Things That Feed My Spirit
I actually had a good day yesterday. It’s true. Partly it’s because Meg has been gone since Wednesday. I am not happy that she is gone, as a matter of fact, I am pretty unsettled by it but it is the weekend so I wouldn’t see her anyway and tomorrow is Monday and we can return to our normal schedule.
The ‘partly’ part though, that’s because with the break from the trauma work, I have stopped spinning out of control and I feel balanced again. Trauma work exacerbates everything, ED symptoms, self-harm urges, suicidal ideation….It makes it all hard to manage. Of course, that is how I got here…So I can do the trauma work with the support that I need to stay safe.
But I have digressed. Yesterday was a good day because I basically go to do art ALL day. I haven’t done anything that feeds my spirit since I got here. And without using my creative energy, I have been pretty lost. But yesterday, we had open art and I started a project that encompasses 3 of my assignments. I am quite happy with how it is coming out and will put it on the blog when it is done. The other art project we did was in group and we were handed stacks of magazines and told to put together collages about who we are outside of our eating disorder. My collage took its own spin and ended up being much more about my spiritual side than anything else. And it reflected all that I am lacking and missing here in that respect. I get my spirituality and comfort by being outside and walking around (not exercise-wise) and seeing nature…Wait…I wrote an assignment that touches on it, lemme find it and post it.
What Do I Envision a Healthy Relationship with Exercise to Look like?
What is keeping me stuck/preventing me from achieving balance in my ED?
Right now, I use exercise as punishment, a weight loss tool, a way to achieve a “high” and occasionally I exercise just because I like it…Meaning without an ulterior motive.
My two main forms of exercise are yoga and walking. I have 1:1 yoga sessions at studio near my home. It is amazingly beautiful there, overlooking the north face of the mountain, with a spring fed pond beside the studio and flowers and trees or snow and ice…No matter what the season it is gorgeous there. My instructor is gently supportive and though it took me a long time to be comfortable with her (because I am so uncomfortable in my body) I really find the yoga to be restorative and soothing. It never fails that no matter how depressed or anxious or tired I am when I go to yoga, I walk out feeling calmer, more balanced and relaxed. It just has a magical power.
That relationship with yoga where I always leave feeling better than when I started is what I would like my relationship with walking to be like. I love being outside…And by saying I love it, I am truly understating the importance of it. I find being outside refreshing, restorative and centering. I am an observer by nature and soak in all that surrounds me when I am outside, trees, leaves, slug trails, red efts, the sky, insects, flowers, duckweed…I just take it all in and it feeds my mind and soul. I also am very in touch with the smells and sounds when I am outside, cut grass, snow in the air, pungent skunk, soft fluttery floral scents from wildflowers in the fields, brush crunching as deer run into the woods, birds calling, the wind rustling leaves, tree trunks rubbing together and squeaking.
Plus there is the feel of being outdoors, the rain on my face, the crisp cool morning air and the biting winter air. My favorite is when it is crisp and cold and I can feel it on my cheeks…not quite cold enough to feel uncomfortable, but cold enough to remind me that I am alive and that the world is vibrant around me.
I get to soak all of this in when I am walking. Every little bit of it is important to me. Maybe it sounds kind of hokey, but being outside in nature is my Zen. I love, love, love it.
But….I see and feel almost none of this when I am in amped-up over-exercise mode. In that mode, I lose all of the soothing/calming/restorative aspect of being outside. And when I am in exercise-as-punishment mode, it is all lost.
I would like to be able to walk for the fitness and physical-well-being aspect of it to keep my heart and lungs healthy, to have strong muscles and to keep my body at a healthy weight for me. I also know that I get significant psychological benefits from exercise, helping manage my depression, stimulating my cognition and giving me a chance to roll thoughts over in my mind.
I know I mentioned keeping my body at a healthy weight and I don’t want that statement to send up red flags. I would like to be able to not over-exercise in an obsessive pursuit of weight loss, I would like to exercise to support what weight is good for me. This would be reflected in having moderation with exercise either in frequency or duration. Or increasing calorie intake to support my body for the level of exercise I am doing.
My exercise ideal sounds wonderful. Exercising for health, pleasure and renewal. It’s practically too good to be true.
I can see this healthy relationship with exercise in my head…But when it comes down to brass tacks, I don’t trust myself to do it. I am totally stuck in the ED compulsive exercise mode. I actually knew this would be an issue when I was discharged from my previous res treatment and I actually delayed starting exercising again and I even started with “supervised” walks (by my choice to keep me on track). But once on my own, I quickly got sucked into exercise as a way to ‘negate’ the calories I was eating in my meal plan. I just couldn’t get past the ED thinking. And that same thinking turned the exercise into a compulsion. I couldn’t not exercise. I got all wrapped up in calories in/calories out. I understand this is ED thinking and related to poor body image and self-esteem and body shame…But that didn’t really ease the compulsion part.
I guess the real reason I am stuck in my ED exercise thinking is because I hate myself and my body. Which is a result of injury/trauma to my four-year-old child part and then subsequent re-injury to other parts. And the only solution to that is to work with those parts, ask them to step aside so that I can try to find Self and make decisions from the Self perspective rather than the distracting Parts.
I think that does a good job of explaining what I get from being outside. And here at Hilltop, we are not allowed to exercise. Eventually, we get approval to do so, but it’s yoga and NIA and not outside. All I want is some time outside where I can walk around the driveway a little bit and have some time a little bit with just me and nature.
I don’t remember if I blogged this, but after my last nutrition appointment, I did float the idea of mini walks by the Dietician. She said we could talk about it more (maybe I did blog this, it sounds familiar). I wonder if I show her my collage and read her the above assignment (she was the one who assigned it) that she will understand more my reason. She did say she wanted to talk to me about why I didn’t want to do yoga or NIA. I told her because that isn’t what I want. I guess the truth is that it isn’t what I need. Yes, yoga fulfills some of my needs, but it is not the same as being outside.
I have been struggling over my reaction to the two new admits and how I perceive the difference in the vibe around here…..And I thought it was just me being socially challenged and I have been frustrated with myself for not being more flexible. Yesterday, I learned that it is not just me. After one of our meals, I walked into a conversation where one of my peers was expressing how upset she is about the new dynamic and the other people in the conversation agreed. As a matter of fact, I think I have now heard 6 other people say (which makes 7 out of the ten) that they are really uncomfortable with the dynamic (Being an observer has its advantages, I can hear everything without necessarily being dragged into the muck of things). The new women are “colluding” (a term they use here when people are feeding each other’s EDs) and it can triggering and it is disturbing and just plain annoying. I should clarify, that this is all about these women’s process and where they are in their process and I don’t judge them because of it, ED recovery stinks and I have my own process and barriers…I really try not to judge anyone here. But we are not in a vacuum here and we are on top of each other pretty much 24/7, so it is almost impossible to get space from new “feel” of the group.
Tomorrow, we have our ED process group and on Mondays, it is always a check-in group. We will see if anyone has the courage to speak up about the new dynamic.
And lastly, as posting that assignment has turned this into an epic blog…Polly. I kind of gave myself some space from Polly after she moved from the table, but I am over the surprise and feeling sad, so we are back on track. I spent a long time talking with her last evening, just kind of chatting. Of course, it wasn’t about anything not-ED related (I hate that seems like it’s the only thing I have in common with folks here) but it was nice to chat anyway as our conversation varied between light and serious but was relaxed and a nice way to end a nice day. Actually, I even hung around for evening snack before going to be (which I usually don’t do because I don’t have an evening snack) and chit-chatted pleasantly at the table with folks. It’s times like that that I can see ghosts of my old self and the person I would like to be again.