"And there, standing in the moonlight, I realized that I couldn't get rid of the shadows. I could only affect where they fall." --Diane Ackerman, A Slender Thread
Two years ago yesterday, I took a massive overdose. And I survived. I probably shouldn't have, only one of many of these occasions in which my survival was one of the least likely outcomes.
The shadows? They're still here. And they haunt me, still.
Yet. And yet.
I am learning to influence these shadows, learning when they appear and why, and how to move them about. I know that winter sucks, that not eating feels good until it doesn't but then it's kind of hard to stop, that overexercising feels good until it doesn't but then it's also kind of hard to stop. So I'm learning not to start.
My level of depression is significantly better than two years ago, which means I can get out of bed and get to work, reliably. I can feed myself and my cat. Also fairly reliably. I am rarely over-the-moon happy, or even garden-variety happy, but I haven't been for over a decade, so I'm not especially astonished.
I am still anxious as all hell, but I have been for half of my life, so, again, I'm not particularly astonished.
Eating disorder-wise, I'm still mentally rather stuck. Ed is still there, very much. I fight the thoughts on an hourly basis, but still I fight. I am getting better, if only in the sense that I am learning how to reach out and ask for help and talk about how I feel even though it's icky icky icky and I don't like it one bit. I also don't like hospitals and ERs and (sorry, Mom and Dad) living at home, so I take the bargain.
These are my shadows- these and many other things. Traumas from treatments (learning the girls at the facility had been reading my journal as a social activity for FOUR MONTHS was a spectacular low point and the only time in which I had to be restrained from bitch slapping someone- in this case my roommate, the leader of the f* cked up Motley Crue ) follow me, as do those from other times in my life.
I have found a sense of peace in accepting that shadows--whether these or others like them--will always be with me. But I can move, make the shadows bigger or (hopefully) smaller, position them in a place where I can accept them and move on. A position where they won't interfere with my life, even though they are very real and very much still there.
Maybe we're not supposed to be happy. Maybe gratitude has nothing to do with joy. Maybe being grateful means recognizing what you have for what it is. Appreciating small victories. Admiring the struggle it takes simply to be human. Maybe we're thankful for the familiar things we know. And maybe we're thankful for the things we'll never know. At the end of the day, the fact that we have the courage to still be standing is reason enough to celebrate.