Things have been pretty calm in therapy lately, at least from a relational perspective.
That’s not necessarily why I haven’t been writing about it more on here, but I think it might be part of it. Mostly I’m just too under-nourished and distracted by my obsession with food and other related numbers to find the time or energy for blogging.
I don’t know how others experience eating disorders, but I must admit it is the most energy-consuming and demanding thing I have probably ever encountered. There are moments here and there where I feel like I’ll start to shake it off, but then something activates me and bam! I’m right back to the usual nonsense.
It’s tough. Using ED behaviors as both a pretty effective coping mechanism and a tool of self-destruction has become more of a habit than anything else. There are moments when I think about pulling out of the incessant self-deprecation. For example, I’ll think, “Okay, so I’m disgusting. But maybe that’s okay. Maybe I don’t need to obsess and panic about it every literal 3 seconds.” Which, for me, is progress. But then I feel the ED tug on me and I reassure it that even if I am less self-loathing, I won’t give up the disorder.
It is stubborn and strong and a LIAR. Yet I love it. It makes me feel safe and powerful and worthy and capable and accomplished. It is what my therapist has not so lovingly started calling my “greatest frenemy”.
Restricting food has the added effect of making me very sleepy. It’s almost like a sedative. It impairs my cognition in a way that can be frustrating, but is also a relief because it gives me a break from all the terrible anxiety that tends to cripple me. I literally don’t have the energy to think about all the scary, awful things that I’d very much like to avoid.
My therapist is not a fan of this.
She’s remarkably patient and kind despite the constant frustration and helplessness I know she feels about my continued descent into anorexia. We had a session two weeks ago where she initiated a very frank dialogue with me about the implications of what is happening. I panicked a little bit and started to imagine she was setting me up for termination. So I asked her outright what she would do if I didn’t stop starving myself. I asked if she would terminate me.
“No. But if you end up in a hospital, I won’t be able to work with you.”
“So that’s when you’d quit?”
“I’m not quitting. But when you do this – when you hurt yourself and put yourself in a state where it’s difficult for you to come in here and do the work, you make it harder on yourself. We can’t do this work together if you’re malnourished and your brain isn’t working properly. We can’t do this if you’re so hungry or so sedated that you can’t engage in the conversation. You are using your anorexia to disengage and pull out of therapy. So if anyone is terminating or quitting, I think it’s you.”
Fuck. She was 100% right.
It pissed me off, but something about the way she phrased that response was comforting. She was so clearly fighting for me and for us and for the work we do, which made me feel incredibly protected and loved. It felt like she was advocating for me in a way I simply can’t or won’t do for myself. And I think she senses that I am trying to shift our trajectory into a place I’m more comfortable with (i.e. inevitable abandonment) and she wasn’t gonna put up with that shit, so she called me out on my own flakiness.