Saturday, February 26, 2011


Slippage never feels good.

Whether you're climbing the face of a cliff,
carrying a baby,
keeping a secret,
or conducting brain surgery.

Slippage means backsliding.
Lack of progress.
Downward motion.

The dictionary defines "slippage" as:
1. The act or an instance of slipping, especially movement away from an original or secure place.

I've been secure for several months now. I've felt more stable in the last 6 months than I have in the last five years. But I feel like I've moved away from that secure place. Lately I've been in a place where the thoughts I lean toward, are those I thought I was done with. I recognize these thoughts and behaviors too well. These are addictive behaviors. Irrational behaviors. These are eating disordered behaviors. What I thought was long past, comes sneaking back like cancer that wasn't removed 100% the first time.

This week I asked a friend, "Why is it that whenever I'm doing good, I'm afraid to say so, for fear that saying it out loud will jinx my progress?"

She recommended quite truthfully, "You're not afraid of the words. You're afraid of your reaction to them."

She's right. I worry that saying, "I'm doing well," means I'll stop working on staying well. When I'm doing well, sometimes I get lazy.

I'm comfortable with fear. I get fear. In dark moments, I'm familiar with my erratic behaviors and hopeless thoughts. But hope? Peace? Serenity? These are too unpredictable. You never know where the wind will blow next. Some people take joy in the thrill of it all. I just want someone to tell me the weather so I can know exactly what to expect. No surprises.

Life doesn't operate on these terms and is full of surprises. Life doesn't seem to care much how I feel about it. I can only control my reaction to it.

I'm tempted to get scared.
Assume the worst.
And pretend I have no control over the outcome of my life for the next month.

I'm tempted to act like my past defines my future.
I am merely a pawn.
And I will just have to hope for the best.

But I know better. I've been here before (and places much worse). When I want to fear and worry and doubt that I have any fight left in me, I remember where I've been. Anne Lamott writes about this better than anyone in her book Traveling Mercies telling the story of her own eating disorder:

"It is, finally, so wonderful to have learned to eat, to taste and love what slips down my throat, padding me, filling me up, that I’m not uncomfortable calling it a small miracle. A friend who does not believe in God says, 'Maybe not a miracle, but a little improvement,' but to that I say Listen! You must not have heard me right; I couldn’t feed myself! So thanks for your input, but I know where I was, and I know where I am now, and you just can’t get here from there."

So instead . . .
I call three people on my way home to tell them what I'm going to eat for dinner.

I avoid the inclination to linger in front of the mirror and let the insults rain down like fire.

I tell Jeremy when he drops me off at home, "I'm not hungry. Food will not make this problem go away."

When I get home and Ben and Ashley wave a "hello" from their Grey's Anatomy marathon, I say, "I just want to tell you, I'm not hungry," and they say, "Okay," because they know that's all I need.

Sometimes slippage is an accident.
And sometimes slippage is a choice.

Either way, both can be corrected (and always will be) with some awareness, accountability, and kindness.


Anthony said...

Oh I know these feelings well. Sometimes to verbalize progress is to confirm that slippage is still possible. I hate the feeling that I am fallible, controllable, predictable and unable to always prevent slippage. Accountability is so important. Thank you for that.