viewing the world through a lens

It’s true that you can view the world through so many different “lenses.” I can name a number that I use on a daily basis. But we often don’t realize that our views can become jaded based on the lens of choice for that moment, situation, day, etc.

One can see the world through a “I hate everything and I don’t want to be here so I am going to be miserable” lens, in which we see nothing good and are consigned to having a horrible time. One can look through the “no” lens, where everything that happens is a no-go and one is snobbish and unfriendly. One can look at the world through a “positive, peppy, I am not gonna show any sadness” lens, which seems good but ultimately makes you cry inside. There are positive lenses, negative lenses, neutral lenses, recovery lenses, destructive lenses… you name it and it’s a lens.

I admit, I’ve put on a ton of lenses in my life-especially through my recovery journey- and not all of them have been positive or happy. But the one I love the most is the lens I look through, literally, when I see the world through my camera.

There is a reason that “art therapy” exists in its many forms. It is freeing, emotional, raw, and often mind-opening. For me, this occurs most often when I am behind a camera.

Looking through the lens, I see the world as it is. I see the angles, lines, grids, elements, colors of the world around. I do not see opinion or personal bias. I cannot see in a jaded view through my camera. I cannot even see myself differently than how I am-though rarely do I take pictures of my own person. For me, this is freeing.

I don’t believe that photography is a “cure-all” for dysmorphia or misperception, but I do think that it can help.

Maybe give it a shot. Look through the lens of your phone camera if it is all that you have. Walk around and look at the world as if you have never seen it before. Let go of the judgements and the preconceived notions. Let go of them and give yourself the grace to let go of the judgements for yourself as well, at least while your eye is behind the camera lens.

 

Here are some of my photos from various periods of time. I use a Nikon DSLR camera and usually put it on manual. As you can see, I like flowers…

 

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a break-up letter

Dear Ed,

It’s been a long haul. We’ve been through a lot together. But it’s over now. I’d say “it’s not you, it’s me,” but that isn’t true. It’s all you. You served a purpose for a while, you gave me a sense of control and safety-albeit incorrectly- but I don’t need you anymore. I don’t want you anymore.

I want life and love and laughter. I want adventures. I want smiles and spontaneity. I want health and happiness.

I want cake and chocolate. I want fast food on busy days and comfort meals on rainy, cold nights. I want to eat candy and popcorn at movies. I want to listen to cravings and eat to my desires. I want foreign foods and the chance to try new foods. I want to go out to a restaurant and have the full course meal.

I want to look in the mirror and accept what I see. I want to see myself for who I am as a person and not how my clothes fit or what I weigh. I want to meet new people and not think about how I look to them. I want to go on trips and learn new things and be able to feel the wind on my face on the top of a mountain. I want to run for fun and enjoy movement because it makes me feel good inside.

I want to be me, authentically. I want to discover who I am and fill the spot in my soul you take up with gold. I want to breathe in freedom and exhale rigidity. I want flexibility and variety.

Ed, I want life. And you do not bring me life. You do not bring me any of the things I want above. You hinder me. You hold me down. You tell me I am less than I am.  You abuse me and manipulate me and take me away from my dreams.

We don’t work. We never will again. It’s over. We’re done.

that’s it. i’ve had enough.

Going into recovery, if it is your choice, you probably WANT to recover. I did. I do.  But in the past week or so, I came to the realization that I will never really recover until i’ve decided i have had quite enough of Ed and its shenanigans (read him f-ing me over and destroying my life).

But over the past few days, I have.

I think up until now I wanted recovery… I really did. But I still had a small part of me that was okay with my eating disorder; the part of me that was content to stay in the kinda-recovered stage.

But I can place exactly when I destroyed that last little grip: Sunday night.

I’ve spent a lot of time doing recovery. It takes a lot of time, don’t get me wrong. But I’ve missed a year of school, life events, and so much more because of my eating disorder and the time it is taking to recover from it. I knew that it had and was taking away opportunities, but on Sunday it took just one more thing and I had enough of it.

I got invited on spring break trip that would be about two weeks from now. But I can’t go. I can’t go because I am in treatment. I can’t go because my EATING DISORDER put me in treatment. I literally lost it that night. I stared at my rice bowl while I ate and was very quiet. I couldn’t talk because I thought that I would start sobbing if I did. Eventually, I had to quickly leave the apartment (after finishing dinner of course, because meeting the needs) because I couldn’t hold the tears in anymore. I sat outside and rocked back and forth with my head in between my knees and sobbed. I sobbed my heart out.

My therapist in residential once told me that if I needed to cry, then I should “do it with all my fucking energy and then be done.” That is what I did on Sunday.

I was miserable because this was just another thing to add to my “miss list,” the list of things that I missed because of my eating disorder/treatment. But it was more than that; it was something that my boyfriend, my best friends, and the people I wanted to spend time with the most were going on together. Without me. I was jealous (and still am) that they could spend time together and I couldn’t. I was jealous that they got to be with my boyfriend for a week and I couldn’t. I was jealous that they could adventure and I had to sit in a room and talk about my feelings. I felt miserable. I pitied myself.

And then I didn’t. I was still sad. But more than that, I was FURIOUS. Because this was my eating disorder ruining my life. This was it getting in the way of experiences. This was ED stealing the time I had with friends and the adventures I could take. This was ED being selfish and trying to make me be only with it. This was ED trying to control me, again.

That piece of me that still wanted ED died with the lost opportunity. It was that that pushed it away. And now, I’ve had enough.

The only thing I am gripping to is recovery.

why do numbers have power?

Today I almost saw my weight.

After 4 years of not weighing myself and being SOOO careful not to see it, I almost did on a discharge sheet from my visit to an urgent care last week.

I bet some of you are like what…why is that a problem? But it’s actually horrible. It’s terrifying and mind-controlling, and preoccupying, and just miserable.

Because numbers still have power.

I bet you are also wondering how I almost saw my weight. You know how you can do the thing where you blur your eyes a bit? I did that. And then my brain started to wonder what I saw. It started to try to compare numbers in their most basic of shapes. Like when you look at something from far away and it is blurry and a 3 could be a 5 and the 1 could be a 7. That’s what my brain did.

Because ONE of those digit options was okay. The other one DEFINITELY wasn’t.

Why was the other one so taboo? Why did x number of pounds in the up direction make a difference? Here’s what my ED brain thinks:

  • having that x amount of pounds makes me heavier than other people in my friend group and I already don’t fit in because I can’t run and they can and I can’t just enjoy food whenever and they can
  • if I am x then I definitely look the f-word (fat)
  • if it really is x does that mean I am now unhealthy in the opposite direction???
  • that’s too high. period.
  • obvi you are out of control. Don’t follow that meal plan.
  • yup, you’re the f-word

Why do numbers have that amount of power? Enough power that I actually question my BODY DYSMORPHIA and wonder if it is telling me I am thinner than I actually am…. wow, what a turn to the opposite.

Why does a number have enough power to make me think I will automatically not fit in with my friends? How could it do that?

Why does a number make me think that all these professionals have it out for me and don’t care if I get the f-word?

It shouldn’t. But it does.

I partly blame society for putting so much emphasis on weight and numbers in general. But I also know that I can eventually be strong enough not to care… I am just not quite there yet.

So why do numbers NOT matter….. let’s see:

  • Numbers (your weight) cannot tell you who you are on the inside
  • Numbers do not show your personality and your love for life
  • Numbers do not define your self-worth or your worthiness.
  • Numbers cannot make or break a friendship or relationship.
  • Numbers cannot show love and comfort you.
  • Numbers are simply a mental construct that we made in order to explain natural phenomena and life.
  • I am not a number.
  • You cannot know what my weight is by looking at me.
  • Weight does not determine my worth.
  • I will never be happy with the number I see, and I don’t need to know it because it is just a fact, and not one that will help me.
  • Numbers are simply digits on a page. I am a soul.

I might have almost seen my weight…. but there is so much more to life than whatever number was on that page. And it’s going to take a bit to stop worrying about it, but I will give myself the grace and time I need to process and become stronger from my almost viewing of an unhelpful, meaningless number.

an honest post about hope

When I simply search the word ‘hope’ on Pinterest, here are some of the quotes that come up:

“hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness” -desmond tutu

“May your choices reflect your hope not your fears.” -Nelson Mandela

“a single thread of hope is still a very powerful thing.”

“hope is the only thing stronger than fear”

“Hope is not pretending that troubles don’t exist. It is the hope that they won’t last forever. That hurts will be healed and difficulties overcome. That we will be led out of the darkness & into the sunshine.”

Those are great and all, but sometimes I actually hate the word ‘hope.’ I hate what it says. I hate that I don’t always have it. I hate that I can’t hold on to it. I hate that it disappears and then reappears at its own will.

I hate that I cannot always hold onto the vision of my life that I think is filled with hope. If I could only see that version–that life I am shooting for–then maybe the struggles would feel more purposeful. That is what I think hope is. Knowing that, yes, right now is hell and every moment feels like a year, but you see that thing in the future? That is what you are going for with all of this work and struggle. That is your hope.

So, stop telling me to be hopeful. I can’t be hopeful if I don’t have/see the hope. Let me find it. Let me search for it. Let me find MY hope. Because if it isn’t MINE, it won’t push me, guide me, motivate me.

It will only be a thing that someone tells me. It won’t have power. To have hope means to believe in yourself and your capabilities. It means that you find it in yourself. I need to find that hope on my own.

the other side of the rainbow

I want to magically be at my pot of gold and the happy-go-lucky fancy leprechaun. I want to be on the other side of the fucking rainbow.

But I know that this isn’t going to happen overnight. I know that rainbows come after rain. I know that rainbows really never end. And I know that James Taylor got it right way before I figured it out…

Long Ago and Far Away:

Long ago a young man sits and plays his waiting game
But things are not the same it seems as in such tender dreams
Slowly passing sailing ships and Sunday afternoon
Like people on the moon I see are things not meant to be

Where do those golden rainbows end?
Why is this song so sad?
Dreaming the dreams I’ve dreamed my friend
Loving the love I love

To love is just a word I’ve heard when things are being said
Stories my poor head has told me cannot stand the cold
And in between what might have been and what has come to pass
A misbegotten guess alas and bits of broken glass

Where do your golden rainbows end?
Why is this song I sing so sad?
Dreaming the dreams I dream my friend
Loving the love I love to love to love to love

I wish someone would tell me how to climb the rainbow. I wish someone would give me the answers and tell me what I need to do to get to the gold. But I can’t ask others to solve this for me. I can’t learn without doing and I can’t get through without actually GOING through.

The only way out is through.

The only way out is through.

It’s written on the screen at my treatment center. It’s ingrained in my thoughts.

The ONLY way out is through.

The only way to the other side of the rainbow and to the pot of gold is trekking along the WHOLE FUCKING rainbow. To the other side.

mind vs. ed

 

*Note: ED means eating disorder

Conflict:

 

Imagine what the world could be

if it was only you and me;

the chatter of many fading slowly to few,

Think of all the time, the things that we could do.

Imagine all the wreckage, all the dead, the diseased,

the souls of all others suddenly ceased.

Wouldn’t it be quiet, only whispers on the breeze.

the crashing of the waves, the surf on the seas.

Imagine all our chances, the beauty and the grace.

The sky the only boundary, with smile on our face.

Imagine the sky crashing down,

the city burning, ashes on the ground.

The cries of helpless, panic ,and fright

darkness overwhelms, an ending of their plight.

Imagine all the good, the love and light

as we build a city of glass, mirrors shining bright.

The sun glints and shimmers as we finish our design,

but the world is far from done, beauty waits in line.

Imagine all the horror as the earth splits in two.

Run you silly souls, have you seen what I can do.

I have only gotten started with the torture you will face.

Brightness versus darkness; light will lose the race.

Two together make the devil present in the brain

fighting, clawing, biting, but only one can be tame.

Which will rule the conscious, which will fall behind?

Which will be the champion, who will win the mind?  

depression

a whisper weak yet growing near

creeps and seeps into your fears.

it koons to you of things undone,

of mistakes, ends, and lies unspun.

it reminds you of the truth of life,

the growling, sharpening teeth of might

which rip and tear you into bits,

and pull and mangle you to your wits.

a life of anger, fear and pain;

a life of torture, angst, and no gain.

a dream curled up into a ball

shivering shrinking, soon to fall

into the chasm which is life

a reality world sharp as a knife.

and with a sting the cut appears

and bloody words creep to your fears.

the whisper grows, its voice deep

into your words and images, it seeps.

the whisper calls up morbid scenes,

conjures specters, murders, crimes unseen.

in its control is the night

and so, again, you succumb to fright.

you dont have to love me

It’s okay. You don’t have to love me.

You don’t have to understand my struggles. You don’t have to be familiar with my past. You don’t have to appreciate my actions. You don’t have to support me in my journey. You don’t have to be present in my life.

You don’t have to love me.

But you do have to respect that I am a human being. You have to respect that I have rights, emotions, values, a life.

The truth is, if you aren’t going to support me and respect me for who I am, I don’t want you to love me. I don’t care if you do. I may be a people-pleaser, but that doesn’t mean I will accept negativity and tolerate disrespect. We ALL deserve respect. We ALL deserve love.

But you need a certain person to love you. You need someone who understands and accepts your demons. You need someone who sees your past and says: “I don’t care how much baggage you carry. What you have been through makes you who you are, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.”

When you find that person, keep him/her/them.

It’s okay. You don’t have to love me. I have people who do. I am working on loving me. And I don’t need to be surrounded by those who don’t.

dear body

 

One of the hardest things with which to come to terms in recovery is the changes that happen to your body. But it is also one of the most necessary.

I always wonder when the body image is going to get better. I mean, I will like my body… sometime? Right? I sure hope so. But I also am mindful that body image is the last thing to really get better. It comes later, after you make peace with yourself.

One of the activities I’ve learned about over my time in treatment is writing a letter to your body. So, here goes…

Dear body,

We don’t always see eye-to-eye. We don’t communicate well sometimes. I don’t trust you, still. I am working on it, but I don’t. I don’t always believe you when you say you are hungry… because how can you be hungry again… already? I don’t always listen when you say I am tired. I just want to do a few more things, sleep can wait. I don’t agree when you say I can’t do something, because why shouldn’t I be able to?

I don’t like what I see in the mirror still. But that’s not your fault. You are only trying to be healthy. I wasn’t helping you out all that much for the longest time. I don’t like the recovery cheeks you gave me. I don’t like the squish on my belly or my thighs. I don’t like my butt. And I sure as hell wish you had given me boobs instead of curves.

But I don’t get to pick these things. You are what you are. And I may not like it, YET, but maybe some day I will. Maybe some day I will appreciate all you can do and allow me to do. Maybe I will trust that you will redistribute those recovery cheeks. Maybe I will trust you when you tell me to eat. Maybe I will rest when you tell me to. Maybe I will like the way you look.

I am trying, I am. I am just not so good at it yet.

I’m hate that I mistreated you, even though I really didn’t think I was. I hate that I made you unhealthy when I thought I was making you fit.

But I am not sorry.

I’m not sorry that I changed you. I think, had I not, I would never have become the person I am today.