Notes on an outpatient eating disorder program: Day 2
Posted August 4, 2010on:
*Trigger warning: possible explicit descriptions of my eating disorder*
Today was day 2, and it was much better. I feel myself already getting better acquainted with how the program and I think I’m starting to get the hang of how it all works.
Today however, since I was able to focus on the content of the “therapy”, I was a bit disappointed. One of the group therapy sessions focused on being assertive in relationships; I had high hopes. This is something I needed, badly. However, women who spoke about their inability to confront people or certain things were essentially criticized! The counselor running the group, I think, was trying to hold these women accountable. But there was definitely a lack of empathy in her tone and that really bothered me. Without explicitly stating it, many of the women spoke about how they were socialized from a young age to believe that what they had to say was never important, or that they were always wrong, and this counselor assumed that under her guidance these women would march home and tell their mothers, fathers, best friends, sisters, boyfriends, etc. exactly what was on their mind. Are you fucking kidding me? How about taking a moment to sit with the fact that we had ALL been socialized to feel that what we think is at least less worthy of consideration and at most just straight up wrong, no matter what. Whether it was from childhood or from a recent traumatic experience, women were explaining that other people had made them feel like shit and my hunch? It was partly because they have a uterus. Even if the perpetrator was their mother or best female friend, my hunch is still that internalized patriarchy is to blame. And the counselor? She has internalized patriarchy to a certain extent as well. Not even mentioning the fact that there is a reason that just about everyone in the room at the time felt like what they were thinking was invalid or unimportant does a great disservice to all of us.
In both groups that I had today, I felt a distance from the counselors. It was apparent that this was their JOB. They go home at night to their significant others (almost all of them have a huge rock on their ring finger) and they forget about everything that happened that day. Obviously one would need some emotional detachment to work in such an intense environment, but that detachment shouldn’t be so transparent while working in that environment. One group goes from 10-11 am and the other from 11:30-12:30. Wouldn’t you know it? Both groups end at 11 am and 12:30 pm respectively on the dot. No matter what the topic of conversation, it’s time to go! It feels strange to be immersed in emotion and then be told to get up and go eat snack, or lunch. It’s a super serious reality check and it makes me remember that I’m in a hospital. God forbid I feel like I’m in a place that actually really cares about what I think and say.
What I found REALLY interesting is that some counselors and some of the women refer to eating disorders as Ed. Ed, standing for eating disorder, is a man’s name! I doubt this was a conscious decision made by either the staff or the women but my, is it interesting. In a way, the enemy has been named. However, I haven’t seen evidence of an analysis on the part of any staff or other women towards which I am inclined. My views make me feel very alone in a group of women who are experiencing the same things as I am. I have yet to speak up in group sessions, since I do feel like a true stranger still, so it will be interesting to see if that will hold me back or if I will eventually be comfortable enough to speak up.
I didn’t mention this yesterday, but all meals are supervised. It’s really hard. Being under such scrutiny while confronting your worst enemy is a really odd experience for me. My lunch today was huge and it was hard to not fall back on old habits. I drove home telling myself that it is okay to feel full and that it is a sign that I’m treating my body right. Did I believe myself? No. Do I even want to believe that yet? I don’t think so.
I still don’t feel ready for recovery. I don’t feel ready to confront everything that I’m running from. I don’t feel like a month is enough time to confront my issues with my body image that have persisted since roughly ummmm FOURTH GRADE.
You know what else feels strange? Blogging about this. These are things that I would be writing in the journal that we are supposed to keep as a distraction or coping mechanism when we feel like “using behaviors”. I don’t think I’ve ever been so intimate with so many strangers. I hope I have the guts to keep this up, I may as well, I suppose, because it’s already out in the open! I guess I’m reserving the right to stop at any time.
Tomorrow is the day we plan our meals for the following week. This is what my life has come to at the moment: meticulously planning what I will put in my mouth, and keeping track of it in a food journal. I can hardly comprehend it.
Until tomorrow with love,