I guess it was always going to be happen when I started ED therapy. I judge myself (my worth, my beauty, my intelligence, my capability) on my looks and shape. When I feel skinny, I feel confident and like I’m a good person. When I’m having a fat day, I feel like I’m useless, stupid and pathetic – like I would do the world a favour if I could just hide away and not subject anyone to my disgustingness. My feelings of self-worth are so completely entwined with how fat and ugly I feel that day, so it was inevitable that beginning to really focus on food, eating and damaging behaviours was going to make me feel pretty shit. But even though it was inevitable, I still feel so sad and so full of hatred and disgust about myself. Inevitable or not, it still really hurts.
Partially because of the 2 year anniversary, partially because I’ve started ED therapy, and probably partially because I’m just feeling down at the moment, I’m being a bit of a brat with T. She is trying so hard, and it breaks my heart to know I’m being difficult, but I can’t stop it either. I need constant reassurance, a constant background noise of “I’m not leaving you”, “I care” or “you can always come back”. I feel like a child, testing over and over again whether pressing a button on a toy gets the same reaction; my ‘wise part’ (her terms, I don’t ever feel wise!) knows that all of those things are true, every day, but Little just cannot retain that information, despite me almost constantly clinging to her polar bear, and her writing in my journal and repeating these words to me by text, email and when I see her. It’s like I’ve lost the capacity to retain the information for an adult period of time; this feels like the therapy version of “are we nearly there yet?”!!
I cannot stop thinking and talking about the future. T is doing a great job restraining herself from throttling me with her bare hands… because, of course, nobody can tell me what the future is going to look like; not me, not her, not anyone, and no matter how many times I ask her, or how upset I get, she cannot stare into her tea leaves and magic me up an answer. I feel totally overwhelmed by the blinding light of what my future might now look like. It is beginning to look like it might be healthy, fulfilling, successful, productive… which is completely the reason why I started therapy. I am pretty certain that I want to heal; the idea of being healthy does sound so sugary sweet. But I only say “pretty certain”, because with all the great gains that I hope will come from being healthy, there is going to be the most horrendous loss. Therapy means healing. Healing means being healthy. Being healthy means the end of therapy.
I am concerned that I might not be wholly dedicated to my healing, because I do not want to end therapy. It often feels to me that T is the only person in my life who cares about me. In my lowest times, I rely on her as my only comfort and my only confidante. I have some fantastic friends, but I find it very hard to ask for help when I’m at my lowest, relying on T instead. I can hear all of the answers she has to this – I’m developing better relationships externally, I’m better at being honest, I have a wider supportive circle now, these things will continue to grow until I have adequate support outside T – but those things feel like they’re said to placate me. She said today that I would build strategies to support myself, to provide internal care and nurturing; I said that sounds horribly lonely, and she replied that it might be alone, but it isn’t lonely. I disagree – I don’t want to be supporting myself. I want to be supported, be cared about, be thought about, be loved. I don’t want to be left in my own bubble, supporting myself, with nobody’s hand to hold. She reminded me that to overcome attachment issues, you need to attach and then positively detach (super simplistic summary there, but it’s irrelevant for this post), and right now I’m at the height of my secure attachment to her, but eventually I will detach and it will be healthy and safe. It feels like all the answers she is giving me are to try and gloss over the fact that what I really need, can never be.
To most people, her words would be music to their ears. T reminded me again today that she’s human, and of all the emotions that come with being human in a caring profession. For normal people, that would be enough. Hearing that she won’t leave me, that I could always come back, that she would never forget, that should be enough. But is isn’t, and I hate myself that at nearly 24, I am still strangling my relationships with my childish need for more, more, more. I need to feel special, feel like she’d break rules for me, like we could just keep in touch, like she’d be just as sad as I am that our weekly slot would end. I need to feel individual and special, and I cannot even put into words how much I hate myself, that her really obvious care and nurture isn’t enough for me right now. Because I’m always craving a love that I am never worthy of having.
It pulls down to my fear that the people around me only care because I’m ill. When I’m well, there will be no therapy, and the support will fade. When my illness isn’t a reason for people to be there, then they will have no reason. When their CORE forms have healthy numbers, when I tick only a few of the symptom list, when my scars are old and closed instead of new and raw, I will have nothing that people will stay for. There will be no need to call to check I haven’t leapt off a building. There will be no texts to see how therapy went. There will be no days out to cheer me up. There will be nothing to blog about. There will be nothing to share in support groups. I am worthless, I am nothing, and without my illness, I suddenly have to rely on my personality to keep people with me…. Except I have none. I am a nothing. And I will be all alone.
T described this thought pattern today as another form of self harm (how does she get it so right, every time?!). She mused that the way I’m constantly torturing myself over the ending, considering how horrid it’s going to be, trying to prove to myself that I’m worthless to her, one of many on a caseload full of people much more deserving than me, is self harming behaviour and she’s right. I am not allowing myself to enjoy this moment, where I feel safe, loved even. I’m picking holes in it, fraying it’s edges, trying to damage something before it’s time is truly up. I’m so busy fretting about this unknown future, that I’m completely missing the beauty of the first time in my life where I’ve ever felt truly safe, cherished and worthwhile.
A friend in a support group said yesterday that the best piece of advice she’d ever been given was to ‘be in this moment’.
I wish I could. I wish I could stop this internal assault from that little warrior with the big voice who is constantly screaming that I don’t deserve happiness or warmth or love. I wish I could bask in the comfort of this incredible place, instead of fidgeting and pushing it away. I am so thankful for the supportive place I am right now, so thankful for T and other professionals, and friends and others who are my support system. I am so thankful, but I cannot let myself relax into it because when the illness has left, I am nothing, I am worthless, and one day, this will all be taken away, because the truth of my nothingness will out.