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.