I don't think I need to explain how I feel today. Or maybe I do. People assume, myself included, that once the grave is dug, the body is buried, the mourning period has passed, and the griever has returned to what appears to be a normal life again, that the pain is over, or that it's less somehow. But that isn't true. I miss my father terribly. I miss him more than I'll ever be able to explain. 8 years seems like a long time. It seems like it should be easier by now to cope with his passing. But each year that goes by, instead of learning to deal with his absence and miss him less and less, I miss him more and more. I am constantly reminded on days like today that he's never coming home. And then I grieve all over again.
I wrote a post a couple of months ago in which I had a major epiphany. I had always assumed my eating disorder was my unintentional way of coping with the death of my father. But I realized while writing that post that my eating disorder was actually my way of not coping with the death of my father. Shortly after he passed away my eating disorder began. I had no time to think of him. I had no time to approach and deal with the emotions that followed his death. I kept myself busy with diet plans and calorie counting and constant weight loss.
So, 8 years later, I still haven't properly dealt with all of this. I still haven't faced the issue head on. Every time I think of my Dad I either smile and then think of something else very quickly, or I feel the knives in my throat and the sensation that I'm going to cry, and then think of something else very quickly.
After my father's funeral, everyone commented on how well I was taking his passing. Considering how close he and I were, I suppose everyone thought I would fall apart. And I did. It just took a few months to manifest itself. Of course I cried at his funeral. I did nothing but cry for days and days and days. And then I went numb. According to those who believe that there are 5 stages of grief (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance) I have never made it past stage 4. The denial, the anger, and the bargaining all happened when he was so sick with cancer he could no longer talk or walk or function, when he became bed-fast and the doctors told us he'd never recover. The depression set in too, but after he died, it skyrocketed. Then the eating disorder kicked in. And the acceptance, well, I suppose I haven't gotten there yet.
I've always thought of the depression and anxiety I feel due to losing my father as something completely separate from the anxiety and depression I feel due to my eating disorder. But I'm learning very quickly that perhaps they're related. And perhaps I can never recover from one until I'm ready to recover from both.
I have to admit my food intake has been low for the last two weeks. I've been anticipating today for a long time. I've been thinking about Dad a lot. I've been thinking about the collapse of our entire family structure. I've been thinking about lots of sad things. I haven't been thinking of recovery. I've also been working a lot. I've worked 7 shifts in a row, many of which were doubles. Most days I returned home from work about 10 or 11 pm. I've eaten breakfast every day but that's it. No lunch, no dinner. I justify this by telling myself that I don't have time.
But that's not true.
I don't think that this is a relapse. And I know that my behavior is not okay. I know I need to eat. I know how vitally important it is. I know all of those things. But I'm so overwhelmingly sad that I don't even have an appetite. I also know that's no excuse. Like I've said before, recovery has to be a conscious effort. You have to actively think about it and pursue it if you want to accomplish it. Unfortunately for me, I haven't been, at least not lately.
I have a lot of work to do to get myself healthy. Physically. Mentally. Emotionally. I have a lot of work to do, but I still know I can do it. I don't know how, but I have faith.
Each year on the anniversary of my father's death I can think of nothing but the Emily Dickinson poem "After great pain a formal feeling comes." In the final stanza, she says
This is the hour of lead
Remembered if outlived,
As freezing persons recollect the snow--
First chill, then stupor, then the letting go.
Here's to letting go.