It’s been awhile and by awhile a truly mean a long time. The last time I wrote anything down just for the sake of writing was in May. That realization makes me sad because somewhere in the last three months I decided that editing my book, writing grad school papers, and sending out an insane amount of emails every day were all more important than writing simply to write. Over the course of my recovery journey, writing has been my life raft. When I would find myself in stormy waters in the middle of the ocean, I could whip out my notebook, grab a pen, and create an innertube that would carry my back to shore. Essentially, my words have become the bridge between relapse and health.
Starting last week I began to question some of my habits. The habit of overworking myself, overcommitting, over compensating for my insecurities. Why did I cry whenever I didn't receive an A? Why did I write of reading for pleasure as a waste of time? Why did I book myself with work every single night and never feel it was necessary to do otherwise? I started grad school for counseling three weeks after moving to Colorado. My perfectionism latched onto this string of events and made straight A’s and endless hours at work the new life raft. The raft was crappy though. It leaked. It was too small. It did little other than keep my head above water. And, eventually this crappy little raft didn't even do that.
My eating disorder is sneaky, coming back in ways that don’t involve direct behaviors, but instead racking my brain with its unachievable standards. Last week I broke. I broke when I looked at my current grades and saw straight A’s were not attainable. I broke when I couldn’t keep my eyes open after 7pm to read more information. I broke when I tried to go into work despite being completely depleted. I broke because I allowed my disorder to run me straight into the shift wreck that is perfectionism.
It’s exhausting having to be on guard all the time, but it is also necessary. I am not far enough along in recovery – and maybe I never will be – to let me guard down. My perfectionism was my saving grace for most of my life so trying to rewrite those neuro pathways is similar to walking a tight rope. You fall off, you get back on, you focus, you step, you fall, you get back on… the cycle is crucial in finding freedom in recovery. I would rather be exhausted fighting for ultimate freedom than be exhausted following the habitual and unachievable standards of my old ways.
So what does that fight look like? I have starting lighting my candles again, I stretch, I meditate, I take time to snuggle my puppy, and go out with my partner. I am implementing time to simply be and not do. After all I am a human being, not a human doing, right?