55 Days and Counting

55.

It has been 55 days since I began my journey back to life after my recent return to the land of familiar self destruction.

There are some moments it feels like it was just yesterday I eagerly made the commitment to move forward and there are others where I feel like I have been walking this path tiredly for years and years and years. There are some days I cannot wait to see what is ahead and there are others where I am craving what I have left behind. There are some moments I feel I can do this and there are others where I am 99.99999% certain I cannot go on another minute.

I need to get honest about the latter days. Those days very few talk about. Those days that get swept under the rug and erased from the story. Those days that make the journey flawed. Some days there is not enough pink paint to cover them up to make them look pretty. Some days there is not enough sugar in this world to coat them to make them look desirable.

Those are the days that need to be shared for those are the days used to fill in the blanks of a story that will all make perfect sense one day.

When I began blogging in 2010, I made a promise to myself that in all that I write, it will always be honest and authentic. I will be vulnerable in real time. I will speak what is reality regardless of how it makes me appear. I will be transparent in my struggles. I never wanted to create for someone a picture of a life that is not truth, one impossible to obtain, be living a lie people are chasing after for themselves thinking one day they will catch it but running forever.

Today’s post will be no exception.

I wish I could say that day 55 is a breeze compared to day 1. That day 55 makes me realize the true joy of life in recovery compared to day 1. That day 55 has taught me the art of self acceptance compared to how uneducated I was about it on day 1. I wish I could, but I am okay that I cannot. I am content with imperfection. It teaches me and it grows me and it challenges me.

But it is not easy to live through.

It is an inner war every second to live in this body. Living in this skin is an act of torture for my mind. It is a battle to wake up in this body, to realize what I am and what is no longer and what is disappearing. It is a shock to my mind with every time my eyes flutter open to realize it has to claim this body. I become far too aware of how much space I am taking up on the bed and how much of me is seen.

I miss feeling hidden.

My mind does not want to believe it. It fights to accept this as truth. I have to spend a few seconds every morning just touching my skin to prove to my brain this is reality, to ground it back to the present. If I let it drift off too long into its fear and hate and nostalgia, I take the great risk of setting myself back that day. I know where it instinctively wants to take me. I know what image it wants to bring into my vision. I know the girl it wants me to meet.

For my sanity, I cannot go there. Yet very often that is where I find myself.

There is this very vulnerable minute between when my eyes open and when I get out of bed that holds the power to determine how my day will unfold. I can either follow my mind back into the past or brave the journey with my soul into the future. More often than most would believe, I take the field trips with my brain. By now I have just mastered the art of sneaking out so nobody knows. I have learned how to duplicate myself for one to exist in the present while the other goes off exploring in the past. With ease I can jump between time zones if I think someone is getting suspicious. It is on those days I generally stay by myself to keep anyone from trying to hold me back in the now where my mind does not feel safe.

I wake up hoping to feel the Jenna of six years ago and it emotionally and mentally and physically pains me to come to the realization that I am not here. She is not home. She has left. Every morning I have to face that truth. I have to go through the grief.

A grief that shatters me and I have to spend the rest of the day putting myself back together.

I was never warned about the amount of grief you have to process through in recovery. Nobody told me how much it would hurt, what a loss it would be to let go of the disorder. You are saying goodbye to a body you have come to be familiar with and a life you designed with it. Even if life is better, it is still not the life you planned. And worst of all, you are grieving the fact this one thing you relied on for everything, this one thing you sacrificed dreams and relationships and hopes for with the trust it would give back to you all you believed you needed could never give it to you. Illusion never changed into something real. You see the disorder for what it is and not what you wanted it to be. To realize what you have spent years trying to prove and devoting yourself to could only ever offer you a lie wearing the mask of perfection is a grief I cannot explain.

The pain goes deep, echoing through my body as I cry out for its return.

My pillow is tear stained every morning as I have to face this reality, as I have to hand over what I am still clinging with the hopes it can redeem itself, with the faith it could work this time around. Every morning a new relapse is drawn out. And every morning God colors over it to remind me why we have to let it go. Some days I fight to erase what He drew wanting so badly to just feel her again and know the sensation of that body. Other days I let Him be my Creator and trust in what He is drawing up for me. He always knows who He will get on our walk together and regardless of who shows up, He is always there to meet her right where she is.

This is unedited recovery. The picture unperfect version of it. The unscripted play of coming out of a storm. I have endured 55 days of this.

And I am still choosing to keep counting.

J.L.