I resisted carework for a long time. Looking back this resistance was because carework brought up for me some really thorny issues, and brought out a side of me that I was less than proud of. It brought out very strong condition in me.
But it provided me lots of valuable material to work on, that would otherwise have taken a lot longer to come to the surface. I did work on the issues it brought up, albeit somewhat reluctantly at first, but it really helped to propel me forward in my recovery journey.
Now I love carework and the opportunity it gives to shine a light on things from an alternative angle.
I get so many valuable learnings from it, and love approaching it armed with an agenda of things to explore and get somebody else’s point of view on. Not just anybody, but that of somebody who has been on this journey and is now fully free.
I also love how it provides an opportunity to see a fully free person’s take on the world around us. It’s like people-watching and observing the world with the eyes of someone who is fully free.
It has definitely been and continues to be a vital element in my recovery journey.
Carework doesn’t have one single definition because it varies for every individual, but to me carework means bringing recovery to life.
When M first suggested I arrange a session with a care worker I procrastinated organising it. I used many ED-provoked white lies to avoid it because I didn’t know what to expect and created horror scenarios in my head ( that are actually hilarious when said out loud). I realise now that I was so afraid because it was going to push me out of my comfort zone ( the most uncomfortable comfiest zone that is toe- dipping into recovery..)
I had stocked up on theory but often lacked the associated actions, and care work helped to marry the two together. In saying this, what carework doesn’t do is push you beyond what you’re capable of. Each session is carefully tailored to what you need to focus on the most, as determined by your practitioners as well as you yourself. I think that’s one of the beautiful things about it; that I gave direction to the sessions the more I did them. I wish I understood this sooner because before the first few sessions I dreaded each one, as I expected a massive challenge would arise each time. Your careworker, however, isn’t going to place a bomb in your lap! For instance my biggest fear at the time was dining out anywhere other than with food I had prepared. I hadn’t done this since I was 13 years old and didn’t think I ever would again because “that wasn’t what I do” #conditionsnob. What carework didn’t do was throw me in the deep end and expect me to have a three course meal on the first try. What it did do was take it step by step until now I can do that whenever I want, if I actually want to, and not be afraid of it. Being with a careworker doing these challenges offers a safe environment to push beyond what you might do alone. That’s the difference between a regular one-to-one and carework. You’re gyaraned ti do the action and not just imagine you did it, as the condition would trick you into believing. There’s someone there that you trust to talk through those irrational and stifling racing thoughts as they come. And then you realise it really isn’t all that bad. If they can do it, so can I. If I can do it once, I can do it again. If I do it again, I can enjoy it more next time. ~~she believed she could, so she did~~ Simple as that.
I also learned how to connect with the world and engage with people. Instead of saying I valued nature and connection, I gained meaning and integrity in my values. How? By observing what it meant to live by my values by doing carework at first, and then by using these observations to fuel my own actions.
For a long time I was stuck in my head, but carework helped to make me actually see the world without the condition-tinted, narcissistic glasses. Sometimes I felt that MTC was a safe bubble and that in “real life” no one lived that way. Careworkers are fully free and by accompanying them in public I realised how freedom is not just a delicate bubble housing a tiny population. There are actual free people out there too to connect with. In condition, I detached myself from any kind of acquaintance or friendship I had. I now have a few people I can call friends. The other evening I hosted a dinner party at home and it was honestly one of the most free evenings I’ve had without having to make a conscious effort. I prepared a curry the night before so when I got home from work the next evening I could enjoy my guests’ company. There wasn’t a shred of pressure or stress. When someone brought ice cream and another brought cake I had some too without a doubt. We sat and chatted and I didn’t mind that plates were left on the table for a while, because the cleaning could wait. I was present and connected with the conversation and laughs. I couldn’t have done that without first doing many carework sessions but now I can do it at ease. It’s truly marvellous.
What I will say though is that I learned how not to put free people on pedestals. This way of thinking actually hindered recovery because it created a divide; a “that’s all well and good for them but it’ll never be me” kind of attitude. Carework helped me to realise that freedom doesn’t equate to a perfect life, but to handling life with your own best interests at heart.