Sometimes life takes you in its grips, twirls you around, and leaves you dazed and confused about what day, time, or month you are living in. I haven’t written consistently in two months or so, and I feel this intense loosening of my spirit. Disconnection has become a consistent friend. My legs feel as if they are walking on air, not quite grounded to the floor beneath my feet. It’s not dissociation. I tell my therapist this over and over. I know dissociation. It comes and goes like the rising and falling of the waves. I will not deny tasting its sweet numbness once or twice over the last months, but this disconnection is different. I am not disconnected from life. I am disconnected from the passage of time. Rather than checking out from my emotional experiences or denying myself the space to truly experience life, I am totally and completely in it. Each day is a day. Not a battle. Not a struggle, but a day. I haven’t fantasized about relapses, obsessively planned out my meals, or found ways to sabotage the good things in my life.
“I am simply fine,” I told my therapist.
“What do you mean by fine?” she asked.
“I finally feel like a normal person,” I answered.
Normalcy and stability are foreign concepts to me. I assumed a position of operating in a constant state of crisis. I lived off the rocky grounds in which mental illness forced me to walk. Running away from problems and numbing the positive experiences in my life became habitual. A reflex of sorts, my default or guide on how to deal with life. I lacked the capacity to hold any sort of emotion. It was too unpredictable. It threatened my semblance of control. Therefore, to have months where I float from one day to the next, unthreatened or phased by the experiences at hand, became strange. The reality is that within these last two months, I haven’t paused to question this new state of being. I was consumed in living. Between dating, dinners, parties, trips, work, art-making, and so much more, my time was filled. Who was I to stop to question the way things were unfolding?
The new year gives us the space for reflection. We are bombarded with new year’s resolutions, diet and weight loss goals as well as endless ways which people claim they are going to improve themselves. Since finding recovery, I have taken the approach of setting intentions for the new year rather than goals. As part of my healing process, I have learned to challenge these beliefs that I am not okay where I am right now, that I need to improve or better myself in certain ways. Intentions seem to offer a much more compassionate approach to the new year. For 2019, I have chosen the word JOY to meditate on. I have chosen JOY as a direct reaction to these last two months of life. As I find more and more freedom within my days to simply be, so too does my level of joyousness increase. I want to lean into this carefree spirit that I was naturally born with so that I may continue to invite JOY into my days.
Now, I don’t want to bullshit anyone. Not everything has been rainbows and sunshine. Every day has ups and downs. Let’s be real, there is no high without the occasional low. 2019 began with a cop pulling me over at 12:30am. Not even 30 minutes into the new year and I already was having to challenge my negative emotions and remind myself of my intention I had set not even an hour earlier.
“It’s a bad omen,” I said through tears the rest of the way home.
“It’s a personal challenge,” my boyfriend told me.
Life is funny that way, challenging you, giving you constant opportunities to strengthen your personal ability to succeed. Here we are now a week into the new year and my living environment has gone from neutral to hostile. One roommate has decided that screaming battles, passive aggressive actions such as slamming a loud vacuum against my door while I am sleeping, and mocking me on speaker phone are appropriate reactions to a simple confrontation about needing her to help out with the cleaning schedule. At this point, all I can do is laugh – hopefully with the universe – at how blatantly opposing these situations are to my intention of JOY. How am I supposed to find JOY in the midst of fights and traffic tickets? The answer I have come up with is this – by being grateful that I am far enough into my recovery to handle these situations without my eating disorder. And right now, this answer is more than enough for me.