Survival Is Insufficient

First things first: Part 8 is on the way! I don’t want to rush it and post something I didn’t feel was ready, so I’ll write more of it this weekend and give you another little weekly update instead for today.

At my last appointment with my therapist, I cried. I didn’t really want to, maybe because I was feeling quite strong when I entered therapy with her, not like when I went in to see UNB’s counsellors last year and wept no problem. But it was okay, it was good to cry.

She asked me what I wanted to talk about, and I started reading from a diary-like entry on a sheet of paper, where I had written freely and without censoring myself. I wrote about what seemed like normal, everyday thoughts for me: my preoccupation with time, getting everything done that I want in time, reading all the books I have (the fiction and the informational for research), the aching strive for perfection to be the perfect recovery person, where I thought my anorexia came from, what it was trying to cover up, why I was afraid of taking space…

Basically, a lot of stuff! She congratulated me, first of all, for sitting down, tapping intro my highly introspective self, and pumping all this out. What I overlooked, or perhaps, didn’t think mattered, was (naturally!) what my therapist picked out. When I got through my nearly-exhaustive list of preoccupations and nagging things in my head, she breathed a heavy sigh and said: “You worry about a lot of things!” I nodded, even chuckled, and kept nodding and saying I know when she said “there’s no such thing as a ‘perfect’ recovery,” and “you even schedule time for reading for fun!”

And that’s when I started crying. She waited for me and asked why she made me cry. She offered some possible reasons, which I waved all away. “I’m not afraid of you judging me,” I said, my chin quivering fiercely as I tried not to burst while I spoke. She thought I felt deeply judged for this, and I assured her I wasn’t. I thought to myself I definitely would have felt this way, but I don’t even care now; I know I’m anal about time, productivity, and being a, I don’t know, “successful” 23 year old (whatever that means), and I worry a lot, but I know and accept that about myself now.

I told her, after finally letting out my sobs and taking a tissue she gave me, that it’s not a fun way to live. I said: “I’m crying because I feel like I’m looking at another version of me, the one that stresses out over all the things she really wants to do but won’t relax and let herself do because she thinks she should be doing something else or doesn’t deserve it. It’s awful and I don’t want to live like that anymore.”

She nodded quietly and we figured out what steps I should take. One, and this is for everyone else out there who worries too much: Don’t. Worry. STOP WORRYING! About my recovery, what I’m eating, how people at work see me, my writing, my reading, my life in our apartment, everything. Next, she asked me what I would do for fun. I said that trying a new milkshake flavour during my snack break at work would be fun (daring, aren’t I?), and reading for fun without guiltily thinking that I need to finish it if I pick it up but before that, finishing the other books I already have on-the-go first… No. See, it’s exhausting! So my homework was to try a new milkshake flavour when I go out with my coworkers at an ice cream shop (I did, yay me!), and start reading a book I really want to read, and do it, without thinking about it.

StationElevenNorthAmericaHiResSo I went back to what is actually one of my favourite books of all time, Station Eleven by Canadian author, Emily St. John Mandel. It’s a phenomenal read, and I recommend it for everyone. I won’t give too much away, but it’s basically a dystopian, futuristic novel, but don’t be scared off by that if 1984 is not your thing. This is very real, very plausible, and quite simply, very beautiful. It’s a wonderful and unforgettable story, with flashbacks between today (as in, the 2010s) and 20 some years from now, after the collapse of civilization after the “Georgia Flu,” an airborne sickness that wiped out nearly all the humans. Again, it’s not all about that, but that’s the setting, and in the “future” (20 years ahead), you follow the Travelling Symphony, a talented bunch of musicians and Shakespearean actors who travel across North America, putting on shows for the people that are left, and, well, trying their best to thrive in the conditions of their world while fondly remembering the world before, with airplanes, electricity, and other comforting luxuries. The “present” time (2010s, before the flu) is also memorable, following the connections of a famous movie actor and his ex-wives, and each of their private lives leading up to the collapse. The Symphony has a quote from Star Trek painted on their caravan, “Survival Is Insufficient.” I felt drawn to that quotation for this post title, mainly because I thought of what I’ve been thinking and journaling about this week, and I know that mainly “surviving” in this city (no offence, but you all know I’d rather live in a place like in 1794, which is, well, Upper Kingsclear and Fredericton!) and in my recovering mind and body, isn’t enough. It’s a necessary first step, but I feel like I can move up. I want to do more, and writing these posts and my novella updates for you, are what make me feel like I’m thriving. But I don’t want to do too much more and give myself more stress: even just relaxing to the max, which would have been absolutely inconceivable to me just last year and all the years before that, is thriving.

There is a great book I started reading (and no, not feeling guilty that I haven’t finished and highlighted it before starting Station Eleven!) a couple of weeks ago, and that’s Eating Disorders Anonymous. It’s an organization that took the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous, the 12 Steps, tailored them to eating disorder recovery, and this book contains the steps along with stories of others, which is always inspiring. I might write another post just on this book sometime, because it’s just so good, and I’ve underlined a lot of tidbits I want to journal about and even stick on my closet door so that I’ve reminded of the steps everyday. So yes, that will come, for those of you who are interested!

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Click on the image for a great article about the film

I did something else this week. Well, I came down with Jack’s cold that he had this past week after having a flu kind of bug two weekends ago, so I was feeling really crummy until today. On Sunday, we were laying in bed almost all day, except for eating our meals, and getting groceries we needed. We watched an old cartoon in the morning, and after supper, we finally watched Arrival. In case you haven’t heard of it, it’s Denis Villeneuve’s 2016 sci-fi movie about our first encounter with extraterrestrial intelligence, starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner, based on Ted Chiang’s 1998 short story Stories Of Your Life. It is amazing!! Jack and I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and we watched it without guilt or anything this weekend. Pure bliss!

 

Well, that’s all for now. Love you all, thank you for reading, and I’ll post Part 8 Monday!

xoxo, Nikki

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One thought on “Survival Is Insufficient

  1. Sounds like you have turned a corner😊 I am so happy for you. I am abit of a worry wart myself so can totally relate. Trust me, the older you get the less many things matter🙃 On your recommendation we are going to check out Arrival tonight! We’ll call you and Jack tomorrow 😘

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