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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.