Archive for May, 2008

Carry On

There were so many songs of substance that I heard growing up. Music (and lyrics) kept me alive at times. Here’s another one I loved. It’s apparently an old video and not quite synchronized, but you get the idea! And it’s original! (Yes, of course I identified with the son. Always had a tendency towards androgyny.) If you want a cleaner version, the studio version follows at the bottom, with lyrics. Take your pick!

Carry on wayward son (Kansas)

Once I rose above the noise and confusion
Just to get a glimpse beyond this illusion
I was soaring ever higher
But I flew too high
Though my eyes could see I still was a blind man
Though my mind could think I still was a mad man
I hear the voices when I’m dreaming
I can hear them say
Carry on our wayward son
There’ll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don’t you cry no more

Masquerading as a man with a reason
My charade is the event of the season
And if I claim to be a wise man
It surely means that I don’t know
On a stormy sea of moving emotion
Tossed about I’m like a ship on the ocean
I set a course for winds of fortune
But I hear the voices say
Carry on our wayward son
There’ll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don’t you cry no more
Carry on
You will always remember
Carry on
Nothing equals the splendor
Now your life’s no longer empty
Surely heaven waits for you
Carry on our wayward son
There’ll be peace when you are done
Lay your weary head to rest
Don’t you cry no more


May 29, 2008 at 4:10 pm 2 comments

Beyond Bitterness

Lately I’ve been in the strangest place. After spending a couple of years with bouts of bitterness and regret, a new, calm phase appears to be settling in. I almost feel detached from it all, floating above and simply looking at the situation (i.e. my life) and how things have developed. There are many things I appreciate, many others that I don’t. Now I feel fortunate to be able to view those less appreciated facts as part of the big picture. I look back and can understand how things happened, feel empathy for all people involved, and I feel acceptance.

At the same time, this awareness is calling me to wake up. Life is happening right now, and twenty years down the line I’ll be looking back on this year/phase of the journey. What do I want to see? I want to look back and remember how I learned to stop trying to be so nice and make everybody happy. Not that I have anything against being nice. It’s just when I give up part of myself in the process that it becomes undesirable.

Does this sound too abstract? Okay, I’ll provide a few illustrative examples. The town I’m in is quite sociable. Not the entire population, but there is a core group which is very active. There is always some kind of sports event or celebration going on, at which people stand around, talk, and drink alcohol. That’s not my idea of fun. I suppose if I hadn’t spent so many years of my life being bulimic, anorexic and in recovery, I might not feel such an urge to accomplish things. But that’s how it is. Therefore, for me to stand around, talk loudly over the loud music, drink, and wake up the next day with a hangover and scratchy throat just doesn’t cut it. I just don’t have the time to waste! If I had nothing else I’d rather do, I’m sure I could get into it, but I can’t.

Recently we had such an event and a friend called to ask why I wasn’t there. Rather than lie (headache, tired, depressed, busy, ill), I decided if she is my friend, she will accept me as I am. So I told her that I just don’t feel like being there. That’s how I am. Like it or leave it.

That’s a small example. The big example is my marriage. I’ve moved beyond being hurt, annoyed, humiliated, disappointed, and misunderstood. I admit, I’m still a little angry, but hey, I’m human! I can better understand what brought and kept us together. We both had our weakness, blindness, selfishness and character defects. Mix that all up and you can have one crazy relationship, that’s for sure! I’m totally in limbo, and being financially dependent doesn’t help. I didn’t win the lottery, but I wondered with a wry smile how many women (and men) play the lottery in the hopes of buying themselves free of their position as indentured servant. Okay, I do tend to exaggerate. It’s not THAT bad. But it’s bad enough to merit change.

After that big long talk a while ago, we’ve slipped right back into speechlessness. It’s like quicksand. If you don’t recognize it in time and react appropriately, it relentlessly pulls you down — slowly but surely. Luckily that is only a comparison. It doesn’t work with quicksand, but if you get stuck in speechlessness, you can talk your way out of it!

I’ve decided to write it all down first, collect my thoughts and see how they affect me. See, the problem is, I’m still so afraid of making waves and causing unhappiness, that I tend to block things out almost as soon as they become clear realizations. Putting them into writing makes them more concrete.

This does indeed seem to be a major hurdle in my life. I get so fed up with myself at times, because it is taking me so LONG to deal with this. There are pros and cons, and it is no easy decision. What makes it different this time around is: It’s not easy, but the decision is clear. For myself, I have decided that I want to end things. Now I am in the process of slowly approaching that goal of separation with the least amount of damage for all parties involved. Even though I have repeated a lot of the behavior learned from my parents, I do not intend to repeat their divorce. That I want to do better.

At this point, the serenity prayer is my best bet:
God, grant me the serenity,
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

Up until now, I’ve been pretty darn good at accepting things (and just complaining). I’m working really hard on the wisdom part right now, and then I assume the courage will be the main event.

Please forgive me if I’m repeating myself. Some changes take a lot of repetitions before we finally make them!

May 29, 2008 at 2:48 pm 2 comments

All You Can Eat

I saw this written somewhere, and as usual, the wheels of my mind have been churning again. When I was a kid, I remember we used to go out to a steak place with an open salad bar. We would fill up on salad, and take the steak home for a second meal. When I was an adult living in New York City, I went with my best friend (also bulimarexic) to a place down in Greenwich Village with an all-you-can-eat salad bar. That was actually on the brink of recovery, because in the early days I never would have honestly gone out to eat with someone like that. There we sat, eating, smiling, talking, making occasional trips to the bathroom, and filling up on more. I think the bathroom there was good, too, because there was only one toilet, so you could lock the door and not have to worry about being “caught” by someone.

These days, it doesn’t really interest me, because I rarely am so hungry that I have seconds. But it’s been on my mind anyway. Thinking about our development, it actually makes sense that this type of offer would be so appealing. It speaks to our basic survival instinct, going back to the hunters and gatherers. Imagine how delighted they would have been at such a prospect! Fill up on whatever is available until you can’t eat anymore – that is how they lived. Imagine if someone back then had set up a steak house and salad bar! They probably would have thought they were in heaven!

But in this day and age, it really doesn’t make sense at all. Most of us (in the western world) can be fairly sure that the next meal is coming, so we don’t need to stuff ourselves just in case. We don’t have to look far. The way things have developed, the next food source (grocery store or restaurant) is not far away, so it is unlikely that we will die of starvation while seeking it.

Of course, as the division between rich and poor grows, it may actually become part of the survival strategy. If people can afford to go out to eat, they may fill up and then fast for a day or two, trying to make ends meet. I don’t know. The food situation really doesn’t look so good these days.

But just like we need to learn to restrain our aggressive impulses when we feel threatened, and realize that with our evolutionary development and civilization, there are more appropriate ways of dealing with anger and frustration when our buttons get pushed, we also need to adjust to the abundance of food and material things. Generally, we are not in life or death situations. We don’t need to hamster, although our survival instinct encourages such behavior. I believe our psychological/emotional development has some catching up to do!

On a tangent, I find it interesting that so many of us with eating disorders “learned to survive” emotionally in devastating family environments, and that many of us carry on in this survival mode, although it is long since out of date and no longer necessary. Isn’t life fascinating? Aren’t we strange creatures? I know I am.

May 28, 2008 at 12:30 pm 2 comments

On top of things

Today I feel like posting this song, since I mentioned it recently in wave of gratitude. Of course, once I started looking, I found a bunch of songs from Karen’s solo album from 1980, so I thought I’d share one of those songs with you as well.

I put this in the strong women (which I will add to, as time goes by) file, because any woman (or man) who endures an eating disorder and all the abuse that goes with it, is strong indeed. Unfortunately, at some point the body just can’t go on anymore. I pray that those of you who are in the middle of an eating disorder (or any other illness, for that matter) are able to recover and enjoy a life in health.

TOP OF THE WORLD – The Carpenters

Such a feeling’s comin’ over me
There is wonder in most everything I see
Not a cloud in the sky
Got the sun in my eyes
And I won’t be surprised if it’s a dream

Everything I want the world to be
Is now coming true especially for me
And the reason is clear
It’s because you are here
You’re the nearest thing to heaven that I’ve seen

I’m on the top of the world lookin’ down on creation
And the only explanation I can find
Is the love that I’ve found ever since you’ve been around
Your love’s put me at the top of the world

Something in the wind has learned my name
And it’s tellin’ me that things are not the same
In the leaves on the trees and the touch of the breeze
Theres a pleasin’ sense of happiness for me

There is only one wish on my mind
When this day is through I hope that I will find
That tomorrow will be just the same for you and me
All I need will be mine if you are here

I’m on the top of the world…

ALL BECAUSE OF YOU – Karen Carpenter (Solo Album, 1980)

Every night I get tired eyes
My feet don’t reach the ground
Then I’m with you
I get by ’cause I know that you’re near me
So baby close your eyes
I can sleep tonight
All because of you

Every night when the fire flies
The walls come tumblin’ down
At the Bijou
I get by ’cause I know that you’re near me
So baby close your eyes
I can sleep tonight
All because of you

I’ll keep singin’ my love song
In my mind I’ll sing a song for you
you can see through the music
That’s in my mind
So baby close your eyes
I can sleep tonight
All because of you
All because of you
All because of you

May 27, 2008 at 11:10 am 2 comments

Just tired, not bingeing

Holy moly! Today is yet another one of those days on which I would have binged! I can’t get over how many there are. But then again, now I begin to understand why I spent so many days (years) bingeing. I am being slightly facetious, but it always helps to view things with a sense of humor. And yet, that is how it is. There is always something that sets us off. Then we’re off to the races, as I used to call it.

Today is one of those Monday mornings after a long weekend. That means I am totally out of the usual early-to-bed-and-early-to-rise rhythm, so I had trouble falling asleep last night and I’m really tired today. Since I’m a night owl, I tend to have a chronic lack of sleep, but Mondays are always tiring.

My daughter missed the bus this morning and called me eight or nine times. I said I would pick her up because I had to go out anyway, but every call was adding minutes, which would make her wait longer. She finally believed me and stopped calling. Of course, since driving her to school put a few extra minutes on the trip, I got stuck in a traffic jam on the way to the studio, where I’m recording some of my songs. (The last time I drove there, I left early, anticipating the construction site, and there was no traffic! Typical!)

Once at the studio, things went really well. I was well prepared, and things just flowed along perfectly. I was quite pleased with the results. In fact, it went so well that we finished almost an hour earlier than planned. The technician had stuff to do, and I was tired from all the guitar playing, so we called it a day.

So the scene is: Monday, tired, did well at work, came home early, and now what? I’ve straightened up a bit, but am not really in the mood to start anything big. What did I do for the past few hours? My favorite distraction: I puttered. I just did little things, little preparatory steps for things that need to be done when I have more energy. And now I have to leave for a dentist appointment!

I was in such a rush to leave that I didn’t even finish this post. Meanwhile, I came home and a few neighbors were over, so we sat outside (it’s really warm out) and had a few glasses of wine. Imagine if I had binged in the afternoon, like in the old days. Then I would have come home from the dentist’s and been ready to keep going. I would have been extremely irritated that we had guests, because I’d be wanting to get to the food. So I would have sat there, waiting, hoping for them to leave. Instead I had a really nice evening.

May 26, 2008 at 8:40 pm Leave a comment

Practice makes … pretty good

One thing I want to make clear: I am an easy-going person. Some people call it lazy. But that’s not always true. If something really interests me, if I like to do it, if I want to learn something, I’ll keep at it until I succeed.

For example: I have always written (poetry, journal, and songs), I sing and play guitar every chance I get (even when I don’t really have time), and I love to read. Cleaning, cooking and physical fitness are different. That’s when I could be considered a lazy bum. Cleaning is a ghastly necessity, which is often reversed almost immediately when one has children and cats. Thus I do my best to keep these activities at minimum effort. Only what’s absolutely necessary! (I’m still glowing about the big window-cleaning day!) I do like to cook and eat, but I don’t want to spend a lot of time on cooking. There are other things I’d rather do. And then there is physical fitness. That is something I actually like to do, but it costs so much effort to get started!!! But I have noticed: the more often I do it, the easier it becomes. Two or three times a week would be great. Sometimes I manage to do that.

Why am I writing about practice? Well, I mentioned it yesterday and that got my thoughts churning. Practice is simply an important element of recovery. It takes a lot of practice to learn to eat. Not only chewing, but everything related: recognizing feelings of hunger and satiation, eating regular meals, taking the time to plan the meals, and accepting ourselves as we are. It may seem hard to believe, but after enough practice, it actually becomes routine. I am self-taught, both in eating and in guitar playing. I started with a few basic meals and chords, and practiced these until I could eat/play them quite easily. As time went by, I continued to expand and develop my repertoire. Now I’m pretty good at it. I am not the world’s best cook or guitar player, but am okay. I’d say I’m good enough. I still keep at it. I bet I’ll be even better in five years!

May 25, 2008 at 8:49 am 6 comments

Great Response

I was at a dear friend’s birthday party last night. She is a very kind, well-meaning, loving, compassionate person and I’m happy to have her in my life. Anyway, she was an attentive hostess and whenever a new guest arrived, she welcomed them and asked what they’d like to drink.

At one point, a friend of hers showed up who happens to be a recovering alcoholic. In the heat of the moment, my friend just wasn’t thinking and she asked her: “Would you like beer, red or white wine, or sparkling wine?”

Her guest gave a perfect answer: “Well, maybe tomorrow, but not today.”
Think about it. That’s the essence of recovery: taking it one day at a time.

May 24, 2008 at 5:25 pm 1 comment

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