Chapter 15: The Recovery
Why does Samantha act like this? She’s so frustrating! She’s almost begging to get me water. She’s been doing this since we returned to her house three days ago. I mean yeah, I should have water, but it’s not that big of a deal to beg to get it for me. Everything is just getting on my nerves lately.
“Why are you so adamant about getting water for me anyways?” I question Samantha.
“I’m trying to help where I can. You haven’t eaten in a couple days. Ileana, please just let me get it for you.”
“Fine, I guess you can get me the water. You know, I am capable of walking to the sink and getting it.”
“I know you are, it helps me feel helpful. Do you want ice in it again?”
“No, I’ll just have cold water from the tap.”
Samantha takes my cup to the kitchen. Gods, what’s wrong with her? She’s been so weird since we came back home. Yeah I don’t want to eat, so what? Sometimes people go through phases. I just want to be left alone. When is she going back to work?
I get up and walk to the kitchen in search of a calendar.
Samantha is at the counter pouring some powder in my cup. She’s drugging me? What the fuck! How could she? I’m not having anything from her again!
“What the fuck are you putting in my water? Is this why you always want to get some for me? Are you drugging me?”
“It’s not like that Ileana, breathe. Take a deep breath. It’s just powder multivitamins.”
“So because I don’t eat, you feel the need to force stuff in me without my knowledge! How long have you been doing this?”
I can’t fucking believe it. She’s trying to control everything. I don’t need her. I can take care of myself! I’ll do just fine on my own.
Samantha begins talking and I interrupt her, “You know what, fuck it. I’m leaving.” I walk towards the door.
“Please, don’t leave Ileana. I’m just trying to help. I’ll be honest and upfront with you from now on. You’re relapsing, something is up, and you need to confront it. I’d say to go to your classes again, but every time I’ve suggested it in the last few days, you have shot it down. I know your body needs nutrients, and this was one way to get them to you.”
I open the door to leave. “Stop, My Pet.” Samantha commands.
My body freezes and I’m unable to continue leaving. Leave, out the door...just three more steps.
No, I can’t. I can’t blatantly disobey her. I need her.
No, I don’t need her. I don’t need anyone. I can do this on my own.
“My Pet, please close the door.” Samantha’s voice pulls me away from my thoughts and I close the door. “Running away from your problems won’t solve anything.”
“I’m not running away from my problems!” I shout at her.
“Then what are you doing?”
What am I doing? Leaving because I don’t want to deal with this. I guess I am running away. I can’t let her know she was right. I stay silent for a minute more, “I am retreating from troubling issues.” I reply with a smirk.
“I’m glad to get a little humor from you.” Samantha says.
“Because it lets me know that you, Ileana, are strong and can shine through the confusion in your head.”
“Of course it’s me in my head. I’m not someone else!”
“I know you aren’t. Now, let’s work through this. You’re upset, and that’s okay. That’s good. So, what exactly are you upset about?”
“I don’t know. Just everything. Everything since my parents house aggravates me.”
“And why is that?” She asks.
“I don’t know. Because you care. And because I just want to be left alone. I can do this on my own.”
“I know you can dear, but getting help from someone, or leaning on them, does not take credibility from you. This is something only you can do on your own. No matter what we do, or where you get help, you won’t get better if you don’t want to.”
I don’t need help. The way you helped me was spiking my water. That was wrong. I can do this on my own. I won’t lie or hide anything.
“But you drugged me!” I lash out.
“I didn’t drug you. I gave your mind vitamins. There’s no way you would have thought clear enough without eating if I didn’t give them to you. I did it when you first came here also. I know it might have been unethical to keep it from you, but you would have never agreed to take them.” Samantha takes a moment to breathe and wipe a tear from her cheek. “You were dying in front of my eyes, Ileana. I had to do something. I love you. I need you. I can’t have you dying on me, especially if I can help! Do you know how scared I was for you? Have you thought about what your actions affect me? I’m sure you haven’t. Every time that you refuse food like it’s nothing, it causes me pain. The last three days have been terrible, you’ve been upset at everything and haven’t eaten. I know you need help but you don’t want it right now. I need you to want to help yourself.” By the end of her rant, she was in tears, close to weeping.
I try to comprehend what she said. She’s so sad. Am I that bad? I cause her pain all the time. She deserves better than me.
But she said she loves and needs me...yes. I need her to. My actions affect her...they hurt her.
I need to help myself. What do I need help with? I need help with the fight inside of me. I don’t feel strong enough to control my impulses. I need help but I can’t accept it. I need help with food...I freak out when I’m around it…
No, I don’t need help. I can do this on my own. I don’t need anyone. They don’t know what I’m going through. They can’t understand.
I hear Samantha whimper next to me. Samantha, I hurt her. She’s crying. What do I do? She’s never been like this. And she screamed at me. It’s like she is overflowing with emotions.
I walk over to comfort her. I place my hand on her shoulder. She looks up at me and I see the anguish in her eyes. I caused that. “What can I do?” I ask quietly.
“You can choose to get better, you can talk with me about your problems. Nothing will ever change unless you change your tactics around food. If you always run and let your feelings dictate you, you will lose every time. You need to let me know when something bothers you so we can fix it before you get overwhelmed. You can choose to fight for a better tomorrow. You can choose to return back to the sessions that helped you before. There is so much you can do, Ileana. It’s up to you to choose to do it though.” She explains.
It’s up to me...I want our life to go back to normal. I need to change my thinking. I need to work on myself…how am I going to do that? I guess rejoining sessions will help, and I’ll figure things out along the way.
“I will.” I say quietly.
“You will what?”
“I will choose to do something. I mean get help. I will choose to fight and try to not give in. I want to get better for you and us.”
Samantha embraces me, picks me up, and spins me in a circle.
I can’t help but return the huge smile she has on her face. If her makeup wasn’t smeared by the tears she shed for me, you never would have known she broke down a few minutes ago. “You’re so beautiful.” I think out loud as I actually see her for the first time in a few days.
“I bet.” She giggles, “All this snot running down my face must be so attractive.”
“You know it, My Queen. Thank you.”
“For?” She questions.
“For stopping me. It could have gotten so bad if you let me leave. And you showed me what was important again. I need you. You keep me grounded. I momentarily lost sight of everything. It’s like I was consumed by fear and another person took over my body.” I try to explain what happened in my mind.
“I will always be here to help, even if you don’t see it as that.”
“And...can you not hide anything? I mean you could have said you’re putting vitamins in the water. I don’t think I would have been that mad.”
“Of course. Will you eat dinner with me?”
“I don’t know if I can do food right now...I will drink a little of a shake if you make it.”
“Coming right up!” She says enthusiastically.
“Are you ready for your first session back?” Samantha asks from the driver’s seat.
“Not really. I don’t want them to look down on me for falling into the darkness again.” I look down the sidewalk that I’ve walked many times before. I know this time will be different. I messed up. I want to get better. I can’t put Samantha through more pain. I will do what it takes, for her.
“I’m sure no one will think bad of you. Things happen and people take steps in every direction throughout life. Just be honest Ileana. This is for you. You can do it!”
Her positivity does little to ease my mind. I screwed up, I slipped back into my eating disorder. I lost myself again. I need to change...something...anything. I want to be better. I need to listen and focus.
“Thank you...for all you’ve done for me. You are the best.” I say quietly while leaning to give her a goodbye kiss.
“I’ll pick you up when you’re done. If you’re up for it, I would like to go over with you what you learned today.”
“I can do that.” I say exiting the vehicle and walking the path of shame back to my counselors.
“That’s quite a packet you have there.” Samantha observes as I slide into the seat next to her.
“Yeah, I asked for copies of things so that I can go over them with you and so I don’t forget.”
“That was a very smart idea, My Pet. Are you up to going to the coffee shop and talking over some hot chocolate?”
“I think I can handle that.” I smirk at her.
“Good, there’s our coffee shop just around the corner.”
We park and hurry in, I get our corner table while Samantha orders for us.
I got this. I know it will take work, but with Samantha and Jack’s help, I’m certain I can recover. Just breathe...it’s okay to be broken now. I’m going to work on fixing that. It will be hard, but not impossible. I need to change my thinking and develop new and healthy habits.
Samantha sits down practically on my lap. She couldn’t be any closer to me. “Alright, are you ready?”
“I don’t think there’s much of a choice, so I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.”
“You don’t have to share, if you don’t want to. I won’t force you to talk.” She explains.
“No, it’s okay. I need to talk with you and let you know what’s up and the plan to get better.”
“Let’s get to it then!” Samantha warmly smiles at me.
“Okay...well, this paper is the overall goals I need to achieve for recovery. It pretty much says I need to learn to listen to my feelings, listen to my body, accept myself and finally love myself.”
“I think those would be great for you to learn.” She says encouragingly.
“I’m sure it’s going to be tough. This one talks about my continued treatment. They want me to see a nutrition specialist to learn healthy eating behaviors. I will continue my individual therapy, group therapy, and family therapy; that is if you’ll go with me.”
“Of course I’ll go with you, My Pet. I’m here to support you in any way I can.”
I take a deep breath and relax a little. This is actually going quite well. Samantha is so supportive and amazing.
“And this page is about self-help.” I smile at Samantha before continuing. “It says the more motivated someone is to understand why they developed an eating disorder and learn healthy coping skills, the easier it is to heal. This packet has quite a bit of information.” I explain.
“I’m listening, what does it say?”
“Well, the first self-help tip is to learn healthy ways to deal with emotional pain. It says that food isn’t the real problem, and the eating disorder was a coping mechanism I used for stress and unpleasant emotions. When I feel like I shouldn’t eat, I need to take a moment and figure out what I’m feeling inside. Once I determine what I’m reacting to, then I should try a different way of coping which could be talking to a friend, reading, listening to music, walking, journaling, playing a game, or doing something helpful. Apparently there’s a lot of other things that can be done.” I chuckle to myself.
“I’m so glad you really dived into learning this, Ileana.”
“I am too, actually. I know I need help with a lot of these things. This one is full of do’s and don’ts. This is what I should do: be vulnerable to people I trust, fully experience every emotion while accepting them, let my emotions come and go as they please, and get comfort from other people instead of controlling food. And the don’ts are hiding or ignoring my emotions, let people shame my emotions, avoid feelings that make me uncomfortable, worry about feelings making me fall apart, and focus on food when I’m hurting.”
“I’ll be sure to help with whatever you need. We’re going to need these pages available for reference throughout the day.”
“I agree. The more I see and talk about it, the more it sinks in. Like I’m starting to learn, but it is going to take a lot of practice. It’s changing the way I think about everything. Well, almost everything. My thoughts on you remain unchanged.”
“I’m glad you feel that way. Mine are unchanged also.” She places her hand on my cheek and kisses me. “You are so strong and brave, Ileana.”
“I don’t know about that...but I’ll work on it! Moving on though, I just want to get through this. I need to create a balanced relationship with food. I need to let go of rigid rules and I can’t diet because that makes you focus on all of the food you shouldn’t have. I need to learn to listen to my body again. I’ve ignored my hunger cravings and I need to start recognizing them again.”
“That makes a lot of sense.”
“I need to learn to love and accept myself. I have a hard time with this because I am just finding out who I am, I am a different person than I thought I would be. For this, I need to make a list of positive qualities that I have, I need to stop checking over my body and picking out flaws, and I need to challenge my negative thoughts. I shouldn’t compare myself to others. Everyone is different and special in their own ways.”
“I think that will be a key thing for you to grasp Ileana. If you’re up for it, at some point I would love to hear what you’re struggling with in your head.”
“I can do that, but a different day. After we get through these papers, I would just like to relax.”
“I can help you with that.” She winks at me and a flame ignites in the pit of my stomach. How does she do that with only a wink? I brush my desire aside, “Maybe later, there’s only like one more page here on tips to avoid relapse.”
“I suppose I’ll let you finish.”
“Thank you. First thing is I need to develop a support system. I can do this with you, Jack, my parents, and the group from therapy. I should avoid people who drain my energy and make me feel bad about myself. I need to identify my triggers. I need to learn to pick up on warning signs and make a plan for when bad things happen. Keeping a journal will help me keep tabs on my behaviors, thoughts, and emotions so I will be able to tell if I’m starting to spiral downwards. I need to stick to my treatment plan and fill my life with positivities. And if I happen to relapse, I can’t beat myself up about it; recovery is a process that can have many setbacks. Annnnddddd, we’re done. Whoo, that was quite a bit of information.”
“Yes, it was. Thank you for sharing all of it Ileana. I have a question to ask you.”
“Will you…” She pauses and takes a deep breath. No way, she can’t be asking me this. We haven’t even talked about the future yet! “...go to an awards show with me?”
Wait...what? Why is that a big deal?
“Yeah, why was that hard?” I ask.
“I’ve never brought a date to a formal acting event or awards show. I usually don’t go, or I go by myself.”
“Of course I’ll go with you. I can’t wait! Thanks for asking me!” I can’t believe she hasn’t brought a date to an awards show before.
“Thank you, My Pet. We will have a grand evening on the red carpet together!”
“That sounds kind of scary...now that you phrase it that way. I don’t think I’m red carpet material.”
“You’ll do just fine. I’ll be with you the whole time!” She kisses me and my worries dissipate.