Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Erased

Where did all of the other posts go? A year of my life erased with the click of a button. So many words, so many emotions, so many thoughts, both healthy and hazardous, deleted forever, as though they never existed at all. Don't worry. They're not gone, just hidden for now, and I'm sure they'll be back soon.

Those posts reflect the way that I was feeling a few days ago, but they don't speak to the way that I feel right now, which is capable and stable. Wouldn't want anyone getting the wrong idea about me. Wouldn't want someone to read what I wrote and take it literally. Wouldn't want the paramedics showing up at my door to take me away for 72 hours of clinical healing at the nearest psychiatric facility. Those posts needed a disclaimer, something that warned readers that they were just words, just thoughts being spewed from a confused mind. They were serious, they were real, but they didn't mean anything was going to happen to me. This is my space to vent, my space to get the darkness out from inside me so that it doesn't turn my heart black. Everyone copes in different ways and something about writing here where someone might see it and share in my struggle is far more therapeutic than scribbling in a notebook where the words will never be read by another soul, where more than likely they'll never be read at all, even by me.

It's not a cry for help. Cries for help aren't so loud, they are barely more than whispers. And if I cried out here and no one heard me, wouldn't that be a shame? It would be very me, very passive in nature, and it would be disastrous. The truth is that I can say anything here and by the time it makes its way back to me it will already be too late. No, what I write here is not a cry for help because no help will ever come out of this place. I'm confused, I'm not stupid.

Real help exists in the relationships that we build with those around us. Perhaps that's why I feel so helpless sometimes. I have come a long way in recovery, just look at all of the things that I'm doing now that I never could have done before: I'm taking college courses and actually nearing the completion of a degree, I'm working full time at a job that actually pays me decently well, I'm writing, and not just writing, but working on a long-term project, the nature of which was all too daunting before recovery. But what I have not done much of is to build healthy, supportive relationships with the people around me. It's not that I don't interact with people. I'm around people all day most days, but something holds me back from them, from getting truly close to them. Is it fear? Fear of being hurt, or of being abandoned when I need them most perhaps?

It may feel safer to have no close friends, but in all actuality it's not, it's far more dangerous than having people in my life who care if I live or die. Loneliness can be lethal and I thrive on interactions with people, though I feel like a child in the way that I behave around them. They say that emotional development stops when the eating disorder takes over one's life. If this is true, then I am a 14 year old boy trapped inside a 27 year old body. I don't entirely agree, but I don't disagree either. To me, it seems that the process of emotional growth has been retarded by the disorder more than anything else. I can see where I want to be, the ways that I'd like to behave, but I don't know how to get there, or how to begin to act those ways. Maybe it has nothing to do with the disorder. Maybe this is just the way that I'm wired. Maybe I will always be sensitive and emotional and there's nothing that can be done to change that but I'd like to believe that I can be the change that I wish to see in myself.

There's just so much work that I'm not entirely sure where to begin most days. Everyone is working to better themselves I suppose and I am no different. I want to be my best so that I can feel my best, that is all. I know I will always be the biggest obstacle standing between me and my goals but I'd like to make the obstacle of myself smaller and more manageable. Interesting word choice. I'd like to make myself smaller. Sure I would. But isn't that the American way? Bigger car, bigger house, smaller jean size. It's actually not true, not right now it isn't.

For the first time in a long time, I don't want to make myself any smaller than I already am. Is it for me or is it for them? I'm learning that the opposite sex doesn't find skin and bones attractive. I'm learning that they want some meat on my bones and maybe I'm coming around to the idea because they like where I'm at physically or maybe I'm coming around to the idea because I've been at this weight long enough that the memories of ribs and abs and skin stretched tight over protruding elbow bones are beginning to fade from my mind. I can't hold on forever and even a memory like mine will begin to forget with enough time spent in a new place. Thank God. Nothing was more difficult than holding onto those vivid memories of thinness and beauty and living in a body that felt awkward and large and flabby. The body hasn't changed, not much anyway, but I'm further from those memories now than ever before.

I have no desire to go back. Not today. Tomorrow may be different and I'll have to cross that bridge when I come to it. For now, I will hold on to these moments of clarity and try to enjoy the feeling of satisfaction with my physical self and the feeling of compassion for my emotional growth. This could all go out the window tomorrow if my dietitian tells me that I'm full of shit and that I'm still losing weight. I feel like the weight loss has stopped but I know better than to trust what I'm feeling. There have been good days and bad but I think there have been more good days than there have been bad and I hope to God that this means that I'm at least stable. Making up ground still feels next to impossible at this point but not losing anymore seems doable. So that's what I'm shooting for; no more lost ground. Lose too much ground and you lose it all and I've worked too hard to throw it all away over a few pounds.

It shouldn't matter anyway. A few pounds shouldn't matter to anyone. It doesn't change who I am or my ability to perform the tasks necessary for day to day happiness. But it does matter. Still, after so much work and so much help, it still matters to me and there is still a fear inside that it will matter to other people as well. I guess it's an assumption of mine that people will like me better if I am thin. This assumption is as strong and real as the assumption that I have done something wrong. Always, all the time, in every situation. And the two assumptions are connected to one another. I assume people will not like me because I have done something wrong and so the assumption that they will like me better if I am thin takes over and behaviors follow accordingly.

But I'm breaking away from these assumptions. I'm finding situations where I haven't done anything wrong and I'm discovering people who don't seem to give a damn about how much I weigh. Of course, there will always be those who will care about the way that I look but those will always be the people I choose to keep at a distance. And if I do make a mistake, it turns out that people are willing to stick around and even willing to forgive me and move right on liking me despite my error. It's the most amazing thing, the way that this adult world works and I'm excited to be joining it for the first time in my life. It's a frightening place, certainly, because it's all brand new but it's beautiful more than anything and support is being offered all around me, if only I stop to accept it into my life.

Today I chose to move forward; not sideways, or backward, but straight ahead toward the life that I want to be living and it is the power of this choice that signals the fact that despite my struggles, I am indeed living in the light of recovery.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

White Knuckle

They tell me that everyone is a little crazy. Am I the only one that can't handle my crazy? Or is my crazy just a little more crazy than your average crazy? Crazy is one thing I'd love to be average at but somehow I doubt that I am. I'm part of a statistic, but then so is everyone. We're just part of different statistics, that's all.

But I don't want to be part of the percentage of American males who struggles with mental illness. I don't want my history of self-harm, or my suicide attempt, or my eating disorder for that matter, following me everywhere I go, biting at my heels constantly and forever standing between me and letting my guard down. But I can't erase the past. My only hope is to join a new statistic of those who recover from the above mentioned marks against one's permanent record. And I'd like to, I really would; but I'm still holding on to so much and I refuse to just let it all go.

Why? Why can't I just walk away from all of the bullshit in my past and move on with my life? Because memories don't die easy, and memories of the pain are being relived even as I write this. I'm stuck because I can't seem to accept that people aren't necessarily going to treat me in the ways I have been treated in the past. I don't even know if I want to accept it. What excuse would I have to hurt myself if I didn't have these fears and if I didn't tell myself all of these elaborate stories about how people are out to break my heart? It's already broken, can't you see? It hasn't been whole in years.

The truth is that I need to feel this way. I need to feel this way because I know that there is no coming back from feeling like this so many nights in a row without spilling a little blood. It may not be tonight, but I know at this point that it will happen sooner or later. Just keep holding on and holding out. One night at a time and every night that passes is a small victory. Who am I kidding? Every night that I make it through unmarked is a huge victory right now, because the more important truth is that I enjoy it. It. Cutting, burning, scratching, bleeding. I don't enjoy feeling the way that I feel right now, the moments leading up to the action, but experiencing the release of touching sharpened metal to virgin skin is something that can't be put into words. It's as if all of my poisoned thoughts just flow out of my open wounds and I can finally breathe. It's as if a weight is instantly lifted from my chest and I can stand tall and proud once more. And it's as if I have finally found my way home. The adrenalin gets you high and feeling so much of your own blood pouring freely from your veins is cleansing. My sins are erased, the lies I told just evaporate into the night, and I am free of worry for one beautiful, glorious, fleeting moment.

I don't know what others would tell you, but I will tell you that self-harm is addictive. It's like jumping out of a fucking airplane, only better. It's that feeling that nothing else in the whole world matters anymore that keeps you coming back. Again and again and again, until you're running out of skin and you can't hide your habit from the people around you anymore. Suddenly everyone can see what a fragile, broken little thing you really are. Some see these scars and believe they show courage or strength, but they represent neither. They are only the fear to change and grow, manifest in something grotesque during the moments(or lifetimes) that exist between rational thoughts. There is no strength in these acts, only cowardice.

Why didn't you just reach out? They'll ask me when it's all over and done with. And I'll respond, because I didn't want to be saved. Because I wanted to go through with this and I didn't want anyone talking me out of it. Because I had had enough of feeling so awful and I needed to let the demons inside of me escape from beneath my skin. Because it's the only way, I'll say. And they'll tell me that I need help and they'll probably be right about that but the problem is that I only need help occasionally. I don't feel like this all the time and if I'm in an environment where I can't hurt myself then I don't feel like this at all. But I can't be in that place all the time because life goes on without me in the real world and I have responsibilities out here. They may be right, but seeking help is a delicate process and it needs to be the type of help that allows me to continue living in the free world. And aren't I already seeking that help? Don't I go to groups, and see a therapist, and visit with a useless psychiatrist? Surely there is something more out there for people who struggle with these demons.

And perhaps I will find that help, if I choose to go looking for it. For now though, it seems that I am content to grit my teeth and hold on with white knuckles through the urges in the hopes that these feelings too shall pass. And I know that they will. Whether they pass without incident is another story but one way or another I know that I will not feel this way forever. So I'm holding on and I'm holding out in hopes of the brighter days that I know lie somewhere in my future. Those days are out there, waiting for me to find them because I am destined for more than nights like these when the blade looks oh so tempting and bleeding seems like my only way out.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Drip, Drip, Drip

It gleams bright red under the glow of the fluorescent light humming softly overhead and it is so beautiful. Speckled across the countertop, dripping into the sink, staining my fingertips. It flows with the frantic thumping of my heart, out of me and into the tiny bathroom, turning crimson in the air all around me. Blood. My blood. Leaving my body and covering the walls and the floor, soaking through toilet paper and soft towels, dying my clothes with a memory of these bittersweet moments spent living all alone in the mirror, bathed in the artificial beauty of the lightbulb stuck to the wall. It's everywhere now and I can't seem to stop it escaping the confines of my skin. Have I gone too far? Will this finally be the end? Oh, how I've waited for this moment to come. It's not how I imagined it would be, not quite. I always imagined a dingy hotel room; but the blood, the blood is exactly the way I'd pictured it, smothering the colors of the room beneath it's beauty.

Don't worry. This isn't happening right now. It's just a thought, a thought that has been visiting me everyday in recent weeks. I dream about this shit. How can I possibly wake up feeling rested and excited to start a new day when I dream about dying all alone in the bathroom on the other side of the wall from my bedroom? The answer is that it's very difficult to start the day off on the right foot in this manner. It's difficult to end it on the right foot either when these are the thoughts that find you as the hours of the night drag on.


The thoughts have never gone away, nor do I feel hopeful that they ever will, not entirely. But the thoughts were more notions, more disjointed, more subtle, more foggy, less concrete in months passed than they are right now and that's what worries me. They're just thoughts and thoughts can't hurt me but most actions begin with a thought and actions can definitely hurt me. Actions can and will be the end of me if I'm not careful.

I tell my psychiatrist about these thoughts and he shrugs, tells me that sometimes things will be difficult, and then asks me if I'm still working at the bike shop. Um, yes? Thank you for your insight. Note to self, your shrink is useless. Just give me my drugs and get me the hell out of your office. But that's not the point here. It's not his fault that I feel this way, nor is it my fault, or anyone else's fault. It just is and this is what I have to deal with at the moment.

How I long for the days when my biggest dilemma was fitting exchanges into my meal plan. Can I please go back to those simpler times? It's not about the meal plan, or about the food, or my body, but sometimes I wish it was. I can figure those things out or learn to love them with enough time and practice but this feels deeper and darker and infinitely more complex. No one said this would be simple or easy. In fact, they told me that this would be the hardest thing I would ever do but I thought they were talking about the eating disorder. I thought they were talking about the food, and accepting my new weight, and taking my shirt off at the beach without freaking out. Check, check, and check. I've been there and I've done all of that and that wasn't even scratching the surface.

I don't think about my eating disorder anymore. I went to a support group last night and felt like an outsider when the topic turned to food or body image. I remember struggling with these things but my focus for months now has been just trying to stay safe. Food and my body seem to matter so little in comparison to my safety. Of course, it all matters. I can't forget about the food so that I can protect myself and I can't focus on the food while I'm hurting myself either. There has to be a balance. It's only been six months since my last incident involving self-harm. I haven't binged or purged in something like 22 months. Self-harm is still much closer to the surface and much more worrisome at this point for me.

And I feel a little lost. I know who to call if I don't want to finish my dinner but I don't know who is equipped to help me if I don't want to wake up tomorrow morning. So I sit through the urges until I fall into a restless slumber filled to the brim with dreams of blood stained bathrooms and I pray that tomorrow will be better. Sometimes tomorrow is better. Sometimes tomorrow starts out well and falls apart as the day goes on. Sometimes tomorrow is just as bad as the night before. I just have to wait and see. And I know that part of how I feel is in my control. I know that I have some control over my mind and the thoughts that it thinks but sometimes my mind can be a difficult thing to contain. Sometimes it runs wild and all I can do is hold on and pick up the pieces after the destruction is finished.

I'm a work in progress and I'm making progress, aren't I? I wouldn't have been able to hold on through these thoughts not so long ago. I would have been back in the hospital months ago. I can see the progress and I can feel good about it if I can pick my head up long enough to take a deep breathe. For now, I'm keeping my head down and working to stay safe. For now I'm keeping the thoughts where they belong: in my head and away from the knife drawer.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Unfinished Thought

I don't have plans or prior arrangements today. Therapy, sure, for 45 whole minutes. That leaves another 23 hours and 15 minutes that I need to keep myself safe. I can medicate myself and pass out early, but what the hell am I supposed to do to stay in one piece until then? Days like today are dangerous, which is why I try to never have them. I haven't had a day without something planned in longer than I can remember and I'm not looking forward to making my way through the long hours until sleep finds me.

I don't want days off. I don't want to rest. I'll rest when I'm dead. Until then I want to be busy and exhausted and on the edge of a breakdown all the time because this is where I am comfortable functioning. Class got out early this morning because I finished my test too quickly although I didn't have all of the answers and I found myself lost. Is that even possible? 8:30 a.m. and already the anxiety had set in as I looked out on the vast expanse of nothingness that lay before me in the coming hours.

Why is a day like today so dangerous? Because it affords me moments and hours to think and when I get to thinking I get to thinking that it might be a good idea to do something destructive because I get to thinking that everyone is lying to me and that I'm worthless. It's counterintuitive to think that I'm worthless, or at least to think that I'm useless when I am being useful and productive. I may not believe that my productivity amounts to much in the grand scheme of things but at least it keeps my mind occupied and focused.

Why do all equations equal self-destruction lately? I haven't thought much about it. It's difficult to see past the urges and the plans and the desires to bleed once they've settled in. Maybe it's because I have nothing left to hurt myself with. I won't let myself binge and purge any longer and some desire to stay in my recovery keeps me from filling a day like today with pedaling long hours into the deserted mountain roads of the San Gabriels. The behaviors may be gone, but the urges are still here, still incredibly loud and still so tempting sometimes that I can't go home where the knives and lighters live and I have to keep my hands busy so that my fingernails don't dig their way into my skin. Car keys and bottle caps become weapons, just like the tip of a pen becomes lethal. The whole world seems to become unsafe in an instant and what can I do but dive into a bottle of pills that are supposed to help me fight off these desires to burn myself alive?

And the doctor tells me that I'm not even supposed to do that, not every time. But which is worse, hurting myself or being addicted to a controlled substance? Neither seems like the best option but I've worked too hard to destroy everything with the tip of a blade and I'm all out of bandages anyway so I guess I'm choosing the lesser of two evils.

My ten-year high school reunion is next year and what do I have to show for the last decade of my life? It's only in the last year that my life in the traditional sense has really even begun. They'll have their degrees and their high-paying jobs, their houses and their families, I'll have my mental illness and a backpack full of pills that sedate me enough to actually interact with them all. This really isn't me. I usually love a challenge, or an obstacle, or a lofty goal, but all of these things in the past have been physical in nature and I knew exactly what to do complete them, overcome them, or achieve them. I have no idea how to win at the game of life.

I guess I'm still recovering from having to say goodbye to the life that I had put everything into building. I hate my sickness for taking my life from me. Where would I be right now had I not been sick? Recovering from last weekend's race efforts? Preparing for the local Wednesday night xc race? Certainly, I'd be on a ride right now, spinning the shit out of my legs, becoming faster, leaner, more beautiful. All of that is gone now and I hate my disease everyday for robbing me of my hopes and dreams. This life that I'm living now still feels like it belongs to someone else and there are many days when I don't want to be living it at all. It felt better for a few months because it was new and exciting and challenged me to grow in different ways, but now it just feels boring and mundane and I swear to god that I can't stand another minute of it.

It's days like today when drastic measures are taken.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Fake It Till You Make It

It's the evenings that are the most difficult. It's the evenings when I can't stand to be near me. It's the evenings when I want to run away and it's the evenings when I want to wash it all down the sink along with a gallon of blood. My blood. No one else's. Oh no officer, I lost the knife out on the street somewhere. Don't worry about me, I would never hurt another person. I'll just keep hurting myself.

But I have hurt another person now. Not physically, god no, but emotionally. And isn't that worse? Won't a cut heal and won't a bruise disappear with enough time? Of course they will. Emotional wounds are the type that get torn open again and again as you go through life. They are the wounds that take the longest to finally scab over and when that scab is ripped off by god the blood will flow like a river from your broken heart.

I hurt someone. Not because I had to, certainly not because I wanted to, but rather because I didn't have the courage not to. I didn't have the courage to just believe in them and to trust in the things that they were telling me, so I lied again and again in order to feel as though I had the upper hand. Is it really a power struggle if one person doesn't know that it exists? It's definitely not a fair fight, in any case. So I lied because I was so certain that I was being lied to, because I couldn't understand how to feel anything different, because my trust muscle is a fucked up twisted little thing that needs a lot of training before it is ready to compete, and it all made sense at the time.

Of course it did. The things that I tell myself are truly incredible. No one likes me. People only come near me because they feel sorry for me. I am a failure. I'm too fat. I'm ugly and no one will ever want me. I'm too messed up in the head to be around normal people. I can't do anything right. I ruin everything. I am unlovable. I am a bad person. I have to be the best so that people will tolerate my presence. I am worthless. I am nothing. I am less than nothing. Everyone is out to break my heart. Everyone lies to me all the time. No one tells the truth. No one is to be trusted. People only want me to trust them so that they can crush me. And it goes on and on. Making it through the day can sometimes be challenging with this shit playing on repeat inside of my head but these things that I keep telling myself make a relationship basically impossible.

I see that now, should have seen it months ago before I ever tried being in a relationship in the first place. There is so much work left to do on me before I'm truly capable of being a solid half of something whole. But I'm impatient. I lie to myself and tell myself something else: I am healthy and I am ready for this step in my life. It's not true I'm afraid. Something tells me that I have to be relatively certain that I am a likable, valued, trusted, enjoyed member of the community before I can feel okay about trying to be with someone. I have to be strong on my own. I have to not need someone, I have to truly want someone and that is my biggest problem.

I tell myself something else. I tell myself that someone special can make me feel all the things about myself that I need to feel but seem incapable of feeling when I'm alone. It's not true. Not entirely. Another person can make me feel great, but I want to feel great without that person too and that's where I struggle.

It never used to be like this when I was riding my brains out and puking my guts into the toilet every chance I got. I didn't care much about having someone at that point in my life. In fact, having someone just got in the way of me doing the things that I thought I needed to do in order to survive. Funny how the tables have turned. The tape was still playing on repeat in my head back then but I felt like at least I was actively doing something to try to change the way that I felt. I was sculpting a beautiful body, one that another person could surely love. And I was accomplishing everything that I had ever wanted by riding and by being skinny so I told myself that I was allowed to love me too. But it never worked at the end of the day. I hated myself more then than I do right now. My life was a miserable place to live and my mind was a dangerous place to linger.

My life isn't so miserable now, it's actually quite pleasant. I just find ways to fuck it up so that I can be a little more comfortable with what I know from time to time. But I'm working on that tendency. I'm trying to behave myself and I'm trying to conform when I can. Who am I kidding though? It's tough to live in a world of rules when I basically did whatever I felt like doing for so very long. But this is better. I tell myself that this is better. This has to be better because there is no going back knowing what I know now. I'm a civilian now and the life of a super hero seems like a distant memory or a dream gone blurry upon awakening.

This is it, and I have to make the best of it or die trying. And I will, I have no doubt. I always manage to get my shit together when it really counts and hopefully life will be no different. A friend of mine brought up an interesting point the other day. He told me that despite whats going on in my head, despite the fact that I feel like I'm faking it, I'm still getting straight As in school, I'm still #1 at work, and I'm still trying my hand at relationships and having mixed successes. So, he said to me, it doesn't matter what it feels like in my head, because whether I feel like I'm faking it or not, I'm still doing it. I'm doing it, he said to me. I'm functioning at a higher level than most of my peers on multiple fronts and whether I'm struggling like crazy to do so or not isn't as important as the fact that I'm getting it done. And he's right. I may be faking it, but I'm putting on a damn good show and no one who doesn't really know me would have any idea that sometimes I'm about to lose it, because despite how I feel, I make it happen.

And for now, maybe that's what recovery really has to be, making it happen despite how I really feel about it. At some point, I believe that the act will go away and I will be present in what it is that I'm doing in my life but for now, faking it till I make it is just going to have to do.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Bring The Mop

It's called happiness anxiety and if I never experienced it again it would be too soon. For me, it's the inability to enjoy the things that make me happy because there is a certainty in my mind that they are going to disappear or leave me behind just when I need them most. It hurts and it feels like I can't win. Happiness is fleeting because I crush it beneath the weight of my frantic thoughts and I wish that I could just make it all stop.

Just stop. For a moment. For a second, even. Take a deep breathe and allow myself to enjoy the air in my lungs and the sun on my face. But such a feat seems so impossible right now that I can scarcely imagine it. Somewhere inside of me dwells a thought that everything that makes me feel good will not leave me behind but I am struggling to find where I left that thought in the dark corners of my mind. I know on some level that it has to be true. Everything good can't eventually turn out to be bad and abandon me. If that were the case then there really would be no point in living.

If that were the case then there wouldn't be anything holding me back. If that were the case then I'm afraid there might be no tomorrow to look forward to anymore. Wash it all away with a bottle of pills and a handle of liquor. Why not? Because I know it can't be true. Because I know that things will get better at some point. It won't always be this difficult, because it can't be.

At some point, someone or something is bound to prove me wrong. At some point, I'm bound to prove myself wrong. One day, I won't sabotage things just when they start to feel good. One day, I won't tear it all down before anyone else gets the chance to do so. One day, I'll smile and the first thought in my head will be how nice this moment feels instead of oh my god, when is this going to be taken away from me? For now, I'm trying to navigate my way through the moments of happiness and the days of anxiety that follow in their wake and I've calmed down significantly from where I was at a year ago. I can see the progress though people who don't know me might look on in amazement at how quickly I move from joy or happiness to utter terror at the thought of losing something that allows me to feel decent for a moment.

It takes at least a few moments now, sometimes even as long as a few hours before the anxiety sets in after some positive occurrence in my life. I believe that eventually it won't set in at all. I believe that eventually I will be able to experience happiness and let it casually and gradually fade into an ever present hum somewhere in the background of my thoughts, keeping me safe and warm. I believe that my happiness will be strong enough to withstand trying times and that it will not be shattered when someone leaves me behind. I believe that this is what I'm working towards because I need something beautiful to be waiting for me, basking in the light at the end of the tunnel. It's barely more than a pin prick someplace off in the distance but I can see it now. It's not just cold, dark, blackness the way that it was once.

Some days the end of the tunnel feels so close that I swear I can hear people laughing on the other side. Other days it seems that I will never reach that spot of light. And still other days I swear that I have left the tunnel completely, that I'm living out in the real world with real people to keep me company, in a place where it takes more than just my thoughts to hurt me. Those are the best days. Those are the days when this all seems possible. Those are the days when I feel proud of myself for holding on to my life through the toughest of times and those are the days when I know that all of the pain and suffering were worth it.

But it seems that I am not ready to live in that place just yet because I always pull myself back into the safety of darkness. I may not retreat into the tunnel as far as I did once, but I still spend the great majority of my time here, watching and listening to the world as it passes me by. Soon enough I will be ready to leave the blackness and never look back. It may be lonely here, but for the most part I know what to expect and I find safety in that knowledge. The world of light out there in the distance is full of things that I don't understand, full of things and people outside of my control who could potentially break my glass heart. I need to know that I can withstand the happiness out there but also that I can endure the hardship that is part of living in the real world and interacting with people who have no idea where I've come from.

These people aren't trained to ask how I'm feeling and if they happen to ask, I hardly believe that they really care to hear what I have to say. "Fine," is the correct response, is it not? And maybe that's what I need. Life can't always be about deep emotions and feelings, sometimes it has to be very surface level and disconnected for anything to get done. I get that. But that doesn't mean that I don't miss treatment and the space it provided me to just feel what it was I was feeling. I don't have time for that now. There's homework to do, class to attend, work to be the best at, hardly any time at all to just be an emotional being trying to survive in the daily hustle. And I still need that time to feel, otherwise the feelings are happening all the time and they're just being buried deep down inside on top of one another until I feel like vomiting because I am so full of shit and piss and vinegar. Who's going to clean up the mess?

But things are not all bad if I'm complaining about not having enough time to just think and feel my emotions. Doesn't that mean that I'm staying busy at least? Mustn't that mean that I am functioning in some capacity out there in the world with everyone else? I think it must, though I forget this fact because most days it still feels like an act to me. It doesn't feel like I am a healthy, functioning adult but it feels like I play one on T.V. Maybe everyone feels like that. I have no idea. But I do know that I'd like the gap between what I do in my life on a daily basis and what it is that I'm feeling to close until the two become one constant thought put into motion with a certainty that comes from my head and is approved by my heart. Right now it feels like the different parts of my body are operating autonomously and it's exhausting to keep track of them all. My head is telling me one thing while my heart is pulling me in another direction so that any action I make ends up feeling wrong somehow.

In the end, it's good though. It's all good. At least I have the mental clarity to do something beyond exercising, binging, and purging. My life has expanded rapidly in the last 18 months and it's no wonder that I feel overwhelmed sometimes. They show you how to measure your cereal and fit exchanges into a meal plan in treatment, they don't show you how to function out here in the world and it's perfectly clear to me why so many people go back again and again. Life cannot be lived within the confines of a meal plan and it's only once we break away from the safety of the rules laid out for us in treatment that the real work of recovery finally begins.