve learned that self-compassion is actually one of the more altruistic attributes you can develop. It’s not about loving and only caring about yourself, but rather it’s about choosing to be kind and gentle with ourselves, leaving more space to be authentically compassionate to others.

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Written by: CJ, supporter & partner of OJ, as well as the co-founder of the blog thirdwheelED, providing a queer perspective on eating disorder recovery (check it out at thirdwheelED.com).  

#imnotsorry for asking for support even when my partner (OJ) struggles in recovery. Throughout OJ’s recovery, it has been difficult for me to ask her for added emotional support because I know she is working so hard. It took me a while, though, to understand that by asking her for support, I’m actually helping her in her own recovery. By us resuming our relationship again it gives her eating disorder less space to take over, less control and provided my partner with an ability to look more into the future at what lays beyond her eating disorder.

When OJ was sick she wasn’t able to handle her own needs let alone mine. I took on the role of trying to figure out what the best treatment for OJ would be. We’ve been together for 5 years and not being able to make these important decisions together was difficult. Overtime as OJ finally received the treatment she needed and got healthier, I had to learn to trust that she would be okay if I asked for her support.

While learning to trust her ability to withstand difficult emotions, I was also learning more about myself. And as they say, there’s always good that comes with the bad. While I want nothing more than to get her eating disorder out of our lives, her process of recovery has in turn led to my own process of recovery as a caregiver. I’ve become more aware of my own emotional intelligence and mental health, typical things we tend to ignore in our society. I realized that I’m actually not all that great at telling OJ about my own feelings. I tend to pretend that everything is okay even though I pretty much wear my emotions on my sleeve, and she’s really good at calling me out on that. I realized that if I expect her to tell me how she’s feeling in order to get her eating disorder out of the shadows, I need to do the same.

As caregivers we don’t receive the same type of treatment that our loved ones do. This results in a somewhat slower recovery process as a caregiver. There are times when I finally understand a dialectal behavior therapy (DBT) skill that OJ has known about and has been utilizing for months. There are so many moments in which I wish I could turn back the clock and change the decision I made, but I’m learning to forgive myself and know that I did all that I could in that particular moment. Learning about myself, and asking for and getting the support that I need, has helped me to better understand and connect with what OJ is going through. Perhaps most importantly, it has improved our communication and made us more connected than ever. Never be afraid to ask for help or support, because in supporting each other, we create more connections and that is what healing is all about.

 

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