Because no matter how bad things get, there is always room for new perspective.
Two truths and a lie. You may be familiar with this game; I have played it both as a theatre teacher and also as a party game. The games is played in a group, and each member has to share with the group “Two Truths and a Lie”. The object of the game is to trick your opponents into guessing incorrectly, and putting things into the wrong category.
For example, I may say:
I once crash landed during a hot air balloon ride.
I have never eaten veal.
I do not know how to swim.
And then you, presumably, would guess which two facts are true, and which one is the lie*.
This week, I had many deep conversations with friends, therapists and my husband. The common theme was this: While I am, in many ways, doing so much better than I was at this time last year, in that I am completely functional, I am lucid and safe, I am able to find joy in things, etc. there are some ways in which I am actually doing worse.
Let me try to explain. After New Year’s Eve, I said, with great trepidation, that there are times now when I feel good. In reflecting back to this recent holiday season, I can never remember a happier time in my whole life. Yes, I have had happier moments and individual occurrences, but as a whole, this season was wonderful, and I am sure that a huge part of it has to do with it’s juxtaposition to this same time last year. This holiday season I started my own family traditions, traveled with my own little family for the first time, did fun celebrations for all of the holidays and got to spend a ton of great times with my dearest friends.
Things may be good, but they aren’t necessarily better. I share a lot on this site, but there are certain things that I keep private, for deliberate reasons (whether it is for your sake or mine). I did share a very intimate post this week about my trip to the emergency room and all that it meant, both for me and my current physical condition, and also a confession about my past mental state. And that is where this gets a bit confusing.
At the beginning of October of 2014 I revealed on here that my month-long hiatus from writing was due to the fact that I had been hospitalized in order to address the physical effects of my postpartum depression. I try to avoid discussing specifics on here for a very important reason: I was hospitalized for clinical malnourishment and for being at an unhealthy weight, yet I do not suffer from Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia, or other well-known eating disorders. Having spent time in an eating disorder unit, however, I am very sensitive to the fact that talking about things like weight, gaining or losing, numbers, what I eat, etc. can be very triggering. The very last thing on earth that I would want to do would be to contribute to someone else’s suffering. So while I allude to ongoing health issues, I try to keep them vague.
Here is a truth:
My husband and I were talking last night about how my situation is kind of like the opposite of most peoples’. Most people put on a very good front on the outside (eg. Fakebook) and paint pictures of their lives that allow people to think that they are happy and well. However, behind those fronts–those facades–it is easy to hide a lot of pain and trauma and trouble.
My situation is the opposite. I actually look sick. I look like there is something wrong with me, especially to those people who have known me for a long time. So while I may have made great strides since last year, and while I may feel like a different person in so many ways, my physical appearance belies that.
Here is a big truth:
I can’t get my weight under control. I want to gain weight. I look in the mirror and see myself as being too thin. I am getting anxiety just writing this because I do not want anyone to read it and for it to hurt them (or make them want to “beat me” by being thinner than I am, or any of the other possible negative repercussions of my sharing this).
Since last November I have been seeing my psychiatrist twice weekly (minimum), and since August I have been seeing my Primary Care Physician weekly. I also see another Psychiatrist once a week. But the problem is this: I am still under a tremendous amount of physical stress, and I am still dealing with some very difficult issues. Whether I like or not, this impacts my weight. This is not because I restrict my diet in any way. In fact, in the spirit of full disclosure, I have been trying to eat so much that last week I literally ate until I threw up. But it is not working and I need to have another, more significant intervention. I will be taking part in another program to help with the refeeding process and in the hopes that I will gain enough weight to be at a healthy level.
Here is the third truth:
I am not happy all day every day. I am stressed out a lot, anxious, sometimes depressed, and there is never enough time for me to do all that I need to do. I am trying to run a household; I am trying to raise two children who are in completely separate stages of life and have completely different needs; When it comes to my son, I am trying to keep him safe and alive, as well as stimulated and generally happy; When it comes to my daughter, I am trying to do all of those things, plus I work endlessly at trying to make her a good human being, teaching her all about my values and what I know; I try to be a good, attentive wife, falling short in small ways like having great dinners prepared upon my husband’s return home from work (like I used to); I am trying to build this blog, because I am so passionate about getting my story out there, as all I want to do is to help others; I don’t currently work outside of the home, so perhaps this list seems short and easy, but I guarantee you that for me, it is neither of those things. You may notice that I left one thing out of my list of responsibilities. That would be taking care of myself. That is the area in which I most often fail.
However, and I cannot emphasize this enough, I have come so far in the past year. I don’t just have a happy moment a month, but I find happiness all around me. For example, this morning, I was in heaven as the four of us cuddled in bed. My husband read me a quote that he thought I would like from Chuang Tzu’s book on Taoism: “Happiness is as light as a feather but who knows how to hold it. Misfortune is heavier than the very earth but who knows how to escape it.” Amen, brother.
Then, my daughter wanted to play “Into the Woods”; oddly, instead of choosing any of the cool parts, she is insistent on playing the part of the “Baker Baby”, who basically has no role in the show whatsoever but cries periodically throughout Act II. So this morning she asked for me to sing the Baker’s Wife’s part from the Finale song, and she had my husband, who, through nothing but sheer nepotism, landed the role of The Baker, do his part of the song, reading from a website with lyrics.
She would cry, intermittently. It was actually pretty fun.
A few minutes later, my husband went to wash up, bringing our son along with him, and came back holding a baby with a mohawk. He said, “I was actually debating shaving the sides off for the full effect but I was wondering how mad you would be.”
And these three moments, these tiny things, bring me joy.
Let the moment go; Don’t forget it for a moment, though.
So, I cheated. While I played fairly during the explanation of the game (see below). throughout the bulk of this post, my three truths were all true. There is no lie. I feel much better emotionally, some of the time. My physical health has gotten worse. I am so much happier than I have ever been before in my entire life. And those things are not, as you may expect, mutually exclusive.
I am grateful for the progress I have made and optimistic for what is to come. I will continue sharing as much as I feel is appropriate, and I will do my best to take care of myself, as well as all of the other things that I am supposed to take care of.
And, like in “Into the Woods” where you think that the Happy Ending is the end of the story, it is not; it is never, really. Real stories don’t have endings. That is not how it works. This chapter of my story won’t have a clear final page, but it is life and it is real and it is honest and it will evolve, and I will evolve and I will share my journey as I always have.
Thank you for the support, for the constant love and the motivation that I am gifted with, encouraging me to push through. It has helped. Thank you.
*The lie is #3. While I am terrible at it, I do, in fact, know how to swim.
*originally published on January 16, 2015, with new meaning, tonight, and each night.