Recovery is a strange concept when your image of recovery does not match reality in the slightest. There are no rainbows falling from my ceiling, no daisies leaking from my heels as I frolic across a meadow alongside unicorns.
Today I woke up emotionally hung over from the night before. My eyes were swollen and my head was throbbing from the hours of crying set off during a movie I watched last night. Now, I write about tears frequently, but in a metaphorical sense rather than the legitimate act of crying. The truth is that I haven’t cried, I mean truly cried, in several weeks, which is astounding to me considering my current circumstances. My mom is in the early stages of cancer treatment and my cousin, who I was very close with, just died, and yet I haven’t felt sad. Heavy, downtrodden, somber- sure- but not sad. The only notion I have that these circumstances are stressful is the fact that I have been experiencing some serious GI issues over the past weeks, symptoms that are expected to be an ulcer.
So, I have an ulcer from stress and yet I don’t feel stressed. This is a common theme in that has played out for me during my recovery journey. My body’s physical reactions speak louder than my mind’s emotional responses to situations. But something switched last night, something in that movie “Little Boy” hit home. As the child was crying over his father’s grave screaming out “you were my only partner”, I suddenly felt the weight of Andy’s loss and of my mom’s illness. There was an intense slicing at my chest as my heart was literally breaking and as it broke, for the first time, in weeks I cried.
And I cried. And I cried. And I cried.
This morning I woke up and the physical reminders of my tears gave direction to my day. I tried to forget about last night, to put the emotional breakdown behind me, to forget about the pain of loss and fear that were still throbbing to the beat of my heart. I told myself that today would be productive and positive. After all, I got out all my “bad” emotions last night so there wouldn’t be any left. So the day started on a motivated note, but motivated in the wrong way because the “forget the past and move on mentality” which I was I approached the day with didn’t last. By the evening I was teary eyed, overwhelmed, and having chest pains from anxiety because I wasn’t honoring the fact that I was still feeling emotional. I was still missing Andy. I was still scared for my mom. I was still overwhelmed with my reality. A reality that certainly wasn’t daisies and unicorns, but rather tears, strength building, resilience, and broken hearts.
What I should have done this morning was sat with my sadness, allowed my grief to stay as long as it needed, pray for my mom, and let God hear about my fears. Stuffing and ignoring doesn’t work. I should know that by now. It has been drilled into my head over and over again in treatment. Stuffing and numbing were the foundation for my eating disorder so if I want to continue bulldozing my path towards recovery, those behaviors have to come to an end.