The Unravelling of My Recovery Sweater

So, I guess this is it, is it? This is a full blown relapse. It feels like a colossal failure.

It feels hopeless, and lonely. It’s days full of that voice in my head rambling on about various things that she wants me to believe are true. That voice in my mind says such vicious things. She’s been with me for what feels like a lifetime. I call her Edie.

She’s the voice of my eating disorder, and she’s been reduced to a low rumble for some time now. I couldn’t even tell you exactly how long it’s been since her screams consumed my every thought. She may have been quiet for a while, but she didn’t leave me.

Not only has Edie’s never vacated the premises, she seems to have been given back the megaphone that I took away from her months ago when I started to hit my stride in recovery.

It feels as though the warm recovery sweater that I had been knitting to wrap myself in comfort with has been snagged on the sharp corner of the bumper on a random bus passing me by on the street. And here I stand, on the curb, watching the bus drive away. All the while my beautiful recovery sweater is unravelling, revealing what Edie wants me to believe is my raw and true self.

You see, I made a mistake. Who am I kidding? I’ve made tons of mistakes. And while I know that everyone does, this one feels like the end of my chance for freedom from this damned voice. This one feels so much bigger than other mistakes. And it was completely preventable.

It was just that one day, but I guess that is all it takes?

I forgot to wear my self-awareness undershirt. I don’t know if I was simply distracted, or if I was foolish enough to think that I wouldn’t need it that day? Regardless of the reason, without that undershirt underneath my recovery sweater, it doesn’t take much to undo the months of recovery work that I put into knitting my sweater. Just one innocent comment from a loved one and my lack of a self-awareness undershirt, and BAM! The bus came out of nowhere. Had I slipped into my undershirt that morning, I may have had the ability to receive that seemingly simple comment differently.

So now, as the bus speeds away down the street, I’m left standing here, with no shirt on. I don’t think the average person would feel comfortable being naked on the side of the road. But to put my thought process into perspective for you, I’ll ask you to consider that my eating disorder has rendered me uncomfortable in public even fully clothed. My social anxiety comes from a fear that others will judge me for the shape of my body. When I first started wearing my self-awareness undershirt, I learned that about myself.

Rather than stand there, exposed to the traffic driving by, I’ve run back to my old behaviours. I’ve gone back to the comfort of numbing myself so that I don’t have to feel anything.

Whenever I start to have a feeling, I want to eat. Food always makes it easy to forget that I’m human and that my feelings, no matter how awful and painful, are what makes me human.

And every time I think about going to the fridge, Edie quickly reminds me that if I just don’t eat, I can change the shape of my body, and then I’ll have nothing to fear in the first place. She’s so convincing. She reminds me of all of the times in my life that I’ve ever failed (she keeps a list) and she tells me that recovery is just another thing I’ve been unable to do right, and assures me that she’s added it to her long list, and that she’s keeping the list for my own protection. Edie doesn’t think it is a wise idea for me to try recovery again. She’s sure that I’ll just fail at it – again. She wants me to stop failing at everything and just listen to her.

I have spent days, now, desperately trying to remember the recovery tools that I so lovingly and eagerly stitched into that sweater that’s been reduced to a string and is being dragged through the mud on it’s way to some unknown destination. There’s a part of me that wants desperately to believe that if I can just find the right strategy, I can start to quiet that voice again. I did it once, so maybe I can do it again? Should I maybe try to find my knitting needles?

At some point, maybe it was yesterday, I remembered that I had a knitting coach when I knit that first recovery sweater. She lived in my mind with my eating disorder voice.

My recovery voice was quieter, and more loving. She reminded me of the things that I was learning about myself and about my illness.

She cooed encouragement and gently suggested that I didn’t need to listen to my eating disorder voice anymore. She was proud of me for even the slightest of successes and made me feel good for those achievements.

It was so nice for a while, when she and I managed to take the megaphone away from Edie. But I forgot to wear my undershirt, and now I have to start my sweater all over again.

I’ll go get my needles.

Knit one. Pearl two.