Tuesday, 16 August 2011

my armour


The new therapist, J, asked me if I would like to do some writing activities to help me get my thoughts out - which I thought was probably a good starting point given my general reluctance to talk too much during sessions. So when we last met J brought along some writing prompts, one of which was to do with discussing how I use armour to protect myself in daily life - how this helps and how this restricts me.

At first I interpreted this to mean how does ED act as my armour - which I thought was interesting since I had never thought of ED as protecting me. But try as I might I couldn't make this model fit. The best I could come up with was 'tissue paper' armour that dissolved at the first sign of rain.

In actuality ED is more that frenemy we all had in high school that would talk us into doing something stupid or dangerous and promise they'd be 'right behind you'. But of course as soon as there was trouble they were not there to back you up.

But as I re-read the writing prompt it didn't actually mention ED at all. It simply says talk about 'your armour'. Which is really more the front I put on for others. Which I definitely do - all the time. K (the old therapist) once commented that I had turned 'fake it 'till you make it' into some sort of olympic sport. But I suspect I'm not the only one who does this??

So who am I protecting with all this armour? Me? My reputation? My kids? My husband? Take your pick. ED will tell me that all of these are in terrible danger if the truth were to get out. I think my biggest fears would be losing my job and my kids getting bullied for having a 'mental mum'.

But I'm starting to let go of this. Firstly I think there are worse things in life that your mum having an eating disorder. And since I'm planning on beating this thing I hope I will raise them to be proud of me. And secondly I'm not really sure I care if I lose my job. Yes I love love love my job - but if anyone thinks I'm any different once they know about my eating disorder than I was 10 secs before they knew, well I'm not sure I want to know them.

But I guess my armour does restrict me. It stops me from finding out who my true friends really are for a start. And that is something I have decided needs to go pretty high on my list of priorities. I am not going to bother socialising with anyone who doesn't support me (in any sense of that word). Life is too short for fair-weather friends.

Have you ever thought about your armour? Does it really protect you? 
Do you think you will always wear it?


Anonymous said...

I have an armour that I am slowly trying to chip away at and it isn't until I start chipping away that I realise just how big it is and how much I hide under it. Only a few people know the me who is honest about having an ED but I still don' know if that is closer to the 'real me' or just another part of who I am but no closer to me.

Like you, I know that the people that are important will love and respect me even with an ED but I am not strong enough to go there (yet).

xo Poppy

HikerRD said...

Well, PJ, I've only "known" you, virtually, that is, with your armor down. That is, I've seen the true "PJ", with all her flaws, and fears, and all her courage and determination. And it's oh-so-refreshing to see! it's certainly safer virtually, but imagine what it would be like to expose yourself more fully to those who already can see your strengths and attributes, and can see your struggles, including your eating disorder, as a small part of who you are.
Imagine that!
With my patients, I'll add, I see the armor as sarcasm, inappropriate laughter or superficial anger, when, like your tissue paper, breaks down rather quickly.
Loved this post!

PJ said...

@hikerrd - yes, sarcasm is definitely part of my armour too. That and just making a joke out of everything. Deflecting comments of concern with a laugh is a well rehearsed strategy of mine.
And thank you - I'm glad you like the post :)