Wednesday, August 12, 2009


I wonder if I have some disorder. I know right? Add it to the list.

I feel like I can handle much less than the average person. I know everyone gets overwhelmed at times. But I feel like I get easily overwhelmed by the slightest disturbance, change in plans, or new concept. Maybe it is a personality trait, maybe everyone feels this way on different levels. I don't know. I hesitated even writing this blog because I didn't know where to start.

The beginning seemed good.

I am a recovering perfectionist. Surprising as it may be, I used to be much worse. I don't deal very gracefully with change. I like things in order, organization, plans, reason.

But when I can't put every aspect in neat little jars, I struggle. So I write them here. Lucky you. Random thoughts in no particular order:

-parasites suck. Still fighting the bugs I came home with. After a year of arguing and losing to the bugs, we've worked out an agreement. Apparently if I eat less than a handful of food every hour or two and only eat wheat gluten if completely necessary, they are pretty happy. How ridiculous is that? As you can imagine, this diet does not look healthy to anyone who knows I have an eating disorder, but my dietician and doctor don't know what else to do

-surgery sucks. I'd rather spend 12 straight hours alone with screaming 12 infants than go to the dentist tomorrow.

-growing up is scary. I'm moving into an apartment next week. I'm not at all out from mom and dad's protective wing and financial support, but come on, now I have to clean my bathroom, cook my own meals, and lock my doors at night. I can't just up and leave anymore. I have responsibilities and stuff. What if the heat goes out? Do I have to shovel the snow off my sidewalk? What gets out ketchup stains?

-I'm not so great at living in the moment. It is hard for me to not look at the future with a twinge of negativity. I don't always like what I see. I don't like not knowing what's coming. I want to know that teaching is what I'm supposed to do with my life. I want to know that this eating disorder will one day be a thing of the past. I want to know that Jeremy and I can survive a long-distance relationship and be together, ya know, in the same state. I want to know that it's going to be all right.

-I have too much stuff. I have clothes coming out of my nose and constantly hanging all over me for that matter. I have at least 7 half-used bottles of shampoo. I have books I've never read, and shoes I've never worn, with tags still attached. I have talents I'm not sure are being used and dreams I fear will never be actualized.

-How can I save the prostitutes I left in Cambodia? How do I end sex slavery in India? How do I battle an unspoken war between closed doors in the homes in my neighborhood: molestation, abuse, fear? How do I save women from hating themselves to death? How can I possibly feed the hungry, adopt all the children, and still finish school, beat an eating disorder, be a friend, and make a difference? It's too much. It's overwhelming. I don't know how to not feel inadequate, selfish, and useless when I'm confronted with the pain in people's lives. Ever seen the movie Taken, or Hotel Rwanda? There are needs and I don't know how to meet them. It never seems enough.

Perfection finds me weary of all the things in life that cannot be controlled.

"The problem with perfection is that, by definition, it is unattainable, so perfectionists live in a state of perpetual frustration and disappointment." The new book I'm reading and gaining insight and inspiration from is called, coincidentally, Gaining by Aimee Liu. The cover reads, "The truth about life after eating disorders." Reading it blows my mind nearly every time I open it. It is helping me better understand myself.

"The emotional promise of perfection is security: no one will criticize you, try to change you, or touch you if you have your universe in order."

"Unfortunately, what perfectionists strive to prove is impossible. NO one is perfect, and everyone has limits. What kills us will not make us stronger or prettier or more lovable. A sense of purpose, connection, and perspective, however, can and will."

I sat in Mr. Blake's office awhile ago. He asked me to make a list of all the things that perfectionism had gotten me in life. I walked out with an empty piece of paper.

"Stress tends to heighten the perfectionist's appetite for order...What's less widely recognized is the frequency of relapse later in life during stressful events such as career transitions and relationship breakups."

Lightbulb. BING!

I may not binge and purge my whole life, but if I don't journey toward full healing and just end the behaviors, I'm not really doing anything. It is the perfectionism, self-hatred, and control that needs mending.

Liu writes about attending a woman's book club meeting a few minutes early to find the hostess poaching chicken, rearranging furniture, fanning slivers of lemon onto saucers, fiddling with edible pansies that garnished a side dish, and brewing coffee. "Please don't take this the wrong way," she asked, "but were you by chance ever anorexic?"

My dietician has been trying to explain this to me for awhile. Because basically I try to convince her I don't have an eating disorder anymore if I don't throw up every day or even every month. You can't really look at me and know it. It feels like I am making this up. She explains that while I am not acting on life-threatening behaviors anymore, the thoughts remain, the temptation, the muscle memory. I know my options and I need to consistently choose the right path.

"When people return to normal eating habits, however, multiple areas of the brain spring into action to override the disordered response to food...The more time that passes without relapse, the stronger and more permanent the bridge becomes. I cannot however produce a truly normal appetite response. Even decades after their last fast or purge, former anorexics and bulimics will respond to the sight of a layer cake with a complex mix of attraction, resistance, guilt, calculation, permission, and release."

As David after Dentist says, "Is this gonna be forever?"

No, no. Healing will come. Waiting just sucks.

Waiting goes against the lingering perfectionist in me that screams, "This can be fixed now! And if you were not a worthless slob, it would be already."

Her voice is getting less deafening and more discreet. Someday she'll move out completely.

Until then I'm gaining, slowly.


Anonymous said...

you ARE bending
you ARE growing
you ARE learning
you ARE seeking
you ARE gaining
you ARE moving on
you ARE leaving it behind
you ARE being
you ARE
be proud