The Letter (Which is not meant to be sent)

Yesterday was so bad, that I am not sure that talking about it would have a point.  I cried pretty much all day.  I was in so much emotional pain that I could barely tolerate it and I had really high self-harm urges. At this point, I manage those urges much better than I did a few months ago, so I did not self-harm…But that meant I had to feel much more of the pain that I wanted to.  And so I cried.  A lot.

Aside from the hollowness of the depression, I have been dealing with some other stressors in treatment.  One is the recent departure (step-down) of a person I spent a lot of time with.  I was talking about this during my psychiatry appointment yesterday and how I have mixed feelings about this person leaving. And I told him I was confused about it…And he asked me questions about what/who this person reminded me of.  Then he encouraged me to write a letter to her…Not to actually send to her, but to work out my feelings.  I decided this is the perfect place to do it.

Dear Friend,

You and I have spent a lot of time together since you came to the residential program and then when we transitioned to PHP (on the same day).  At first, I wasn’t sure about you, as you have an overwhelming personality that just spills over with your self-loathing and negativity.  And yet, there was something about you that I kind of liked.  Plus, you took it upon yourself to spend time with me.  I know that initially, this was somewhat conditional.  It is because of your size and I have noticed that because I am bigger than our peers, that other bigger people gravitate towards me.  (Yet again, reinforcing that all anyone sees is my size.) And true to this pattern, you tried to engage me in your hatred of your bigger body by making comments to me that you thought I would participate in with my insider’s perspective.  I do enough body shaming of my own…I didn’t need to engage in yours.

But over time, we developed a rapport.  I always felt it to be a bit rocky as sometimes you are very mean.  When you are stressed, you lash out and as someone who was closer to you, I was often the recipient of the lashes.  After such episodes you would apologize, which I appreciated, but felt guarded about because the way you did it always made me feel a little bit dirty, like you were an abuser apologizing to an abusee.

And yet still we maintained a friendship that become a closeness.  People actually identified us as a dyad, knowing that if one of us was around, the other would not be far.  And I do appreciate the time and compassion (because under your vitriol, you do have a lot of compassion) that we shared.

In that respect, I feel really sad that you left.  I feel lost and alone and I have no-one to sit with for breakfast or to vent to or to just hangout with.  There are no more “walks to the car” with you.  I have an empty space in my world.  And it hurts that you are gone, I feel abandoned and left behind.  So many treatment peers have left and I feel the loss over and over again.  It is really wearing me down…So, you leaving too has been hard.  I have experienced the pain of people leaving me my whole life….I have never moved away from my hometown, but over the years, most everyone I care about has moved away.  Your leaving triggered that sadness and emptiness of being left behind.

But I don’t actually want you back here.  I am also completely relieved that you are gone.  Relieved that your negative aura is not spilling all over me and over our peers and over the whole place.  Yes, you have that much negativity and it took a lot of energy to deflect it.  I am glad that I won’t have to hear your bitching and listen to you set yourself up for complete failure in your step-down transition.  I am glad that I won’t be the recipient of your anger and mean-ness.

Did you know that your negativity reminds me of my dad?  I didn’t realize this until talking with Dr. Psychiatrist.  My dad had that same aura of negativity and that same mean-ness and would lash out when he was upset.  I realize writing this, that I think he has the same kind of self-hate you do, only he has deeply internalized it, except for his negativity and outbursts.  He is a hugely large man and you are very large too…so both size-wise and negativity-wise, you both have huge presences.  When I think about it that way, I realize that perhaps you were more toxic in my world than I realized.  You also remind me some of my mom…Not as dramatically as you remind me of my dad, but also bearing some of the negative traits she had.

I suppose, it was no wonder I was drawn to you as  friend, you were the perfect blend of my parent’s dysfunctions and since (according to Hilltop’s treatment philosophy) we tend to re-enact our experiences, you would be the perfect person with which to do so.

Only, you are not my parents and I am not a child.  So, I was able to understand that lots of your issues were things you own, not me.  But still, there was a lot of confusion on my part as I couldn’t quite make sense of our relationship.

Either way, it kind of doesn’t matter now.  Now you are gone and I doubt you will be there when I step-down (as you have basically set yourself up to fail).  And honestly, while I will miss you…I am totally relieved.  You have been a treatment friend, but not a real friend. I don’t plan on keeping in touch with you.  I don’t plan on letting your negativity be part of my life.  And I only feel a little bit guilty about setting this boundary.

I hope that you can heal in the ways you need to.  And I hope you give yourself a chance and don’t sabotage yourself into failure.   And I hope you find the family-of-choice that you need so that you can be loved and supported.

And I hope that you don’t start purging again.

But I also have hope for me.  And you don’t really have a part in holding that hope with me, so I am going to thank you for what time we shared and the friendship we had.  And now, I say good-bye.

–Heidi

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