Recovery is not linear.
Recovery is not linear.
Recovery is not linear.
I have heard it a thousand times. In fact, I have heard it so much that the words have started to disintegrate the minute they fall out of professionals mouths. I’m not asking for linear. I just want relief. I want a surgeon to go into my brain and remove the parasite that has made its home between my sanity and freedom.
Don’t misunderstand me. I am in recovery. I am the farthest I have ever been in recovery. Months are passing and I am slowly becoming more and more of myself, but I have these nights. These god-forsaken nights where everything folds in on itself and I am left curled into a little ball of confusion and desperation. And then what happens when I feel small, conflicted, and stressed? I want to lose weight. I dream about it, fantasize about numbers, I pinch at my skin, I revel at the release that removing this layer of cellulite would give me. It’s my default. Same as a drug addict craving a hit. I crave emptiness, numbness. I am addicted to food. I know that. I am constantly reminded of this fact.
My day was perfect. The morning was great, peaceful. I went to a bookstore and spent way too much money on books that excited every cell in my body. Books are my high. They have always been there for me. The stories can bring me far, far away from my reality. I could read for weeks, never speaking to anyone, and be the happiest girl in the world. Of course, that would be unhealthy and weird by societal standards so instead I limit myself to hours at a time with incense and jazz music playing the background. My safe place. Therapists always tell you, you need a safe place.
Anyways, the morning was great. Had some avocado toast that was bomb. Listened to a Trevor Hall’s new album, and drank a latte that was poured by the gods. Then I walked into therapy and everything started to shift. The air in the office was thick. I felt suffocated, uneasy. I wanted to turn around and run away, but I always feel this way when I walk into therapy. It is in this tiny little office on the third floor, that I am confronted with all the issues I ignore throughout the week. I am asked how I am, what I need to talk about, and I shrug. It is the usual routine. I never know. I always feel fine like there’s nothing to be discussed. I am eating and apparently that translates as nothing is wrong in my life.
Therapy leaves me walking like a maniac down the sidewalk. I am checking my email, Instagram, texting people back. I can’t do one thing. I have to have my mind racing with many many thoughts in order to keep this panicked energy at bay. I am manic. I am manic. I am sure that I am manic right now. But I just had a session. It could be anxiety. It could be mania. I could be dying of some brain tumor that is pressing on the sanity part of my mind and turning me crazy. The possibilities are endless, but my doctor just increased my meds so I rule out mania. I have no other symptoms of a brain tumor, and I fall back on I am panicking. Suddenly I wish it was something more because I have no idea what to do with this moments of sheer anxiety. I turn on my car. The gas light is on. I can’t pay for gas. The prices are so high right now. But I Google gas stations and pick the one with the lowest price. I start driving. Traffic is awful, my hands are shaking, but I make it to the gas station only to realize it is the Costco one and the line is crazy long and I am not even sure that I can get gas here because I am not a member of the Costco tribe. So I go to the next gas station. There’s another line. I wait and wait and wait. It starts pouring. Traffic is getting worse. I need to get to work by 5. I will never make it by 5. I call my boss. She doesn’t answer. I call the house. My co-counselor picks up. I tell her to ask someone to help her make dinner. She says no one else is there. I swear. I tell her I am sorry. I’ll be there as soon as possible. I beat myself up about being an idiot for spending so much at the book store. I put the gas on my credit card. At least I’ll get rewards points for traveling. I get on the highway. Suddenly everyone has forgotten how to drive because of the rain. I try to sing to music. I am still panicking. Nothing is helping. I roll into work a half hour late. I frantically start preparing dinner and things seem okay for a moment. I start to get in a grove. I talk to the patients. They make me feel at home, they make me feel welcome, they make me feel like I have a purpose. Work is good. It keeps me busy. But then as the shift comes to a close I start to spiral. The panic I shoved down the moment I walked into work resurfaces and all I can think about is the eating disorder. I start dreaming about it, planning my relapse, how to get to the grocery store, how to lose weight, how to binge, how to get a scale, on and on and on. My mind is relentless. I can’t turn it off. I start pinching the dimples on my thighs and panicking about how large I have gotten. Everything feels bleak and hopeless. I drive home. I listen to Julien Baker’s “Turn Out the Lights” and everything changes…
Do you ever have those moments where there’s the perfect song at the perfect time? The song is a little bleak, but it spoke to me in that moment. Then I was reminded of tomorrow. That even these hard moments in recovery, even the worst days are only 24 hours. Ride the wave. Come on Morgan, ride the wave. Don’t do something you are going to regret in the morning. I drive straight home and immediately get into bed. I close my eyes and sigh. I made it. The demons didn’t catch me. I made it another day. I made it through another battle. And I fall asleep exhausted from the war I had been fighting for the years and years and years.