Are you familiar with Sisyphus? He’s the man from Greek mythology condemned by the gods to roll a giant boulder uphill, except as soon as he would reach the summit, the boulder would roll back down. He had to start again – and it would fall again – and he was left to repeat this task for all eternity. An eternity of useless efforts and unending frustrations.
The word “sisyphean” means “endless and unavailing, as labor or a task.” My recovery right now is best described as sisyphean.
I thought I had been doing well: therapy four times a week, cooking for myself, eating regular meals. I’ve been sober from alcohol for five months, actively looking for a job, getting my life in order. I thought I was moving in the right direction until this afternoon when my dad called me. He and my mom saw a recent photo of me and thought that I looked too thin – “gaunt,” even. They wanted me to consider coming home to enter a treatment program.
The blood rushed to my head. Noono no no no no no. I worked so hard to live in Vermont for the summer, to live on my own and prove that I can be independent. I’m trying to regain their trust and live as normal a life as I can as someone in recovery. I couldn’t help it – I started crying, blubbering on the phone to my father that I didn’t want to go home, I didn’t want to. I sounded like a child but, to be honest, that’s what I feel like. Whether I’m living here or back home with my parents, I’m still heavily under their rule. At least up north I can have that false illusion of independence, but if that’s taken away..
Flashbacks of treatment keep popping into my brain. 5am weigh ins while shivering in a thin hospital gown, being force-fed bland food, daily blood draws, being kept inside for days at a time.. If I were to go home, I wouldn’t be admitted to a residential treatment (at least, I hope not), but the nightmarish memories persist.
I just don’t know what to do to prove that I’m on my way to getting “healthy.” I don’t know what they want. A visible weight gain? What can I do that I’m not doing already? According to my latest weigh-in, I’m just a few pounds shy of the goal weight that the hospital had given me. Will those extra couple pounds really be enough to assuage my parents’ worries, or do I need to gain twenty so they can literally see the extra weight on me? To me, being “healthy” is reflected by a change in behaviors and not weight, but it seems like they think differently. I know where they’re coming from – I know they’re worried and have every right to be, considering the hell I’ve put them through these past couple years – but I want this chance to do it on my own, especially now that I’ve got this new therapy regimen as support. I need this chance, not only to prove to them that I can do this but to prove to myself.
It’s been a few hours since the phone call and I’m all cried out. I’m exhausted from this whole thing – recovery, my eating disorder, therapy, grocery stores, weigh ins, food logs. But I gotta keep fighting, keep moving forward. I’ve been given so many chances from so many people that it would be an insult to them if I were to give up. I’m pushing myself to take each bite, to silence the ED thoughts in my head, to stop doing body checks in the mirror. I know this fight is a lifelong one but I’m up for it; I have no choice.
If I keep fighting, I’ll eventually be able to get a sense of normalcy and autonomy back – get my life back – and the sky will be the limit. I’ll do right by my family and by me, and the air will be so much clearer. But until then, I’ll continue rolling that boulder up the mountain..