Saturday, June 02, 2012

June challenge 1: change

To follow on from May's Hungry for Change challenge, Arielle Blair has started a June challenge in partnership with HfC. Anyone who looks back on my blog archive will realise that I've never been the most regular blogger in the world. So I think participating in these challenges is good for me: it gives a focus for thoughts and helps prompt me to write.

The June challenge is a word a day. I couldn't blog yesterday because of a (lovely) obligation to babysit for my baby godson ... but (better late than never) here is my response to the first prompt:

We joke in my family that "I don't do change". It's been a scary thing always, from the first time we moved house when I was just 2 years old. I wouldn't let my parents pack the photo albums and sat in one room surrounded by photos while the removal men loaded up our furniture into the van. My family had to move several times during my childhood, as part of my father's job; I've come to realise that moving into new towns and having to start all over again with attempting to make new friends and to establish myself in a new group of people is one of the factors that made it hard for me to have a stable and consistent sense of self. The particular house move that impacted me most happened when I was 9, nearly 10. I don't know now whether it was my reluctance to make the change and leave my friends in the other town that made it so hard to be happy in the new place, whether the children in the new school were simply unwilling to accept a new person in their class, or (most likely) a combination of all the factors. Whatever the reason, just after a year after that house move, I was admitted to hospital with a variety of physical and psychological problems .... including not eating.

Lots of changes have happened in the years since that first hospital admission. I've grown older, though not necessarily much wiser; I've gone through school, university and post grad; I've been in hospital more times than I should have done. My parents have moved house many more times and I've had to go into new situations and new places .... I don't think I've got much better at "being myself" with new people. I still retreat and withdraw, ending up in the vicious cycle of becoming more isolated because of being too shy/socially anxious to talk to anyone.

The danger is, of course, that this fear of change in my world means that I become more reliant on the one thing that seems to be within my control, the one thing that has been a constant for 20 years: anorexia. What needs to happen is for change to stop being the thing to fear and, instead, for it to become the thing I desire. With change, life will have the potential to stop being limited by illness, fear, anxiety.

Maybe one way of reclaiming change and making it positive is to list some good changes that have happened in the past 12 months:

  • Getting Midge: I'd known for a while that I would one day get another dog but (as with Benji) the arrival of Midge in my life at the end of July last year was unexpected. A friend sent me a webpage so that I could advise her on a dog she was thinking of adopting. She didn't end up getting that dog. But I did end up looking at all the other adoptable dogs on that webpage, noticed little Midge, applied to adopt her and 10 days later had my little girl. She's a very different dog from Benji and her difficult background has led to many challenges, especially at the beginning. She had to learn to trust humans, as well as learning some basic skills, such as walking on a lead and house training. As I write this, she is curled up snoozing by me on the sofa. She now trusts me completely and trots round with me as I go about my daily routine. She adores Benji and follows his lead. The fact that she needs me so much, as her stable person, her rescuer whom she can trust, has given me extra reason to live and carry on fighting.
  • New friends: I met some wonderful people in hospital last year. We connected and have formed a support network. Some other friends (who I previously didn't know) have also become part of this network and I now have people to see every day, who understand the challenges of living with an ED and of fighting every day to get well and stay well. It's actually quite hard to articulate the extent to which these friends have made it possible for me to see hope, even in some very difficult times. They know who they are and the only way I can repay them is to try to give back the same support to them. 
Good change in action: Midge on her first day, too scared to come out from under the Papasan chair

Last week, making herself comfortable on my knitting!

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