Friday, January 11, 2008

tribute to a fellow fighting soul.

every now and then, a person will walk into your life that is meant to serve a specific purpose to whatever you may be experiencing at the time. often, we don't realize this person was introduced to us in order to help us learn a lesson, but in this particular circumstance, i knew it the moment i first saw him.
there was something different about J that i couldn't quite put my finger on - i just knew that i had to get to know him and there was a connection to be made. i was slightly thrown at first, because we were only in the same place for 3 days and i was sure that was the end of it. it was just enough time to be introduced to his slightly hidden - yet obvious - confidence and a muffled sense of humor.

when i was discharged from the EDU, i was a little more than disappointed that i didn't have the opportunity to get to know him better. there was something very intriguing about this particular man and i felt like there was so much i wanted to know about him that i didn't think i'd have the chance to learn. i never would have guessed that he would turn out to be the one patient that would travel through my recovery with me longer than any other i had met in my 2 1/2 years in recovery.
inpatient to partial hospitalization to iop. we ended up sticking together with small intervals of time between us as we stepped down in levels of care at our own paces. the way he talked, as i watched him adapt to life without his disease, blew my mind. he's a smart guy, but it's very rare to find someone with so much insight into his life. he's what my mom would call an "old soul", without a doubt. this isn't his first time experiencing life, and it shows. i loved listening to him speak during groups. even when he would slip (as we all do) and use his t/b, he understood what was going on and what he needed to do from there. he was always very honest about his "slips", but i could tell he never felt it was a step backwards and i watched him grow each time it happened.

he knew me in a way that no other fellow patient ever had seen me. for example, i don't always show the way i'm feeling in a conventional way. often, i show i'm rather content and comfortable by staying quiet in what can come across as an isolating manor. one night, during P/Group, i said nothing was really going on and i was in a rather good mood. a girl called me out and said i seemed rather depressed and was probably not saying something. before i could respond, J chimed in. "actually, you look fine to me. i've seen you depressed and this is far from it. and you know yourself pretty well, so if you say you're happy, then you are." i was rather impressed, and appreciative that he probably prevented me from becoming very defensive against this girl (who i had felt very put off by to begin with). but i was honestly a little taken aback that he jumped in to back me so quickly. even friends who know me inside and out don't always read me that well.

but the most amazing thing, and what i believe is the reason this man was introduced into my life, was what he brought back out of me. yes, i had felt my creativity begin to come back to me while i was refeeding on the EDU, but i was scared to use it. my mom always tells me i'm too hard on myself, and i know that's true. it's a large part of eating disorders; it's that constant and painful strive for non-existent perfection. i stopped drawing. i stopped singing. i stopped writing. i would become too angry with myself. nothing was good enough. in fact, it was profoundly horrifying. i was embarrassed by what was coming out of me, whether it be vocally or on paper.
we were often made to draw in "expressive therapy". i liked getting to draw, but everything i drew was terrible which was, of course, far from the point of the assignment. until, one day, we had to get up and walk around the room and look at what everyone else had come up with. when we sat down to talk about it, J was the first to speak up. "i would just like to say that you are so. incredibly. creative...i'm really amazed by the way you see things."
something about him saying that really turned me around. it was such a simple comment, but i couldn't stop thinking about it. i mean, for one, i'm not used to people commenting on me being creative...aside from my immediate family, but when you hear it for 21 years, it becomes rather mundane after about 14 or so. simply put, it meant the world to me.
since that night, i've worked hard on easing up on myself. i'm letting the stupid things go. a curve isn't round enough...a color isn't blended smoothly enough...these things that drive me to rip the shit out of a picture (that no one else is judging) and refuse to pick up a pencil for close to 2 years. i now look at those things and force myself to continue working. it doesn't have to be perfect. no one sees it like i do, and no one is expecting it to look like a museum piece. and i'm really enjoying drawing again. it's become more therapeutic than it is something that makes me need therapy. i've enjoyed singing again and have stopped judging myself for not being my vocal heroes. and, as you all know, i've been writing...obsessively, to say the least.
i'm done judging myself because i've realized that i'm the only person doing it. and if anyone else is, i don't care. that's not why i do what i do. i do it because i used to enjoy it...and i'm doing it for the same reason again. and i'm happy doing it. and i can't thank J enough for helping bring that back out of me just for showing me that things don't have to be perfect in order to make me happy. that's not what it's about.
[[...and after reading over this...i'd like to give an extra and final "fuck you" to another J :) you can only be so good of an artist if you stop being so condescending to another.]]

so, J, i hope you realize how much you've meant to me and how much you've effected my recovery over the last 2 1/2 months. i am so incredibly proud of you and i'll never forget the time i have had working through my recovery with you. you have such an unbelievable life and a beautifully supportive family and you deserve everything that you've worked towards.
[ and i hope you don't mind me sharing this with the rest of my audience ;) ]

1 comment:

Labyrinith said...

I miss J, he had such an impact on me. I miss the both of you, but everything you wrote about him is so damn true. Shit I wish I was with you guys, sharing the ups and downs of this process. Love you sweets. Give J my love and support.