September 19, 2008

Six things that haven't changed

I read somewhere this week that it's important to remember things about your loved one that haven't changed because of the eating disorder. I thought about what hasn't changed for me about M, and told her a few of them this week. Her reaction? Well, she glowed. I think it was huge for both of us, for different reasons. She needs to remember that she's more than just her disorder and her recovery. And I need to remember, through all the tough times, why I will not stop fighting for her - the many reasons I fell in love with her in the first place.

Anyway, here's my list.

1. Her laugh, which is the single most joy-inducing sound in my world.
2. She is so smart. I'll take five minutes to explain something I learned, and she'll say "Right, so you mean _____." And in six words, she'll make it obvious that she already knows more about this topic that I'll ever know. I swear this happens at least twice every week.
3. She has a great, wry sense of humor.
4. She hates unfairness or injustice, in any form, and she has the courage to let it be known.
5. She cares deeply about her brothers, and she's been such a great role model for them.
6. Her eyes. I still can't describe what color they are, because they're blue at times and green at other times. They're always spectacular.

A baby step forward, a wobbly step backward

First, the good news: M seems to be working hard to get more out of her sessions with her therapist lately. She's been with her psychiatrist (let's call him Dr. L) for a couple of years now, and her attitude about those sessions constantly swings between appreciative, challenging, and downright combative. M can be a wee bit stubborn, you see, and Dr. L is sometimes the only person in her life who calls her out and challenges her way of thinking. He pushes her to explore the root causes of her depression and eating disorder, even when that can be painful, and he challenges her to never silently settle for having this burden in her life, but to work towards something better. She doesn't always react well to that, but I think she recognizes that she needs that. When she wants to mope, I might let her, but Dr. L will press for more, for something that moves her forward. The fact that M is opening up to him more gives me real hope that the dark, latent demons could be flushed from her life sometime in the future - maybe months from now, years, whatever. How amazing would that be?

And then, all that flowery optimism gets walloped by the fact that M's started trying to occasionally numb her pain by turning to drinking.

Twice in the past 8 days, M has been drunk when I got home. Drunk, and crying her eyes out, reflecting on the horrible crap she's been through in her life. Mind you, she typically never drinks by herself - maybe half a glass of wine while she's making dinner, but that's it. Tonight, she had polished off a couple of glasses before I got home and was sobbing uncontrollably. She also had that "Chasing Cars" song playing on repeat on her computer (that would make me weep too - just kidding). Anyway, I just held her for about 20 minutes, and she started to calm down a bit. We talked about ways she could channel her anger and fear more constructively, and I thought everything was easing back towards normal.

Then I left the room for 10 minutes and she picked up the wine bottle again and took a few more swigs, before I finally came back in the room, saw what she was doing, took the bottle out of her hands (she didn't put up a fight - too drunk to object), and poured the rest of it down the drain. A few minutes later, she stumbled over to the bathroom floor, grabbed the toilet with both hands, and... well, you get the idea.

I told Dr. L the first time this happened, late last week, and he said to keep an eye out for it and see if it became a more frequent occurrence. Now that it has, I'm scared and despondent and hurt and more than a little angry. Somehow I have to find a way to talk to her about it tomorrow, while trying to turn that swirl of emotions into something firm but compassionate. I have to let her know that this is not an OK way to manage her pain, but not make her feel so bad about it that she goes off the deep end again.

Tiptoe firmly - that's my new motto.