Goodbye Renfrew

December 2 – 3, 2018

Every evening, I get a notification on my computer accompanied by a light, “briiiingg!” A small window at the top right of my screen tells me, “I am enough and I love myself and I am beautiful and I believe it.” It is set to repeat every day at 7:00 pm on the dot. This message has been in my reminders since December of 2018, almost a year and a half.

I remember handing Leila my phone, I remember her typing in this message herself, I remember smiling ruefully. I can remember her telling me “You are whole,” as I waited for my ride to pick me up and deliver me to the airport on my last day of treatment. My bags were packed, I was shaking. I was leaving treatment, leaving Renfrew, leaving my bubble. An anxious energy consumed me.

I did not feel whole. I don’t think I have ever felt whole. But I smiled and nodded, as I often do. As I always do.

Today, I think back on my last week of Renfrew fondly. After the past four months in three different mental health facilities, I think fondly on Renfrew Center. I think if I had to go back to residential treatment again, I’d find myself on a plane to Florida. Out of all of the treatment centers I have been to, I’d return to Renfrew.

Today, I just hit “complete” to the “I am enough..” reminder on my computer so it would disappear, practically ignoring it. It used to appear on my phone too, but I turned off the notifications. This reminder used to pop up in the worst times – during a binge, after a purge, yet another evening of not eating dinner. It would make me feel like shit. I still have it on my computer just because I keep forgetting to turn off the notification. Or maybe I subconsciously want to see those words sometimes. Who knows. But it’s there. And it always reminds me that I haven’t written my final recap post for Renfrew yet.

Today, I feel so resistant. This feeling is not a new concept for me. My behaviors have been passive and compliant in the past, when I was at treatment the first time. But my spirit has felt the steel, metal bars of resistance to wellness and recovery for a very long time. From the day I got home from Renfrew, my spirit resisted. I can feel it down in my bones and my muscles, the feeling of resistance. I can follow rules and perform and make people happy, but that resistance is there and it is heavy.

I don’t want to go back to treatment. Last week, after a lengthy email from my therapist of her plans for my future treatment, Rebekah told me, “I can feel your resistance.” She could physically feel it. I can physically feel it. It is palpable.

It has taken me a long time to write a conclusion for my online recap of my stay at Renfrew Center. It is hard for me to sit down and write at all. About anything. Even just journaling. I miss the days I could sit and write for hours and hours, words pouring out of me. But anything that involves my mind right now and just sitting in my thoughts is not something for which I jump at the opportunity.

I don’t feel a sense of conclusion. The feeling at the end of a novel, at the end of a book. When the plot is wrapping up and the lesson is being learned and the answers are being uncovered.

While recapping my stay at Renfrew week by week, I felt as if I was working my way up to something. Part one and Part two and Part three of each week would eventually lead to an ending, a conclusion, a wrap-up of some sort. I knew I’d call the last post, “Goodbye Renfrew.” The recap of all of these weeks at Renfrew would lead to a goodbye, a final farewell. Maybe that is why I haven’t written a goodbye to Renfrew, a final post to sum up my stay. Because I still feel that resistance. I still feel like I did when I got home that day. I still have this overwhelming feeling that I cannot have recovery. I’m not there yet. I won’t get there ever. I don’t want it. I am a toddler kicking and screaming in the middle of the floor, “I DON’T WANT IT.”

I don’t remember exactly what I was feeling or doing or saying the last few days of my stay at Renfrew. I’m sure I could dig up the couple journal entries, the texts when I got home. I could factually relay what I was doing and the procedure of leaving treatment, maybe. But what would that even do? For anyone?

I left treatment but I wasn’t recovered. I know, I know – it isn’t a destination, but a journey. But I did not feel as if I was actively, intentionally pursuing the path to recovery and wellness. I relapsed. Quickly. I went to the hospital. I went to The Ranch. I went to Eating Recovery Center. I left all of these places and I still feel the resistance. I am not recovered. I am not on the beautiful, painful journey of recovery. I don’t want to be. I don’t know where I am. I just am. That’s all I have the energy for right now.

So what am I writing about right now? This started out as a need to fill time and to check a box. Eventually in my memoir, I will need to be able to recount the important times of my life, but I am stuck here at this post about my final time at Renfrew. Stuck and resistant and stubborn and blank. I feel like a toddler sometimes with how I deal with recovery.

So I guess let me just tell you all that I don’t have a big, beautiful wrap up post from my time at the Renfrew Center. All those eloquently written passages I transcribed for each week of treatment are not going to be tied together with a bow.

I don’t have anything to write about recapping my time in the hospital (Except the fact that during a group, a woman hysterically told us how she stabbed her husband 7 times in the chest). I do not have expressive, articulate descriptions of the Ranch, the people there, what I learned. I do not have moving conversations that inspired me. I do not have inspirational stories from being at Eating Recovery Center. I really don’t. Yeah, I wish I did. But I do not.

I am simply staying alive. I am existing. I have been checking the boxes for existing since I got home from Renfrew. I have told therapists and psychiatrists in Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, that I simply want to do whatever I need to do to not die. To exist. To survive. That’s all. That’s what I did at the hospital antipathetically. That’s what I did at the Ranch so that I could leave to go to Eating Recovery Center. That’s what I did at Eating Recovery Center so I could get back home. That is what I’m doing now. You’re all caught up.



One thought on “Goodbye Renfrew

  1. I am so thankful for your honest on the road of recovery. It is hard and messy. We try to encourage our residents it is hard but worth it. I’m so proud of you! You inspire many Liv!


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