"You can always go back if you want to," my therapist, Kirsten, suggested to me, in attempt to nudge me out of my long weight plateau. Understanding my fear of gaining more weight, she was trying a new tactic. Implying that any weight I gained going forwards did not have to be permanent. Kirsten, I recognize now, was offering me the option of a" pivot."
Thanks to 2020, I, along with the rest of the world, have mastered the art of the pivot. COVID-19 has forced us to bob and weave through everyday life like a running back dodging a tackle in his quest to go all the way. But until recently, pivoting was not my strong point.
It never occurred to me until Kirsten's suggestion that "going back" was an option. Despite much progress in my eight months of RO-DBT work, black and white thinking was still my default when faced with any situation. My mind still tended towards absolutes. I always exercise in the morning. I never eat late at night. Moderation is good. Overindulging is bad. I am right. My husband is wrong.
I am either thin, or I am fat.
"What's worst that could happen?" Kirsten continued seeing my mind struggling to chew through her suggestion. Her voice was breezy and casual, as if we were talking about a shorter hairstyle or a bolder wall color rather than the thing I feared most in the world.
To Kirsten's point, the weight I had gained in the past eight months had garnered mostly positives for me. Of course, I experienced a lot of discomfort. Indulgent meals that left me guilt ridden and remorseful. Days I was edgy from the yoga only exercise, and mornings the longing to feel my jeans hang loosely on my body made me weep as if I had just lost my best friend. But the pluses outweighed any of the challenges. Physically I felt stronger, I was more present physically and emotionally for my family, and I was connected to many friends. Kirsten’s weight loss suggestion was risky, therefore, I figured she must have felt confident there were more positives ahead for me. I was not so convinced.
Although I had gained weight, I was still very thin. The benefit of outpatient treatment was that it allowed me to be with my family and learn-to recover in the confines of my own life. To live life on life's terms, to quote one of my favorite Alanon-ims. On the other hand, it was a slow process. Like a parent tiptoeing into the room of a sleeping baby, I felt like I was sneaking up on weight restoration. Quiet and stealth in risk of waking my body suddenly and allowing it to notice what it had been missing. I feared in reaching a healthy weight, my body would relish in the freedom from the starved state in which it had been kept for over a decade. It would rebel against me like an angsty teen, flipping me the bird and taking off to run wild, free, and out of control.
Never allowing me the opportunity to go back, even if I wanted to.