Yup it's true, Emily, the real 'honest to God' Emily, is back. I can't believe how far healthy Emily has pushed forward and how far she has pushed Ed back in the last two weeks. She is not only back but she is happier, more self accepting, wiser, and less prone to anxiety than she was three years ago, long before all of this started.
We now see a vivacious, courageous, compassionate, engaged, upbeat young woman show up at the breakfast table every morning. We see a person who has the tools to cope with the run of the mill frustrations and disappointments of teenage life.
We have only seen Ed at about three meals out of the last 20 and I think we kicked his butt in a kind but effective way. We don't see 'Ed' rules around eating, we don't see over reactions to stress, there is less clinginess, less dependence, less obsessive behaviours.
We are utterly amazed and utterly grateful.
I have to confess that it all happened just in the nick of time because I was starting to unravel. I had a major melt down two weeks ago which made me realize that I was approaching the zero stress tolerance level. I knew the time had come to distance myself from Ed or risk my mental health. I had several escape fantasies emerging in my tired brain, some of which were pretty scary, but I chose returning to work part-time, quitting caffeine, exercising more regularly, and getting away all by myself to a few days, (which is where I am right now). My self-care tactics, combined with Emily's progress have enabled me to get to a much happier and calmer place.
Self-care is tricky thing. It makes a lot of sense in theory but in reality it is impractical. Afterall when you are running around feeling like your hair is on fire finding some 'me' time isn't realistic. But even harder than that is acquiring the ability to a) figure out what you need, b) figure out that you are actually entitled to self care, and c) figure out how to ask for what you need. I think women have a really hard time with this, I know I do. But one of my many readings on dealing with 'Ed' talked about the responsibility that parents have to model 'self care' for our children. What a concept, not only am I entitled to self care, I have a duty to practice it and model it for my child. I can do that, because in case you don't know this about me, I like to follow the rules. So if you are like me and never learned about self care because your parent's didn't model it for you, it is not too late to jump on board this train to well being. Even if you don't have kids, you should consider it your duty to model self care for others that you love.
Who knew work would fall under the self-care category. One of my many, many lessons from the past few months is that when you lose the ability to work, for whatever reason, you appreciate it all the more when you get it back. Returning to work has been very therapeutic. I love being there because the people I work with are fantastic and extremely supportive, I get to enjoy walking to and from the office, I get to work on interesting and stimulating projects and tasks, and I know I already said it but - I get to spend time with the amazing people in the Coop Office. It is a completely 'Ed Free' zone.
Some other signs of my progress include the realization that I went for a run the other day for the first time because I wanted to, not because I wanted to escape. I don't feel the need or desire to talk about the ordeal to anyone; it is no longer 'top of mind' for me. When we saw the Team yesterday I didn't have a list of concerns to raise with them. When a team member asked me if I saw light at the end of the tunnel I realized that the little light I saw a month ago has spread to fill my entire range of vision and now 'Ed' is a little black dot in that vast sea of light.
Emily has turned a corner on her recovery and so have we. Some of the signs of recovery are quite subtle. She ate birthday cake at a party Saturday night. She helped me grocery shop without dread or anxiety, she even said she loved yogurt drinks and could drink them all day. She is dining out with Derek tonight and she agreed to let me invite Grampy down for supper a few days ago (ironically he turned me down though when he found out it was a vegetarian meal). Subtle or not, the signs are monumental.
And through all of this, Derek has been there providing a safety net, a shoulder to cry on, a joke, a game of Crazy Eights, a sounding board, a retail therapy buddy, a friend, a Dad - a husband extraordinaire. Grateful doesn't even begin to cover it.