Charles Bukowski, one of my favorite poets, once began a piece of work with, “nobody can save you, but yourself.”
Today, I hear that, and I hear that loudly.
**an extremely relevant post I wrote about a year back: YOU have to make the decision.**
It’s human nature to want to fix problems. It’s natural to look at someone I love who is struggling and want to do everything in my power to help them get better.
Sometimes though, it’s not my place.
Sometimes, people don’t want to be helped. At least, not yet.
Sometimes, people resist me because they aren’t ready to face the problem.
Sometimes, people won’t admit there is an issue that needs mending.
I’m in this spot of frustration right now, and I’m feeling helpless.
When I see people in my life who make poor decisions, whether consciously or not, I want to jump right in help. I want them to see that there is a better option. I want them to see that plan B, while unexplored, might be healthier, safer, happier.
But I cannot make others listen.
Back when I was in the depths of my eating disorder, only one person really got through to me, and even he only made me more angry. No matter what someone said, I shrugged it off. I minimized my problems to no end. I didn’t think I had a problem, and no one could convince me otherwise.
I couldn’t recover until I saw just how bad I was for myself.
I’m trying to remember this right now.
Through this blog, I’ve established hundreds of friendships across the globe with readers who can, unfortunately, relate with my eating disorder. My email is stockpiled with beautifully tragic emails asking for advice and connection. I make a point to respond to every single one I get, albeit sometimes in an untimely manner. The issue with this though, is that I become attached.
This also occurs in real life. Friends who have experienced similar struggles are more likely to confide in me their stories because of my blog, and I’m eternally grateful for this. I will never forget how thankful I am for my blog’s ability to reduce people’s anxiety and to initiate vulnerable conversations, but sometimes I think people don’t realize what they are getting when they start this dialogue with me.
I check back in with people. I want them to know I’m not forgetting about them. If they have a blog or an instagram account, I peek in to see what they are up to and if they’ve made progress. Accountability is huge, especially in the early stages of recovery, and if I’m able to be that person for someone, I know I’m helping.
Today is one of those days when someone I’m attached to is acting harmfully to herself, and I just don’t know what to do.
Maybe this demonstrates that I might have a bit of arrogance about me. Maybe I think I can fix it all when in reality I don’t have the power. Maybe I just like to think I can help, and I cannot accept the fact that I’m actually helpless in this venture.
I cannot make anyone recover.
I can encourage. I can love on a person I see struggling til the cows come home, but at the end of the day, recovery has to come from within. Each person needs to decide for themselves that there is more to his or her life than following the strict, disordered demands of an eating disorder- or any other addiction for that matter.
I have to let got of forcing recovery down anyone’s throat. I can continue to show my life after an eating disorder. I can continue to share the ups and the downs. I can continue to express how I feel. I can continue to offer my opinion when it is solicited, but I had to let go of the idea that I can make anyone else recover.
Choosing to recover has to come from within. It’s a daily commitment, it’s a decision one has to make multiple times each day, each hour. It’s choosing to say no to exercising and safe foods. It’s choosing to say yes to fear foods, loving one’s body, and accepting the changes.
I feel emotionally exhausted right now. I’m so invested in other’s and their recoveries, that it’s starting to weigh on me. I wish I could settle into each struggling person’s heart and just show them how worth it recovery is. It is so freaking worth it. But my words sometimes fall on deaf ears. I need to learn to accept that. Being a “fixer” takes too much energy away from the aspects of my life that deserve the attention, such as my academics and my relationships.
I genuinely believe that we are all placed into each other’s lives for a purpose. Sometimes, it’s for brief periods of times, whereas others are for years and years, even decades. But for whatever reason, there is a reason why I am in your life at this moment. That said, I’m not here to fix anyone. I’m here to write out my thoughts for anyone who will listen and read. I can’t fix someone, but through my words, I might be able to hand someone the glue.
But just maybe. Maybe, I can’t. And that has to be okay. I need to learn how to be okay with not having all the answers.
I care about every single one of you out there struggling with an eating disorder. I cannot keep you from those tribulations, but I want you all to know I care so much about you. Each and every one of you. It is my hope that you see how worthy you are of a better life; one not defined by calories, macronutrients, alcohol, exercise, or whatever battle you face. I care so much about you.
I cannot make anyone recover.
The wonderful thing? Bukowski’s poem is left with hope. I cannot think of a better way to end this quick blog post of everything going on in my heart right now than finishing his entire poem.
If you’re struggling and cannot find motivation, please read this poem. Read it over and over. Again and again. Internalize it. These words are true. They were true for me, and they are true for you as well.
“nobody can save you but
you will be put again and again
into nearly impossible
they will attempt again and again
through subterfuge, guise and
to make you submit, quit and/or die quietly
nobody can save you but
and it will be easy enough to fail
so very easily
but don’t, don’t, don’t.
just watch them.
listen to them.
do you want to be like that?
a faceless, mindless, heartless
do you want to experience
death before death?
nobody can save you but
and you’re worth saving.
it’s a war not easily won
but if anything is worth winning then
this is it.
think about it.
think about saving your self.”
― Charles Bukowski
- Are you a “fixer?”
- Who’s your favorite poet?
- How do you handle watching your loved ones endure problems in their lives?