This past year I have felt stuck in a never-ending video game, navigating an elaborate maze, racing to gobble up little tidbits of hope to give me the strength to keep going. Not allowing myself to stop for fear I’d lose my way and the ghosts; Virus, restrictions, social distancing, rioting and politicians, might catch me swallow me whole.
"Sherri, are you ready to take it up a notch? My dietician, Gretchen said to me not long after I returned from my girlfriend's get away in Indian Wells in 2017.
I had gone into that trip coasting on a plateau, and despite the weird food schedule, and endless sitting, I had, according to my post-trip weigh-in, also lost weight. But I told myself I didn't care. After eight months in treatment, I had gained just enough to fit into jeans from a department other than the Junior section. I had expanded my food repertoire, allowing me the freedom to eat in a restaurant without going completely "off-menu." And if Palm Springs proved anything, it showed I could be flexible enough with my routine to stay connected to my people. Quite frankly, I was tired of my weeks being filled driving across town, fighting traffic to attend appointments with my dietician, therapist, physician, and RO-DBT classes. I was done with constantly talking and thinking about myself and my "issues."
I knew I had stopped pushing myself. I kept my food and exercise at just enough to hold the status quo. Although I didn't want to lose any weight, I had worked too hard for those pounds, the thought of gaining MORE weight scared me. I feared that allowing my body to have free reign, without my control, would find me ditching my still loved lycra tights and turkey sandwiches for a life of flannel pjs, pizza, and the Kardashians. I believed I needed to stop before I let all hell break loose in my mind and my body. My life was good the way it was.
It wasn't good enough for Gretchen and Kirsten so they set up a double team.
"Sherri, you have made progress in many ways, but you have a ways to go,” Gretchen said to me when I told her my plan to take a break from treatment, careful to avoid the word ‘quit.’ She appealed to my sense of reason by explaining the facts. Patients who stop treatment before reaching full weight restoration are at very high risk for relapse. And even I knew at 5'8 and an almost size 2, I was not even halfway close to fully restored.
"You aren't going to quit before you reached your goal, are you?” My therapist Kirsten, asked me in our session two days later. She had obviously spoken with Gretchen and in her feigned innocent raised eyebrow manner, had deployed the tactic of appealing to my competitive nature. "The Sherri I know doesn't quit."
I sat there in Kirsten's office, silent except for the swishing of my pant leg as I swung my crossed leg back and forth. I was staring at the picture behind her, the one that always reminded me of Dr. Suess, with its whimsical shapes that made no sense one moment and complete sense the next. A picture I had studied so many times before when my mind was stuck.
And I felt stuck. I was wrestling between what I wanted to do and what I needed to do. Caught between stopping and calling “Game Over “ or continuing to run the maze, striving to gobble up the things that would give me strength enough to keep going until I, once again, found my way.
I love competition, whether watching or playing. Gretchen and Kirsten often played upon my “never quit” nature.
From Left: At a Trailblazers game with my dad and sister, bowling with the boys, family game night in which, looking back, I am grateful I offered to take the picture. (Spring 2017)