Monday, December 2, 2013

Poem written in darkness


Writing has always been something I've enjoyed, especially during some of my darkest moments. This poem was written about a month before I hit rock bottom earlier this year and admitted myself into treatment. At the time I felt it was way too vulnerable to share. Now I feel like its a true testament to how far I've come. I was struggling very much with depression and consumed by anorexia yet I still felt a small glimmer of hope that maybe things could get better. Please excuse the quality of the recording and the 'dammit' in the middle when I messed up. Adds character. :-)





Thursday, November 21, 2013

How I've learned to love myself part 1

 Disclaimer: There were no edits done on this post,including checking for grammar and typo mistakes. I am not going to apologize for it, just a reminder to read at your own risk! :-)

2nd disclaimer: I just re-read this and although I don't have the energy to fix all of the mistakes right now, I would like to add humor to the list. Because man some of the typos are pretty hilarious. In the past I would have been so embarrassed that I posted something with so many mistakes but today it's kind of funny.

 It wasn't too long ago that I hated myself. I hated everything about myself; my personality, body, feelings, choices etc. I couldn't look into the mirror without cringing. This was deeper than my body. It seeped into every part of me and consumed me in a way that was impossible to hide. I longed to be someone else. Anyone really. I didn't believe that I was good enough, thing enough, or really that I deserved to be alive.

Although I read all of the books and spent tons of time in therapy, the idea that I could actually learn to love myself seemed like a cruel joke. It seemed like something completely foreign and unattainable.To be honest just the idea really pissed me off. You mean I have to stop hating myself? Stop doing what I had been doing for the past 12 years? Yeah right.

I fought it some on the outside but on the inside I longed for this freedom. To no longer be at war with myself. To be free.

And that is how it started. With a small glimmer of hope that just maybe I wasn't different. I wasn't the exception. Let's face it, I wasn't special. I could change even though it felt scary and meant truly being vulnerable.

Learning to love myself hasn't happened over night. It's still something that is happening everyday. Some days shame wins and I cling to old negative thinking. Other days I can't stop grinning at the person that I have become. One thing I do know for sure is that it's been a combination of small (and large) things that have happened along the way as opposed to one giant "aha moment".

Below are some of the things that have helped me along this journey from self hatred to self love. They are in no particular order/ I speak from what has been true for me and my experience but believe that everyone's journey is unique and their own.

1. Stopped apologizing: Sorry used to come out of my mouth in almost every sentence. I apologized for everything you can imagine. When I was in treatment this year one of the therapist had us play this stupid game (ok it wasn't stupid) where we had a set of stickers. Every time we said sorry for anything we had to give up a sticker. Let's just say I  was the first one to lose my stickers. I was angry. I felt like my apologies were genuine and thought my apologetic nature was a good quality to have. Only months later did I realize the therapist was right, I was pretty much apologizing for being alive. I no longer feel the need to say I am sorry for taking up space in this world or for being who I am. Saying sorry as often as I did wasn't genuine, it was a cop out. Now I take responsibility for what is mine and own who I am without apology.

2. Forgave myself: For me forgiving myself has been one of the hardest parts of this journey but the most freeing. I used to believe that forgiving myself was going to cause me to make the same choices/mistakes over and over again. I truly thought punishment was the answer and lived like that for years. I honestly didn't believe that I was worth forgiving. I felt like I was too far gone and truly deserved the misery that I was in. Of course this only perpetuated the cycle. Once I began forgiving myself, I started to make better choices. I let go of a lot of things that haunted me in the past and started to believe that I did the best that I could at the time. Through forgiveness, both of myself and others, I began to rekindle relationships. This gave me the fuel to realize I wasn't an horrible person but human with gave me the space I needed to work through things without judgement and self beating.

3. Honored my feelings: I am a sensitive person.Always have been and always will be. Things affect me strongly and this is never going to change. This wasn't always ok with me. In fact I hated it and tried hard to make it untrue. My emotions scared the crap out of me and were not allowed to be seen. Well except for the "good"ones. Anger, sadness, disappointment, shame etc. Ugh I did whatever I could to make sure I pushed those as far away as I could and as I did that I got further and further out of touch with myself. When I first started allowing myself to feel these things they were huge and honestly felt like they would consume me. Now they come and go. And they are good indicators of what is going on around me. They are my way of honoring my heart and have helped me learn to be more in touch with what I truly need and want.

4. Set boundaires: My boundaries used to be like jello. There was no line between where I and others existed. People walked all over me and I allowed it to happen. I dropped anything and everything for anyone all of the time and boy did my resentment grow. I couldn't say no and that lead to overcommitment until I couldn't physically or mentally handle it any more. I saw myself as only a mean to others and this was exhausting. It left no time for me. It was something that I couldn't keep up with and lead to more hatred. Learning to create boundaries has allowed me to have much healthier relationships and has allowed me to put myself on an even playing fried with others. This has allowed me to balance my desire to help others with the need to take care of myself and has created much more room in my life for joy.

5. Untried my worth from my doing: You mean I am worthy just for being alive? You betcha. I call bullshit or at least I used too. My worth was tied up in my doing; what I could do for others, my job, my relationships, the number on the scale. It was always a conditional statement. You are a worthy person  if you have/can do _______. It always changed and was impossible to keep up with. As I mentioned above I saw myself only through the yes of others so I looked for my worth in others. I needed attention and constant reassurance that I was doing "it" right. And the it changed depending on who I was with and what I was doing. It has taken me a long time and a lot of "fake it till you make it" to truly believe that I am a worthy person just for being alive. However since doing this I am now able to try new things and accomplish much more because my worth it no longer on the line.

6. Stopped trying to earn love: I was hesitant to put this one because it's new and still a little raw and hard for me to talk about. Feeling like I need to earn love has been something that has been with me since I was a little girl and something that I think will always partially be there. I want people to like me. All people, all the time. And I have spent most of my life trying to make this happen. But you know what? You know when I feel the most loved? When I am not trying at all. Instead of doing and doing to try to win people over, I've learned to be myself. No I am not perfect and yes I screw up but true love isn't conditional. It can't be earned or taken away.. This is something that I need to remind myself every day and has gotten easier through the growth of my relationship with my husband.

7. Listened to my heart: Cheesy I know but I love cheesy. My heart is what guides me. Some times that makes me unrealistic. Some times it makes me dramatic. But it always feels right and like I am being true to myself. It feels genuine and authentic. For years I disconnected from my heart because of what others thought of me and what it seemed like the world valuated. I was told over and over again that I cared too much and needed to toughen up. You know what? I love how big my heart is and how I care deeply about everything. It's actually my favorite quality about myself. I am passionate and wouldn't have it any other way. My enthusiasm is childish and if you don't like it then that is your problem not mine.

It seems like once I started thinking about this topic, more things keep popping in my head to write about so I have decided to make this a few part post. Stay turned for next time!


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Love > Fear

I've wanted to have a kid for as long as I remember, multiple actually. On the days that I struggled to get out of bed beause I was so depressed or lacking energy from not eating, I always thought about this desire. The dream of being a mother was by far the most helpful factor in my recovery. Knowing that I couldn't physically make it happen if I continued to be sick and even more so the fact that I would not even attempt to bring a child into the world when I was so mentally unstable.

Now that I am pregnant, I have made this dream a reality. Each day that passes and my little peanut grows, I am one day closer to the thing I have wanted most. It's a miracle really and every day I thank God for blessing me with such an amazing gift.Every time we have an ultrasound, hear/see the heartbeat or even when I feel our little peanut move I am overcome with a joy and love that is immeasurable. It's a feeling that I can't put into words or even describe. Along with all of the happiness comes the thing that I have been struggling with the most, "the fear of messing up". This doesn't have to do with failure or even really with doing things how I think I am "supposed" to, it is much deeper. The fear of some how harming this child, this tiny miracle that is completly dependent on me If I am truly honest with myself I am doing the best that I can. Yet this doesn't always feel like enough. This doesn't make this fear go away.

This post has nothing to do with my recovery or self care. My eating disorder is not an issue anymore. I believe in the importance of self care and I practice it every day. Getting pregnant has tested my strength as well as the all of the hard mental and emtional work I have done in the past two years and I believe that I have passed with flying colors. This fear isn't about perfectionism or even being the best, it comes from my love for my baby.

I've never been this sick in my life. From morning sickness (which really is all day sickness), to the worst post nasal drip I have ever had and now some bad cold or possibly the flu, I've been miserable. Although i have been assured that the baby is growing and doing great, all of this makes this fear even stronger. Am I eating enough? What if I am not keeping enough down? Am I giving me body the right nutriments?  Am I drinking enough liquids? Did I mess up by not getting the flu shot? What about medication, do I take the things deemed safe? What about my weight? Why can't I seem to gain weight? And the list could go on.

I've constantly been reassured that this fear is natrual. People have jokingly said "welcome to parenthood". And have even gone as far to tell me that this is exactly why I am going to be a good mother. While I appreciate the compliment and reassurance the fear remains.

I was just reminded of something I used to say to myself at the end of everyday. I used to always come home from work wishing that I could have done more. On days where we could not find matches for our patients, even after doing as much as we could, I always felt defeated, like somehow I should have been able to do something more. This haunted me for a while. Until a friend told me how at the end of every day she tells herself "I did the best that I could and that was more than enough." I told myself this every night until I finally believed it.

I am doing the best that I can every day. Making educated choices based on all of the information that I have in order to ensure that my baby continues to grow healthy and strong. If nothing else my love is stronger than anything else and that is more than enough.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Lessons from pregnancy

I have been meaning to write a post for a while now. I have played with ideas in my head and come up with many things relevant to my life yet I have lacked the follow through. It seems right now like I am no longer learning the lesssons of recovery but living them every day.

For those of you who don't know me in person or on facebook, I am pregnant. When I first found out this amazing blessing, I had tons of ideas of what pregnancy was going to look like for me. I went out and bought a  journal and decided I was going to document everything along the way. I researched my options and decided that I wanted to do everything as naturally as possible. I planned nightly walks with my husband, along with prenatal yoga. I borrowed books from friends and planned to soak up as most knowledge as possible. I planned to continue living life exactly how I was.

I am here to say I haven't once opened my pregnancy journal. I have taken prescription medicine on a few occasions and have had an ER visit due to dehydration. Other than to get to and from work, I haven't even seen the outside and I haven't shaved in a month, much less had time for yoga. I have called in to work sick more days than I feel comfortable with and am late almost every day. Most of my "free time" is spent sleeping, as is my non-free time. I have also thrown up more than I thought was humanly possible.

Pregnancy, so far for me has been a lesson in completely giving up control, as well as what I thought it was supposed to be like for how it actually is. It's been a lesson in prioritzing and putting myself first (and the baby of course), even when it feels uncomfortable. It hasn't just taught me to slow down but has forced me to every single day. It's taught me to let go of unrealsitic expectations and well some times just expectations all together. It's taught me to be less judgemental, because really everyone is going through something. It's taught me kindness and compassion, not just for others, but for my myself. It's taught me the price of overcommitment and that doing your best sometimes means doing whatever it takes to just make it through the day. More than anything, it's taught me what is truly important in life.

Each day I fall deeper in love with the little baby growing inside of me, as well as with my husband. Every morning I sepnt a few minutes lovingly admiring my stomach with the biggest smile across my face. Every Wednesday John and I proudly read babycenter.com's update to see the new stages of growth happening inside me. I spend a lot of time gently rubbing my belly and truly admiring my body's ability to create something so amazing.

Pregnancy hasn't been anything like I imagined it would be. The only glow I have is a red face after time in the bathroom throwing up. Most days I don't even feel like myself or human. And most of my pregnancy ideas of gone completely out the window.

With all that said, I couldn't be happier and wouldn't want this any other way. Every day I become more grateful for this journey and know that all of my hard work in recovery has led me to this amazing time in my life.  

Saturday, August 10, 2013

An Honest Letter to My Body

Dear Body,

I am trying so hard to accept you. I want so badly to love you. I know you are amazing and that I wouldn't be here without you. I know that I have put you through hell and you have still been there for me every step of the way. I know that I don't thank you enough and bash you way too often. I am trying so hard to trust you. I believe that you know what you are doing, I really do. I just have external things being thrown at me every day that tell me not to listen to you, that you are too big and can't be trusted. I know those things aren't true. That you are the one that has my back. But please have patience with me dear body. Please know that I am trying. I am trying my hardest to nourish you. To feed you. I am trying to take care of you the best that I can. I am trying so hard to allow you to do your thing. To get to a comfortable weight without sabotaging it. I don't want to hate you. I really don't. I long to be comfortable and proud of you. To smile and compliment you every time I catch a glimpse of you in the mirror. I want us to be friends, to be in this together. I want to feel grounded in you and am working on that through yoga and meditation. I want our relationship to be different than it's been for the last 15 years.

I can't apologize enough for everything I have done to you and I hope that you can forgive me. Please know that I no longer blame you for everything that has happened to me. I think you are wonderful and your strength is amazing. I am working on accepting your size. I hope that one day I am able to truly recognize your beauty. To realize that each curve and perceived flaw is magnificent and beautiful. I am sick of waging war on you. Even more so I am sick of believing that hating you is the natural womanly thing to do. I'm angry at all of the years I have spent trying to manipulate you into this ideal that isn't actually attainable. I am sorry for that. Please know that it's caused me just as much pain, if not more, than it's caused you.

I know that we will get through these tough times. That my feelings towards you won't always be so shaky. Please continue to remind me of everything that you can do, so I can remember to thank you for these things as often as possible. So when I am doubting your size, I can replace those fears and doubts with gratitude and appreciation. Please continue to tell me what you need, even when it's not what I want to hear. Especially when it comes to hunger, both physical and emotional. I need your help and guidance. I promise to listen to the best of my ability.

I know that you deserve to be loved by me and cherished for everything that you have to offer and believe me when I say that we will get there. For now, please know that it's no longer me againist you and I am honored to call you home.

Love,
Daniella

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The COOLEST thing ever

Those who struggle with eating disorders or really self hatred of any kind are familiar with the constant back and forth struggle in your head. The negative tape that looks for any vulnerable moment and capitalizes. It may be about food, your weight, body or really about anything at all. The part that really sucks is that voice is pretty persistent, loud and unwavering with very little relief.

Last week I was in the shower after a really long and hard day. The eating disorder was luring me with all it's usual BS about how giving into eating disorder behaviors would make me feel better and fix everything. It sounded great. I was exhausted and my defenses were low. I was patiently listening and hanging on to every lie the eating disorder was telling me. The self hatred spiral had started and I was losing control.

Usually when I get to this point I am committed. "Yes master" is what follows and there is no other debate. But this time was different. Out of no where and without even missing a beat I heard something else. A logical, healthy voice that wasted no time on calling the eating disorder out. "Really? Does this sound like a good idea? Do you really think that this is going to help you? Let's be honest, how exactly is skipping dinner going to make you feel better? Did you forget you had a long day at work tomorrow? Are you really going to make this harder on yourself? How exactly is this going to help you deal with the pain you are feeling?" These questions flooded my mind and caught me completely off guard. As odd as this may sound I even stopped and looked around for a minute to try and figure out where this was coming from. I wasn't used to fearlessly defending myself without having to work really hard at it and these thoughts were coming naturally, without much effort at all.

I remember when I heard nothing but negative all the time, when the eating disorder voice felt like my voice and was all I knew. I also remember when I had to work my butt off to negate everything the eating disorder was saying and how forced, unnatural and difficult it felt. What happened last week was nothing short of a miracle in my eyes. I didn't think about it, it just happened. I stood up for myself and it wasn't uncomfortable, it was magical. It felt right and genuine. MY voice was louder, stronger and WAY more appealing than the eating disorder. I spoke my truth and felt empowered. I couldn't help but smile and even cry some tears of relief after this experience.

To be honest I am not quite sure how this happened. Although I have been working my butt off in recovery for months and even years now, I can't quite pinpoint when the tides turned. For the past few months I have been anxiously longing for the moment when recovery didn't feel so forced and icky. I think I have finally reached that point and I am so grateful. For years I sat quietly, quickly soaking up all of the lies that the eating disorder told me without second thought. That isn't an option now. My voice is strong and my words have power. I no longer need to claim the eating disorder voice as my own. I can distinguish between the two clearly and to me that is the coolest thing ever.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Lets be Real...

Lately I have been really hating my body; the way my thighs touch, the weight I have gained, the way my arms fit in shirts, the fact that my stomach isn't flat etc. The list really could go on forever. Every now and then I go to put on a pair of pants or a shirt that I haven't worn in a while and find that they no longer fit. I am then overcome with such hatred and sadness. I've found that I am either obsessively looking in the mirror, pinching and prodding at all of the "problem" areas or I am avoiding the mirror at all cost because I can't handle what I am going to see.

To be honest this week I have been longing for my old body back. The one that is many pounds lighter, more fit, athletic and just smaller. For the past few days I have been idealizing this image in my head. Thinking about how much better I felt about myself, how much happier I was, how people complimented and envied me, how I had more friends and was pretty popular,  how I had more self esteem and confidence and just how my life was pretty good. Except there is a big problem with this....NONE of it is true.

Being smaller didn't bring me any of this. In fact, it brought me quite the opposite, a life full of hospital visits, self hatred, lying, medical problems, isolation, horrible depression and unhealthy relationships. I didn't feel better about myself, I hated myself so much that I didn't even believe that I deserved to live. There wasn't anything glorious about this body. The only thing that having a smaller body got me, was a smaller body.

I am a natrual optimist. I have this amazing ability to look past all of the negative and focus on the positive. While this is a great quality to have, it has also led to a lot of self deception on my part. I easily forget the months that I spent in treatment or how horrible my life was when I was at my lowest weight. This body that I am longing for comes with a huge cost. One that I am definitely not willing to pay or even consider.

It's going to take some time to get used to my current body size as well as the natural weight that my body settles on. I know this isn't going to happen over night. It's hard to let go of the desire to lose weight and shrink our bodies when we are being fed constant messages about what this will bring. I can't speak for everyone and this is just my experience but having a smaller body didn't ever bring me joy, love, happiness or fulfillment. Don't believe the lies that society or your eating disorder is telling you. Losing weight and manipulating your body won't change anything on the inside, except bring your further and further away from your authentic self. Lets be real...being smaller isn't as glorious as it may sound.   


Sunday, June 30, 2013

Moving on

Today I got pissed off. It was the kind of anger that leads to action. The healthy anger, when boundaries have been crossed or you have been wronged in some way. I am not used to this and I will admit that it freaked me out a little but it lead me to do something that really needed to get done.

My "trusty black pants" and I have been through a lot together, 12 years to be exact. They were worn to every high school sports banquet, all of my college sororities induction and initiation ceremonies, every job interview I have EVER had and pretty frequently in my last year of working. Anytime I needed something professional to wear, I could always count on them, which is where they earned the "trusty" part of their name.

The last time I wore these oh so trusty pants was the day that I ended up in the hospital after practically passing out of work.(oh the irony) Shortly after this was when I put my life on hold and admitted myself into treatment. Since then they have hung quietly in the back of my closet.

These pants won't even come close to buttoning anymore. I could have saved myself some tears if I would have gotten rid of them weeks ago, but I don't think it would have been as monumental as it was today.

The tears faded quickly, as did the sadness. Then came the rage and boy was I angry.

Angry for all of the years that I tried to make my body smaller in order to fit our cultures ridiculous standard of beauty. Angry for believing all of the lies about how much happier I would be if I just lost weight. Angry for all of the time I spent standing in dressing rooms in tears because of the number on the tag. Angry for all of the times I missed out on something important because I felt like I was too fat to go. Angry for all of the time that I wore clothes that were uncomfortable because I couldn't bring myself to go up a size. Angry that I ever allowed my worth and value to get wrapped up in sizes and weights. Angry for all of the time I have lost because of my eating disorder.

Getting rid of these pants today wasn't nearly as difficult as I had imagined. It was hard but when I realized how much they were holding me back it became a no brainer. As I handed them over to the lady at Goodwill, I didn't want to cry. I wanted to celebrate. Celebrate my body, my recovery and my life. Although this was a huge moment, it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. There is no longer any room in my life for things that hold me back or make me feel bad about myself. I refuse to allow anyone to tell me that that size of my body is wrong or that my weight is too much. And more importantly I refuse to tell myself that. I have too much to live for in order to allow that to take up any more space in my life.

I know that there are still many steps along the journey to accepting and loving my body but I know that it's not anything I can't handle. Today marked a huge victory, as well as paving the road for many more to occur. As the anger starts to subside I can't help but smile and think about how amazing this feels. I no longer need to put so much trust and meaning into a pair of pants. Clothes are meant to be worn but aren't meant to define us.








 


Saturday, June 29, 2013

What it's like to be real

Nothing is more courageous to me than vulnerability. I am overcome with so much joy when I see people being themselves without fear or apology. Being real is not something that seems to be praised in our society but I personally believe that there isn't anything more powerful to witness. We all have moments when our lives are messy. When it feels like everything is falling apart and we are holding on for dear life. This is beautiful. This shows strength. This is what it means to be human.

For years I kept all of my pain deep inside. Fearful that allowing anyone to see it would cause judgement and more pain. Instead of getting the help I needed early on in my struggles, I tucked all "negative" emotions away and vowed to only show positive ones. Struggling wasn't ok. Falling apart was unheard of. I had to have it together ALL of the time. The only way that this was possible was to be someone that I wasn't. To be fake. And the years that I spent living this way really makes me sad.

Being real takes balls. It means being uncomfortable, having people disappointed in you and just accepting that sometimes life just sucks. It means letting go of the reigns of control and ditching the shoulds. It means giving up on the life that you think you are supposed to live, in order to live the one that is unraveling before you. It takes patience, practice and many leaps of faith. It means showing up for yourself no matter what the circumstance and what others might think

It may sound like being real takes a lot of hard work but that really isn't the truth. Trying to live up to impossibly high standards and be someone you are not is exhausting. While being real can't promise perfection it allows for simplicity and hope.  It's honest, genuine and truly inspiring.

Although some times its hard to let down the wall and let others in, I think learning to be true to myself even in my darkest moments, has been one of the biggest accomplishments of my life. Being vulnerable and sharing my story, both the ups and downs, continues to open the door to allow others to do the same. Through this we are all reminded of our humanness and able to connect on such deeper levels.






Curosity and Forgiveness

I used to respond to my struggles with condemnation, hatred, punishment and shame. Lots and lots of shame. If I slipped and engaged in any eating disorder behaviors it was grounds for punishment. I am a failure. I am a screw up. I will NEVER get better. I don't deserve anything, even life. I honestly believed that if I didn't respond this way I would just do it again. I thought this was the answer. I thought that just maybe I could hate myself healthy.

These past few weeks I have had my share of struggles. My recovery has been tested on many occasions and I have given in. But my attitude has changed. Instead of reacting with judgment, I have tried curiosity. Hmm, I wonder what this is about? What's going on here? Instead of jumping down the all too familiar pattern of self hatred, I've taken a deep breath and tried to ground myself in my body and feelings. Am I stressed? sad? overwhelmed? upset? angry? frustrated? confused? anxious? What do I feel in my body right now? tension? tightness? heaviness? What is the tape that is playing in my head? Where did these thoughts come from? In the moment these questions may not stop me from engaging in the destructive behavior but they do allow me to take a step back and figure out what is going on.

The relief that eating disorder behaviors bring is very very temporary. While reacting this was, as opposed to my usual way, I am ending the cycle. Self hatred just breeds more self hatred which then in turn breeds more destructive behaviors. It never leads to freedom.

I struggle a lot with forgiveness when it comes to myself, especially related to my recovery. Allowing myself to stop and see what is going through my mind right before and during the times when I am engaging in behaviors, has really helped in acceptance and forgiveness. All eating disorders have a function and we will continue to use them until their function goes away. Responding with these questions has really allowed me to see the function of my eating disorder and learn the exact instances that I immediately engage in behaviors. Although this awareness doesn't necessarily keep me from engaging in them, I really do believe this is a huge step to getting to that point.

Eating disorders are cruel and painful diseases. We don't need to make it worse or harder on ourselves. Shame and self hatred are two things that eating disorders thrive off of. Curiosity and forgiveness are not. Next time you find yourself in that all too familiar cycle, stop and respond with gentle questioning and fierce kindness. You may not be ready to completely let go of the behavior but you don't need to be in order to change the way you look at it and yourself. Recovery is a series of steps and I truly believe this step is one that will make a huge difference in your life.


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Life is precious

When I was first discharged from treatment I was full of so much gratitude. I was grounded. I was doing better in my recovery yet I was aware of where I had been. I knew how sick I was and how fragile life is. Although I had my slip ups, I was fully present to every aspect of my life. I didn't want to miss out on what was truly important. I had spent way too many years doing that. I was living with purpose and cherishing the things that mattered most. I was making time for myself and doing the things that made my heart full. I was embracing everything life had to offer.

Recently I have realized that I have moved away from this calm, peaceful place back to a place of worry, doubt, fear and hatred. A place where I am never enough and can't do anything right. A place where weight loss and nutritional information are taking up a lot of my time and my head is constantly spinning. This place leaves no room for love, passion and purpose. It's paved with isolation, rigidity and rules. It's lonely and all too familiar. It's no where I want to be.

I left treatment with unrealistic standards for myself. I wanted my recovery to be perfect. I wanted to proudly say I would never restrict/purge/overexercise or harm myself in any way ever again. I wanted to slam the door on that chapter of my life. And I did.

I am not the person I was when I entered treatment, nor am I the person I was when I proudly walked out of those doors. I am constantly changing, evolving, growing and progressing. I am exploring and testing the waters around me, trying to figure out how to survive in this world. This includes stumbling and occasionally falling, followed by rising and dusting myself off.

I am seeking the middle ground, a place where perfection doesn't exist. A place where disappointment and failure teach us yet don't condemn us. A place where I have the space to struggle, reach out for support  and compassionately pick myself up along the way. A place where kindness, gratitude and love freely dwell. A place that isn't black or white but a lovely shade of gray. Where numbers are unimportant and food is nourishment.

This is the direction I am headed. This is the place I want to be. This is what freedom looks like. This is the life that I want to lead.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Truly Living

During my 11 years of struggling with an eating disorder, I constantly saw glimpses of freedom. After following months of severely restricting, overexercising and purging, a light bulb would click on and I would temporarily try something different. After being hospitalized or losing people and things that I loved I would enter recovery and try my hardest to get back to being healthy and normal. My head was still full of self hatred and rules but I usually gained the weight back and from the outside appeared to be doing a lot better. Most of my college years were spent this way. I was a mostly functioning human being and was able to survive, yet I wasn't truly living. I was completely disconnected from myself, my body and my needs. The volume of my inner critic was to the max and I hated everything about myself. My head was constantly spinning with should's, shouldn'ts, nutritional information and weights. My number one goal in life was to please others and I didn't mind throwing myself under the bus to do so. This wasn't recovery nor freedom, yet is a place that I could have continued to live in for the rest of my life.

This weekend I got married. The eating disorder wasn't a part of my wedding. I didn't worry about what I was eating. I truly felt beautiful in my wedding dress. I didn't turn to behaviors when I got stressed and overwhelmed. I wasn't trying to please everyone. I took care of myself. I allowed myself to enjoy and embrace the attention. I let go of some control. I didn't feel the need to make things perfect. I felt loved and grateful for being able to share the time with those that mean the most to me. I was open and took in others compliments. I was happy. I was free. I was truly living.

After posting this I thought of a great song to go with it, so I decided to add it. :-)


 "I ain't settlin'
For just getting by
I've had enough so-so
For the rest of my life
Tired of shooting too low
So raise the bar high
"Just enough," ain't enough this time
I ain't settlin' for anything less than everything"
~Sugarland


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Ditching the anorexic label

When I was first diagnosed with anorexia I was ashamed. In my eyes it was equated with failure, weakness, disappointment and vanity. I was so ashamed that I had succumbed to what felt like a disease of superficiality and a cry out for attention. As mentioned in previous posts, it took me years to even accept that I suffered from anorexia and to even say my name with it in the same sentence. As the disorder progressed I wore it as a badge of honor. I wore it with pride. Instead of seeing it as an illness, in my eyes it made me special. It was like a special cape, an excuse to get out of life really. If I was incapable of doing everything else perfectly (read as: to my impossibly high standards) at least I could be the perfect anorexic.

This afternoon as John and I were outside playing softball I began to think about how much I still hold on the label as a security blanket and even how much it still defines me. Although I no longer see it in a positive light at all, there are still some parts that I hang on to. Even though it completely destroyed my life and came close to killing me on multiple occasions there is still some sadness around completely giving that label up. 

Recently I have discovered that I enjoy food, cooking and just the overall eating experience. In the past I have been ashamed to admit that I like things like ice cream, cookies and french fries. What are people going to think? Whenever I went grocery shopping I felt that I could only get low calorie and fat free foods. I felt that I had to uphold  the image of being anorexic. Now don't get me wrong, there was a time in my life when I bought those things because I was terrified of everything else but that is no longer the case.

As I was running around the field trying to catch the softballs that John was hitting to me I felt amazing. I wasn't out of breath (ok maybe a little because I am out of shape), dizzy or about to pass out. I wasn't exercising for punishment. My mind wasn't mentally tallying the amount of calories I was burning or even thinking about food at all. I was completely connected to my body. I felt my strong legs underneath me and could hear my heart beating. During those moments I felt completely free. I didn't want to be the girl who passed out on the field. Or was rushed to the hospital for overdoing it. I didn't want to be the "sick one" who people constantly felt sorry for. I wanted to be me, a girl enjoying her love of sports and spending time with her fiance. And I was that girl.

I am in recovery from anorexia. It will probably be a long time before the disease doesn't take up some sort of space in my mind but that's OK. Tonight isn't about being fully recovered or never struggling again. Tonight is about letting go of another label that has kept me trapped for years. It's about taking responsibility for my life and not allowing anything else to do that for me.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Open up your heart

 "Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no trouble, noise, or hard work. it means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart."

 Tonight my heart feels so full. I am overflowing with gratitude, joy and love about so many things. It's amazing. My life isn't perfect. I don't have it all together. My problems still exist. Yet it doesn't matter. My heart feels at peace for the first time in a really long time.

Today as I walked outside, enjoying the amazing beauty surrounding me, I was overcome with so much gratitude I thought my heart might explode. I couldn't help but notice the sky, trees, flowers and even the bugs. Everything seemed so much more vibrant than normal. It felt alive. I felt alive. As I walked I wasn't mourning the past or anxiously thinking about the future, I was just there. My head wasn't spinning in a million different directions nor was I obsessing, I just was.

I've done a lot of soul searching in the past few months. I have been continuously forced out of my comfort zone. I've gone head to head with some of my biggest demons. I've had my entire world turned upside down, repeatedly.

Three months ago I didn't envision that I would temporarily give up the life that I was living and enter a psychiatric institute for treatment for a 11 year battle with an eating disorder. Even more so, I didn't think I would" find myself" in the process. For years I have been waiting for God to heal me through others. During my darkest hours, I constantly looked for signs that my life was worth living. I found comfort in children's smiles, watching others overcome obstacles, volunteering and just my ability to be there and help others. I was constantly trying to earn love through whatever means necessary. I didn't think I was meant to exist if I wasn't pouring my heart and soul into bettering the lives of others. I could give, but I couldn't take. I was so consumed by shame, pride and self hatred that I was untouchable. The love, belonging and connection that I was yearning for, couldn't touch me. I was surrounded by people who were trying to help me, but I couldn't take their hands.

My first night in inpatient treatment I cried for 3 hours straight. The only reason that I stopped was because I physically couldn't cry another tear. I was alone in a room with nothing but a pillow, blanket, stuffed animal that John gave me and pictures. I held the pictures tightly against my chest and prayed for God to get me through the night. My comfort had been stripped away from me.I wasn't laying at home in bed with my fiance. I wasn't on the phone catching up with my grandma. I wasn't on the couch snuggling up with my pets. I wasn't at work doing the job that brought me so much joy. I wasn't on facebook staying connected with all of my friends and family. My heart broke into a thousand little pieces that night and then God helped me put it back together.

My desires and passions haven't changed. I love people and know that my calling involves helping others. But those were not the areas of my life that needed to be fixed. God worked in my heart. It was inside of me that needed to be healed and I believe that it has been.

This isn't/wasn't an overnight process. Our lives are works in progress. God is working on me every day. I am working on myself every day. My battles haven't all been won and there is still plenty to be done. However things have shifted. My heart is whole again and I am at peace with myself. I am able to accept the love surrounding me. When John smiles and tells me that he loves me, I believe it. When family and friends offer a shoulder to cry on or words of support, I listen and take it all in. I am no longer trying to earn my right to be on this planet or earn the love of others. Everything that I need exists inside of me and now that I realize this, I am truly free.

This gratitude, joy and love that is radiating throughout me is more sustaining than the eating disorder ever was. I feel more connected to God, others and myself than ever before. The freedom that I was searching for wasn't found by looking outside of myself. The calmness didn't come from order and perfection. The healing came from taking a chance, letting go and full surrendering myself to God. My heart is so full and I know this is where my truth lies.

Friday, May 3, 2013

What I wouldn't give

I am not happy with the size of my body. I hate the amount of weight that I have gained. I cringe when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and I can't stand how most of my clothes fit. While I am grateful to be healthy, I don't look at my body in awe. I'm not there yet. Body love and acceptance don't exist in this house and they may not for a while.

With all that said, I wouldn't give anything to make my body smaller. I have way too much to lose. (no pun intended)

I've never really felt this way before. In my all or nothing world I've always felt that I needed to either love my body completely or constantly shower it with hatred and I had the second one down pact. This new middle ground is a little weird for me and I am not quite sure what to think.

I can't remember a time in the last 12 years when I haven't been actively been trying to "fix" my body. Whether restricting, purging, overexercising or even passively trying to lose weight and make it smaller. I was always trying to manipulate it in some way.

To be honest, I wish I could lose weight. I wish I was smaller. I wish the number on the scale was lower.  I hate that I am going to have to let my body do it's thing and accept whatever size it is. I hate that I will never be super thin. And even more so I hate the fact that we really don't have much (if any) control over our body size at all.

I'm not a happy camper. This isn't my favorite part of recovery. This sucks, actually.

Yet, I wouldn't trade the life that I am currently living to be smaller or weigh less. I wouldn't trade the joy and love that John and I feel for each other or the energy and passion to be able to live with purpose and do the things that I enjoy. Gaining weight has allowed me to gain my life back, something that is completely irreplaceable. The gratitude that I feel for the amazing things in my life, astronomically outweighs my desire to change my weight and body. And I mean that 100%.

Recovery is a journey. Just like healing my relationship with food, healing my relationship with my body is going to take time and it isn't always going to be pretty. Although I wish I could skip through this yucky stage, I am grateful for the process. For the first time in my life I can honestly say that I wouldn't give anything to lose weight and actually mean it.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Free to be ME

I spent years trying to hide; my body, personality, opinions, ideas, enthusiasm, emotions, passion and joy. I longed to be small in every aspect of my life. I wanted to take up the least amount of space as possible. I wanted to be someone else, yet it never felt right. I could never pull it off. My body was never small enough. I was never good enough. It was awkward and fake. Nothing worked.

THANK GOODNESS!

Everyday I am breaking out of that mold, letting go of the things that I am not and discovering the things that I am. My body isn't small. It's strong, resilient, athletic and muscular. It needs, wants and enjoys food just like everyone else out there. It demands love, respect and care no matter how much I say that it doesn't. I am loud and love to talk, sometimes about nothing at all. I am passionate about everything that I do and use my heart as guidance every day. I am clumsy and messy and I wouldn't have it any other way. You can usually tell what I have eaten in a day by looking at my shirt. I love people, laughing and smiling. And children. I can't wait to be a mother and have children of my own.

My relationship with God is personal. I am spiritual although I don't always go to church. I love deeply and care too much about everything and I love that about myself. I wear my heart on my sleeve and my emotions on my face. I laugh at inappropriate times, smile often and cry pretty easily. I am sensitive. especially emotionally. I give 200% to everything I do. Humor and sarcasm are my friends.

I am bossy, nosy and don't like being told what to do. I love rules and guidelines yet believe in personal responsibility. I am a hippie at heart and have an idealistic view of the world. I believe in helping others above everything else and am passionate about at risk populations. I love to listen to people's stories. I am constantly amazed by the beauty of this world. It's hard for me to see people suffer.

I love sports, both watching and participating. Nature is my favorite place to be. I am optimistic and my enthusiasm is childish. I believe in everyone and am motivated everyday by the things that people constantly overcome.

I don't have much figured out. Despite horrible anxiety, I work really well under pressure. Nothing motivates me more than the last minute. I am horrible at multitasking, no matter how often I try. I get startled easily and am super jumpy. I love naps and relaxing and am so grateful that I am finally allowing myself to enjoy those things.

I dream big yet I keep most of my dreams to myself. Pride is my biggest nemesis. Striving for perfection has been my biggest downfall. Black and white thinking rules my life most of the time but I am slowly finding freedom in the gray. I am a recovering anorexic and believe that my eating disorder has been my saving grace. Without it I wouldn't be the person that I am today.

I am a natural caretaker and would love to be a nanny. My heart lies in non-profit work and I wish I could be a full time volunteer. Music inspires me and I love to sing loudly. I have an addiction to quotations and song lyrics. Country music has a special place in my heart.

I am quirky. I love the color blue. I am not girly and probably will never be. I don't like makeup and do not spend more than 2 minutes on my hair. I love jewelry with meaning and comfy clothes. I like colorful fun socks and have a serious t-shirt collection.

I love people yet I prefer one-on-one and small groups. I don't like being the center of attention. I am intimidated and easily back down from conflict. I don't like confrontation and I shut down when people yell. I become defensive easily and hold grudges. I can be resentful and this is something that I'm working on.

I hate losing. I don't mind failing. I fear the unknown. I am perfectly imperfect. I am direct proof of God's grace. I am a combination of my mothers strength, my fathers wisdom and my grandmothers generosity. I am so grateful for the journey that I am on and my willingness to step out of my comfort zone in order to live authentically.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Six and a half weeks

Six and a half weeks ago I walked into the confined halls of the EDRC completely unsure of what to expect. I was sick, scared and completely lost. To be honest, my expectations were low. Although there was no doubt in my mind that I needed help physically, part of me believed that it stopped right there. I had been in therapy for a year and half now and thought that I had learned it all. I knew my patterns, the traps that I continuously fell into and I felt like I could write a book on how to recover from an eating disorder. I had plans of getting re-fed and then moving on my way, quickly returning to the life that I had been leading. Although I entered treatment voluntarily I wasn't completely convinced that I deserved the help and was pretty detached from my reality.

The first day was difficult but it wasn't my struggles that were frightening. Here I was surrounded by a group of people suffering and battling demons of their own. It pained me to see how such lovely people were struggling with so much self hatred. I prayed that everyone there would see their beauty, courage and strength and held tightly to the belief that they would all be healed.

However, I didn't believe those things towards myself. I didn't think I was that sick. I wasn't worried about myself at all. Despite the severity of my health, I was only concerned about the impact that my eating disorder had on others. I was ashamed that it was seeping into every crevice of my life and was no longer just my problem. It seemed like the things that I cared about the most were suffering the consequences of my disorder and that was a reality that I couldn't handle.

Within a few days of being there, my MO was apparent. Even in treatment I was trying to take care of others. I wanted to be helpful and be-friend everyone that I could. I did everything that I could to listen to others and get people to like me. I wanted to show that I could be the perfect patient, the one that had it all together. Except that was so far from the truth.

I ate all of my meals, followed all of the rules and never caused a scene. I was progressing through the program, yet I hadn't even begun to address any of the issues that caused my relapse in the first place. I thought I had everyone fooled. I believed the role that I was playing, because it had been the role that I had played my entire life.

Then I was given a 4 day weekend home and my wall came crumbling down. I restricted meals, purged and isolated. I cheated on my meal plan and did what I "wanted". I had already quit my job and had no one to report to. If I screwed up, no one had to know and I rebelled like no other. I was angry, yet wasn't ready to admit it. It was go time and I had a choice to make: either continue to do what I was doing or completely let go and try something new. Until this point I continuously found external reasons to recover. My self worth was non-existent so recovery never stuck. That weekend I realized that if I took all of the relationships and things that I cared about out of my life, I didn't see the point in living and this shuck me to my core.

I continuously prayed and pleaded to God to show me my purpose. To guide me to the life that I was meant to lead. But I couldn't give up control. I didn't want to begin to believe that I had to let my guard down and share the things that I feared the most.

The following Monday I went back to the EDRC, with my head held low and more shame than I ever thought possible. I had messed up. The moment I was given some freedom, I had failed. I was consumed by guilt for having disappointed the treatment team. My self hatred and doubt was at an all time high and I couldn't handle it. Yet I also felt real for the first time in a while.

I didn't have it all together. I didn't know how to take care of myself. I didn't believe it was ok to need and want things. I didn't feel deserving of treatment or life. I didn't know how to balance anything or find the middle ground. I couldn't handle the idea of someone not liking me. I believed that it was my job to fix and help everyone. I believed that my sole purpose in life was to make sure that I made everyone happy all of the time. I didn't know how to say no. I didn't know how to create and impose boundaries. I didn't like myself. I didn't know how to begin to forgive myself for my past mistakes and the years that I lost to the eating disorder. I didn't know how to manage my anxiety without the eating disorder. I didn't know how to not constantly take on others emotions and not become totally paralyzed by their stories. I didn't really know who I was without looking to others.

I was lost, except not in the ways that I thought. From that point on my goals shifted. I wasn't sold on the fact that I deserved freedom from the eating disorder and the chance to live a happy, healthy life, but I thought about how I felt about others. I thought about how much I valued vulnerability and how courageous I found everyone around me. I thought about how I've always seen the potential and strength in others and how I genuinely believed in mankind's ability to overcome anything. I thought about my love and passion for people. For the first time ever, a light bulb clicked and I thought that maybe all of those things were true for me as well. That maybe I wasn't any different but instead worthy and deserving of love, health, help and happiness just for being alive.

It was then that the work began. I was forced to sit through the uncomfortableness of my feelings and was constantly called out on the truth. I had to face the fact that I wasn't happy all of the time and I was no where near perfect. I had to sit through the uncomfortableness of disappointing others and being angry. I had to put everyone else aside and just focus on myself and it felt like I was being tortured. I was stripped down to where I had nothing left except to trust myself and my inner guidance. God tore my heart into tiny pieces and forced me to face the things that I had been avoiding. And I had to do it all while re-feeding my body (read as constantly eating), sitting with anxiety, stuck in a room with others, where I was unable to use any of my old coping skills or pour my energy into everyone else.

Yesterday was my last day at the EDRC. When I walked out of those glass doors I was full of pride and an inner peace and calmness that I have never felt in my entire life. I want to say that I feel different but it isn't that. I feel alive and like myself. This feels normal and like the truth. I feel genuine and my heart feels full. I am overflowing with gratitude about living. I feel happy, anxious, nervous, content, excited and sad. I am also angry for all of the years that I spent believing all of the lies that I did. I feel forgiveness towards myself and others and am beginning to accept the pain that I have suffered. I'm not consumed by self hatred. Instead I am finding out new things about myself every day. My past is still existent but the memories are no longer crippling. I can handle the anxiety and the fear of the unknown. I truly believe that there was a time in my life where the eating disorder served me, even kept me alive. However, I don't need it anymore. I have faith in my ability to stand on my own two feet with guidance from above and supporting people by my side. In six and a half weeks I not only learned how to nourish my body but my soul as well and live without apology.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Grace

In the last two months I have seen some scary places. I've been consumed by depression so dark that it almost took my life. I've been overwhelmed by anxiety so strong that I've feared everything. I've been so enriched in my eating disorder that I willingly lost some of the things that mean the most to me.

This isn't new territory. This isn't the first time that I have seen this horrid place. And it breaks my heart to say that.

I've been angry, sad, hopeless and lost. I've screamed, pleaded, cried out, begged God to help me and then impatiently waited for his response, only to end up furthering my self destruction. Why doesn't He hear me? Why won't someone help me? Haven't I been through enough? I've echoed these questions over in over more times that I can count, always waiting for this sign that He hears me. Wanting some kind of confirmation that I am not in this alone and can get better.

I've constantly been disappointed. I've seen brief moments of clarity and freedom but they've been fleeting and the bottom has caved in again, just when I begin to see some solid ground.

Yet I've always gone back, seeking guidance from God and praying that His grace will finally reach me.

I believe that it finally has and it's nothing like I expected.

I've wanted God and others to do this for me, to take away my pain on my terms. Listen when it's easy and do my own thing when it gets difficult. Pick and choose what to follow. As soon as I've heard things that I don't want to hear from both God and others, I've run as far away in the other direction as possible and then blamed everyone for deserting me in my greatest time of need.

I've made excuse after excuse, frustrating those around me and leaving them helpless in my path. Only to fall further and continue the destruction.

I've wanted this to be easy. I've longed for clarity and peace with every fiber of my being. But I haven't put up my end of the deal. I've always had one foot in the door and the other clinging to the known and familiar, a life consumed by self-hatred, shame and anorexia. I've tried, halfheartedly yet never completely surrender control.  

Today I surrender. I let down the wall and begin to let God and others in. Not so they can do this for me but so they can guide me as I do this for myself. Today I feel God's strength and courage and an outpouring of love and support from Him and those around me. Today I realize that no one ever gave up on me, but held on for me when I gave up on myself. Today I willingly take that back. I know that I am worth it, that the potential and hope I see in others is also in me. The kindness and compassion that I freely give away can be used to lift me up. Today I finally hear what God has been telling me and I am thankful that I have been given ears to listen and a heart to truly take it in.


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Compassion for the ick

This week has sucked. Bottom line. I've clung to the eating disorder in every way possible. And I have been ashamed. Full of so much self hatred and blame. "Why am I doing this again?" "Am I really this crazy?" "How come I can take care of EVERYONE else, but can't take care of myself?" "Why do I continue to starve myself when I know the consequences?""Why am I ruining the amazing things that I have going for me with so much destruction?" The further I got into the week, the more I beat myself up and the deeper I fell. I generally still struggle a lot with my worth, but when I am not eating enough, I go to a very dark place. Depression and negative thoughts consume me. It's pretty scary, actually. The more I engaged in eating disorder behaviors, the more I beat myself up and the worst I felt about myself. *cue endless cycle*

Self criticism, judgement and blame didn't get me anywhere this week. The harsher I was towards myself, the more I engaged in destructive things and the worse things got. I just couldn't snap out of the pattern. No matter how angry I got or how painful it was, I just couldn't see past it . It was defeating and enormously frustrating at the same time.

 Today I had a very embarrassing yet eye opening experience that really helped end this cycle. I've been wrestling with myself about whether or not to share this but I refuse to allow shame to win yet again. Today I asked John if we could have some alone time. Being the amazing fiance that he is, he obliged and went on to campus. Within seconds of him walking out the door I began eating everything in sight, which was my plan all along. I went from one thing to the next until I reached a level of fullness that I am not used to. Once I was able to actually stop myself from eating (which is very difficult when your body is used to constantly being starved) I was overcome with so much shame. I sat in the kitchen and cried. "What am I doing?" "Did I really just choose food over spending time with my fiance?" "What is wrong with me?" The self berating started again without missing a beat.

Out of no where a light bulb went off. (ok, a little disclaimer here: I know that I was probably able to reach this conclusion because the nourishment actually allowed my brain to get out of survival mode and to actually function properly) As I sat on the kitchen floor, surrounded by food wrappers and a mess, I thought about the last week. About how badly my body needed food. About how much I had ignored my hunger and my needs. How could I be angry at myself? How could I be surprised about what had just happened? It all made perfect sense.

The anger softened. While I wasn't happy about what had happened or how it had happened, the judgement disappeared. I am not proud of this moment, but I was able to look at it with some gentleness and a lot of compassion. And with that end the cycle.

I hate that I still struggle so much with anorexia. I wish that weeks like this just didn't happen. But I know that hating myself for them doesn't make them happen any less. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Having compassion for my struggles is not something that comes naturally to me. Even talking about the icky parts of my life makes me feel very uncomfortable. But if I don't, shame wins every time and the cycle continues.

We can't hate ourselves healthy. We don't take care of things that we hate. No amount of blame and judgement will ever set us free. It's hard to have compassion for the not so great parts of our lives but by doing so we take away the power that they hold over us and that is where the true healing begins. There is freedom in self acceptance and compassion.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Fighting for Us

Tonight John and I stood in our kitchen. His arms wrapped tightly around me as I cried. As I stood there overwhelmed and upset, he reminded me of how proud he is of me and how much he loves me. As we stood there I thought about our upcoming wedding. I thought about last Valentine's Day when I wouldn't even eat the chocolate covered strawberries that he went out of his way to make me. How we spent one of our first anniversaries at Moe's because I couldn't handle eating anywhere else. All of the nights where he has sat at the dinner table alone because I won't eat. Or worse, the fights and temper tantrums I have thrown when he has tried to help me at meal times.This doesn't even begin to explain the toll that anorexia has taken on our relationship. The countless nights I have spent wrapped up in his arms crying hysterically or completely numb and out of touch with reality because I am undernourished. 

When I think about all of this I am overcome with sadness. It pains me that my eating disorder has been such a big part of the first few years of our life together. It upsets me to no end the amount of memories that it's invaded and the moments it's stole from us. These times that we will never be able to get back.

The past few weeks have been a struggle for me. My recovery that seemed to be going smoothly, hit a few bumps and then fell off of a cliff. It's a slippery slope and before I knew it I was drowning. This week my normal encouragement wasn't working and I felt discouraged.

Today I was reminded of what I am fighting for.

A long, healthy relationship with the love of my life. A chance to grow old with the most amazing, kind, caring, understanding, supportive, loving and patient man I know. To be able to laugh, smile and enjoy each others company and the little things in life. To eventually have children and be able to love them unconditionally, watch them grow up and help guide them along the way.

In three and a half months John and I will be getting married. I don't want our wedding to be another thing the eating disorder steals from us. Although recovery is difficult, it isn't as painful as the isolation that anorexia causes.

Sometimes I think John must seriously be crazy in order to stick around and continue to love me through all of the ups and downs. Yet I thank God for this everyday. I don't have all of the answers or any for that matter, but I know what I am fighting for. I am fighting for us.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Dealing with loss

When I don't know what else to do I write. Today I lost someone very important to me. Someone that touched my heart in a way that no one else ever has. Someone that showed me what unconditional love was. Someone that showed  me that no matter how much pain I was in or how broken I felt, I was going to be ok. Someone who sat with me through some of the worst moments of my life. Who comforted me when I felt like I had absolutely no one else. Someone who judgement wasn't an option.

Given this and some other difficulties of the past few weeks, I kind of feel like I've had the wind knocked out of me. Today I kind of feel myself on my knees saying "Lord, what else do you want from me?" It's not pity or even "why me", it's more of an emotional surrender. I feel spent, exhausted and like I have nothing left to give.

Please don't mistake this as giving up. This has nothing to do with my will to live or my ability to believe that things will get better. I am not depressed or in denial or in some kind of crisis mode. In fact, I know that I will get through this. I know these feelings are normal and temporary. And I know that I will be ok.

But that doesn't make it suck any less right now.

It's weird. I am not new to loss, pain or struggles but this feels different and I know that is has everything to do with my level of recovery. In the past, I numbed myself to many of the losses and difficult situations that I faced. When shit hit the fan, I checked out. The bottom line: I stopped eating. Given that I am a very sensitive person who goes all in with my heart, life in general can be really overwhelming, even without traumatic things. Throw in all of that kind of stuff and it can be unbearable.

Today I feel like my heart was ripped from my chest, yet I don't feel hopeless. Instead of feeling lost and confused, I feel at home. I don't wish to push these feelings away. Although it would be helpful if I could stop crying, I am not ashamed of the tears. Even though this feels awful, I don't want to numb myself to this or anything for that matter.

I truly believe that it is in difficult situations that we learn who we really are. I believe that no matter how much pain we feel, it is never wasted. I believe that I am living proof of God's grace and am thankful for everything that has been given to me.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Letting Go

Today as John and I drove up to Goodwill I sat in the passenger seat crying hysterically. In the trunk were bags full of all of the clothes that no longer fit me. Clothes that were full of memories and a twisted sense of comfort. They were the clothes that I wore at my sickest and clung on to for dear life. Throughout recovery as my body has changed, I still hung on to those clothes for safety even though I could no longer fit into them. They were my back-up plan: If everything else failed, at least I could lose weight and fit into them again. Keeping them was my way of allowing myself to go back to the eating disorder if things ever became too difficult. 

Getting rid of these clothes wasn't easy. It meant being honest with myself and facing the harsh reality that my body will never be that small again. It meant letting go of a lot of things.

As we drove away, I was so overcome with sadness, I felt like I couldn't breathe. Yet it was bigger than the clothes and their size. I was sad for all of the years that I based my worth on fitting into those clothes. The fact that I based my safety and comfort on a pair of shorts. I was sad for all of the years I berated myself and believed that the only way that I would be ok and loved, was if I wore size X.

To be honest, I am still upset. Today I feel like I lost something that was important to me. Yet I also feel relieved. I no longer have to look at those clothes everyday. I no longer need to see reminders of my illness or feel the pull of the eating disorder every time I walk in the closet.I am still working on coming to terms with my body changing and it's size. On hard days, I still sometimes believe that maybe if I were smaller things would be better, yet deep down I know that's a lie.

Although I am sad, I don't regret getting rid of those clothes today. I wouldn't trade the life that I have now to fit into them again. As I stood and cried into John's loving arms, I was reminded of what real love, comfort and safety are and for that I am truly grateful.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

You never know

If you look at me you would have no idea that I am in recovery from anorexia. If you watch me throughout the day you wouldn't know that I suffer from depression. If you talk to me you wouldn't know that I struggle with crippling anxiety. If you see me in the workplace you wouldn't know that I struggle with enormous fear and self doubt. If you watch how I conduct my life you would have no idea the pain that I have been through.

I am grateful for every day of my life. I am naturally an optimist and see the best in everything. I try my hardest to live every day to the fullest and count my blessings as often as possible. I try to keep it all together. I try to keep my personal problems to myself and out of the work place. I try to be a role model and an example of generosity, kindness, strength, positivity and resilience. I try to help others by lending a listening ear, a compassionate hand or a "you're not alone" whenever possible.

Some days this is exhausting and hard to keep up with. Some days I struggle to find reasons to stay in recovery. Some days I believe that I will always be haunted by my past. Some days it takes everything that I have just to get out of bed. Some days I am completely overwhelmed by the world. Some days I just have nothing left to give.

I've been in recovery for a year and a half now and it's amazing to me how far I have come. I am both proud and astonished by some of the things that I have overcome. I never thought I would get to this place. In a lot of ways I feel like I have done the impossible. And yet there still seems to be so much more to do. I still feel like things are difficult. It seems like once I work through one layer of stuff, there is always another one waiting underneath that gets me before I can even come up for air. It feels like it's always something and it's defeating.

I know this is how this works. I know that it's a process. I have experienced enough joy and freedom that I know that this work is worth it. I know how far I've come and that full recovery is 100% possible, even for me. I know that I have the tools that I need and the support system on my side. I know that I can do this and all I need is time.

I am not writing this post for pity or sympathy nor for people to tell me "It will get better", but instead as a reminder to show others kindness and compassion, especially when it seems like they may not deserve it. On rough days one simple smile or gesture goes a long way. We don't have to understand or even know what someone is going through to brighten up their day. On the average day, I keep my story and struggles to myself for a lot of reasons, yet sometimes wish others knew and would cut me some slack. We all struggle, suffer and go through times in our lives that are difficult. We also persevere, overcome and achieve amazing things everyday. The human spirit is an extraordinary thing. I use this quote often but it seems like a good way to end this post. Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Exercise or not...


For months I longed to run. I needed to exercise. I wanted to feel the pavement underneath my feet. I wanted to lessen my anxiety and cure my body hatred and I believed that working out would do it. I dreamt about the moment when I would be far enough in recovery that I could safely return to swimming, running and training for triathlons. During times when I was really struggling with the eating disorder, I even looked at the scrapbook that I had made of my triathlons for inspiration to keep trudging forward. For Christmas the only thing that I asked for was a new pair of running shoes. I even talked about possibly doing the 5k that benefits the charity at the company that I work for.

Yesterday before work, I witnessed a lot of people running all over Gainesville and something crazy happened. I didn’t temporarily loose my breath. My heart didn’t skip a beat. I wasn’t jealous. I didn’t miss it or even wish to be doing it. There weren’t any feelings attached to it at all. I have no desire to run or exercise for that matter. I even plan on returning the nice running shoes that I got for Christmas. 

It’s weird to be at this point in my recovery. I believe that I could physically handle exercise and possibly not even overdo it. I don’t even think I would have a problem increasing my food intake in order to compensate for doing physical activity. I get off early enough that I could incorporate some kind of movement into my daily schedule if I wanted, except I have no desire to do so. 

For my entire life I have been known as an athlete. In high school I played water polo and swam competitively. I even considered going to college for one of these sports. In college I dabbled in all kinds of activities. I played a lot of intramural sports, began cycling, fell in love with fitness classes and began doing triathlons and running races. Friends would use me as motivation at the gym and constantly complimented me on my rigid training routines. The more I began to struggle with anorexia, the more exercise started to control my life. Not only was it physically destroying my body, but it caused me to miss out on other things. 

My priorities have greatly changed. I no longer care to hang on to the athlete label. I would rather spend my mornings sleeping in, reading blogs, walking the dogs and enjoying coffee. After work and on weekends, I cherish the time that John and I spend together. We cuddle, relax, watch tv, play board games, go to sporting events and much more. I have re-connected with a lot of family and friends and love hearing what is going on in their lives. I have recently gotten into writing and painting. I am also trying to learn how to crochet.

I don’t feel the need to try to use exercise as a way to lose weight or change my body. I have learned new and better coping mechanisms to help reduce my anxiety and am not looking for an escape from reality. There are no longer massive amounts of guilt attached to being lazy. On most weekends you can find my curled up on the couch with the pets, napping. 

Feeling this way and even writing this is very weird to me. Yet I feel a new sense of freedom that I can’t explain. I never imagined I would get to a point where I was healthy and didn’t feel like some sort of physical activity should be a part of my life. It’s in these moments where I realize how far I have come and can’t help but smile.