15 September 2013

Magic Bricks and Castles

However magical they look once completed, you can't build a complete castle with one, single magical brick...

It takes thousands of bricks, stacked up and secured with mortar to create a caste built to stand the test of time and remain standing through storms and wars.

It takes years of help from other skilled tradesmen and women to design and build a structure that fits my needs. It's a process that can't be rushed or dragged out for too long. Time is money in the building trade! 

It's also a process without any exact plans or designs. This stresses me out. I need a plan. Not just a rough sketch of my castle. I'm going to have accept the doodles and work with what I've got. 

The mistake I make time and time again is taking time out from the hard graft of building to look for the 'magic brick' that will complete my castle in one simple step. The cure.

In recovery the 'bricks' are challenges, experiences, positive things, achievements and even just surviving tough days. It's something I've been thinking a lot about recently, trying to understand why I brush off positive things, don't think achievements in recovery are anything 'special' and why I knock myself back. .

That single brick doesn't exist, it is ALWAYS going to require more than one. 

A full recovery, like a complete castle, is going to take hundreds if not thousands of these experiences or bricks to finish.

It's going to take a lot of hard work, whether we like it or not. 

Because I keep expecting one single, magical experience brick to complete my castle, I keep taking a step back to look at my construction and I'm constantly being disappointed that it's not complete.

Positive things happen, like feeling 'okay', sticking to my meal plan, working, talking about anorexia at the Trust AGM or completing the Color Run. I recognise they're essential bricks in my recovery, but I get frustrated that single experiences or moments of positivity haven't magically 'fixed me' or finished my recovery or completed my castle.

What's worse, is this disappointment usually ends in the bricks not being firmly secured in place with the mortar and the walls are continually crumbling back to the foundations.

I'm collecting bricks, stock piling them but not putting my effort into building SECURE walls to my castle. I'd seriously get sacked if I was an actual builder. I keep knocking my walls down. taking a tea-break or giving away my bricks to Ana.

Even though I'm always working on-site, clocking in. Some days I don't believe I'm even capable of building my castle, yet I keep trying to lay bricks. I still struggle to 'see' the completed castle, yet alone imagine LIVING in it. 

This obsession I have in looking for detailed architects plans distracts me. Comparing my building progress with other people's distracts me. The jealously of people already living in their castle, living their fairytale distracts me. As does helping other people put their bricks into use.

I'm not going to build my own recovery by laying other people's bricks for them. I might be given bricks from others or get ideas to put into use in my own construction, they're bonus bricks, but other people don't have a magic brick to give me either. 

Ultimately I need to get on using my own experience bricks to build my own castle.

Buildings are completed though, it might take more than one magic brick, but a final brick will be put into place one day, but not before hundreds are used to build high walls to protect us and keep us safe.

Not the sort of walls that keep life out, the sort that protect me from anorexia. The structures that are secure enough to survive the storms of life and the cold times. Anorexia tries to convince us that her design works, her methods are good enough, but they're not. 

Listening to anorexia's building tips will mean my castle NEVER gets built. She doesn't provide magic bricks either. She's a cowboy builder. 

Having her design my castle and provide the materials means I'd be left on a derelict building site, bankrupt of experience, trying to survive the cold, alone. Sat in a dust land, watching everyone else living their fairytale lives, wondering why I didn't get given the magic brick. 

Letting go of her as a site manager has allowed me to redesign the plans. 

I've already done that, but I really have to stop looking for the magic 'recovery' bricks, expecting to build a castle on a single piece of stone masonry. I need to stop taking tea breaks and get on with laying normal, solid bricks, one by one.

We can all build a castle, if we're willing to put in the hard work and stop wishing for one magic brick to turn up.


  1. "I get frustrated that single experiences or moments of positivity haven't magically 'fixed me' or finished my recovery or completed my castle."

    Yes, so true. I know that so many friends (including me) have sometimes allowed the frustration to overwhelm us. The finished castle seems so far away and unobtainable that it is tempting to kick the whole thing over, like a toddler with a sandcastle on the beach.
    This post is a very helpful way of looking at things... the work is hard and constant but the goal can't be reached without it.

  2. Beautifully put and so true. I've been following your blog and tweets for a while now but not plucked up the courage to post a comment. I guess I was waiting til I could write the perfect response but this piece makes me realise that was a bit like waiting for a magic brick. It's about taking one step at a time which is hard when you want to be able to run a marathon straight away. So I have framed on my wall a card given to me by a very good friend: 'one by one, day by day, inhale, exhale that's the way!'
    Sorry, random comment, I just really wanted to say thank you for such an insightful and eloquent piece. Keep fighting x

  3. Thank you BOTH for your lovely comments. It means so much to me that other people can relate to my writing. I really found the power of relating to other people in recovery SO SO helpful in the early days, and as I've carried on - so it means the world that I can somehow help others too. Keep Strong.

  4. This is exactly how I feel right now. The way you wrote it really puts it into perspective. Thank you. Sending you big hugs and strength and encouragement to keep building your castle xxx

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