Well, I’m back in Texas. I graduated from treatment on March 30, 2019 & returned home to Austin on April 1. The adjustment period has proved more difficult than I imagined. I miss California; I miss the mountains & the beach & the ocean. I was thoroughly spoiled for 3.5 months. And I miss the unbreakable bonds I made while I was there. I miss my people. SoCal will forever hold a special place in my heart. And lucky for me, I get to go back April 17-20 for a concert & visit.
Goodbyes have always been my least favorite. In the past, I’ve had a tendency to push people away before the goodbye, an “I’m leaving you before you leave me” of sorts; a last ditch effort of protection so that the goodbye hurts less. But, as with most aspects of treatment, I vowed to make this time different. I was determined to have a “good” goodbye.
And so on March 29, the staff had a launching ceremony for me, the first one they’d done. I cried a lot. All the staff and my peers went around and said kind words about/to me. I did my best to stay present and not panic about the impending end to everything. The clinical director told me it was her hope that I would always remember the love for me in the room and carry it with me. In the difficult moments since my return home, I’ve called upon this memory, upon this love, and it has carried me through unscathed.
The treatment center I went to was big on assignments. One of my last assignments was to write about what my experience in treatment this time has meant to me. Read on for deeply, heartfelt words.
Historically, treatment has always been a safe place for me. When the real world becomes too overwhelming and scary, I relapse with purging and end up in treatment. It’s been a predictable cycle, full of certainty and security. Treatment has been a break for me all these years– a break from responsibility, chaos, and myself. But I think deep down and in the back of my mind, I always knew there would be another time in treatment because I had no intention of fully letting go of my eating disorder. Not only was I addicted to purging, but in some respects, I was also addicted to treatment– to the safety, to the lack of responsibility, and to the being taken care of by others.
Little did I know, I was going about it the wrong way. I was using my eating disorder and playing the sick card to get attention, which I equated with love and connection, but the attention I received for my eating disorder was not the same as full-blooded, heartfelt emotional intimacy.
But this time in treatment, I’ve found that. This time in treatment, I’ve been more willing and open and have given voice to things I never have before. This time in treatment, I’ve shed light on my shame and opened myself up to genuine connection, despite the raging terror of the unknown. It’s been excruciating at times but worth the bliss of not feeling alone. For me, being in treatment has allowed me to blossom in ways I never thought possible. My anxiety has lessened substantially. The suicidal thoughts have quieted. I can eat without worrying about what fucking weird object I’m going to have to purge in. And most importantly, I feel that I’ve begun to heal.
In the past, treatment just put a bandaid over my gaping wounds. Not this time. This time they’re actually healing.
I’d never given myself an honest chance at life before this. Sure, there are moments and days when the fear of the future feels crushing and suffocating, but for the most part, I don’t have to fuck with my food in an effort to regulate myself.
This is the best I’ve ever done in recovery, the most genuine I’ve ever been. It wasn’t the easiest getting here, by any means, but it’s been worth it.
I’m realizing just how much my eating disorder has taken away from me, and I’m beginning to see it for what it is: a disorder– not me or my identity or my way of life.
This time in treatment, I’ve found myself.written in my journal on March 21, 2019