“Both abundance and lack [of abundance] exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend." - Sarah Ban Breathnach

Monday, December 15, 2008

Binging, Purging, and Finding Support

Binging: This was the great cookie week-end. When we first moved here 5 1/2 years ago, I started a tradition in our neighborhood. I baked a bazillion cookies and our family delivered them to each home on the street, complete with antler ears and caroling. We did it the first week-end of December to kick off the Christmas season. Our neighbors loved it, and I have continued it year after year. This year, we postponed our cookies until the second week-end, and a few of our neighbors were getting nervous. You see? This is a tradition that we can't let go of.

So, I started Friday evening and continued literally all day Saturday. I baked and baked and baked and obviously overdid it. We have added a couple of dear friends from church, and so the total number of cookie plates I finished was 25. In addition to a few leftover dozens for my own family.

Purging: Sunday, I crashed. I went to church because my daughter was speaking. I left right after she had finished. As I was leaving, tears started welling up. By the time I got to the car, they were streaming down my face. When I arrived home, I was in full force, sobbing uncontrollably for no reason I could put my finger on.

So, I decided to write. Just grabbed a pen and paper and let it flow out of me. Initially, it was meaningless, surface stuff. Then I hit something hard. I connected my invisible CFS to hiding abuse when I was a child. I feel now like I did then -- this seems so HUGE and obvious to me; why can't anyone else see it and do something about it? Why aren't they reaching out to me with tenderness and concern and healing instead of annoyance and continual demands? The worst part? I've told them that I'm sick, but they don't seem to believe me. And I was connecting that to the abuse -- it seemed to reaffirm that even if I had told someone, they wouldn't have believed me anyway.

Finding support: I didn't say anything when the rest of my family came home from church. I let them go out delivering cookies and caroling without me. When my kids asked why I wasn't coming, I told them I wasn't feeling well. I could almost feel the eye rolling -- but I held my ground. I knew I wasn't up to it, so I didn't go.

That night, before bed, I asked my husband to read what I had written. He was visibly moved. He said he was glad I had written, because he had been feeling some of the same things from the kids (the older ones, at least). He has been downplaying my CFS in front of the kids because he hasn't wanted to worry them or freak them out, especially my young boys. He had been thinking that something needed to change, and my writing has solidified that feeling. He said that we're going to need to have a special family council where we explain this disease very clearly to all the children. We're then going to set up a plan where the kids will necessarily take over most of the household responsibilities.

I once asked "What if I never get better?" That thought was terrifying to me, because the idea of going on the way I have been was horrifying. I knew that something would have to change, but I also knew you can't change other people. I certainly didn't have the energy to force changes on my family. My husband, however, has not only the energy but the authority to require my children to change. If he demands it of them, they will respond. I will still need to enforce consequences, but where he leads, we will go.

I am so hopeful! For the first time, I do not feel alone in this. I feel like I am being given permission to heal -- and I don't mean that I'll miraculously recover completely and never have CFS again. I mean that I can pace myself and say no even to church and family and rest when I need to and let myself recover when I crash.

My husband and I celebrated our 20th anniversary on Wednesday. This is the best gift he has ever given me in these wonderful 20 years. This, I can live with.