(a chapter from Telling Ed No! by Cheryl Kerrigan©)
As the holidays approached, life became hectic, and I was stressed out at work. Ed was talking to me more often, begging me to play his games. Since I was around food at holiday parties, he was moving in on my weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Sometimes I listened, but other times defied him, which showed me that I still had the will to fight him off.
The day after Christmas, Rachel and I went to see an exhibit at the Museum of Science. We had one stop to make first—my session with Bob. I was eager to talk about my recent trouble with Ed because I knew it was a red flag. I wanted to be honest, but I was nervous. It didn’t help that Ed was telling me everything was fine.
At my session I came right out and told Bob, “Ed is getting in my way, and I am scared because my meal plan, my mood, and my thoughts are being influenced. I’m afraid that Ed won’t let go and that I’ll follow him wherever he wants to lead me.”As soon as I spoke those words, I felt a sense of relief and pride because I knew I was being honest with myself, and with Bob, about where I was with Ed.
So Bob said, “Let’s figure out a plan.” We chatted about the variety of tactics I was using to fight Ed as well as what new tools I could use to put him in his place. Then at the end of the session, he asked, “What do you think about going back to treatment for a short while—for a bit of a boost?”
To my own surprise, I answered, “Can I think about it?” And I left promising I would call later with my answer.
As Rachel and I continued with our plans at the museum, I pondered what might lie ahead—leaving my family again, more treatment, and the thought of people knowing about it. After seeing the exhibit, we grabbed a bite to eat and chatted about the possibility. I began to feel guilty at the thought of doing something for myself again. How I could be so selfish? I also began to feel afraid because I knew Ed was close by. When I shared my feelings with Rachel, she said without hesitation, “You should go, Cheryl; it will only make you stronger.” That was the confirmation I needed to return to treatment.
Having made a decision, I excused myself from our meal and told Rachel I’d be right back. I took my phone outside into the cold air. People were walking in and out of the mall, milling about and doing their thing—and I was doing mine. With confidence and no fear or hesitation, I dialed Bob’s number and said, “I’m taking you up on your offer.”
He replied “Great, I’ll make the arrangements and they will call you tomorrow.” And with that, I went home and packed.
Although I had a 10 days between Christmas and New Year’s Day off from work, being in treatment was not how I wanted to spend my time. But in my heart I knew I needed it to continue showing Ed I that wanted him gone forever. Being honest with myself and allowing myself to get the help I needed, demonstrated my strength, determination, and will to get better, and it proved who was really in charge of my life—ME!
Bob called the next morning and said, “Be here at 1:00 pm.” I replied, “Will do, thanks.” And with that I was on my way to Walden for a tune-up.
Walking in felt different this time because I was not embarrassed to be there. I held my head high and acknowledged all the hard work I had done to get to this point. I was much farther along in recovery, and happy for this opportunity to get back on track.
During this stay, I reflected on the past year and what I had learned about myself, Ed, and life. I shared my insights during groups and with new friends, discussing steps that worked and those that didn’t, and exchanging new ideas. I rang in the New Year while in treatment, and chose to view it a motivator rather than something negative. And my unforgettable experiences during those days gave me just the boost I needed to continue my journey towards full and lasting recovery.
Are you being honest with yourself about your struggles with Ed? Reflect on what is happening for you right now. Are you in need of a tune-up? If so, remember that returning to treatment does not equal failure; it equals strength. What could you do to give yourself that boost to keep going? In other words, what would a tune-up look like for you?
With health, hope and strength,