Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ed vs. Brie

I have a confession: about a month or so ago, I stopped placing my tube nightly almost completely. I just refused. I’d do it maybe once or twice a week, but I was so tired of it. So tired of the headaches it gave me, of the awful and inconvenient sinus issues and the boxes and boxes of tissues I’d go through, of the rash it gave my face and of how much my throat hurt as I tried to poke it down.

I was so sick of it all.

So I stopped.

And I lost some weight.

One day a couple of weeks ago, my therapist and I were talking about this, she said, “I don’t understand. It’s like you’ve been running a ten mile race (becoming weight restored is what she’s referring to) and once you hit the nine mile mark, you turned around and started running the other way. Why?”

And I honestly didn’t know why.

But yesterday, as I was reflecting on it, as I had skipped an appointment with my dietician, much to my husband and therapist’s dismay, and I realized what it was:

I’ve never before been able to really and truly recover. And oh, how I hate that word!
R E C O V E R.
Recover what? Recover from what? From whom? Do you recover all those wasted years where your small, shallow little life was consumed with nothing more than calories and numbers and whittling your body down to nothing? Do you recover from all the physical and psychological trauma you went through? Do you recover your lost self?

No, dammit.

You recover none of those things, for an eating disorder changes you. You will never be the same person you were as before, for life and its circumstances and experiences shape and mold you into the person you are and who you are to become. And we all know the eating disorder will always be there, as if it is imprinted in your DNA. Sure, you may not act on it, which in and of itself is an amazing feat, and one I aspire for, but it’ll be there. On your mind, even if it’s hidden in a small dusty box in the very back recesses or your mind.

And, well. Well well well what if I can’t do it? What if I can’t recover again? What if this effort is yet again in vain? So many of my friends and family members have already pulled away…emotionally, as if they have to build up a stubborn and terrified armor because they can’t love me and support me as they used to, for the eating disorder that almost killed me years ago and still gnaws its way through me is too much for them. They have to pull back to protect themselves. Some lash out in anger, others ignore it completely. But some, the some that really matter, have never left me: my dear, sweet husband. My mother, whom I love fiercely for never leaving me, always being my cheerleader. Some of my sisters. A few dear friends. But but but what if I can’t recover this time? What if I fail yet again? Who’s going to leave me this time? Who am I going to disappoint?

I’m so scared, so I run away. I run to protect myself, to protect those I love. For if I prolong this effort, I buy myself more time. A little more time to not disappoint. To allow for hope.

Because if anorexia wins again, I fear I’ll be too wearied, too defeated, too small and frightened to armor myself and pick up my weapons and once again enter the fight. The battlefield is already strewn with so many broken lives, and what if it claims mine? What if it claims me for good?

But, through it all, I realize this: one can never win a war that one doesn’t fight. It won’t just dissipate, Ed will never surrender. And it’s only me that can fight him. We were, unfortunately, destined to meet. To fight.

But was I destined to win this war, just as I was destined to fight it? For in war there are always winners, and there are always losers. There are martyrs and death and destruction and evil and sadness.

I'm not sure that Ed can be killed, but to be sure, he can be banished. And I want to emerge triumphant. I want my life to have not been in vain


Krystle said...

Your life has already been inspiring, and hence, could never be in vain. You are fighting, and the fact that you never cease to reflect on your struggles and thoughts lends credence to the fact that, while "recovery" may indeed be a notion that is not tangible, it is a notion that one must always attempt to understand...a destination that one approaches always, with the same brute force that we used to attempt to reach perfection. Can recovery recovery all that we have lost? No indeed. But, it can recover some of it, and more importantly, our struggle helps to rebuild our substance, our spirits, that ed has so often attempted to erode. Hang in there, and be safe, dear. I am proud of you. :)

Brandon said...

My sweet B, I will write you more privately, but I want you to know I am proud of my wife. Very proud.

Devon said...

Brie -

Through it all, you've inspired me with your laughter, your jokes, your strength in the face of pain. Yes, sometimes the battles go to ED, but I've never doubted that the war will be yours.

Find the strength that I know you have and keep fighting. The battle scars will be there, but the years of hurt will dissapate. I know it will.

I love you and am, forever, here for you - I will not leave. Ever.

Emily said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Emily said...

Brie, are you going to be putting the tube back in now? I was just wondering about that.

I firmly believe that you can win this race. You are so strong, and so brave, even if you don't feel it.

I don't think ED can be removed completely, for anybody. I think some part of it will always linger. But I agree, he can be banished, he can be silenced. That is my goal: to silence him. I am not there yet, I am far from it despite being (overly) weight restored. He is strong in my mind. But I, too, do not want my life to be in vain. I do not want to relapse and die, or end up killing myself, because of this monster.

You can do this, Brie! I believe in you.

brie said...

Hi Em, very quickly:

Yes, I have resumed nightly tube feedings. Not to worry. :)

More later on what you and others have said...

Emily said...

BTW, the deleted post was mine. I realized I was signed in with a different account after I made the comment. It didn't have my pic next to my name, so I wasn't sure if you'd know it was me!

jana bananas said...

Brie, I have faith in you. You are not going to let this disease take you. There is too much you have to live for.

It sucks that people have pulled away. I HATE that. I have been told that people need to protect themselves but still, it hurts like hell.

I am here for you, always.

jana bananas said...

And yeah, the tube sucks, but try to think of it as very temporary, because if you can get yourself to eat more in the day, you can get away from it. Make that your motivation.

KC Elaine said...

Yes, there are winners and losers in the fight against Ed, but I believe that NO ONE is DESTINED to be a loser. If you keep fighting, eventually you will win. It has to work that way.

Tanya said...

I think you are amazing and the fact that you can see that you can't just run away and win, you know you have to fight. I can understand the need to not dissapoint. I have felt similar to that many times. I can't say I have felt exactly as you have since I am not in your head, but I hate to disappoint my family and my friends. I believe that you do have the strength to pass the 9 mile mark. I believe we all do. I think that sometimes we need to support of each other to do that though. We don't have to do it all alone. Hugs.

Krista said...

I wish I had something to say that would be uplifting and inspiring, but I never can seem to find the right words to say to people. All I know is that I care about you and I want you to fight and win this. Please take care of you!

kristin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kristin said...

You're incredibly strong and brave, Brie. I know that you can beat your ed.

Hang in there and take care.

love, kristin

Lisa said...

You're absolutely right about how ED changes you. It's interesting - I'm interning at a disaster research center, and we've spent days wondering what "recovery" really means. The lives of those affected have been so drastically altered that there's no way to restore everything to the way it had been.

Recovery is a transformation. You can't have it the way it was, but it might actually be better.

Jodi said...

You CAN do this, you've already demonstrated that you have incredible strength. You can do it!

Stacy said...

To dissappoint is scary, to fail hurts and is hard. but most of all giving up is surrendering and in this case it is a surredner to lead to death. I am glad you are not going to surrender. This is your fight. It is my fight and each of us who have it can't stop fighting.
You don't have to be perfect in recovery or life or ED. you just have to be you and alive and the person you have become as a result of your experiences. YOu just have to be true and be you. I love that you have share some of the real you and that you shar your power. YOU HAVE THE POWER. I love ya girl and I want you to know you are NEVER alone. even when it is hard and ugly. never alone.
You are doing great, you are a warrior and I will gladly fight at you side.

alana.rachelle said...

oh briezy,
i have the chills! i agree with kyla. no one is destined to lose. but you my dear are destined to fight. every single one of us are and in the end you can only come out better than you'd be had you just given up. keep fighting dude! i'm proud of you and i love you and there's nothing more to say! ciao bella.

zubeldia said...

I will tell you what I know for myself, Brie. I am 32 and I have had various ed incarnations from the age of, well, about 9, but not full blown until I was in my early teens. I am 32. Every decade of my life has been touched by my eating disorder. I denied it for more than a decade, and then I got help. And it didn't work, and so I got help again, and it's working.

I don't have a memory of day without an eating disorder, there is nothing in my memory to return to, so I think of it as a reconstruction. I think of my identity as ongoing, something always changeable, changed by the ed, changed by the people in it, changed by what I do, how I see the world, how I relate to the world.. and on and on. Everyday I change, and everyday I move further and further away from eating disorder thoughts and behaviours.

Everyday is a new day to act differently, to experience the world differently, to experience yourself differently. Everyday is a good day for living, and everyday is a good day to move towards a better life for yourself, one marked by a healthy mind, body, and spirit. I believe strongly that you will find some relief from this, brie, I do.

10 years ago I was starting a PhD at the most competitive university in the world. I had just graduated the top of my class, I had received many accolades and, at 22 (not much younger than you now), I was dying. Every part of me was given over to numbers and calories and my body, and those years - all my college years - at the most wonderful places - are just a daze to me. Work, run, not eat, repeat. And I regret everyone of those days, I regret that I did not live my life, that I kept it narrow and empty and lifeless.

And that regret spurs me on now. It encourages me not to want a miss a day of living my life (thus my frenetic activity...) and I understand very clearly that those years, while i regret them, have powerfully shaped who I am, and in that regard I am glad for them.

Brie, I tell you all this because I want you to know that moving on is possible. I am not perfect, I am not a role-model for recovery, but just a year ago I was about to be hospitalized against my wishes, and I can tell you that I never ever want to return to that spot.

I want so much for you, my friend. You know, we've not known one another too long, but I feel very strongly for you, and you have a deep place in my heart. You are loved, and I can say without doubt that you are loved by many. It IS hard to see someone suffer so much, and it is hard to stay, but I am a stayer :-)

I love you, honey. I know this is a bit of a 'me' comment, but I want to provide you with a narrative that my resonate with you, or something like that. Keep moving, Brie, you are so worthwhile and your life is very much worth fighting for.

alriggells said...

Once again you prove that you are astounding and amazing. I know the fight that drains you and drags you down to almost nothing is a brutal one, but I do know it is one that you can fight. Just yesterday I was talking to my therapist about a fight that I feel like I constantly loose and that I am just bound to face and fall. I am going to try to face that fight again, but I am so scared that I will fail and that is my bound life. She pointed something so true out, if I predetermine that I am going to lose that battle, then I am going to. If I set up the bumpers to hit when I fail than I am planning to fail. Yes, there is the ruminating thoughts that you will fail, but if you look at it like hell yes this is going to be different, and hell yes this is going to be hard, but hell yes I can do it. You can do it. "Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgement that there is something more important then fear." Yes, you fear that you will disappoint someone, that you will fail, but you are couragous dear Brie and I know that the fight you are fighting is worth it, and that you will make it across the battle field and out the the war zone. REMEMBER THE DUCKS!!!! You to can make it across the road

Katherine said...

my dear brie, you fear to dissapoint, yet the only way in which you could do so would be to give up the fight. some will argue that it is a terrible fate that we face, to enter into this battle, yet we cannot change the fact that we are here. all we can change is the outcome and in order to do that you must keep fighting no matter how tired, how beat up you become. you, dear brie, have the strength, the wisdom, and the love to conquer all. know that i believe in you and i am always here for you. i love you

Laura said...

wish we could hang out and have coffee and laugh about how fucking hard life can be

thinking of you...

elizabeth said...

you don't get those things back. I don't know what it is or why exactly it's worth it but it is. Little by little by little. Two years of something and I know it is.

Clueless said...

Hi Brie, I'm new to you. Well, duh? My heart goes out to you. I too struggle with an eating disorder, but I don't talk about it much. I'm glad you put the tube back.

Even though, my weight is okay, the thinking is still there and recently I asked my husband to make the scale disappear. I started to weigh myself several times a day...first sign, I'm heading toward it.

Eating disorders are an addiction. There is a high for me...all of a sudden I feel like I can't write anymore about this. But, I know no matter what that I will always be in recovery and when feeling stressed it is my go to place.

brie said...

Wow, guys. I am overwhelmed with the kindness and compassion and insight all of you have give. Krystle, thank you for your insight in that we can rebuild our substance and our spirit, that we can still be good and real.

And Husband...I know you didn't comment publicly, but the email you wrote me was staggering in its beauty and wisdom. You never cease to amaze me.

I do see, too, that no one was "destined" to lose to ED. That's not fair, and that can't be a way to look at it, for it would be too easy to give up. Thanks for giving me some courage to keep going...

And sweet Z...thank you for your remarks, thanks for sharing a bit of you and your story, for it helped me helped me see that I can one day be as wise and prolific as you are...and I know you are not perfectly recovered, but you are weight restored, and you are a shining example to me, and I love you (and all of you!) VERY VERY MUCH.

xo to you all.

Clueless said...

Sorry about that comment. I found you through comments from other blogs and liked what you had to say.

You can win this war...just don't give up. My therapist says with everything I do, I take three steps forward and two back. Change and growth is difficult.