Perfectionism is Its Own Reward

I want to write all this out but I don’t know how. I’m still so caught in Gloria’s ways of thinking. She downplays all of my achievements and makes them seem worthless. Because they’re not what she values, and anything less than 100% is not good enough. ‘Oh, you got a Distinction? Why didn’t you get a High Distinction? Oh, you managed to get a High Distinction? Look at many marks you still could have got.’ Credit is the same as Fail, according to her. This doesn’t make for easy. I am dreading the results of my final English assignment. It was a rush job, and I know all I really need to do is Pass. That really will be enough. But still, if I only Pass… and what if I don’t even manage that?

I see why my psychiatrist calls her a b****. But I still end up believing her over everyone and everything else. My breakfast is sitting here next to me. It has been for quite a while now. I’m back to the every mouthful struggle. I’m not hungry. I don’t need food. I certainly don’t want it.

I read the letter I wrote to myself for when I was here. It’s so unreal to think that was written by me, that I was in that place. That I can be again. That I deserve that at all.

My teaching prac finished prematurely again. Not because of my physical health, this time. Not my choice either. I was really struggling to keep up with the paperwork. I still had assignments to write, and an exam to study for as well as give everything to teaching and learning on prac. So my university and the school I was teaching in took one of my pressures away. I wanted it to be the exam.

But that’s all done now too. And I’m confident I passed. I think.

I should stop writing and eat my muesli.

Gloria is not me.

Resurgam

I want to say that I’ve been so totally busy with just living lately that I haven’t had time to write. But that’s not exactly the truth. I have been busy. And I have been living. I just didn’t want to admit I’d slipped again. I’m back up. Stronger and better than I’ve been in a long time.

I’m still having some issues with food. I still cannot give myself permission to eat outside of designated eating times. I still find it difficult to eat foods not on my meal plan. So I can’t completely state Gloria is not me. There’s still a lot of control around food and eating. But I am eating enough to keep me going while teaching full time on prac. HUGE leap forward. I caught myself before I really fell over this last week. Another massive leap in the right direction. I’m proud of what I’ve managed to achieve these last two weeks in my school. The relationships I’ve made with the kids and the lessons we are teaching each other.

I am sad that Gloria has made my dream so much harder to achieve and made it an extra year away (at least) from reality. But still there is enough of her to make complete recovery too terrifying to really contemplate.

But that’s thinking too far ahead. I’ll focus on the positives of now and how far I’ve come already. It’s been a year since I realised what was going on and sought professional help. And I have come so far. My good and okay days are outweighing my bad or worse ones. This time last year I was eating half a baby sized portion of rice once a day (maybe). Now I’m eating like an almost normal grown up. This time last year any time not spent moving was used against me as evidence of my failure. Now I can recognise that my body needs and deserves rest. This time last year Gloria reigned supreme. Now I can recognise her voice and ideas and mostly realise they’re not in my best interest.

I still have some distance to travel on this road, but it’s so much less than how far I’ve already come.

Gloria is not me.

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Open in Case of Relapse

I don’t have the ignorance of inexperience any more. So I wrote a letter to myself just in case.

Dear Little Relapsed One

I know you’re scared. I know it’s all too much. But I just want to remind you what it’s like on the other side.

This morning you ate breakfast without a care for the calories. It was not a big deal. It was just part of your morning. You laughed and joked with Tim. You marvelled at how precious motherhood is. You enjoyed the noise and mess of it. You had the physical, emotional and mental strength to deal with whatever came.

Today you are just living. Not too worried by the future, unsure as it is in some areas. Today you have chosen to be present. Uni assignments really can wait another day. Right now there is washing to be done, children to cuddle, music to learn, songs to sing, jokes to be shared, a husband to love, sunshine to be basked in, freckles on cheeks to kiss. And it is so good. Right now there is no nag in your mind pulling you down, telling you you’re a failure for choosing to live like this today.

Today, you were able to choose a completely different lunch because your normal one is not available. And it was okay. Last night – do you remember? – you enjoyed dinner. A fat, creamy, yummy chicken and veg casserole. An old favourite. You still love it. And you’re not a massive blob today because of it. In fact you have energy and vitality like you haven’t had for ages.

Today, you are aware of your size in a rational and accepting way. For a 35 year old mum of two you look pretty damn fine, girl.

I want to tell you I love being you. You have it good. You are so blessed, and you have it in you to be amazing in your world.

So, whatever it is that is holding you back today (tighter clothes, fear of gaining more, terror of choosing to give up perfection and losing control) I want to tell you this life I have today tastes so much sweeter than restriction.

Lots of love and God bless

Hannah

P.S. Gloria is not me (or you)

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Short and Oh-So-Sweet

Yesterday I ate two bananas. Which is just bananas. Crazy good bananas. Bananas have been banano-nos for quite a while now. Gloria hates them, for an undisclosed, and quite probably irrational, reason. But I needed to eat (!) and that’s all there was. And instead of listening to her, pushing through the hunger and ruining my day, I ate. Wrapped in a red rug (go Red House!) chatting to a friend at the kids’ cross-country, surrounded by people. And IT WAS GOOD. The even better thing was silencing her attempts at guilting me in to restricting later on in the day. I reasoned with myself that I needed to eat, I needed the energy to be able to accomplish all I had on my list. And so I did. And guess what. I did not go berserk and eat the whole world, as Gloria has so often told me I would. I ate what I needed to. No. Big. Deal.

And today, I am PROUD of myself.

It totally helps that I’ve had two nights running of decent sleep. Which is just another thing to celebrate. Like the chill in the air of autumn. The laughter and fun of our family dinner table. My health and strength.

I am running towards the day when:

Gloria is not me.

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Clarity

Recovery is so terrifying. Or rather, Gloria makes recovery seem so. It’s like I’m standing on one cliff, looking at another. I want to get to the other one. But there’s no bridge, and it’s way too wide to jump. But everyone tells me I have to jump. I’m all ‘but it’s too far’, and they’re all, ‘jump, jump, jump!’ Don’t they know how impossible it is? Especially as they’re already there. And in between the cliffs there’s a swamp with crocodiles, piranhas, lampreys, leeches and vampire bats. R.O.U.S.s. Lava pits. Zombie-pig-men. I wish this were hyperbole.

These past few weeks I’ve been struggling again. Trying to walk the wire between relapse and recovery. Too scared to take the jump and trying to downplay the pain and danger of going backwards. I ended up taking the path of least resistance again, started restricting and losing. The allure of the falling numbers is so hard to resist. The feeling of strength as I push through the hunger, light-headed and empty, is beyond belief.

Today I attended the funeral of a truly great man. A man who knew how to live. The legacy of faith and love he left behind is inspiring. Inspiring enough to show me if I continue in this tiny, constrained and fearful way I will never leave anything of worth behind me. Gloria will rob me of my inheritance and my legacy.

I’ve reached out for help, I’m trying to follow the plan again. And today I was surrounded by crowds and food laden tables. AND I DIDN’T HAVE TO ESCAPE! I was able to be an almost normal person catching up with friends. Sure I wasn’t fully comfortable. But I sure wasn’t an arming-rubbing, skin-pinching, deep-breathing, eye-darting crazy-pants either. I even ate a couple of pieces of fruit. I cannot tell you what a HUGE step forward that is. It may seem so little, but it is bigger than any I’ve taken for a while. I might even start yelling ‘jump, jump, jump!’ with the rest of them.

Gloria is not me.

hannahok

Today #What Am I Up To Now?

When David wrote Psalm 23, the bit about walking through the valley of the shadow of death, HE DIDN’T MEAN THE EASTER EGG GAUNTLET OF AN AUSTRALIAN SUPERMARKET. And neither should I.

I should not have to plan a grocery shopping trip with battlefield tactics. I should not feel like I’m about to jump off a cliff to my certain death because the fish I had chosen to buy was sold out and I need to choose another kind.

I woke up this morning determined to be okay today. Determined to be a normal wife, mother, person, relaxing and holidaying after the first round of uni assignments have been finished and submitted.

But here I am. Shattered after a trip to buy milk and bread and fish. Staring at my scheduled morning snack like it’s poison. Dreading the chocolate that’s coming tomorrow. Throwing cheese away when Tony’s back is turned.

I am angry. And I’m angry at the right thing. Gloria. I refuse to be held hostage any longer. This is just too much. I have had enough of this stupid cruel disease.

There is so much more to life than this.

Gloria is NOT me.

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This Isn’t Getting My Assignment Done

How do you keep going when winning feels like losing? Gloria screams ‘NOOOOOOOOOOO!!’ when I can get myself to eat. She makes me so anxious about and around food I have collapsed trying to choose an avocado. I collapsed because WALKING PAST a fruit and veg shop was too much. Two more ambulance rides. I now have to do meditative breathing exercises just so I can go to the shops. Just because she can make me faint rather than choose food. She made me feel a congratulatory pat on the shoulder (for gaining) was more like a slap in the face, so much that I actually flinched as if it were.

Cheese was a huge deal again today. I just want the cheese to stop. So. Much. Cheese.

When will this end? When will winning actually be a victory? When will giving in to Gloria feel like losing? I tried the gold stars again. But according to Gloria I’m such a whining, stupid, pathetic sub-par excrescence I have no right to believe in myself. And there is definitely no point in trying to encourage myself.

I’m not fishing for compliments. I am fighting this with as much as I have in me. I am trying to just trust that it will get better. Trying to explain just why and how it is so difficult to ‘just eat something’. I have been sticking to the plan (mostly), even through all this. Tony has helped a lot. So has this song.

One day, food will be energy, not the enemy. One day, I will no longer believe her. One day, when I can say:

Gloria is not me.

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