Thursday, August 27, 2009

A little more humility, but some joy in the process.

Imagine how stunned I was today to look up from the fryer and see someone whom I had supervised as an attorney just a few months ago. Wow. There's a reason for it, though. I have to trust that. Some of the reason, I think, is to garner a new appreciation for how hard these kids work, and for the struggle the managers go through. The one manager who I had taken at the start as sort of a thorn in my side was great today. Incredibly encouraging and helpful. I got to watch her interact with a few other folks, though, and it almost seems that she's insecure because she didn't follow the "educational / management" path, but has had to learn from the "school of hard knocks." Maybe that's why the gruff exterior. I understand that. And, my estimation of her, for what it's worth, went up about 1,000% in just a few short hours this afternoon. AND, the cool thing is, people are starting to figure out I have a name, and they're starting to use it, and not just to ask for "order up." It's a good group of folks there.

And, Kathy, who commented on what an appetite suppresant working in a restaurant can be, is right on target. Just holding onto this to pay the bills, and hoping other doors will open. For now, though, staying put and taking in as much as I can, not just about the job, but about the incredible folks whose paths I'm getting to cross on this journey.

For now, I've gotten in my walk for the day, my work hours, and I'm getting ready to have lunch with my kids, after which we're headed to the library. I'm looking forward to some light reading and relaxation tonight. Boy, do my feet hurt!!!!!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Progress in admitting, or just more self-destruction?

Ahhhh ... as an refreshing update to yesterday, had a good day at the crazy, humbling job I took. Worked with a different manager who is amazing, and actually didn't so much get the cold shoulder from one of the others who split the shift. I felt in control, and maybe even a little competent and capable. But, with good news, there's usually a little bit of a downside. As I said, I felt in control, and control seems to be the goal for the day, not just at work where I'm finding it pays off to be as naturally OCD as I am, but also, in terms of the "addiction" to the eating disorder. Having finally moved back home after a transitional stay with my cousins, whose job it was to make sure I stuck to my meal plan, I'm finding that with it just being my kid and me, it's much easier to fall into old patterns than I'd anticipated, though somewhere in the back of my mind, I think that's why I was so eager to get back home. Now I'm looking at the meal plan, figuring out exactly what I can cut and not pass out; starting back on factoring in calories; making sure I get in a heavy work out every day; and even planning that first thing. For instance, tomorrow AM, my plan is to work out at 5:30 in the morning, so I've got time for my kid at 7:00 before school starts, and can get to work on time by 10:00. I weighed the other day, too -- a huge no-no -- and counting the pounds till I can be back at my lowest weight. Then, I try to tell myself, I'll be satisfied and I'll stop, but let's get real ... the lowest weight leads to a couple more pounds off and then a few more and a few more and a few more. The part of me that tells me I've got to stop this train before it gets going isn't nearly so loud as it had been, and the eating disorder is calling me back like a bad ex-significant other, berating me for leaving, but promising the world if I just come back. That's how it is, I suppose. Now, the choice is up to me. I've admitted it, but what am I going to do about it? Something to ponder during that 5:30 walk, huh?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


It occurs to me that part of admission and being honest with one's self includes some humbling, and today has absolutely been part of that experience. Let me set the scene. I'm an attorney who is a recovering anorexic, but I had to leave my job where I used my lawyering skills when the hospitalization for my food issues took longer than the agency I was working with could afford. Therefore, to pay the bills, I've taken a job at a fast food restaurant, and just got back from my second day of on-site orientation / OJE (on the job experience) as they hold out the promise of a management position with regular pay and steady hours. Yes, I'm humbled. My main supervisor, who just a few weeks ago forgot to call and tell me I'd been hired is a flamboyant 20 year old to my quiet, unconfident, recovering 43 years. He gives me my schedule on a handwritten paper because I'm a newbie, and they have to make sure I can make the cut before they commit me to the real schedule. The other manager with whom I work is quite knowledgeable, and just as confident in what she does -- and she does work hard -- but tends to speak to me as if I'm two when it comes to showing me how to do something, or in correcting me. The kids who work there ... and let me tell you, I have such a new respect for them ... are busting their tails to get orders out as fast and correct as possible to make sure the bosses are happy with the times and quotas, but they are all in their own little world of drama. Weird ... I go in, work my hours and work as hard as I can at what they tell me to do while I try to adjust to the new job and to this rebuilding period, but can't even figure out simple stuff (at least it's simple to those kids and managers around me)like in what kind of order they stash what I think I'm supposed to stock (though they've given no directions on how much, etc., etc., etc.,), or even where they've hidden the clock in the damned restaurant so I can tell when I'm supposed to clock in and clock out. And did I mention that I know no one's name except for the guy who hired me and am pretty sure only the manager knows mine, but he hasn't yet said two words to me beyond "want a break?" and "you're shift's up now ... you need to clock out." It's crazy, but I'm supposed to learn something from this, I suppose. I'm trying ... boy am I trying. And, by the way, would you like fries with that attempt???? :-) Going to bed now, and hoping for a smoother day tomorrow.

Monday, August 24, 2009

First Step Topics / Thoughts about "admitting"

As I read through the first step, several things come to mind. First, there's the issue of admitting to things, and admitting we're powerless to whatever coping mechanism we're using to deal with the chaos over which we are powerless. Second, there's the issue of being powerless right now in this present moment over that coping mechanism as well as over the source of the chaos that resulted in our need to cope. Third, the fill-in-the-blank issues over which we're powerless - both the chaos and the coping mechanisms with which we've responded, come to mind. Fourth, there's the issue of how we define our lives. Fifth is that those lives, at their most fundamental level, have become unmanageable; while the sixth is what that unmanageability looks like. A lot to chew on, to be sure, but ya' gotta start somewhere.

I want to hit first on admissions. The opposite, obviously, is denial, and denial is simply a form of secrecy and lies to ourselves and to others about the clear reality. Let me just say that, for the most part, short of surprise parties and marriage proposals, secrecy sucks. Secrecy and denial are what allowed an uncle of mine to get away with molesting his daughter and me for years; and what kept his son learning the full truth about this situation. When confronted with bits and pieces, he said, "please don't tell me any more. I don't want to hate my father." Secrecy and denial are what permitted my mom to name me after one of her ex-boyfriends while convincing my dad she'd seen the name on a move and liked it. Secrecy and denial are what keeps an aunt of mine from admitting she has 2 beautiful grandchildren just because she doesn't want to admit that her 40-something son is in love with their mother because said mother doesn't meet the aunt's muster. It's sick and infuriating -- but understandable. Everyone sees the proverbial elephant in the middle of the room, but no one wants to do anything about it because it's just too big to handle. But, the rebel in me still wants to climb to the rooftops with all of it when family tells me it's not polite to air the family's dirty laundry since other folks might just think poorly of you if you do. To hell with that.

But, of course, it's much easier to call out other people on what they should reveal and accept. When I went to the hospital this May to get help with an eating disorder (my current crazy coping mechanism), the last thing I wanted to do ... and something I still struggle with ... is that fact that there's anything wrong to begin with. After all, doesn't everyone walk / run at least 8 miles a day? Don't all those thin gals I see running around take at least 10 laxatives a day like I do? Isn't it normal to restrict one's eating to no more than 300 calories a day when one wants to lose a little weight? Rationally, of course, none of these things are acceptable. I get that in my logical mind. In my heart of hearts, though, I still wonder. That's why I consider myself still in recovery -- and right now, not doing very well with it.

The way I see it, secrecy and denial hurt not just the person absorbed in playing the game -- for instance, my getting to a perilous BMI, but still fighting tooth and nail to lose a few more pounds -- but also all of those around the game player. My father, who never cries, was in tears before I went in for treatment because he wants me around awhile longer. My daughter wondered -- and still does at times -- why I'd chosen the slow train to self-destruction, and why even now, months later, I still hop on that train now and again, finding myself unable to completely give up the boarding pass. It's ironic how one can destroy him or herself and be totally oblivious to the collateral damage it does to those around him or her. Just watch an episode of Intervention if you really want a good picture of it ... or maybe you have some first hand knowledge either as the one who's self-destructing or the one who's getting hit with the fall-out. Either way, it's not pretty.

I think that's part of the benefit and beauty in admission. When we come clean about where we are with things, then we can get a reality check from those around us because my guess is that our own picture isn't too rational. I know mine isn't when it comes to weight and exercise -- and, for that matter, many other things. And with admission, there's a certain honoring and respecting of those around us. We care enough to trust them with our challenges, and to let them know we're not necessarily at the top of our game, though the devil sitting on our shoulder would love nothing better than for us to continue to try to bluff our way through. And admission also opens the door to help. You can't do a damn thing for a problem you refuse to admit exists, but when you open up and tell the truth -- to yourself and to those around you -- you start to see the forest and not just your little clump of trees.

I keep these things in mind as I get up and go through my day, trying to eat my full meals, attempting to moderate my exercise, yearning to feel okay with nourishing myself -- because it's only when I do that that I'll be able to deal with what's really underneath it all ... the need to deal with the chaos around me. But that's fodder for later postings.

More to come.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

First Step

"We admitted that we were powerless over (fill-in-the-blank), and that our lives had become unmanageable."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Starting an adventure ...

I've decided to embark on a journey -- or maybe life has dictated it, and I just want to convince myself I have a choice to go along for the ride. The journey is one of recovery. For me, right now, it's from an eating disorder, but that's just the latest permutation -- the new and improved insanity, if you will. And no matter what the struggle is or has been (over-eating, under-eating, over-analyzing, under-feeling, over-doing, under-being, etc., etc.), seems that two common themes have popped up. One is that I need to get to the root of things, and two is that the 12 steps would probably be a good way to get there and be able to come back in one piece. Conundrum is, though, that once I make headway in the one trouble spot at whatever given time with whatever particular road signs I've choses to observe, the chaos jumps from that struggle to the next one, then to the next, and the next, and the next, ad infinitum, and ad nausume to be sure. Just a little frustrating to say the least. That said, I've decided to take a look at the 12 steps with a little wider field of vision -- one that doesn't so narrowly focus on living with an addict, dealing with food issues, or all the rest; but one that focuses more on the forest than the trees ... one that really attempts to "apply these principles in all our affairs."

I don't mean to say there's anything wrong with those niche groups. I'm just saying it hasn't worked well for me because I get so micro-focused that I lose track of that larger, underlying mess that is clearly the elephant in the living room but that remains consternatingly undefinable and unsinkable. I'm also not saying that I hope to discover some magical key to the kingdom or some mythical potion for figuring out where I got logjammed, and that I then expect in a nano-second unlock the door or apply the elixer to poof myself into a "cured" human. Recovery from anything is a life-long process. After all, the need to recover didn't pop up overnight, and neither will the recovery itself. What I am saying, though, is that I believe there are some common themes in the plethora of 12-step variations, and I hope that finding those commonalities as a basis for recovery work might get me a little closer to where I need and long to be.

So why am I rambling to you about all of this, then? Because I don't think my experience and my frustrations are so uncommon. Maybe in some of what I share, you'll see something of yourself (you poor, poor thing!!!! :-) ) Or maybe you might have some tremendous insight because of the path you've already taken that could serve to bring just one or two readers a little closer to their hopes and dreams as we all yearn to move from the "what the hell has happened," to "OMG - look at how far I've come!"

So, here's the plan. A step a month. I'll throw in my two cents worth of insights, and want you also to feel free to post as you feel moved ... hmmmm, sort of like a message-board meeting, huh ... about your own experience, growth, and hope with each step. Consider it sharing lessons from the school of life that can bring us further down the road, and maybe help someone else avoid the potholes along the way. You game? I hope so, and can't wait to hear what you have to say!!!