Friday, November 1, 2013

Isolation & Holidays


This is one of those posts that is somewhat embarrassing for me to write, but I think it is relevant and (hopefully) relatable.

During my eating disorder I did an excellent job pushing people out of my life. Not necessarily because I didn't like them, but because I wanted alone time with my disorder. Isolation is often a huge part of what keeps eating disorders "safe" in our minds. The more I pushed people away, the less likely they were to notice my strange eating habits or get in the way or my daily rituals. Most social gatherings are also food-centered - grabbing lunch with a friend, parties with hors d'oeurvres, spontaneous ice cream runs in the summer - which meant I was going to stay as far away as possible.

Unfortunately, holidays also fall under this social, food-filled, eating disorder threatening category. I hated holidays. All of them. So as a way to ease my holiday anxiety, I would simply avoid them all together. Certain holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving forced me to eat a meal with family members, but I usually left shortly after I was done eating.

Other holidays that aren't quite so family-based, like Halloween, 4th of July, and New Years Eve, I have spent alone for the past several years... Which is the embarrassing part of this post. Most people look forward to these holidays, have plenty of friends to celebrate with, and often create lifelong memories on these special days.

As for me, however, loneliness triggers have sadly become a normal part of holidays. To make things worse, as backwards as it may sound, the more alone I feel the more likely I am to intensify the isolation. The logical thing to do would be to reach out and make plans, but after years of pushing people away I fear being rejected.

The good news is, last night for Halloween I had plans with a friend for the first time in years (again, kind of embarrassing). Rather than getting dressed up and spending all of our money at the bars, we simply stayed in, made dinner, and carved pumpkins. Honestly, it didn't matter what our plans were for the night - I wasn't alone.


One of the biggest lessons I have been learning over the past few months is that I am not like most people my age and that's ...brace yourselves... okay. For the longest time I assumed there was not another soul in the world who preferred to stay in on Halloween night, but I have been proven wrong yet again. I think I'm embarrassed to share all of this because it goes against the norm. Learning to be myself and standing up for the things I want in life is still a work in progress, but it has gotten better in a relatively short period of time.

Isolation has sadly been a crutch and a go-to coping mechanism for me over the past several years, especially during holidays. Thankfully, however, I am starting to notice myself crawling out of that dark hole. Spending Halloween with a like-minded friend doesn't sound like a big deal and I could have easily written it off, but I'm choosing not to. 

Only 55 days until Christmas! Bring on the holiday season.

Progress.

16 comments:

  1. Yea!!!! I am so proud of us, and so incredibly greatful that I have now have a friend to enjoy these previously lonely ocassions with. Last night was the best Halloween I have had in quite some time, and I want to thank you for that:) I think it is moments like this when we can really see and appreciate what progress we have made:) I cannot wait to keep hanging out and enjoying the upcoming holidays together. For once I finally feel like I am not alone:) Thanks Kelsi<3

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    1. This makes me smile. :) Have a great weekend at home!

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  2. Spending Halloween with a like-minded friend kind of DOES sound like a big deal! - You definitely shouldn't write it off :) And you also definitely shouldn't be embarrassed. To be honest, that is a lot more social than I am these days...I spent the last 8 years isolating myself, avoiding people and pushing them away, because of - you guessed it - anorexia (and depression and anxiety). And now, when I am finally emerging from those illnesses, am in recovery, and am craving friendship/am ready to stop isolating myself, I've found that I barely have any friends left. I guess I've learnt too late that people do stop trying, or move on with their lives, or just grow away from you, when you spend all your time sick and hiding... I was never the partying/clubbing type, but I always had at least a few very close friends. Now I don't even really have them. (I'm doing my best to rebuild old friendships and hopefully find new ones, but yeah, it's a slow process). Anyway, sorry that got off track, and I didn't mean to be negative! now I feel embarrassed even writing this...but I wanted to show that you are really doing great, in the scheme of things! there's no need to feel embarrassed for being yourself, or for having been isolated in the past. It's really cool that you had a good Halloween doing exactly what you wanted to do with a friend who felt the same :) I will be happy with myself when I get to that stage! You're doing awesome.

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    1. Don't apologize or feel embarrassed! It's funny how we always think we say or do embarrassing things, but really we are the only ones judging ourselves. Rebuilding that social structure has been a slowww process for me and probably will be for awhile, so don't feel bad. I think that's a pretty normal part of recovery. It's takes time to relearn things that we neglected for so long. Give yourself some credit. :)

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  3. "I am not like most people my age and that's ...brace yourselves... okay."


    Kelsi, this statement is something I struggle with all of the time. I constantly compare myself to other people my age and think I should want to do what they are doing. This is a total lie and I don't know why I buy into it so easily. We are all unique individuals and not being like other people does not mean there is something wrong with us. It is a lesson I will forever be learning. Loving myself for myself and not for who other people want me to be is freedom. <3 Thanks for being brave and sharing your heart.

    Love,
    Rebecca

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    1. Rebecca-
      Thank you for sharing this with me. I agree it will be a lesson we continue to work on forever and maybe accepting that is the first step. It is a total lie that we need to be like everyone else, I agree. <3

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  4. I read this, started to respond, stopped and now here I am again. I think I'm having a hard time because I am still in it. I long to be where you are and I know it is possible (one day at a time and all that) and yet sometimes it seems so far. I continue to lead my structured little life and I hate how that which is so joyous for others (holidays, fancy meals, gatherings) are such sources of anxiety and stress for me. I am changing, bit by bit, but there are some days when I want to get there without all the slow process part of things.

    That said, I am learning that I will be okay. I, too, have struggled with not feeling like I fit the picture of what a woman "should" be and like and do. I, too, am beginning to accept that I only need to be true to me, whatever that looks like, and that is okay.

    Sorry for the rambling, my brain is fuzzy today :)

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    1. Aw please don't feel badly for not being in a certain spot in recovery. This is the first time I have done this. I have been struggling with holiday loneliness for quite sometime... And this doesn't necessarily mean I will get it right the next time around, ya know? It's a day by day thing and I have no doubt you will get there, too! :)

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  5. It is a huge progress, Kelsi. When we open up ourselves, we find more people like us. Sometimes, the social norms can be true, but I find it out especially in the U.S that it is something that I believe but it is often a false belief in my mind. Like Christmas, statistic shows that December has the height rate of commit suicide. It is a depressing time for many people. <3

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    1. Yeah, the US definitely does have several social norms. This can be a difficult time for many of us, but it doesn't have to be. You have an email coming soon. I promise! <3

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  6. You implement effective change/perception shifts so rapidly. It is a good thing. I'm proud of you :)

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    1. Well thanks - That's' very nice of you :)

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  7. That sounds like a great Halloween! I'm glad you had that friend and that opportunity to connect and have fun. I have felt unlike my age-peers for most of my life, and I'm seeing it in my kids, too in various ways...and yes, it is OKAY! I hope you have even more wonderful connections with friends during the next months! I am enjoying seeing your progress...keep writing and making those steps. Blessings--Alison

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    1. Thanks so much, Alison. I hope you had a great holiday with your family too! <3

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    2. We had fun, with a reminder to me to know that the best-laid plans often need tweaking--my 8-year old son, dressed as Batman, and my 4-year old daughter, dressed as Supergirl, headed out enthusiastically around 6 since they go to bed early on school nights. Supergirl made it to my parents' house (two doors down from us) before she decided she was tired. I took her home and my husband and mom continued on with Batman for about an hour. Supergirl didn't want to go to sleep till her brother was also clean and in bed, and had a bit of a meltdown when she realized our nightly routine was totally out of whack. Sigh. It was fun overall, but really, I'll be glad when she can roll with the punches a little bit more easily! :)

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    3. Aw yes, it's funny how into our routine we get even at such a young age! I miss those dress up and trick-or-treat days. It will be nice to have a family of my own someday.

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