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.