script from yesterday’s therapy appointment:
her: how are things?
me: i’ve been having disturbing dreams. not nightmares, but disturbing dreams. the difference being that i can go to back to sleep after a disturbing dream. after a nightmare i can’t sleep again for at least 24 hours.
her: why are the dreams disturbing?
me: because i’m dreaming about my father. not the symbol of my father, which happens in nightmares, but my actual father, who stands to the side of the dream scene, observing the action in the dream without saying anything or participating. he looks like he’s waiting for something from me, an invitation, an acknowledgement of his presence, kind words, something.
her: do you acknowledge his presence?
me: (changing the subject) i tried legally changing my name last week. i sat in my parked car in front of the courthouse and couldn’t get out.
her: (nodding sympathetically and nonverbally encouraging me to go on)
me: we’ve got some dust to sweep about dad before i can change the name he gave me to the name i want.
her: how do you want to begin?
then we calibrated electrodes to my preferred speed and intensity and tunneled into the eating disordered bottomless pit in my stomach that belongs to fear and self-hatred while bilaterally pulsating my brain and following the feelings connecting to words and beliefs and memories for several rounds of hellishness that lead to insight. therapy helps. specifically, emdr helps. but the places i have to go to re-wire what needs re-wiring are sad and scary and painful pockets in my thoughts, feelings, body, and memories.
i’m writing these things for you to read so that you can see what crawling out of crazy looks like for me. your path from crazy will probably look unlike mine. what matters is that you find your way out. it’s okay to be crazy. crazy is sometimes the only sane way to escape insanity. but once you’ve escaped the insanity around you, it’s time to sort out your crazy coping mechanisms. eating disorders are simply examples of crazy coping mechanisms. two-thirds of sexual abuse and incest survivors develop eating disorders as one of their primary coping mechanisms. (the other third often choose drugs, alcohol, or unhealthy sexual behaviors.) i’m a textbook classic case of an incest survivor with an eating disorder. eating disorders are crazy ways to control one’s body when one cannot control or protect against the violence perpetuated against that body. once wired into one’s brain and body and emotions, eating disorders are also incredibly difficult to shake. but i’m trying. i’ve been trying for twenty years to walk my way through the crazy daily struggle of an eating disorder. lately people keep inviting me out to eat. social eating settings are my own private, secret, silent torture chamber. lately i’ve accepted a few eating out invitations. and then my tooth breaks so that i can’t attend the first one. even when my heart is willing, my body tried to protect me from what i subconsciously perceive as a dangerous situation. i’m getting my broken tooth fixed in time to make the next dinner date. i’ll let you know what happens.