A Broken Record
I head a song at work the other day and all I remember about it is the phrase “like a broken record.” I was thinking about this today while I was biking and felt like my life is a broken record at times. Stuck on repeat but not on purpose.
When a vinyl record has a scratch often times it will continue playing a small snippet of a song on loop which can get very annoying if it is stuck in a part of the song that has a horrible key change. After the record came the CD. When a CD has a scratch it is not stuck on a looping repeat but rather turns into a repeated lightning strike on a tin roof. One syllable of the music is repeat half-second after half-second until the closest person to the outlet pulls the plug. Either way, the moments after the song has ended or been “de-looped” are some of the most serene and peaceful.
During my time in the hospital I felt like a broken record. I would be playing along, being compliant, taking my medication as prescribed and I would get stuck. I would restrict, workout in my room, and avoid talking about my feelings. That loop would continue for minutes, hours, days until I was, theoretically, hit on the side of the head by a counselor and I started playing again. Taking another step forward just to get stuck again. But this time it was stuck like a CD. I was having a panic attack and bouncing from one place to another not able to focus on anything. I was struck with self-hatred, disgust, and hating myself. Even a rough body shake would not stop the skipping. Those times required, well, time. Eventually, the anxiety decreased and my rational brain resurfaced, but it was not as easy as pulling a plug on a CD player.
As Relient K sings “We all struggle with forward motion.” I felt like I was never going to leave the hospital, to leave my eating disorder behind. In fact, I was content with living my life within those strangling brick walls. It was safe, I had no responsibilities and I was cared for. It was this comfort that continued to scratch my CD.
Finally, though, I discharged. I remember sitting in my hotel room during my first morning of freedom and just being. I had nothing to do for that day except be. So I was. I sat there, I journaled, I played guitar and I enjoyed myself. My freedom. I was at peace. For a moment, just a moment I was no longer and eating disorder patient; I was a man. I was a man again and I loved it. I was free, alive, and ready to take on the world.
Don’t get me wrong, treatment was the hardest six months of my life and when I finally got to a point of desiring recovery I worked hard to achieve it AND I am still working hard to achieve it. However, I would be lying if I said that I always wanted to get rid of my anorexia. I would be lying now if I said I wanted to be 100% rid of my anorexia. It was, and is still, a sense of familiarity and comfort. The only difference today is that I have the tools, strategies, support, and strength to combat those thoughts and feelings and fight for my life.
My CD still has scratches and my vinyl record still loops but I am cleaning those surfaces daily hoping to one day have them glimmer back at me, scratch free. Will I ever be free of my eating disorder completely? Honestly, probably not, but I know I am going to keep moving forward and not get stuck in an infinite repeat. Take a Leap today and unplug the skipping CD or move the needle on your record player. Allow your life to play on.