Friday, August 31, 2012

What Weight Gain Means to Me

I wrote this post this morning, shared it with a close friend and then freaked out. Although it was saved as a draft I decided that it was way too personal to share on my blog. I put the entire post out of my mind and then went to work. Today was the best day of work that I have had since I started working there. The actual work part was the same; same tasks and time frame but I felt different. Something was better. I not only felt present to what I was doing but I felt connected to those around me. Although I have only known them for about a month, my coworkers and I have formed quick friendships. We have inside jokes and are constantly laughing with and at each other. Leaving work today my stomach actually hurt from laughing so hard. When I am at my job I am myself. Because I am doing things that I enjoy and am surrounded by people who feel the same, I don't hold back. Although I remain professional when I am actually doing my job, my filter isn't up and my guard is down. I am loud, clumsy and not afraid to show it. Today I feel like I gained a little bit of my confidence back and because of that I decided to post this. Enjoy!

I have a huge fear of gaining weight. I can not remember a time in the last 10 years where I wasn't completely affected by the number on the scale. Although, what is deemed to be "ok" has constantly fluctuated depending on how much I am struggling with the eating disorder and other things going on in my life. Some people, those who have eating disorders and those who do not, have a specific number in mind that is their "ideal perfect" weight. Some believe that at that weight magic happens; they will finally be ok, have their lives together and things will be perfect and wonderful. Due to our culture and the messages that we are constantly surrounded by it's no big surprise that people are so attached to the idea that thin is better and spend so much time fixating on weight, trying to manipulate their body and dieting.

Although I do struggle greatly with the idea of gaining weight, I do not believe that weighing more and being fat is bad. I do not believe certain weights are better than others nor are certain bodies. I don't buy into the stereotypes that people associate with fat and I don't believe that weight and health are the same thing. I really don't believe that a number on the scale tells you anything, other than how much you weigh. That number doesn't measure your worth or your value or say anything about your personality or the life that you lead. When you look at someone you can tell their size and what your prejudices are about people of that size, but nothing else. I have a lot of friends and family members who are bigger, they weigh more, and are some of the most inspiring people I know. They aren't lazy or unmotivated and they know how to take care of themselves just fine.

So given this information why am I chained to a piece of metal and plastic? Why is my fear of gaining weight so strong, that I would rather give up more important things in my life in order to remain stuck in the fog of under eating? 

Recently my nutritionist asked me the same question. Why do I fear gaining weight and what does gaining weight mean to me? When the question was first posed to me I gave my default answer of "I don't know", which at the time was the complete truth. I thought about our culture and the "thin is in" message but realized that I didn't buy that. When I hear others bashing their body or talking about how much better their lives would be if they just lost X lbs, it genuinely hurts me. I don't judge others by their size and I see nothing wrong with being bigger. The diet mentality and industry has always blown my mind.

Some people have the misconception that those with eating disorders, especially anorexia are vain. The media portrays the illness as a choice and as a way to seek beauty. While some of those who struggle are fixated on their appearance and do strive to achieve a certain level of thinness, this isn't the case for everyone. Those who know me know that I don't wear make up and most of the time am wearing a t-shirt and jeans. While I respect the people who put a lot of time into getting ready and looking their best, it really isn't my thing. If it wasn't for the fact that I work at a job that I need to dress professionally for, I would probably look like a disheveled mess every day and I would rock it. I don't believe how I dress or look says anything about me, other than I don't really value peoples appearances.

So back to the question, why do I fear gaining weight? Below is my raw, genuine, vulnerably written answer to this question. It wasn't easy to share this with my nutritionist and it scares the hell out of me knowing that I am putting my deepest, darkest fears and concerns out in the open on the internet for anyone and everyone to read and ridicule. However I believe that being honest and open is important. I hold on to the hope that maybe this will resonate with just one person. That I will be able to help end some of the shame and stigma around anorexia and maybe open peoples eyes and views a bit. I am also sharing this for myself, as a way to begin to change some of my beliefs and take my power back from anorexia and those who have spent years telling me lies that I have so faithfully bought into.

What Gaining Weight Means to Me 

Weighing less keeps me small, keeps things manageable, helps me go unnoticed. It keeps my passion and ideas at bay. It helps me fit into this pre-made box that people have been trying to squeeze me in my entire life. Gaining weight means bigger, it means becoming too much. Too much everything, which is unacceptable in the eyes of my mother. Gaining weight means I can no longer hide my personality behind my appearance. Being small means quiet, polite, compliant, going with whatever everyone else is doing. Being small means people will like me, at least my voice and opinions will be contained, so there will be no confrontation or rejection. Being small helps me keep the peace. Weighing more means taking up more space, existing, needing. It means having opinions, needs, wants and desires and showing them. All of those things feel selfish, needy and not ok to me.  It’s bold, daring and brave. Ever since I was a child I have felt cursed. I have felt cheated, like I have been given so much to offer the world and so much in general but then surround by people who can’t handle it, who think it’s too much, who think I am too much.  I have been told that my passion, ideas and enthusiasm for life is childish, my feelings are dramatic. That I am over sensitive and unrealistic. That I care too much, like it’s a bad thing. All of my life I have felt like I have been given a gift, a very big heart and the desire to share it with the world. I feel that one of my strengths is my ability to connect, understand and empathize with others. I feel the need to love and care for others with every part of being. I have a desire to help others and truly believe that I can make a difference in this world. I truly believe in the good in everyone and that everyone deserves a chance and I love working with people who have been told otherwise. I never give up on people, ever. And I love listening and learning. I love working with kids with troubled backgrounds, the disabled or even those who have mental or physical illnesses. I feel like listening to others and sharing the power of love and connection is better than anything else. But I have been told over and over again that I am naïve, that my enthusiasm isn’t realistic and so I have succumbed to trying to fit the ideal. Keeping my body small, helps keep me small and helps me keep to myself and not disappoint others. It keeps my “bigness” at bay. It allows my feelings and dreams to be toned down and then others can handle me. No one has to know about my passion to help those in need, take care of others and be a part of other people’s lives. The gratitude that I feel when people share things with me and allow me to be a part of their lives is not comparable to anything else. The joy that I feel when others are happy can’t be beat. 

I feel so strongly about so many things but have always been shot down, told that it can’t be done, it’s too much. I have been told time and time again that there is only so much I can do and that I am wasting my time. That instead I should focus on more “important” things. But what is more important than people? What could be more satisfying then helping others?

Gaining weight means I am here to, that I matter and that I am no longer second best. And on most days I don’t feel that way. I don’t feel like I can handle that. I feel selfish for taking up space. Weighing more scares me because what if people can’t handle it? What if I lose the ones that I love? What if others are right? That I am too much, too childish, too emotional and too big of a dreamer. What if I can’t devote my life to helping others? What if I can’t be the person that I long to be? What if I am just naïve enough to believe that I can make a difference in this world? Then when? Weighing less narrows my options. It keeps my contained, practical even. It keeps me realistic. It keeps me from trying. And if I don’t try, I don’t have to suffer the consequences of it not working out. Keeping my body small, keeps me in the lines. 

Weighing more means not holding back. It means no longer allowing my body to do the talking. It means showing that I have a voice and am not afraid to use it. It means that I have a presence. That I am no longer sitting back letting the eating disorder run the show. That I no longer have an excuse to hide behind. In my mind weighing more shows confidence, strength and courage, and although I long for those things, they scare me.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Justification

Earlier at work I walked into the break room to get some water. As I walked in a coworker and friend said something along the lines of "I am eating such a healthy lunch of x and y (exactly what she had is currently escaping me) but I am ruining it by drinking a soda with it. I don't normally drink soda or allow myself to buy it but when it's here and in front of me I give in. I only drink about 3/4 of the can so I guess it isn't that bad but I really should be drinking water. I really shouldn't be drinking this but...". I politely cut her off because I couldn't handle hearing one more self berating comment come out of her mouth. I responded with "You know, having a soda every now and again isn't that big of a deal. It will be ok and is nothing to be ashamed about." Before I could finish she cut me off with more justifications. I listened and reminded her that there was no judgement from me and that she didn't owe me any kind of explanation for what she was or wasn't eating/drinking or anything for that matter. She then proceeded to tell me that maybe she wasn't trying to convince me but instead convince her self that what she was doing was ok. I paused for a moment, this is something that I am all too familiar with. I empathized and gently reminded her that she didn't do anything wrong, that last I checked she hadn't murdered anyone so she had no need to punish herself, it was just a soda. Although I am not sure how much I helped or if anything I said sunk in, it really got me thinking.

I constantly feel the need to justify my actions, behaviors and really just everything, especially my eating. Whenever I write down food journals for my nutritionist I almost want to explain why I am choosing the things I am, which is a little ridiculous given that most of the time I am following her suggestions or meal plan. When I pull out a snack in an odd place or when no one else around me is eating I feel like I need to explain myself. When my metabolism is on overdrive due to re-feeding I feel like I need to wear a sign that says "I am in recovery from anorexia and that is why I am eating all of the time." If I get hungry in between a meal or snack time I feel that the only way I can eat is with a good reason.

This isn't just present around food. I have examples from my life and from friends who don't suffer from any kind of disordered eating. I remember earlier this year a good friend of mine went to Target because she forgot to pack some underwear for a trip . She came back with more than just underwear and gave a 15min explanation as to why she bought each other thing. As she justified herself, I looked at her with this mystified look. Another friend kindly asked her if she was happy with all of her purchases. When she replied yes, he said "Case closed, they were necessary".

Although this issue affects males, it seems to be even more predominant in females. We feel the need to justify everything that we are doing; that it isn't OK to do something just because. If you are tired, take a nap. If you are hungry, eat. If you see a pair of jeans that you really love, buy them. No need to explain that you haven't slept in a few days or that you skipped breakfast this morning or that you haven't bought jeans in years. Do something and don't feel the need to offer an explanation, whether it's to yourself or someone else. Drop the guilt. Own it. If you feel like baking cookies for dinner, do it. Who cares what anyone else says or thinks.You don't owe an explanation to anyone.



Saturday, August 25, 2012

Weekend Inspiration-Music

I love music; singing constantly and inspirational song lyrics. Music has been vital in my recovery. I came across this song yesterday thanks to Pandora and just wanted to share. It's been on repeat ever since. Enjoy!

 
Be strong in the Lord and,
Never give up hope,
You're going to do great things,
I already know,
God's got His hand on you so,
Don't live life in fear,
Forgive and forget,
But don't forget why you're here,
Take your time and pray,
Thank God for each day,
His love will find a way,
These are the words I would say
~Sidewalk Prophets 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Running on Empty

The title of this post describes exactly what I have been doing lately. At the end of the day I have been completely exhausted and emotionally and physically drained. Like I mentioned in previous posts most nights have ended in meltdowns. I have just been too tired to be able to handle my emotions effectively and get to the root of what has been bothering me. I have kind of jumped into survival mode and it hasn't been pretty. Everything seems like the end of the world and needs a solution immediately.

Yesterday was a long, hard day. I have a love/hate relationship with Thursday's. I have a nutrition appointment followed by a long day of work, so they are always a bit trying. When John picked me up, done was the understatement of the year. I had a headache, sore throat and was exhausted. It wasn't a bad day, just very draining. As soon as we started talking about dinner the panic kicked in. I didn't have the energy for a fight, with either John or the eating disorder and felt too bad physically to even consider skipping dinner. I settled on Moe's, which is always a default and dinner was had.

This is where the magic begins.

After dinner I started thinking about the dishes in the sink, the laundry that needed to be done and the emails/texts that I had ignored while at work. And then I decided that it could all wait. Let me repeat that again, then I decided that it could all WAIT. I put my phone on silent, reminded myself that it was ok to leave dishes in the sink and that the laundry would still be there tomorrow. I reminded myself that I needed a break and that it wasn't selfish to take some time for myself. (I had to repeat this a lot throughout the night and I am not sure if I ever completely believed it but I went with it anyways.)I wasn't a bad friend, fiance, daughter etc and the world would keep turning if I did absolutely nothing "productive".

It wasn't easy and there were plenty of times where I did check my phone to make sure that no emergencies happened. I didn't really go near the kitchen because I knew that if I saw the dishes in the sink then I would start washing them. John and I did make an impromptu trip to the grocery store and I did read a few emails that I had missed earlier. But I also relaxed and did things that I enjoy and help me unwind.

I read blogs and other articles on the computer that I had been behind on. I snuggled on the couch with my pets and fiance. I journaled some. I listened to some of my favorite songs. I ate frozen yogurt without distraction. I spent an hour before going to sleep laying in bed reading a mystery novel on the kindle.

For the first time in a few weeks I woke up rejuvenated. I actually slept fewer hours than I had on previous nights but I didn't feel exhausted. I didn't wake up with dread. I didn't feel on the verge of tears or like the slightest thing would set me off. The world kept spinning and I was ok.

This morning I did the dishes, responded to emails/texts and came up with a plan for laundry. I was able to get everything done that I didn't do last night and it didn't feel like such a chore. I wasn't hanging by a thread emotionally. I was even able to enjoy a long chat with a friend who is going through some rough stuff right now.

Although this experience has taught me a lot, taking breaks and time for myself is still really hard for me. I feel selfish and needy and like there are way better uses of my time. I see all of the suffering in the world and I want to help, whether it be a distant person or a family member or friend. I look at my never ending to do lists and always find something that needs to be done. I have no problem with taking a back seat. Except that it starts to take a toll rather quickly, especially emotionally. Running on empty was easy when I was completely numb to the eating disorder and practically emotionless but that isn't the case anymore. As hard as it is to admit, I can only handle so much. It's hard to give when you having nothing left.

I believe that I have a lot to offer the world but I am starting to realize that I can only do this when I am healthy. Healthy not only means physically, but emotionally as well. It doesn't just mean eating and sleeping well, but also finding a balance between others and myself. All of this is new and foreign to me and I am still learning but experiences like last night are small steps in the right direction.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Purpose

Dear Anorexia,

I am on to you and today you will NOT win!

Sincerely,

Daniella 



Sunday, August 19, 2012

Crossroads

This past week has been one of those weeks where I have been all over the place, mostly emotionally, although in plenty of other aspects as well. Going from spending a lot of time sitting around my apartment to working every single day without a break has really taken it's toll. It only took me about a week and a half to stop and think "wait a second, I've been here before". (OK, maybe I shouldn't take all of the credit here. It also took John and my treatment team not so subtly reminding me. ) While the first week of working both jobs went rather smoothly, I unfortunately can't say the second was the same. On the job productivity front it went well and I am really loving the work that I am doing, but my recovery and health kind of took a back seat and the ED quickly crept back in without missing a beat.

I know how to restrict; how to count calories, limit my intake and fixate on my body. I know how to lose weight and obsess about food etc. I know how to become so busy and focused on everything else, as well as try to please and meet others needs and expectations, that I conveniently forget to eat. My life, needs and everything relating to me becomes unimportant. In fact, I am good at anorexia. My life can be consumed by it almost immediately. I can be sucked back in at the drop of a hat. Considering the fact that my recovery was a little rocky before the jobs started, it's no big surprise how quickly I found myself in that all too familiar place when things started to change and I became busy.

Each night this week ended in a melt down. There were a few days where I even needed to call John or text my treatment team before work or during my breaks because I was in tears or in a complete panic.They always listened to what I had to say yet they continued to remind me the importance of nutrition and how much my emotional instability was related to the fact that I wasn't eating enough. Although I knew this, I didn't want to hear it and responded with frustration and ignorance. I continued to rely on the ED and the promises it provided and every day was the same.

In the past week I made a new group of friends at work and we have connected quickly.I have also completely fallen in love with my new job. I not only feel like I have purpose and meaning but I feel like I am starting to make a difference and working for a cause that I care deeply about. I also realized how much I love children and how much better my life is when I get to work with them directly. I am in positions where I am directly helping others and doing work that aligns with my personality and values. Not only do I get to wake up and look forward to what I am doing every day, but then I get to come home to an amazing caring man every night. John is one of the most important people in my life and our relationship means more to me than words can describe.

Right now I am at a crossroad. I am extremely blessed and lucky for everything that I have going on in my life. Yet, the eating disorder is holding me back. This week I tried to find a balance. I tried, unsuccessfully, to have it both ways. I wanted the freedom and joy of my jobs, connection and love but also wanted the comfort and security of restricting and obsessing. I wanted all of the perks that come with recovery and living the life that I am meant to lead, but I didn't want to give up controlling food. I didn't want to follow my meal plan or the advice that was being given to me. I didn't want to let go. 

Anorexia is time consuming, destructive and isolating. When stuck in the grips of an eating disorder there isn't room for anything else. Connecting to others just isn't possible and relationships are non-existent or taken for granted. Values and morals are ignored or replaced by rules. Obsessing about food, weight, calories etc. takes the place of more important things and anything that truly matters quickly disappears. While recovery is hard work, exhausting and even excruciating most of the time, it holds a promise of hope. It takes effort, tears and a lot of uncomfortableness and vulnerability, but it gives you options. Anorexia gives you the broken promise of a smaller body and an allusive sense of control. While it provides a very temporary relief from anxiety and uncomfortable emotions, it takes away far more than it gives.

As I have mentioned many times in previous posts, I have given up a lot because of the eating disorder; relationships, memories, dreams. I have had to quit things that I have cared about because I was too sick or have just given up because I didn't have the energy or strength to care anymore. I have been forced and have willingly chosen to lie, manipulate, do things that I don't want to do and completely go against everything that I believe in. I've ruined real relationships with people who genuinely love and care about me in order to remain actively engaged in my ED. The cost is high, too high actually.

Right now recovery is extremely difficult. Each moment that I go against the eating disorder feels like betrayal. I feel so incredibly lost and uncomfortable. But right now the idea of losing the people in my life, having to quit my jobs or being unable to show up for myself and help others, is even more unbearable. Since, unfortunately, I can't have it both ways I have to choose recovery. I honestly don't see another option. I am not willing to sit back and watch everything that I have worked for disappear. I will not settle for less than a life of happiness, joy and love. I choose hope, relationships, connection and meaning. I choose to relish in the smiles of the children that I get to work with. I choose to accept my responsibility and desire to help and serve the needs of others. I gracefully accept that I have a gift and plenty to offer the world.

I long for the day where my eating disorder becomes an issue of the past but until that is the case I will no longer use it as an excuse to miss out on life. Although these revelations will not instantly make me better or more recovered and I am not naive enough to believe that there won't be plenty of days of doubt, I truly believe that I am at a major turning point. I have chosen the eating disorder 1 million times before today, but today I choose life in it's entirety.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
~Robert Frost 




Friday, August 17, 2012

Love


Today marks being engaged to John for 5 months. Soon enough we will be celebrating our 1 year anniversary, followed by starting a new chapter of our life by getting married.

Being close to someone who is in recovery from an eating disorder isn't easy, especially when they are your girlfriend/fiance/wife. Although we have only officially been together for a little under a year, our relationship has been through a lot. Less than a month before we officially began dating I entered treatment for anorexia. Ever since then it's been quite the roller coaster ride, yet John has never asked to get off.

Although I try to keep a positive, optimistic outlook on my blog, some days I am not like that. In recovery there have been many days where I have just felt completely hopeless and temporarily given up on myself. On those days, John reminds me that I can do this, that together WE can do this and that WE will overcome this. Through all of the tears, and there have been many, he has and continues to listen, support me and when everything else fails, make me laugh. We have both found that after food laughter seems to be the best medicine and thankfully enough John has quite the sense of humor.

He is patient, kind, gentle, understanding and the most caring person I know. He makes me feel special and smile, even though some of the most difficult times. He has gone to appointments with me, sat through countless meals and even eaten at the same restaurants over and over again without complaint. He has seen the worst, yet continues to bring out the best in me. He reminds me every day that I am loved no matter what.

Unfortunately, given my eating disorder history, our first year together has been marked by a lot of very low points; hospital visits, countless temper tantrums, tears and the occasional argument. But each day we have grown stronger. This battle has made us both grow in ways that we never thought were possible. Our relationship is different; deeper, stronger and better that I ever imagined. The bad times make the good times even more amazing and I am grateful for all of the happy moments and time that we get to spend together. It hasn't been easy and I know that I don't give enough credit to John.

So this post is for him, for us and for everything that is yet to come. It isn't easy but it's completely worth it.




Tuesday, August 14, 2012

I choose...

I didn't choose to have an eating disorder. Genetics loaded the gun and environment pulled the trigger. But that doesn't mean that I don't have a say or am powerless. I have choices and decisions to make every single day.

When it comes to my recovery I like to pass off responsibility. I find myself making excuses, blaming others and taking the easy road of "it's not my fault, it's just too hard". Which I find very ironic, considering this is the extreme opposite of the approach that I take in EVERY other aspect of my life. In "real" life I am a go-getter. I very rarely turn down a challenge because it's too hard and I despise excuses. I also normally take more than my far share of responsibility for things. But with the eating disorder its different.

Despite my Friday lunch success I have been really struggling to follow my meal plan and do what I need to do. Although I trust the suggestions and advice that my treatment team gives me, lately I have been doing a lot of bargaining with them, myself and the eating disorder. I have come up with a million excuses and then have become extremely angry with the outcome and consequences that follow. Instead of taking responsibility for my actions and accepting the consequences, I have looked the other way. After all, just blame the ED right? Wrong.

Although developing an eating disorder isn't my fault, whether I choose to actively engage in behaviors or try my hardest to seek out support and recover is. Every day that I skip a meal, step on a scale, cut a few calories here or there and ignore my treatment team, I am making a choice. Whether I take the "easier" road of self destruction or the bumpy path of recovery is soley up to me. And it isn't always either or.

Most of the time I don't choose recovery for myself. A lot of the time it's for the people that I care about and more practical reasons, which isn't necessarily a problem. But sometimes I forget that other people can not do this for me. No one can make me eat or do the right thing. Although others can give suggestions and provide support, they cannot make me recover or make me want to.

As I have said many times, there isn't anything easy or simple about recovering from an eating disorder. This is by far the hardest work I have ever had to do in my entire life. As someone who has suffered for a very long time a lot of the negative thinking and eating disorder beliefs have become so engrained in me that they feel natural. Choosing to engage in eating disorder behaviors is by far a lot easier and has become a knee jerk response. It doesn't even require much thinking. On the other hand, recovery is hard, it isn't as mechanical and requires a lot of attention and time. Sometimes more than I have or am willing to give.

Lately I have longed to be normal. I have wanted to reach the freedom of the other side more than anything. I have wanted to live a life without meal plans, calorie counting, strict rules and obsessing. To be truly present to everything in my life and not affected by the fog of the eating disorder. Except I haven't wanted to fully commit. I have been attempting to bargain and half ass my way to this place, picking and choosing the parts of recovery that are convenient at the time.The easier ones that don't take as much time and effort.


Like everything else in life, what you put in is what you receive and I am receiving a whole lot of misery. Right now I have a lot of truly amazing things going on and my life, things that make me happy and I am beyond grateful for every single day. As a whole I couldn't be more excited about the direction that my life is headed and what is in store for the future. But there is a catch, the eating disorder has had it's bags packed for a while and has continued to hitch a ride and this is where the power of choice comes in.

 Today I am not really sure where I stand. I wish I could say I choose recovery 100% and don't plan to look back but that would be a lie. So instead, today I choose to do the best that I can; to try and ask for help when needed and do what needs to be done. I choose to take a deep breath and attempt to drudge through the challenges that I will face throughout the day. I choose to enjoy life; my job, John and our pets, as well as all of the new friends that I have made recently. I choose to accept that this isn't going to be easy or perfect but that I can do it. I choose to be honest with myself and those around me about my current struggles and seek out their support when necessary. Although I am not overly enthusiastic about it, today I choose recovery, even if that means baby steps. I choose to get up, dust myself off and put one foot in front of the other.


Friday, August 10, 2012

Go big or Go home





Fear. Hard. Courage. Hope. Challenge. Bravery. Anger. Pain. Sadness. Faith. Anxiety. Progress.Triumph. Relieved. Freedom.

These words all describe this picture above. Although it may be hard to tell, this is a picture of my lunch, a to-go bowl from Panda Express. This picture marks more than a delicious nutritious meal, this is a major milestone in my recovery. Before today it had been over a year since I had eaten anything other than a sandwich or less for lunch. Before today this wasn't ok. It wasn't a "'lunch food" and wasn't an option.

Nothing about this meal was easy. It took two unsuccessful traumatic trips to the grocery store, followed by getting in and out of line 4 times at panda express and a lot of anxiety and fear. As I ordered I was shaking, so much so that my voice was trembling and the lady taking my order had to ask me to repeat myself a few times. Even after buying it, I wasn't convinced it was going to actually happen.

But it did.

And nothing happened. My world didn't fall apart. I didn't fall apart. Nothing changed. Except it did.

I was ok. Actually I was more than ok. I felt relieved, confident, proud even. Three feelings that I am really not used to feeling, especially in relation to myself and recovery. I felt strong and this feeling stayed with me for the rest of the day. As did the smile across my face.

To those who have never suffered from an eating disorder this may seem silly. It may seem like I am making something out of nothing. But for me, this is huge. It's not about the food or even the meal, but about overcoming something very challenging that I didn't think was possible, at least not anytime soon.

For me, this picture, this meal and even today symbolizes a huge leap in the right direction. It brings me one step closer to freedom and living the life that I am meant to lead.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Standing Outside the Fire


"Life is not tried it is merely survived
If you're standing outside the fire" 
~Garth Brooks

I survived the weekend (the wedding), as well as moving, training for the new job and all the other craziness that has been thrown in my direction in the last two weeks. I survived all of the busyness, changes in routine and even the food with my health and sanity mostly in tact. I survived.

But I am not meant to just survive; to squeak by on the skin of my teeth and that is exactly how I have been “living”.

I want to thrive. I am meant to thrive. I am so much more than how I am living right now.

In the past few weeks I have moved into a new apartment with John and we are starting the next chapter of our lives together. We are planning our wedding and our future and I couldn’t be happier about it all. I’ve started new jobs, two new jobs to be exact. Jobs that although right now are part time, can lead to careers. (at least one of them) Two jobs that make me happy and that I look forward to every single day. After spending so many years doing things that I hated (read as engineering) it’s been such a relief to find my niche and realize that I can make it work. I have found places that I can use my passion, hardworking drive and desire to help, work directly with people and children, as well as make a difference. I can be me, without reservation or apology.

At the wedding this weekend I was surrounded by people that I have grown up with; people that consider me a part of their family and have since I was a child. Although stressful, I didn’t worry about what other people thought of me or trying to please those around me. All of the other bridesmaids knew that I wasn’t “girly” and came to my aid to help in whatever way possible. Everyone knew about my clumsiness and I was congratulated for not falling down while walking through sand in heals. Jokes were made in good fun and not in judgment. Overall, it was an amazing weekend. I was myself.

I have spent so many years trying to remain small in all ways imaginable, from my body size to my personality; to keep quiet and not be noticed. I have hidden my “bigness” from others and myself because of fear; fear of rejection as well as people not being able to handle it. The eating disorder has been my shield and has helped keep everything at bay.

Yesterday while sitting through work orientation and training I was reminded of how lucky I am. While touring the labs of the blood bank I was overcome with gratitude. Despite all that I have been through medically between cancer and anorexia, I am still here. Not only am I alive but I am decently healthy and capable of anything.

I desperately long to live the life that I am meant to live, with no ifs, ands or buts. No apologies or reservations. This doesn’t include the eating disorder, people pleasing or trying to remain small and be whoever everyone else wants me to be or sees fit. This doesn’t include staying quiet in fear of being noticed or agreeing with others in order to keep the peace. This doesn't include doing everything for everyone else while ignoring myself. This means letting go of everything that has been holding me back. This means being me, without trying to tone myself  down. This means using my personality and life experiences to give back to others and make a difference in this world. This is what freedom looks like for me. 




Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Tomorrow I will embark on a four day adventure full of festivities celebrating one of my best friends marriage. We have been friends since we were four years old and I am completely honored to be a bridesmaid in her wedding. Overall, I am really looking forward to this weekend. However, I am also really nervous. It requires taking a huge step out of my comfort zone, especially on the eating front and I am not sure that I am completely ready for the challenge. 

As I briefly mentioned in my last post, the eating disorder has stolen a lot from me. There have been plenty of events that I have missed out on or have not been completely present at because I was deep into the eating disorder. As difficult as the next four days may be I refuse to allow this to be another one of those instances. This weekend will not be regretted but instead remembered for what it is, a celebration of a great friend getting married. It isn't about me, or even my recovery and although it is going to be challenging, I wouldn't miss it for anything.