Today is the quintessential Ithacan fall day. It’s overcast and rainy, NFL season has begun (YES) and I’m lounging in my sweatpants with a cup of coffee. To me, this is the perfect Sunday…a nice relaxing day allowing me to recharge my batteries for the week of work and practices ahead. As hard as it is, I’m trying a new strategy of giving my brain a break from genetics work on Sundays. So, today the work I have to do is a little “lighter” – read some poems and write a poem for my Creative Writing class and then prepare for the discussion section I have to teach tomorrow night. Not a bad day by any means 😉
I saw my therapist on Friday morning and we talked a lot about how I’m not doing group this semester because I want to give swimming 100%. I think she was a little disappointed, and I can’t say I blame her. I know that choosing swimming over group is probably not in my best interests for the long run but I really had to follow my heart on this one and roll with it. It’s important that I stay true to myself and choosing swimming over group – at this point – is allowing me to do that. If I had chosen group, I would have been going against my intuition and doing it to make my therapist happy. I’m sure group would have been beneficial, but I have to start making my own choices in every facet of my life – and that includes being in charge of my treatment decisions.
And yet – I walked out of the appointment feeling unsure. I walked out feeling like I don’t really know where I am right now in recovery. My therapist and nutritionist both know me very well now and we’ve had discussions about how I go through “cycles” in my recovery. Basically the cycles go like this – I start following my meal plan completely and start to feel really great about my body and life. Obsessive thoughts become mostly nil. Unfortunately, me feeling great leads me to get a bit complacent about food and I unconsciously begin to restrict in the smallest ways. In fact, I don’t notice the restriction until a couple weeks later when the obsessive thoughts creep back in. It takes me a while to actually notice the thoughts because they become ever so slowly more intense. Fast forward a couple weeks and I’m irritable, moody, annoyed – and I can’t figure out why. I’m sluggish and lacking life and energy. And I go into therapy or to my nutritionist, and they ask me how I am…and we figure it out. We look at my body composition. They ask me specific questions about what I’m eating, and usually it turns out that I’ve restricted in some way or amped up my exercise.
But right now – I don’t know where I stand. I know I’m much further along then I was last year, but I don’t know where to go from here. I feel good mostly and I’ve been too busy to be thinking obsessively. I’ve been exercising so much that it’s easy to stick to my meal plan (and even supplement if I’m still hungry at night). But I know a lot of why I’m feeling good right now is because I’m exercising so much and I’m so busy. I don’t have time to be thinking obsessively. Which is great for now – but makes me anxious for when swimming ends and I’m not an athlete and I’m not as busy. I don’t know how my mind will react and I don’t know what’s going to happen.
In short, I’m scared. I like the peace that I have right now and I don’t want to fall back into the “restricting cycle.” After swimming is over I want to be able to just live my life the way I want to live it. I don’t want to be having to keep myself busy all the time to avoid obsessive thinking. I want to just go about my day, make healthy choices and engage in activities I enjoy with the people I love. I want to be able to spontaneously go out for italian ice or to skip a run for a hike in the mountains. I want to be able to give myself permission to read and write and meet friends for coffee.
What I think I’ve spent a lot of my recovery looking for is basically a roadmap. Like, I started at “point A” last January and want to get to “point B” because when I get to that place I’ll be recovered. And along the way there are checkpoints that allow you to figure out how close to (or far away) you are from point B.
But recovery isn’t like that. Recovery is messy. There are no checkpoints – no “Do not enter/turn left/ construction ahead/ stop” signs – to help me determine where I am. There is a map and a point A, but there are only directions back to point A – none to point B. There is no straight line to walk, no logical series of steps to take. I can imagine what point B looks like, but I can’t figure out how to just get there.
Even though – more than anything else – point B is where I want to be.