Saturday, July 21, 2012

Shameless Self-Pity

I've started to write a couple of different posts today about real, substantial subjects, but I'm just not thinking straight and can't really articulate anything well. Mostly, I'm overwhelmed by all the hurt in the world. Twelve people are dead because some maniac shot up a movie theater. Bombs are going off in the streets. My baby cousin just started chemo.

How can I sit here and complain about how I'm not hungry enough for dinner, or about how I have another eye infection, or about how R has decided I'm gaining too slowly and need to add another snack even though my thighs feel like they're exploding out of my shorts? Why am I so fucking selfish?

This is hard for me to admit, but sometimes it just feels like I can't take on the world's hurt along with my own. My friend starting reading me an article about the shooting in Colorado and I made her stop because I couldn't take it; it made me too upset. I want to get all fired up and rant and rail about gun violence, or war, or the sad state of public education, but I just can't. I'm too fragile and broken. My stomach hurts and my eyes are burning and I can't decide if it's okay for me to wait until tomorrow to add the extra calories, because today my head is too full and my body is too uncomfortable.

I feel stupid being proud of this, but my friends and I went out to dinner last night and I ate every last bite on my plate, plus my snack later. Is okay to brag about that when I'm almost twenty-two and in college and should be proud of publishing papers or finishing my thesis or graduating instead? Maybe Baby D would brag about surviving his first week of cancer but, you know, he's fifteen months old and can't talk. Or blog.

So I can't think about how much worse off so many people are compared to me. It's depressing and demoralizing and makes me feel worse about myself. Am I quite possibly the most self-centered, self-pitying person on Earth? Probably, yes, and I hate that, but maybe I just need to protect myself for now, and trust that this is temporary.


  1. Let me just say that I am so incredibly PROUD of you, and of the not so little victory you accomplished yesterday. That is huge.

    The worlds pain is loud, but your pain is too.
    Don't feel guilty for knowing what you can handle or stupid for celebrating victories. They are victories. Of a battle no one should ever fight.

  2. No one should ever HAVE to fight

  3. 1) Yes you should add the calories today.


    3) You can be proud about last night and tell us about it AND be hurt for the people in Colorado. It's not an either/or thing.

    4) What you're describing - high sensitivity to others' pain - is a common characteristic in people with AN. Just sayin'... you're not alone.

    5) You are NOT the most selfish person. First of all, you care a lot about others - obviously!

    6) That said, eating disorders are not selfish, but they do manifest in ways that often make our thoughts and behaviors very self-focused... and that is all the more motivation to recover as quickly as possible (and, so that brings us back to point one about adding the calories today!)

    YAY YOU!

  4. oh, and PS... I think your sensitivity is a beautiful quality that you have. Sensitivity does have a light and a dark side, but you'll learn, with time, to manage your sensitivity so that you can be in the world more fully. It'll get there!

  5. I think it's awesome about dinner, congrats! That's really major, so don't discount it. Truly great! I don't think you're at all selfish or self-pitying! You're fighting back against a serious, life-threatening disease, which requires that you keep your health as a top priority right now. You're an incredibly caring and compassionate individual.

    Good luck with the added snack and eye infection! And thoughts and prayers for Baby D!

  6. Exactly. What Allie said. Recovery REQUIRES you focus IT! You're doing a really fantastic job!

  7. something that was helpful for me early on when I was feeling über guilt about how much effort/energy I was putting into feeding myself every freaking minute-- you can be of no help to the whole wide rest of the world by starving yourself. feedin yourself so you can be well enough to make whatever contribution to academia/your family/community is not selfish. you suffering doesn't do anyone any good. there's a lot of evil out there, but celebrate the goodness in the world and all the strides you've made so that you can participate in the world.

  8. Um, wow! Everyone else said really articulate things already that I agree with. I love Allie's thought and JS's thought as well. My thought was this: you obviously AREN'T selfish if all of these horrible things going on in others' lives AFFECT you! You are obviously a very empathetic person who is unselfish enough to care about things that are going on in others' lives!

    That being said, I think it's completely fine to set boundaries to keep you stable! It doesn't mean you're going to live in a bubble or put your hands in your ears forever--it just means that you are aware of what you need in a certain state/time frame, and that is WISE. Empathy doesn't just extend to needs to extend to ourselves. You need to compassionately allow yourself what you need in the moment, just like you would allow others their time and space so they can process in their own unique way.