Do you actually want our help?

And other necessary questions I’m sick of being asked

Emma, do you actually want our help? Do you want to go back to partial? What pulled you out of your willfulness last time? What skills could you use, or could you have used in this moment? Is that what your wise mind is telling you? Can you email me once you are done eating? How does that contribute to your life worth living? What’s the next best thing you could do? Did you use your supports? Where’s the protein coming from? How about you add some chicken to that? Would you tell other people they aren’t worth the time and money spent on recovery? This last one is my personal favorite. And by favorite I mean absolute least favorite question to be asked, because somehow it just feels different when it’s me. And as you can tell, in the last couple of weeks I have been asked a lot of questions. A lot of questions that I am sick of hearing. But what I’m learning is that recovery isn’t about the endlessly annoying questions, it’s about the answers with which I respond.

Truth be told, I’m not so proud of some of the answers I have given in the last few weeks. No, I’m not talking about the actual, specific spoken answers to the questions. Because believe me I know the right answer, and my manipulating eating disorder voice, knows how to give those answers without lying. (As an aside, I don’t ever really overtly lie in treatment because who’s got time for that?!) Over the last year my dietitian has learned exactly what it means for me to give that right answer, while not quite sharing the whole story. Let’s reference just one of many examples:

Dietitian- Emma, did you spend time with your supports over the weekend?
Emma- Of course I did! The whole time I was at home I made sure to have a great support with me.
Dietitian- That’s so great, I’m really proud of you for being vulnerable and reaching out. Who did you spend time with?
Emma- My cat, of course.
Dietitian- [Shakes head]. Emma. Do I really have to ask if you used your human supports?
Emma- Well I don’t know what you have against Maple- she’s the best of kitties. But yes. I believe you do need to ask about the humans.
Maple even likes to “help” me with my diary card- I don’t know where I could get a better support!!!! :)

So, you see, much to my treatment team’s dismay, it’s not quite as simple as asking me basic questions. I’m told that’s why I got the big gun, badass women on my team- so they can read right through my eating disorder bullshit, and put it right in it’s place. But that’s what I need. So when my willfulness leads my team to ask me that oh so fun question of “do you actually want our help?” it’s hard, because I don’t always know that I need their help. However, I never say no. More commonly I will simply reply with I don’t know, which is undoubtedly an infuriating response. So, let me translate what I don’t know actually means when it comes from me. It’s pretty simple:

My eating disorder doesn’t want your help. Not at all. No. No. NO. But I, Emma, in my wisest of minds, need your help.

I think my answer to the help question shows why I find all these questions so frustrating, but so necessary. I really do want to get better, but that often means difficult questions that I have to have the courage to answer honestly, figuring out what I need, rather than what I want. And being brave over and over and over again is fucking hard! The last few weeks I haven’t been as brave as I could of been. I don’t say this as a judgment (at least that had better not be a judgment), but based on some of my wise mind observations in the answers I have found myself giving. So here’s what some of my answers, well I guess what I mean is actions, have really shown:

  • I don’t give a shit about myself, my body, and recovery.
  • I don’t care if I end up back in partial.
  • I don’t honor my body as being made in the image of God.
  • I don’t trust my team in the way that I have always claimed to.

When I read that list over, I want to cry. It hurts to actually see on paper (or perhaps more accurately, on a screen) the huge influence my eating disorder currently has on my life. This would probably be the moment to insert that stupid graph that shows recovery isn’t a straight line upwards, as a way to explain and justify these answers and the struggle bus position I have found myself in.

I couldn’t resist putting the cheesiness of this in here, because although I hate to say it, and will not use this as an excuse, it is more of a reality than many of us realize.

Yes, lapses happen, and even relapses happen, but this recovery graph thing should not be used as a means to excuse them. This graph doesn’t tell me that my willfulness is ok, and that I should just keep loving on it until I again find myself seriously ill. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, in moments of clarity (which are so frequently found when I write), I am choosing to sit in the hurt and the pain of seeing the impact of my willfulness. Not to wallow, but to feel, to reflect, and although it makes me cringe to say, to radically accept it. I’m not there yet. I can’t healthily radically accept this willfulness and the pain for what it is. I’m still in too deep for that. But I will work on it- I may even pull my handouts out of my treatment binder! Because one of the ways to kick this shit is to look at how I’m answering all these stupid, dumb, important questions.

So when I met with my dietitian yesterday morning, I got a little closer to giving an answer that Emma, the badass woman, would want to give. This is how our conversation about planning for breakfast this morning went:

Dietitian- So you’re going to put butter on your bagel?
Emma- Absolutely!
Dietitian- So are you going to measure the butter out to make sure you are getting enough?
Emma- Yup!
Dietitian- Are you actually going to measure it?
Emma- I mean no. But ok, I guess I will.

Ok, so it may have taken a little prompting, but I got there, and for now I will take that. Until the next question comes my way, which let’s face it, will be entirely too soon for my eating disorder! So here’s the deal. I don’t like the questions. I probably won’t ever like these questions, but I don’t have to. The questions are there to help me. To help Emma. So going forward I am going to try to trust my badass team because I want to show:

  • I give a shit about myself, my body, and my recovery.
  • I do care if I have to go back to partial (which as I continually tell my treatment team, isn’t something I will entertain.)
  • I can honor my body as being made in the image of GOD.

It won’t be perfect, because recovery isn’t perfect (see the cheesy graph). But it is the only option I have. After all, the only way out is through. And I get through by answering all those stinking questions!