The problem is, these adaptive behaviors become maladaptive as time went on. They crushed me under their weight.
And there's more.
I obsessively take notes and make lists. This is necessary to a degree. My illnesses have destroyed my short term memory and in order to keep up with the normals, I have to write things down. I don't have to write down everything that will happen when- when- I get fired. (That list starts with "homeless" btw.)
Again, adaptive behaviors becoming maladaptive.
For the first time, I grok the struggle of people with ED. Alcoholism has one advantage: you don't need alcohol. If you can manage to stop drinking it, you don't have to go back to survive. Not so much with ED. You have to eat to live. There's no getting around that.
My therapist told me to stop taking notes and making lists. For people with normal memory function, this would be good advice. I don't have normal memory function. Even on a good day, I will walk into the copy room with the document to be copied in my hand and not be able to remember why I'm in that room. Then I get back to my desk, see the document in my hand and remember.
So, adaptive behavior that is also maladaptive, and I can't stop doing it.
So, we compromised, the therapist and I. Before I make a list, I have to ask myself what this list will accomplish, or rather whether it will accomplish. Lists that will actually accomplish something- helping me buy the right food at the store, reminding me of chores to do, reminding me of tasks to do at work- are acceptable. Lists that simply codify panic- what will happen when I get fired- are not acceptable. I must put down the pen, the ipod, whatever, and walk away. Literally walk away.
But, but, but . . . I can deal with it if it's written down. It's just words. Words I can control. All the words are mine and they must obey me! . . . um, yeah, I'm obsessing. I can't control the world. I really want to, I really need to, I cannot just let things happen because who knows what will happen, but it will be bad, I promise you that. Here, I'll make a list of all the bad things that will happen if I loosen my grip just the tiniest bit.
Yeah, well, it can be done. I'm going to do it. It's just hard. I wonder if my knuckles are just permanently white at this point?
*Not the atheism, my beliefs about myself and other people and relationships.
**There is a reason I do not advocate "staying together for the kids". Speaking for at least some of the kids, no, we're not better off that way.