Friday, June 29, 2012

12 Things that I have learned in the past week or so


1.       The human body is forgiving until a certain point, just like people.
2.       Love is unconditional and not rational. Thank goodness.
3.       The longer you spend walking away from your problems, the longer it takes to walk back and eventually you will have to make that journey.
4.       We are all a product of our past, but it will only define us if we let it.
5.       Pain and suffering cannot be measured or compared. Pain is pain no matter how insignificant it may seem.
6.       Brutal honesty hurts a lot; especially when it comes from those close to us, but is sometimes necessary and where healing begins. Follow it with fierce compassion and you are set.
7.       Trust and respect the process. "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are"
8.       Feelings/Emotions are like most things, they come and go. Although overwhelming at times, they won’t last forever.
9.       “He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how.”
10.    Fear is what keeps us alive but is also what keeps us trapped.
11. “When you know better you do better.”As humans we do whatever we need to in order to survive at the time, no matter what the cost. Once removed from the situation we have two choices: Forgive ourselves and try something new or dwell on the past and react the same.
12. There is no shame in struggle. Period.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The end for now

When I first started blogging I didn't really know what to expect. I had no idea what I was getting myself into and I didn't think anyone would read or care what I had to say. I was avidly reading many blogs and using them for inspiration. I loved the authenticity of people putting their lives out in the open for others to read and learn from. And I wanted to do the same.

Before I started blogging, I kept most of my life hidden, at least all of the bad parts. Few people knew about my eating disorder or the extent of it. Most had no idea that I suffered from severe depression and anxiety. Other then those close to me, people believed the facade that I wore like a badge, that I had everything together.

When I first sought out treatment for my eating disorder and other issues, I was in a deeper denial that I ever thought was possible. I was living a double life. On the outside everything seemed wonderful, I lived a life that seemed perfect and that others envied. But on the inside I was miserable, depressed, raging and being consumed by my eating disorder and self-hatred. I was killing myself slowly.

It was important for me to end the silence. To show the not so good parts of my life. To learn that it was ok to struggle, fail and more importantly talk about it. I needed to see that those around me wouldn't abandon me when the going got tough. (at least those that mattered) I needed reassurance that all of my fears were BS. And with this blog I found that.

When I first started blogging, people started coming out of the wood work, sending me the most uplifting, courageous and inspiring messages. Reminding me that I wasn't alone and that everyone had their issues. Calling me an inspiration and cheering me on, during my recovery journey.

When I first started writing I didn't think I would keep up with it, in fact I thought it would be like most things that I did for a little and then started to hate. But this didn't happen. In fact the opposite occurred. I looked forward to every blog post I wrote and to pouring my heart and soul on paper. I loved the freedom of just open endlessly discussing the things that I worked through in therapy and things that I faced daily. I loved that I had the space to write whatever I wanted to write about and I loved the feedback.

The more I started writing, the more enriched I became. I felt like I owed it to all of my readers to blog often and to be as honest as possible. It held me accountable in so many ways. And really helped with my recovery at many points. However, at times it was a burden. I felt ashamed when I had slipped and was struggling and had to admit it out in the open. (because I promised myself that I would share both sides of recovery on this blog) Some of the time this kept me from seeking out help earlier. It kept me stuck in the cycle of shame and even caused me to lie.

I have lived my entire life seeking the approval of others. Caring way too much about what other people think and becoming the biggest people pleaser ever. I have also spent tons of time and energy in order to do all that I can to help those around me. Although this is my blog and was originally written for me, it just re-enforced my genuine desire to want to reach out and help others and put myself and my needs second. Every time I wrote a post, I prayed and hoped that I would be able to impact at least one person who was reading it. Help them in some way.

Although this isn't a bad thing, it turned into another way for me to seek others approval. I wanted to be the "recovery guru", the one that had it all together and persevered all of the time. And this was not realistic. Although sharing my story was helpful at the time,  right now I need some distance.

I have gone back and forth about this a lot recently, but I think it is in my best interest to stop blogging for a little while, at least publicly. I need a break. After this current relapse, I have learned a lot of new things about myself and right now I need my privacy. I need the space to be open, honest and work through my issues without feeling the need to share them with others online. I have an amazing support team, family and friends and will use all of them in real life. I will also continue to write, as I find that it is an amazing outlet for me.

I have spent years struggling with taking care of myself. Always putting the needs of others before my own. Never allowing myself to truly put myself first. My decision to temporary stop my blog is me putting myself first. I have realized that right now I need all of the energy, time and space I have to focus on getting better. To get my life turned around and release myself from the horrible grips that my ED has on me. This is no easy task. In fact this is some of the hardest work I have ever done and probably will ever do. Recently my life has been turned upside down more times that I can count, but I am starting to realize that it was necessary. It was what I needed to really get serious about recovery and really be honest with myself.

I plan on keeping my blog up and running for those who want to read past posts, as well as a way to still stay connected with others in the blogging community. I also don't believe that this will be the end of my blogging forever. I love writing and do plan to write a book one day. Besides, you can't get rid of me that easily.

Thank you so much for everyone who was read my blog, whether it's those who have stopped by once or my followers. It truly means a lot to me that so many people come back time and time again to hear me ramble. Also, thanks for all of the encouraging comments, emails and messages pertaining to posts that I have written. As well as all of the support. Even though I will no longer be posting, I hope to stay in contact with all of you in real time. Feel free to shoot me an email or a message whenever.


Friday, June 15, 2012

Indefinable


Unworthy. Unlovable. Failure. Never Enough. 

These are the terms that echo in my mind throughout the day. A constant reminder that my life just isn’t good enough. That I am not good enough. Or worthy of food, love, kindness, success, happiness and freedom. That I will never amount to anything and it will be all MY fault. 

My wounds untreatable. My faults unforgivable. My pain unbearable. My life undeserving. 

These are the phrases that define me. That keep me trapped and tormented. That hurt to the core of my being, but have become so engrained in me. 

Scars. Secrets. Shame. Self-destruction. 

These are the things that hold me captive. My vices, pain and suffering hidden deep down inside. The things that haunt me and keep me stuck. The things that help my eating disorder thrive. 

I refuse to allow these things to win. To spend one more day in silence. To hang my head low and give in.

I refuse to allow my past to dictate my life. To continue to suffer. To self-destruct. 

I refuse to believe these lies. To continue to give them room to grow. To destroy my potential. 

I refuse to spend one more day like this. Defining my worth by a number. Defining my life unrealistically.

I refuse. 

Worthy. Lovable. Successful. Enough. Strong. Brave. Deserving. Compassionate. Resilient. Fighter. Survivor. 

These are the truth. MY truth. The things that I will repeat over and over again until I completely believe them. Until they are no longer in question. 

I deserve more. I AM more. My pain treatable. My mistakes forgivable. My worth immeasurable.My life irreplaceable. Period.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Weighing the Facts


Recently I wrote a post about the future and some of the things that I hope to achieve before I die. Although it wasn’t a comprehensive list, it did include a lot of things that I hold very close to my heart. 

Lately, the scale and I have become close friends again. I’ve not only used it as a source of punishment but as a source of comfort…”so maybe my entire life sucks and I am falling apart, but at least I can still lose weight. At least I am good at something. Maybe I will finally feel better about myself now.” (Obviously this thought is largely skewed and fueled by the eating disorder) 

Right now I need to eat more. As much as I continue to try and get around it, it’s really what needs to be done. It’s the next step in the right direction. Yet a piece of plastic has been holding me back. My fear of gaining weight is so strong, that eating more just doesn’t seem like an option to me right now. It seems next to impossible to be quite honest. Although I am not physically as unstable as I was a few weeks ago, the thought of eating more is largely overpowered by the idea of watching that number start to creep back up.

So what happens when it does?

Because let’s face it, it’s bound to happen after weeks of restricting my intake greatly. I am going to gain weight. I doesn’t matter how much I try to skirt around or avoid the issue, it’s inevitable. I am recovering from an eating disorder where I have spent years on and off starving myself in order to control my weight (and my life). I have gained weight and lost weight repeatedly, so much so that I don’t think my weight has been stable in years. 

We live in a culture that is truly screwed up when it comes to weight and food. One that puts a lot of emphasis on being thin and weight loss, dieting especially. One that makes it seem like your life will be amazing and perfect if you are just able to attain your “goal” weight. Although this has nothing to do with my eating disorder, I am not immune to this message. For the longest time I have truly believed that the only way that my life will ever be ok, was if I could reach some magical number. (that constantly changes) That the only way I will ever be comfortable in my own skin is by continuing to manipulate my body to impossible standards. I’ve believed that weight gain is synonymous with failure and that no matter what biology dictates, I am above science and can actually control my weight and body size. That in order to be worthy of love, care and good things in my life, I need to be thin. That I am worthless otherwise. 

I’ve let the scale and number dictate my life and my worth for years. I’ve allowed the number to stop me from doing many things in life. So many things that I am ashamed to even admit. Even through the hard work in recovery that  I have done over the last 10 months, I still haven’t completely given up the idea of controlling my weight. I haven’t allowed my body to find its natural set point. Or come close to eating enough consistently for my weight to stabilize. I still have turned to the scale constantly in moments of panic. As soon as I start to lose control in my life or try something new, I run back to it for protection. It’s the excuse that always keeps me stuck and unable to push forward. 

For the longest time I have clung to the scale, searching for comfort and freedom. Desperately hoping that it was the magical thing that will make things ok. Whether I weigh 100 or 200lbs, I will still have to wake up every day and face life. I will still have cancer and other medical issues. I will still have bills to pay and a loving, supporting fiancĂ© by my side. My life will still be mine to live. My goals are not weight dependent. I can still work with children, do an Ironman and be on jeopardy, no matter what I weigh. Those around me will still love and care for me and my relationships with others won’t change. I will still have my personality, sarcastic joking humor and intelligence. I will still have MY worth. I can laugh, smile and love. I can do everything that I want to do and possibly more. None of these things are dependent on my weight or the size of my body. 

However, I can’t realistically say the same with the eating disorder by my side. Obsessing about a number and allowing a scale to dictate my worth, isn’t giving me the freedom or allowing me to live the life that I desire. Instead it’s pushing me farther away from it. It’s causing me to isolate more and listen to those that are trying to help me a lot less. It’s causing me to take one step forward and a bunch back. It’s allowing the eating disorder to continue to be very present and dominating in my life and making recovery a million times harder than it already is. It’s not only hindering my recovery, but it’s hindering my life. The costs are outweighing the benefits by far. 

Today I am going to take a big scary leap of faith and end my relationship with the scale. I can’t say it’s going to be easy but I know it’s going to be worth it. Good riddance. 


Monday, June 11, 2012

Fearing the unknown


I have never really considered myself a scardy cat. As a kid I was fearless and even a little reckless. I was the first one to accept a dare or challenge without even thinking twice. I looked for every opportunity to show my strengths and to compete. Although I never really thought about the consequences, I never doubted myself or took the time to think about what could possibly go wrong or that I may not know the outcome. I would be the first to jump in the pool without knowing the temperature or the first to hop on the new ride at the fair without hesitation. I didn’t fear the unknown. In fact, it was exciting to me. I loved the adrenaline rush of trying something new and not knowing how it may turn out. I was optimistic and I didn’t let fear hold me back.

Obviously a lot of this has to do with age. Most children are born fearless. They learn by testing their limits and figuring out what works and what doesn’t. Most kids only need to touch a hot stove or iron once to learn to stay away and fear the heat along with getting burned. If they fall from a tree and scrap their knee or break their arm, they may think twice the next time they climb a tree.

It’s human nature to fear the unknown. Part of that fear is what keeps us alive. It’s what keeps us from doing ridiculous things that could have dangerous consequences and get us killed. It benefits us in life but is also what keeps us trapped, specifically me.

Although it’s a miserable life to live, being deeply depressed and engulfed in my eating disorder, I know exactly what to expect. There are no surprises. I have been here enough times in my life that I know the drill. There is no unknown. There is no confusion. It’s black and white. It’s awful and painful, but it’s to be expected. I know the rules, consequences and what it takes to play the game. There really isn’t anything new to discover. There is no room for growth or change but that is what makes it reliable. That’s the appeal. It’s a familiar and comfortable place to be in, even if it is slowly destroying me. What you see is exactly what you get, even if it is a lonely life of misery consumed by self-hatred and shame. I am not constantly worried about what may happen because I already know. It’s a mundane life of simplicity. When all else fails and I don’t know where to turn, the eating disorder will make those decisions for me. It makes the rules and I follow. No questions asked or room for debate. It’s plain and simple.

Although I have been in recovery before, I have always quit before most of the real work even begins. I begin to get my feet wet and maybe wade a little in the water, but never ever consider letting the waves sweep me off of my feet. I retreat as soon as things start to get hard and change. As soon as I can no longer see or predict the outcome, I run as quickly as I can in the other direction. As soon as I am asked to just have faith and believe without seeing, I panic. I no longer what to bother. I cling to the familiar and comfortable, no matter what the cost. I am a control freak who likes to know what’s in store and what to expect. I want to see a plan; a detailed instruction manual of exactly what is going to happen. A step by step guide, with an exact plan of certainty. If you can’t provide that for me, then I’m out. I want the known, not to have to test the waters and hope for the best or just walk blindly. I don’t trust easily, especially when I can’t completely see what I am getting myself into. And unfortunately for me this is exactly how most of recovery works.

I have struggled with an eating disorder for 10 years; through most of high school and all of college, 40% of my life so far. On top of that, a lot of the underlying issues for much longer. The depression, anxiety, perfectionism, seeking others approval and people pleasing have been present for as long as I can remember, way before the eating disorder even became an issue. Intertwined in my eating disorder are other labels that I have held on to for years. Things that I have continuously defined myself by and have pretty much become who I am. Letting go of my eating disorder doesn’t just mean learning how to eat right and better take care of myself, but breaking free from everything mentioned above and that’s hard to imagine. It means learning that there isn’t just one way to be and trusting that I will be ok if things don’t go as planned. It means finding me under everything that I have used as a security blanket and that is daunting to even imagine. Without the labels that I have clung to for years, I have no idea who I really am. And this is what makes letting go of the eating disorder so tricky and difficult.

It’s going to take a lot of courage and faith in order to even begin this process and my biggest fear of all: doing so without any idea of how things may turn out. I have seen glimmers of hope and freedom that give me some confidence but am still not completely convinced. I have so many questions that just cannot be answered, other then by experimenting; listening to my treatment team’s suggestions and guidance, along with trying new things out on my own. It means stepping out of my comfort zone into the unknown and praying for the strength I need to survive. Along with trusting the process, even when I am not sure what the next step may be.

The life that I am living right now isn’t really working for me. Although I have been hanging on to it for years because it’s all I have known, deep down inside I know that there is more out there. In the words of Stephen Schwartz, “it’s time to trust my instincts, close my eyes and leap.”




Friday, June 8, 2012

The things that keep me going


Lately I find myself thinking a lot about the future. Given the current slump that I am in, this ranges from two days from now all the way to 30 years from now. I have been thinking about my two best friend’s weddings, both of which are this year and even my wedding that has been planned for next year. I have been thinking about some of my future plans and goals and the things that I want to accomplish in my life time. As well as the idea of growing old together with John, having children and everything that accompanies that.

Lately a lot of people (I am talking about people that I greatly admire and trust here) have been telling me that full recovery is not only probable but possible, even for me. That although right now I can’t even begin to see things ever getting even a little better that they will. That I won’t always remain so stuck, desperate and hopeless trapped in the horrible grips of my eating disorder. That a better, happier, healthier life is possible and is waiting for me if I oblige. People have shared their stories of struggle and triumph with me, ranging from those who are new to recovery to those that consider themselves recovered and have reached the freedom of the other side. They have taken their time to pass off some of their confidence along with their support and encouragement and for that I am truly grateful.

Although I have been doing a lot of thinking about the future, right now it’s really hard to imagine. I feel like I am living in the moment and not in a good way. Some nights I go to bed and just pray that tomorrow won’t be as bad as today or that maybe it will get a little easier, only to be reminded that it’s probably going to get a lot harder first. I long for the end result, but don’t even want to begin to think about the amount of work it will take to get there. And so I remain stuck.

Reminiscing of great times that I have had in the past and future plans are the things that keep me going. Looking back on pictures, especially of me with children, working at camps and coaching, always puts a smile on my face. Remembering the amazing volunteer work that I have had the opportunity to be apart of, especially with the American Cancer Society, makes me feel like my life hasn’t been wasted. One day, I want to continue to work with and help children and be able to contribute more to the non-profit sector of the world. I want to be the role model that has the time, patience and energy to give relentlessly. I want to have a family of my own to love unconditionally. I have dreams a mile long and ambitions that are miles wide and really do hope that one day I can achieve them all.

One day I want to write a book. Although I have no idea exactly what it will be about or if it will ever get published, it’s going to happen. Two of my smaller lifetime goals have been to appear on jeopardy and be apart of an acapella singing group. I want to become an Ironman and specifically do the race in Kona. One of my best friends and I have talked about starting our own non-profit organization one day and I truly want to make this happen. I want to help John train for a 5k and eventually be able to do a triathlon together. Along with teach as many kids as possible how to swim and the value of participating in sports. I want to be a voice for those who have temporarily lost theirs, whether it is those who suffer from cancer, eating disorders or just unjust things in this world. I want to make a difference. I want to live authentically, honestly and practice what I preach.

Although I can lie to myself all day long, I know that none of this will ever be achieved in the depths of my eating disorder. I know I can’t be or do any of those things that I have mentioned above if I am not alive or am too sick. If I am lucky I can push through and accomplish some of them, but probably at a great expense.

I have never been an overly religious person yet I do believe in God and believe that everyone has a purpose. I feel that we are all put on this earth for a reason, even if we are never completely sure what the reason is. Although I have no idea what my purpose may be, I know that it isn’t to live a life consumed with my eating disorder, shame and self-hatred. I know that I am not meant to lie, manipulate and hurt those around me. In fact, those things are all completely against my values, personality and everything that I believe in. I have had the gift of meeting some of the most amazing, inspiring, strong and resilient people on my journey through both cancer and my eating disorder. Not to mention the lives that I have been apart of through all of my jobs, schooling and volunteer opportunities. Although I sometimes struggle to see my worth in this world, I know that I have been blessed and would really be doing a disservice to myself and those around me if I completely gave up.

Remembering the past and hanging on to the future will only get me so far on this journey. But right now it’s those things that make me even begin to believe what those around me are telling me. That one day, I will live the life that I was meant to live. 

Here are a few of my favorite pictures: 


 John and I on our first picnic together:
 My favorite kid to coach and watch grow up:
 The best Splashball team ever:
 My grandma, the person I long to be half as amazing as:
 One of the best relay for life teams that I have been apart of:
 One of my best friends and the best roommate ever:

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Food for Thought


I have talked a lot about my aversion to reality and the truth lately. How I have preferred to stay completely miserable in my own hellish bubble, as opposed to stepping out of my comfort zone and facing my fears, problems, insecurities and the eating disorder head on. I have taken the easy, probably more painful road, by seeing what I want to see, believing what I want to believe, hearing what I want to hear and saying screw anyone who gets in my way. I have even taken it as far as believing the most current BS that I will always be consumed by the eating disorder and self hatred so maybe I just should just make it easier on myself and everyone else, admit defeat and stop trying.

The rational, go-getter, fighter in me isn’t ready to completely accept this fate and is the part of me that continues to fight, reach out and push forward, even without an end in sight. It’s the part that has forced me to take a step back, take a few deep breaths, take a look at my life and current predicament and begin to devise a plan, instead of continuing to do nothing and fall deeper. (I am beyond thankful for this part)

In the last three days, I have desperately tried to allow this little part of me to take over and figure things out. To try and override the majority and fight for it’s cause. To lead me to solid ground or at least stop the bottom from continuing to cave in. And I have ended up even more lost, confused and frustrated. I have tried to use my knowledge, insight and intelligence to get myself through this logically. To put the irrationality of the eating disorder and my current emotional distress into it's place. And it’s been exhausting. I feel like a chicken with my head cut off, running in circles, unable to even figure out what to try next. I don’t know where to turn, who to trust or what to follow. I am questioning my abilities, rationality and the faith that I normally have in myself and it’s quite a scary place to be.

Yesterday, with the help of others and a lot of blunt honesty, I was faced with the truth; the missing piece of the puzzle and even more the thing that I have been avoiding and secretly hoping wasn’t the answer.

FOOD.

Shocking I know. Eating is not only the next step but the only thing that is going to even begin to help me find my footing and possibly gain some ground. Food will be the medicine that gets me through.(which sucks to hear when you struggle with an eating disorder) My anxiety, depression, apathy, inability to problem solve, function and figure out what to do has largely been amplified because my brain and body is malnourished. Although I don’t feel this way, my body is in survival mode and is not receiving adequate nutrition to do the basic things that it needs to do and therefore can’t even begin to do all of the hard recovery work and problem solving that I am desperately trying. So instead it retreats and I end up even more confused. The only way to even begin to not feel so miserable and be able to work through all of the underlying issues that keep me trapped and make this so incredibly painful, is by eating. No amount of therapy, talking, thinking, writing, blogging or anything else is going to work if I continue to restrict my intake and manipulate my food. No matter how intelligent I am and how much logic I try to use, without food I will continue to remain stuck.

Although I have been hesitant to even begin to admit this and a big part of me still doesn’t want to see it, I am starting to see the truth in this fact. I have watched my life fall apart over and over again recently and on many occasions in the last 10 years. I have found myself unable to control my emotions, thoughts and life. Although I have had periods of being very high functioning while barely eating, this is no longer a frequent occurrence. Most of the time I find myself either a raging or sobbing mess, scared of the entire world. I am no longer able to just suck it up when my body isn’t being fueled.

A big reason that my recovery has been so up and down is directly related to nutrition. Even though I have broken down a lot of ed/food rules and have had periods of doing a lot better, I still haven’t completely accepted that I need to eat. I haven’t completely given up restriction as my way to cope and control or continuously allowed my body the nutrients that it needs in order to repair the damage that I have done and function at an optimal level. I’ve continued to do it “my-way” and that includes the bare minimum, maybe even enough to get by on a good day.

Being told that food and eating is my one way ticket out of this hell makes me feel like I am being punched in the gut; kicked when I am already down. And it’s because the truth hurts. Although I didn’t realize it was what I was constantly avoiding, I was subconsciously (and secretly) hoping that I could just make it through without that part. (I know how ridiculous it sounds that I wanted to recover from an ED without eating, but welcome to my irrationality) It sucks to know that it doesn’t matter if I take every other step in recovery and do everything else necessary if I continue to restrict my intake. That if I am not eating enough, it really isn’t ever going to get better, at least in the long term. (Probably the short term as well)

I feel betrayed. Like Seriously? In a this-isn’t-fair-why-does-this-have-to-be-the-case kind of way. Why does the one thing that I fear the most have to be the first step to freedom? Why can’t I just continue to drudge through my past, sit through the uncomfortableness and forget about eating all together? Can’t this be my get out of jail free card?

Just a little clarification here, food/eating isn’t going to fix everything or allow me to not have to do all of the other painful, hard parts of recovery. It isn’t going to make my life wonderful, carefree and make all of my issues disappear. It isn’t the ONLY piece, but right now it’s a big piece and one of the most necessary pieces to getting out of this hole that I am currently in.

Although I have pondered this realization, talked to a few others and written a blog post about it, I still really really really don’t want to have to accept it. There is still a big part of me that wants to say “ha, the jokes on you. You are wrong. I can do this without increasing my intake. I have done it many times before.” (Ignoring that I have ended up near hospitalization and unable to function many times before) But, given the fact that I am desperate and running out of options of things to try to get my life under control and not be so trapped and miserable, I am starting to see the truth in this. Food just might be the thing that saves my life.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The ultimate decision


"We can try to avoid making choices by doing nothing, but even that is a decision."~Gary Collins 

Right now I have a pretty difficult decision to make, one that I have been skirting around and avoiding for the past few weeks, either the eating disorder or my life. It’s as plain and simple as that. Either I continue down the path of destruction that I have been currently following or I decide to make some changes and do something about it. Right now those are really my only two options.

Although life isn’t black and white nor is recovery, right now this scenario is for me. Half attempts aren’t really going to cut it.(Been there, done that and got the shirt) I have watched my life continuously fall apart over and over again in the last two weeks, in more ways that I ever thought were possible. I have deeply hurt those around me and even more importantly myself. My body has suffered the consequences of my pain. I’ve been chest deep in denial and have carried around a “no-one-can-touch-me” attitude, while simultaneously harming myself.

The life that I am currently leading is a life of pure insanity. I have been so consumed by the eating disorder, depression and self-hatred that I haven’t been able to imagine a life outside of that. And that is because there isn’t. I can’t have my cake and eat it too. I can’t reap the benefits of the eating disorder without killing myself in the process. I can’t be numb to all of the anger, sadness and pain that I feel without being numb to happiness and joy as well. I can’t have strong relationships and love around me and still be full of so much hatred towards myself. I can’t be the fun, outgoing person that everyone loves and enjoys to be around while continuing to isolate. I can't enjoy a life full of connection while continuing to manipulate, hurt and push people away. I can’t continue to manipulate my body and expect to have a normal relationship with food. I can’t avoid all of the bad things and still expect to be able to take part in the good things. I can't help others while hurting myself. I can’t live a full life and still be consumed by all of this pain. It’s just not possible. I can’t have it both ways. There is no such thing as a complete life with an eating disorder.

As ridiculous as it may seem, this realization hurts, a lot. Although it’s been said to me many times, I think I have always believed, at least recently, that I could have both. I could waiver between being on the recovery track (when it’s convenient and not AS hard) and being deep in the eating disorder. That maybe I just need to find some sort of balance; work through the easier parts of recovery and still hold on to the deep wounds that have been stuffed down for years. That I could just eat enough to not end up hospitalized but still avoid stepping out of my comfort zone and really healing my relationship with food and my body, along with all of the deeper stuff.

In most aspects of my life I am a very hard worker and continuously give 120%. I don’t believe in doing things half assed but that is what I have been doing in recovery. Although it’s still been insanely hard, I have been doing the easier work. Just scratching the surface of the things that I have kept hidden.  With that said, it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise that I find myself in the place that I have been recently, struggling as greatly as I have been. And yet that fact doesn’t make this any less frustrating.

I can’t expect others to make this decision for me. Although they can offer their advice and support, they can’t do much beyond that. They can’t make me want to get better and make changes, if I don’t want to myself. They can’t save my life, only I can.

Right now I am really struggling with this decision. What may seem like a no brainer to you doesn’t always seem that way to me. In all honesty, some days the pain of having to deal with and talk about things that have haunted me for years, seems a million times worse then the physical pain and discomfort I feel from not eating. Some times the mental escape from all of the beliefs of not feeling good enough or being worthy or a break from the insanely high standards that I hold myself to is worth the cost. Some days watching the number drop lower on the scale really makes me feel like I am one step closer to being ok. And some days it doesn’t. Some days I look at what I am doing and am over taken by sadness. I stop and realize that this isn’t the life that I am meant to lead and I realize that I am so much more. More than my eating disorder, circumstances and my past. And it’s those moments that keep my fighting.

I have been hiding behind the claim that I have no idea where to begin in order to get my life back and although there is a bit of truth in this statement, it’s just another lie that I have been telling myself in order to remain stuck. The choice is all my own, either the eating disorder or my life. It’s as simple and as complicated as that.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Seeking clarity & longing for peace


I usually have a lot to say. Most of the time I feel like I can write a bestselling book on “How to recover from an eating disorder”. I can tell you all about the benefits of intuitive eating, health at every size, size acceptance and about the value of therapy. I can give you a better understanding of nutrition then you probably ever learned in any chemistry or biology class. I can even be a self-help book if you would like and spew out all of the knowledge that I have read/gained about depression, anxiety, imperfection and truly accepting yourself,  body, flaws and all. I can tell you all about the power of reaching out, showing vulnerability, communication, being yourself and letting those around you in. I can help you in more ways than you can ever imagine, yet I can’t figure out how to help myself. 

I don’t even know where to begin, actually. Although maybe I do and just don’t want to go there.

I know I have said this many times before, but the past 2 weeks have been some of the worst weeks of my life. I have struggled more and hit more lows then I ever thought was actually possible. In fact, looking back I am still surprised. I have cried more tears then I thought was humanly possible, have thrown more temper tantrums then a toddler and have manipulated and hurt those around me. I have been so depressed that I couldn’t imagine feeling much worse and so angry that I thought I was going to explode. I have also been incredibly numb and apathetic to the point where I didn’t care about anything. 

I’ve isolated. I’ve surrounded myself with people. I’ve gone to church and prayed. I’ve gone to the mall and the bookstore. I’ve gone to nutrition and therapy appointments. I’ve even been to the hospital. I’ve snuggled with Tigger, cuddled with Cassie. I’ve poured my heart and soul out in my journal. I’ve spent time with John. I’ve chatted with my roommate. I’ve watched more tv then you can imagine. I’ve napped. I’ve read. I’ve written. I’ve text. I’ve looked through old pictures and reminisced. I’ve thought about the future. I’ve spoken to old friends. I’ve ignored people. I’ve ripped every inspirational thing I own off of my wall. I’ve gone on walks and listened to music. I’ve talked. I’ve kept it all in. I’ve held on to hope. I’ve let it all go. I’ve built up walls. I’ve broken them down. I’ve sung, really loudly and broken into spontaneous dance parties. I’ve laughed. I’ve played a lot of card games. I’ve pleaded to others and God. I’ve distracted myself. I’ve asked for advice. I’ve taken it. I’ve ignored it. I’ve done everything you can imagine and then some. 

For the past two weeks I have looked for anything and everything possible to make myself feel better and to break free from this eating disorder and with each day I have fallen deeper. With each glimmer of hope, the rebound has been even more painful and I’ve felt defeated. I’ve even started to believe that recovery is just not something that is completely possible for me. I’ve taken a look at all of the wonderful things that I have in my life and have felt so ungrateful for feeling so miserable. I have felt very guilty and extremely selfish. Although most of all I have felt shame. A totally new level of shame that I didn’t think was possible.
Exactly 10 months and 1 day ago, I took part in my last triathlon; a relay with two awesome friends from work. We called ourselves the “dream team” , trained and shared our excitement about the event for weeks. Although we didn’t completely know what we were getting ourselves into and might have been in a little over our head, we bragged and shared the hype to all of those around us. 4 am the morning of the event we blasted Katie Perry’s “Firework” in the car in order to calm the nerves and get pumped up. 

I had it easy or at least that is how it should have been. I had the swim, not only the shortest leg of the race but my best event. All I had to do was swim for 20ish minutes and then enjoy watching my friends compete and the rest of the race. I was well trained and there really wasn’t any reason that the swim should have been difficult. But it was horrible. In fact, half way through I felt nearly close to drowning. I not only inhaled a ton of water and threw up but I became completely disoriented. So much so that I ended up swimming an extra 1/4 of a mile the wrong way and possibly more to get back.  There were brief moments during that swim where I didn’t honestly believe that I was going to make it back to shore. Times that I really thought that my body was just completely shutting down.  At one point, during all of this pain and chaos I said, “Please, if I make it through this race I promise that I will seek out help and stop hurting my body”. 

Other than half a banana which I consumed a few hours before the race, my body hadn’t seen actual food in a few days.  For countless weeks beforehand I had lived off of coffee with splenda, diet coke, fruit punch(thanks to my job) and an occasional luna bar, greek yogurt or other things that concerned parents/friends pleaded me to eat.  To say that I was running on empty was the understatement of the year. 

After making it back to shore, I quickly forgot about the promise that I had made. In fact, things continued to get worse and it took a few weeks for me to even consider seeking out help. 

Since then, my life has been turned upside down in more ways that I can count. I have worked through many things, only to end up in the same place again. It was less than a month ago that I was experiencing some clarity and freedom that I haven’t seen since childhood. That I was the one inspiring people, providing hope and showing that recovery is possible. And now I find myself trying to hang on to every little thing that I can in order to not completely give up and it isn’t easy. 

In the last week, I have made a lot of promises, something that I don’t normally do. Even some that are very similar to the one that I mentioned above. I have made promises to God, John, my treatment team, family and friends. Ranging from “I promise I will eat this if you let me leave the hospital” to “I promise that I will be ok”.  I’ve made promises to everyone but myself. 

I’ve spent my entire life and especially the last two weeks being completely out of touch with myself, body and my reality. I have not felt comfortable in my own skin or in touch with my feelings and heart in years. I’ve spent years trying to please others, seek approval and accomplish things in order to feel good about myself, in order to feel loved and at home. I’ve been so afraid of my emotions, thoughts, feelings and opinions, then when they begin to surface I get overwhelmed and retreat.  I’ve been a stranger to myself. It’s hard to love and care for something that you hate. And that is largely why I constantly find myself where I am currently.

 I have started to realize that no amount of numbness, external validation or other people’s support is going to help me. That although my knowledge is a great tool, wisdom isn’t going to set me free. No one can do this for me. Nor can any books, blogs, self-help guru’s etc. I know that not only do I  have to want to do this, but I have to be willing to be uncomfortable, face the pain and sit through all of the things that I have spent years avoiding. Although I know that I am not meant to walk through this life alone, it’s through myself that I will eventually find peace and not through anything else. Sometimes the truth is hard to swallow, even harder than the food.