I wrote a poem for Chrissie.
This sunrise belongs to you,
You are now nowhere and everywhere,
Where is it you've gone to beyond this earthly realm?
And yet my beliefs collide and shatter with my desperate need to believe
“There is never a sudden revelation, a complete and tidy explanation for why it happened, or why it ends, or why or who you are. You want one and I want one, but there isn't one. It comes in bits and pieces, and you stitch them together wherever they fit, and when you are done you hold yourself up, and still there are holes and you are a rag doll, invented, imperfect. And yet you are all that you have, so you must be enough. There is no other way.”
“This is the very boring part of eating disorders, the aftermath. When you eat and hate that you eat. And yet of course you must eat. You don’t really entertain the notion of going back. You, with some startling new level of clarity, realize that going back would be far worse than simply being as you are. This is obvious to anyone without an eating disorder. This is not always obvious to you.”
- Marya Hornbacher, Wasted
Will this ever get better, really?
Jesus Christ, I haven't written anything here since April and it's August! I guess I have a pretty good excuse though. Treatment is exhausting.
I was in residential (living there) for almost ten months and have since (six or seven weeks?) been on partial. I went in on October 3rd of last year, so that'll be my year since entering recovery. It's not, strictly speaking, my "clean date" in terms of not using behaviors...I haven't binged and purged in probably 7 months, I had a slip with purging after my best friend Chrissie died on July 10th, and afterward I was eating juuust under my meal plan. For the last 11 days, though, I've been eating 100 percent of everything. It took a long time, but I've finally committed myself fully to this process and to my treatment and trusting my treatment team. I was embarrassed and ashamed about how long it took, but they said it takes as long as it takes, and when you've been as sick as I was for as long as I was, it's understandable; in the grand scheme of things, a year is little in comparison to fifteen.
Still, behaviorally it's fucking amazing I have 7 months binge/purge free, and obviously this entire time it's been fairly minimal except at the beginning when I was fucking insane. I've been living in a hotel, and I'm moving into an apartment on Monday...me and my little kitten, Sigmund. I've only had him for about two weeks but feel very good about how well I've been taking care of him and what a happy little guy he is. He's about seven weeks old, the vet estimated his birthday as July 3rd. We're going to have a series of appointments until he's about four months to get all of his vaccinations in...he's been very good for me. I don't take the risks I used to because "I have to get home to Sigmund". I have something that I have to get up for in the morning (well, him and treatment - I have to wake up sooo early to get ready and get there on time).
Chrissie's death is a very big deal, but I don't feel like writing about it. Maybe another time. The grief process is horrendous and will probably last a long time, but I am thankful I got to fly out for the memorial and stay with her family, and remain in touch with them. I feel like I am able to help them in small ways which I am grateful for and makes me feel like I'm honoring her in the best way I can. Her older sister Jennie and I have become quite close.
Well, Sigmund's all over me so I guess I need to go, but I wanted to update and say I'm finally doing better. I still have a lot of work to do and a long way to go, but I'm finally arriving and on track I think.
I'll make another personal update sometime soon, but I wanted to post here as well as facebook and other sites that I'm fund raising for a close friend of mine whose house burnt down two weeks ago, destroying all of her belongings and putting her out of a steady place to live, as well as screwing up her car's headlights (the damn things actually melted - I didn't know that was possible, but they're a milky white), and living in a rural area of North Carolina, she needs that car to get to work to keep making money. So I wanted to post the link to the fund raiser here, which gives more details and a link to a walk through she and I did of her home post fire in order to ensure people of the legitimacy of the situation and help them understand the magnitude of the situation. I'm also thinking about ways to keep this going and make it something that can benefit more than one person (well, two; she AND her roommate will benefit as they're looking for a place together), so I'll link the facebook page where I posted my ideas on how to do that and I kindly ask if you have the time that you let me know what you think!
Thank you very, very much for your time and good thoughts toward Karina are very appreciated. It means a lot more than I can express. Donating is helpful, but there are other ways to help as well - sharing the links and getting the word out, or even possibly volunteering to contribute by doing an act of kindness (that's detailed in a post on the facebook page; I'm not sure about it yet, I want to get a feel for what people think and who might help, but please check it out!)
All of my love and gratitude.
I'll still be updating this livejournal for more personal content, but I started a recovery blog. Oh shit, how clever and original of me :-P Anyway, here's the link in case you're interested:
Cool and thank you.
Fuuuuck. My computer keeps deleting things before I can post them.
Originally I wrote that yesterday was a very very good day, and that today it feels again like I'm carrying rocks around in my chest. At the base of my throat. I googled "The Absurdity of Life" and per usual Wikipedia had some interesting information for me. I read about Absurdism in relation to Existentialism and Nihilism. Over the last few years I've been drawn to the ideas expressed in existentialism but found no comfort from identifying with that school of thought. Nor have I found much comfort today save identifying deeply with the notion of "Absurdism" and hoping that there are others out there who have found ways to feel at peace with this point of view, since it does feel accurate to me. Sharply accurate. The Wikipedia article opened with an explanation of what Absurdism means:
"In philosophy, "the Absurd" refers to the conflict between the human tendency to seek inherent value and meaning in life and the human inability to find any. In this context absurd does not mean "logically impossible", but rather "humanly impossible". The universe and the human mind do not each separately cause the Absurd, but rather, the Absurd arises by the contradictory nature of the two existing simultaneously. Absurdism, therefore, is a philosophical school of thought stating that the efforts of humanity to find inherent meaning will ultimately fail (and hence are absurd) because the sheer amount of information as well as the vast realm of the unknown make certainty impossible. And yet, some absurdists state that one should embrace the absurd condition of humankind while conversely continuing to explore and search for meaning. As a philosophy, absurdism thus also explores the fundamental nature of the Absurd and how individuals, once becoming conscious of the Absurd, should respond to it."
The "Overview" section of the article says: "In absurdist philosophy, the Absurd arises out of the fundamental disharmony between the individual's search for meaning and the meaninglessness of the universe. As beings looking for meaning in a meaningless world, humans have three ways of resolving the dilemma. Kierkegaard and Camus describe the solutions in their works, The Sickness Unto Death (1849) and The Myth of Sisyphus (1942):"
It then goes on to describe the three ways humans have of attempting to reconcile this disturbing experience. It lists 1. suicide, 2. religion/spirituality, and 3. acceptance of the absurd nature of the universe and human existence within it.
There's a chart that illustrates how subscribers to different schools of philosophy might experience certain vital questions about existence and life. It speaks to Atheistic Existentialism, Monotheistic Existentialism, Absurdism, and Nihilism. I'm going to list the questions and the Absurdist experiences/answers from that chart, since I relate and am grateful to have found something succinct that expresses this. The questions/statements are:
1. There is such a thing as meaning and value in life: Absurdism says "Maybe."
2. There is inherent meaning in the universe: Absurdism says "Maybe, but humans can never know it."
3. The pursuit of meaning may have meaning in itself: Absurdism says "Yes, but not for certain."
4. The individual's construction of any type of meaning is possible: Absurdism says "Yes, though it must be personal and face the Absurd; moreover, there is no way to verify whether one's constructed meaning conforms to any inherent meaning."
5. There is resolution to the individual's desire to seek meaning: Absurdism says "Maybe the creation of one's own meaning, but not with regard to the inherent meaning of the universe (if one exists)."
Whew, if you've stayed with me this long, thank you; you're helping me by learning to understand what I'm constantly wrestling with. I'm going to quote a little more in a minute, but I want to just take space to breathe for a moment and address a piece of what I've already quoted: I, on a personal level, am obviously searching for some way to live peacefully with what I believe. I don't feel that I have a choice to believe something else; I can't make it up. I can't pretend I believe in God when I don't. I've tried. I don't even know that I can have any kind of spirituality, because that has holes in it too, in my opinion. I've heard a number of times that what I'm lacking in my life and in my recovery is a "Spiritual Solution", a spiritual life. And I've struggled with that deeply. IT WOULD HELP ME, don't get me wrong; I would love to able to abandon this way that I view and experience things, which is actually probably somewhere on the spectrum in BETWEEN Absurdism and Nihilism. Depending on the day, I can be closer to Nihilism, although there's this piece of me that tugs away from it and says that I can't go there. I refuse to go there, and I don't believe that absolutely nothing matters because certain things do matter TO ME. I do love some people very much, and I do not believe in hurting people and I do my best not to, and I believe in being honest because I think life only becomes more complicated and absurd in dishonesty and creates an unresolvable dissonance that's extremely uncomfortable and unnecessary.
Now I'm going to quote a few more things from the end of the article and add my experience of these concepts and my reaction to reading them. It addresses the relationship between absurdist thought and the following things: Elusion, God, Personal Meaning, Freedom, Hope, and Integrity. I'm most interested in the last four.
Personal Meaning: For Camus, the beauty people encounter in life makes it worth living. People may create meaning in their own lives, which may not be the objective meaning of life (if there is one), but can still provide something to strive for. However, he insisted that one must always maintain an ironic distance between this invented meaning and the knowledge of the absurd, lest the fictitious meaning take the place of the absurd.
Okay. So I've gone down this road, and tried to live my life in accordance with the assertion that I can create meaning in my own life. I think that trying to do that restored some of my confidence and some sense of having power or control in my life and my experience of life, but eventually that felt too like it wasn't a very reliable way of living or a very accurate way of seeing things; for example, how can I personally create meaning in my life if I don't know what I feel, if whatever I think I do feel is kind of an illusion and not very important or valid to me to begin with, if the idea of having a sense of self (by whose experience I would most likely base this creation of meaning) is in itself absurd and unreliable? And as for the last part that I put in italics, when I read that I just thought, god, I wouldn't MIND if that fictitious meaning took the place of the absurd. I wouldn't mind living with what I now view as a sort of ignorance if it meant happiness and fulfillment and less of this ridiculous circular dead end way of thinking.
Freedom: Freedom cannot be achieved beyond what the absurdity of existence permits; however, the closest one can come to being absolutely free is through acceptance of the Absurd. Camus introduced the idea of "acceptance without resignation" as a way of dealing with the recognition of absurdity, asking whether or not man can "live without appeal", while defining a "conscious revolt" against the avoidance of absurdity of the world. In a world devoid of higher meaning or judicial afterlife, the human nature being becomes as close to absolutely free as is humanly possible.
Now, this passage on freedom felt weird to read. Uncomfortable. The first part, which I italicized, about the limitations imposed on the acceptance of the absurdity, felt really...limiting. Depressing. Closed, hopeless. I underlined the concept of "acceptance without resignation" because that jumped out at me as a possibly empowering personal belief/survival tool, but then I wonder how one - how I - can accept the absurdity and lack of security and answers (which tends to freak me out and make me worry and feel that there IS no meaning and therefore nothing to operate based on) and NOT resign myself. Then again, I feel stuck because there's nothing else I can do, right? Except lay down and die. Which I'm trying to decide not to do, in a permanent way this time. But I don't WANT these sorts of limits in my life; maybe where I'm going with this is that I feel like acceptance of this, which I do think I believe and unfortunately cannot UNbelieve, means a lifetime of emptiness, meaninglessness, and sorrow. And confusion and conflict and pissiness and resentment. And I don't want to feel stuck in that way. I just don't. It's unpleasant and unmotivating and shitty.
Hope: The rejection of hope, in absurdism, denotes the refusal to believe in anything more than what this absurd life provides. Hope, Camus emphasizes, however, has nothing to do with despair (meaning that the two terms are not opposites). One can still live fully while rejecting hope, and, in fact, can only do so without hope. Hope is perceived by the absurdist as another fraudulent method of evading the Absurd, and by not having hope, one is motivated to live every fleeting moment to the fullest.
THIS has caused me problems. Especially in fluffy treatment centers, as I'm sure anyone reading this can imagine. I found it interesting that Camus thought that the rejection of hope didn't necessarily equal unavoidable despair, that he didn't see them as opposites. I think where I go wrong, or go in an unhelpful direction with this, is that I personally do NOT feel motivated to live each moment to the fullest by this knowledge. Quite the opposite. What do I do with that? And lastly:
Integrity: The absurdist is not guided by morality, but rather, by their own integrity. The absurdist is, in fact, amoral (though not necessarily immoral). The Absurdist's view of morality implies an unwavering sense of definite right and wrong at all times, while integrity implies honesty with one's self and consistency in the motivations of one's actions and decisions.
Now this I identified with very much. I think this may have been the root of a lot of my confusion about my own values and beliefs dating from a very early age - when I was way too young to think about things in this way. I used to think I was a sociopath, actually, but that's another story. Nowadays I remind myself that I'm definitely not a sociopath, and that I do experience empathy. But I found this part both comforting and disturbing. I like the idea of guiding myself based on my experience and my integrity, but it scares me that I might not do well in life or fit in very well if I claim to have no set morals. Can those be separate? To have some morals based on your integrity and experience of life and who you are at different times in your life?
If you took the time to read this and/or have any thoughts on this PLEASE share them with me. I feel so stuck in this impossible way, and I finally have words for it thanks to google (hah) but no ideas on how to live happily save what I found to be unsatisfying and very depressing thoughts by a dead philosopher.
Thanks in advance. I'm starting with a new therapist this week and will probably print this entry out and read it to her. Poor thing, didn't know what she was signing up for :-P
Hanging christmas lights in my bedroom at my parents' house just made my night :)
it might be nearing the time to (get this) ACTUALLY COME HOME! Like home home, Bay Area home.
It's something I'm still debating and thinking about with myself and of course discussing with my family and treatment team but no one seems awfully opposed.There is still some work to do here, but I'm getting excited to be thinking about it and am wondering if that is where the real, long term work needs to happen anyway. I'd be living with roommates, in therapy 3+ times a week, seeing a dietician for the first time outpatieng, ging to support group and meetings of course, and trying alternative treatments like acupuncture,yoga, etc. when the semester time came around i would start school again. a job at some point too, not working with food like at all.
anyway not yet. but im excited and wanted to share.
My lawyer and therapist have recommended that I look into a treatment center in Utah (the land of Hardass rehab centers) called "Avalon Hills." I have heard of the place and of course been intimidated by their reputation of being extremely strict, take-no-prisoners kind of approach. They are known for being a sort of end-of-the-line, very long term (anywhere from 6 months to 2 years) place. But upon speaking with the admissions coordinator today I actually felt kind of encouraged by her extensive knowledge and her intelligence. They sound legit. Strict- down to reading your snail mail before giving it to you - but realistic, moving towards intuitive eating and granting super long home passes as you progress in the program. Like leaving for several days and th3n going back, then maybe a week, thend two weeks - sometimes even a month or two - to really ensure a gradual, successful transition. That's new to me. One of my main concerns as far as treatment centers go is that the place be as equipped to deal with severe overeating and bulimia as they are with anorexia, and they do seem to be skilled in this.
So it's an option.
Kitty is still alive. It's heartbreaking but I will make sure we call the vet when it is necessary. I won't let her suffer.
My amazing cat Grace is dying. my parents, as usual about this sort of thing with or cats, are at odds about how to handle it. she's been at the animal hospital for several days - we were hoping she would respond to treatment but she hasn't.
strangely, be cause she has always been my cat I think, my parents are turning to me it seems to make the decision. not only has mymom respected my request that she keep me informed but she wants me to talk to the vet myself. Which I'm kind of unspeakably grateful for.
the ideal situation would be to bring her home for the night and have the vet come here tomorrow and euthanize her here where she is comfortable. when we visited her a few days ago I felt terrible leaving her there and being unable to explain to her that we weren't just leaving for good, that we could never forget her for a second while she was away.
I've had her since I was ten. from day one she's slept with me, had my whole heart. I really love this animal.
I guess we'll see.
There's a lot going on. this nightmare with my health insurance is finally coming to an end. a little over week ago we came to a settlement and in a month or so it should be made official provided nothing goes awry. I am heavily leaning toward moving back to the bay area and doing a very structured outpatient plan now that that will be possible. I never meant to be away for so long. I may stay awhile longer in treatment or transfer to another program or look into transitional living because I still feel wobbly - my recovery is far far from perfect but I do feel much more solid, like it would be harder to go back, like I have more of a choice not to. and I'm wondering if that's the best I can expect from residential. I have heard again and again that the " real work" happens outpatient and I am burnt out on live in centers. I needed them to stay alive but it has gotten to a point where it's begun to feel more a hindrance to my living and while I want to be careful to use the available treatment to ensure I am able to be responsible enough for my life and health to be well outpatient I also wonder what that is supposed to look like, how that is defined. maybe it isn't so obvious.
and I miss home. the years pass and I miss home.
that's all for now. love.
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