the hardest to comprehend.
It is the ultimate paradox:
to be strong you must be weak.
the hardest to comprehend.
It is the ultimate paradox:
to be strong you must be weak.
Sometimes i want to stop caring.
How others feel.
If they like me.
What they think.
How i come across.
Whether i am wanted.
But being wanted is like needing air.
Our humanity, much like our physicality,
demands certain necessities.
To crave love is synonymous with existence
To push aside our nature
Our desire to be loved, wanted,
is to eliminate our emotionality
at its most basic sense.
As if to say, “here is the day”
without the sun.
*trigger warning: difficult discussion of animal testing conditions*
If you know me, you know I am obsessed with my bunny, Charlie. Obsessed.
When I got Charlie and when I went vegetarian, I also started to research the make up industry and learn a bit more about animal testing. I went vegetarian for moral, ethicalreasons; I started buying cruelty free for the same reasons.
Animal testing is horrendous. Animals are subjected to experiments and treatments that often cause them intense pain. But, unlike us, they are helpless to do anything about it. Did you know that part of animal testing could be removing organs? Yep. You read that correctly.
Here are some other facts:
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg… (If you are interested in learning more, you can visit Cruelty Free International, this do-something article about animal testing, and the Humane Society International page. And for a REALLY amazing and comprehensive article on animal testing, you can visit this. )
So, how can I tell if something is cruelty free? Well, here is the tricky part… There are a lot of different messages about animal testing on labels and they aren’t all the same. Some companies say “not tested on animals” or “cruelty free,” but no one monitors this claim. Basically, it’s an honour code type thing (seriously, think back to college take home tests and how they tell you not to use the book but it’s really up to you if you abide by the honour code and listen to that… that is the same thing here). You can dig into this further and go online to the brand website for more information. There is the PETA cruelty free symbol, which means that PETA monitors these standards. And there is the Leaping Bunny symbol, which is arguably the one you want to look out for on products! Leaping bunny is the highest standards of cruelty free, making it the safest bet for cruelty free products.
Here is another tricky thing… some parent companies are not cruelty free, but some of their branches are. For example, bareMinerals is cruelty free, but Shiseido, which is not. I will occasionally still by these brands (I love the matte lipstick from bareMinerals. I had tried it before I went cruelty free in my purchases), but I try to stick to totally cruelty free companies.
Where can you find cruelty free items? Actually, they are everywhere. You just have to know a few brands you like that are cruelty free. And there are a LOT of resources out there to help with that.
My personal favourite source of cruelty free information is Cruelty Free Kitty. I absolutely adore this site. On it you can find guides to cruelty free products at Ulta, Sephora, Drugstores, Amazon, etc. I totally recommend taking a look around! These guides will also tell you if a parent company is not cruelty free, which is SUPER helpful.
As for me…what are my favourite cruelty free products? As a college student, I have to be a bit frugal with my spending, especially on make-up (which can get REALLY
expensive! Looking at you non-cruelty free Lancome and L’Oreal!). So I tend to go for the lower cost make-up. I mostly use Essence, which is a cruelty free brand you can find at Ulta. I love the brand. It’s not expensive and it feels pretty light!
I use method cleaning products at home, when I can! I am still making a transition to cruelty free in the home area! I throw out as I finish and then replace it with a cruelty free or homemade version! Cruelty Free Kitty has a list of cleaning brands if you are interested!
Why should I switch to cruelty free? Honestly, I can’t tell you this. It’s your decision to switch and to know why you want to! For me, I would think about animal testing and immediately imagine my Charlie being the bunny in there. I couldn’t handle that thought. And I can’t save the animals who are still being put through these horrific tests, but if I can avoid buying things that support the practice (just like I don’t eat meat or fish for the same reason), I will ABSOLUTELY do that.
This week, in therapy, I talked a lot about being tired.
Not sleepy, didn’t-go-to-bed-early-enough tired.
Tired of the energy it takes to do recovery. Tired of the time I have to spend thinking about what I ought to do to fight the eating disorder, what I need to do to keep myself fueled…
…when what I want to do is hit the “fuck it” button and just stop.
There is a dichotomy between chronic and chosen. With chosen–like a goal or a desire–you can stop if you opt to. You can, for example, decide you want non-decaf coffee today even if your goal was to limit caffeine.
But with chronic, you cannot decide. Your choice is void because it was never your decision to begin with.
When you decide to recover, you waive any possible “fuck it” option. You contend with the idea of never-ending mental energy.
Most of the time, the benefits of recovery vastly supersede the annoyance of your waiver.
But occasionally, the Mephistophelian truth of your decision comes out: you don’t have a choice.
I sound negative. I recognize this. But I also acknowledge that recovery is not universally positive.
A multitude of recovery, the little undiscussed bits and pieces, can fluctuate between the poles of experience: positive, negative, neutral.
Just like the comprehensive trajectory of recovery, the energy consumption annoyance goes up and down. Remember: “recovery isn’t linear.” Turns out, the stamina it takes to consistently pick recovery isn’t linear, either.
However, there is a silver lining (er, gold lacquer… just a little kintsukuroi reference there 😉 ).
In my experience, opting for the endurance it takes to be in recovery is much more preferable to the pertinacity it takes to be symptomatic in an eating disorder. Eating disorders are WORK, mental energy wise. You think about calories and food and exercise and guilt and your body and etc. and etc.
If you are already putting in the energy, why not have it be directed in the direction of the path giving you back vitality… towards recovery.
Sometimes you have to do hard things you don’t want to do to get to the outcome you desire. Sometimes you do them without a second thought, either because you don’t want to face the dissatisfaction or because you simply don’t think about the task at all. Sometimes, however, you think about it a lot (maybe too much) and it pisses you off.
Or… if you are like me… you do the last thing every time. You think, dwell, simmer, get angry, and then come to terms with it (hopefully). You realize, ultimately, what you don’t want to do is simply a means to an end.
I do all of these and more. I am, as some tend to describe me, a “mix of wanting to please people and rebel.” Which, frankly, is a shitty combination because it means I have an internal dialogue with very different, opposing voices.
“You need to do the thing because it is what will make others the most happy.”
“Rebel. Definitely rebel. Don’t let them control you.”
Every. Damn. Time.
There, in my mind, is a fine line between being controlled and being asked to carry out something. I often struggle to find the divide and tread lightly down the middle. I have a very strong sense of individuality and tightly held beliefs surrounding personal rights and expression. It is, in some ways, what helps to make me “me.”
My thoughts are not often political–though personal expression and cultural norms seem to be becoming more and more prominent in some areas of politics anyway. Frankly, I don’t know what ideology I hold in the politics realm… I am still trying to find out and I probably will be developing and then re-developing those beliefs for a long time to come.
What I do know, however, is that I despise how one’s appearance can limit, influence, or determine what jobs you get, how well you are paid, and the way one is perceived in the workforce and society.
I am not shy about my piercings. I have a lot. I think they are done tactfully, and I find them to be a wonderful means of personal expression. I dye my hair. I love to change it up (though by change it up, I mean different shades of red because I LOVE RED HAIR). I wear black. It’s my color of choice and in what I feel most confident. I do not dress “feminine” and that shouldn’t matter–regardless of my heterosexuality. Sexual identities can be fluid and diverse and whether or not someone “looks the part” is simply a societal standard stuck in the past. I say this because I am aware that I am an individual with privileges not afforded to some and I, in no way, want to downplay others’ struggles.*
But in a landscape rife with people wanting you to “fit in,” personal expression makes it hard to comply… and I don’t want to abide by their rules anyway.
In my new job, as a server, I see a lot of different people. Some might be a bit alternatively dressed–in a way similar to me when I am not in my uniform–while others would disagree or look down on my choices of expression. In this industry, to make money (tips) you have to conform to the majority–whether you want to or not. I don’t want to. And here is where the “pleaser vs. rebel” personality of mine comes in again… fit the mold and make more money… or be yourself (at least piercing wise) and potentially get less for it. Ultimately, because we work be a shared tip system, I decided to “fit” a bit more. Whatever the hell that means.
It was a hard time coming to that decision. I dealt with some personal doubts surrounding my expression after someone implicitly called me a whore for the way I looked and scolded my choice to wear more earrings that I “should” as well as have a nose ring instead of a stud. (For the record, “more” meant less than half of what I COULD be sporting and very conservative jewelry).
Hearing that I am “whore-ish” was not pleasant and it made me doubt a lot of my choices. It made me look in the mirror and wonder if all of these piercings suit me or I just tricked myself into thinking they look good on me. It made me self-conscious and insecure and quiet because I, all of a sudden, doubted most of my being. I am not surprised I had this response for a bit, considering my past (and current) struggles with body image and self-worth.
But consider that a comment such as the above could create that much of a response… it’s plain sad.
I put too much worth in what others say to me. It is the pleaser part of my brain. But the rebel will then hop in with a “fuck that” and I tend to move on… after a while.
My choices should have absolutely NO effect on whether I am worthy of pay for my work or a higher position. But they do. Because in a society like ours, people believe that everything should be there to please THEM. Of course, not everyone is like this, but I am speaking in a general sense for the ease of this discussion. Just like my sex can limit me (looking at you lower pay for women in the same position as a male counterpart… that is STILL a problem), my appearance can.
But guess what… neither SHOULD.
This is not a small issue to fix. It is not something that CAN be fixed in days… months… maybe even years. It is society wide. It is ingrained in beliefs. It is insidious.
I don’t support it. I never, ever will. And I will, ALWAYS, be the rebel when it comes to fighting these inherent judgements. The pleaser part of me gets shut the fuck up.
*I want to make it clear that I do not and cannot say I understand all the struggles of not conforming to what others (and the greater society) think you should look like or be. I do, however, understand a select amount.
I did something I never, ever thought that I would do: I quit.
I quit my job. I decided that I couldn’t do it anymore. I needed something new–something better for me and my mental health.
It was probably one of the hardest things I have had to do. That might sound strange, but I have a tendency to want to people please. And leaving a place because I am the one who wants to is very different for me. Doing something because it is in MY best interest is an action I have only recently begun to act upon consistently.
I’m in a strange place right now. I am stuck waiting for a few different events to either play out… or not. And that is difficult for me, because I have no control over them anymore. I can no longer influence the outcome–they are in others’ hands.
Limbo is, well, uncomfortable, almost by nature. But it is especially trying when the limbo rests between what *feel* like two very different, important outcomes.
It is nearly impossible to resist trying to affect the outcome one way or another.
Sitting here, writing this entry, my brain keeps pointing out all the other, more productive (or not) things I could be doing instead. It keeps trying to redirect my brain to something more comfortable. Because that is what it is supposed to do–help me be comfortable.
But change, bravery, lessons do not lie in what is comfortable. No, one must leave the comfort zone to discover something new. For nothing is unknown in comfort, in the common.
What’s worse is that old habits lie waiting in the discomfort, trying–though unsuccessfully–to win me back. It was expected, but not welcome. Unhealthy habits are never welcome.
I’ve been vague in my discussion above for a reason. I intended to NOT name what it is I am waiting for and in limbo between. Because it doesn’t matter.
There are always going to be these weird times of limbo. The events, decisions, actions are going to change–but the feelings, they stay the same.
The discomfort lives in the limbo–it always will. It’s what you do IN the discomfort that makes the difference.
It’s been more than a month since I last blogged on here.
Over the past 4-5 weeks, I have opened this blog, thought about how I “should” write something, opened a draft, stared at it, closed the draft, sighed, closed the tab…. more times than I would like to admit.
The truth is, I didn’t know what to write.
I still don’t. But I want to write anyway and just see what comes.
I recently got the metaphorical rug pulled out from under me when I fell and broke my wrist. In treatment, you learn to build your foundation and go to that whenever you start to feel unsteady.
But what happens when your foundation doesn’t just crack… it collapses?
My foundation was art, journaling, working my barista job, doing yoga, driving, and taking my bunny places. But if you break your dominant hand and end up in a full arm cast for two weeks (just came off today BITCHES!), and then have a short cast for 2-3 after that, and then a brace after that… what do you do when insurance doesn’t come through and you need to switch practices and therefore end up with a brace for a week AFTER the long arm cast instead of a different cast and you have to work and a removable hard cast is 600 dollars and so maybe that won’t work, especially without insurance, and having to wait a week to figure it out puts you without a cast and a week closer to going on vacation to a lake with your boyfriend and a week further from finishing with this cast business for good? (massive run on there, but hey, stream of consciousness writing currently).
Then what do you do–foundation less and confused?
I’ll be honest: I felt this making me start to slip. I felt my eating disorder warping it into a “you CAN’T do anything and therefore, since you can’t get the food easily you don’t have to eat it because it’s too hard and your arm hurts when you strain it.” I felt it telling me that, since I couldn’t be active (or at least as active as I was before the injury) I didn’t need as much (read like no) food.
The last two weeks have been spent on my floor with the bunny boy, then a week and a half at my bf’s where he helped me be a functioning (albeit down an arm, temporarily) human being, and then back here again playing more hours of sims 4 than I would like to admit… but I have a really nice virtual sim house to show for it!
In a way, I am thankful for my broken wrist. Because it taught me a lot about being a ‘person being’ instead of a ‘person doing,’ as my therapist likes to say.
Over these past two weeks, I have done exactly zero “exercise” (just sightseeing and thrift shopping), eaten water boiled bagels more times than I can count, had dinner and lunch out a ton (sometimes both in the same day), eaten ice cream to my heart’s content, and been super flexible with food in general…. guess what, I feel just fine and I am the same as I was before. Well, aside from the broken bone.
Because sitting and just being doesn’t matter. I don’t NEED to do ANYTHING to deserve food or love or life. I can simply enjoy being in the world.
That doesn’t mean I am not antsy about getting back to my life. I miss my job and yoga and journaling. But, I know I can always think back to these few weeks if my eating disorder ever tells me something bad is going to happen if I just take it slow and let me be me.
In my opinion, one of the hardest things about “re-learning” how to live life and take care of yourself through recovery is finding balance. For much of the time one is in treatment, the day is simply JUST treatment. But leaving the world of formalized and center-based treatment back into the world of outpatient appointments and mostly free weeks results in a lot to be determined and time to be filled.
It is something I talked about so much with my therapist and my treatment team. It is a vocabulary word that has been a staple in my language for the past 5 months.
What the hell is balance.
I can’t say I have done a perfect job moving from IOP to outpatient and balancing recovery and life from the get-go. But I also didn’t expect that I would.
If I learned ONLY one thing in treatment (which is far from the truth…I learned more than I can communicate), then it would be that I cannot expect perfection because it is realistic, possible, human. I would disappoint myself literally every time if I expected to be perfect. Never in my life have I or will I be perfect. This transition is no different. In fact, the lack of perfection is what makes it so successful.
I have had to sit down and talk to myself. I have had to tell myself that “yes, I can eat that. I will be okay.” I have had to make a conscious decision to order the hard thing that would have been so easy to avoid. I have tried new things. I have internally fought and won. I have internally fought and lost. But I have kept going and corrected and worked my ass off for the recovery that I so want and love.
That is what balance is to me. It is realizing that I am going to have a few bad days…maybe more than a few. But that I can persist anyway. It is relearning what life in the “real world” is like… with the constant daily challenges that I was somewhat sheltered from in treatment. It is picking the hard things because I know I can… and more than that… that I have to. It is realizing the mental difficulties are all worth it because they get smaller and smaller with exposure.
And it is giving myself grace for the days when I have more trouble. For the days when I need some help. And for the moments when I question it all and keep going anyway.
It’s a process.
That is balance.
Have you ever been star tripping?
You look up and spin around in circles and get dizzy and fall down and get your composure and do it all over again.
But you do it because it is fun. You do it because it is beautiful. You do it because it is captivating and unique and changing.
Sometimes you fall down and it takes a bit longer to get up. Maybe you spun around a bit too much and the dizziness overwhelms you. You might scrape your knee or bump into something. So you take a bit longer to pick yourself up and start spinning again–head held high, looking up.
There is nothing wrong with falling. It’s part of the experience.
That is kind of the most wonderful part of it. You never know what is going to happen. You laugh and smile and openly accept that you cannot control where you fall or when. But you know that you do get to pick when you stand back up and how you hold yourself and move on.
You know what’s neat about star tripping? It’s a lot like life.
I searched Pinterest for a while looking for topics on which to write. But I didn’t find any. I couldn’t seem to get my mind around any of them. I wanted to write some post about something deep and whatever, but you know what… I don’t need to and I am not going to.
Life is kind of a whirlwind. Recovery is more of a tornado. I often feel like I’m being whipped around in circles from one thing to another and then back again. But, interestingly enough, I’ve come to like it a bit. It’s a lot more interesting and satisfying than the perpetual depression of my eating disorder. I don’t mean to say it’s all good things in the tornado. Occasionally, I whirl by the Wicked Witch of the West and have a moment of fear and anxiety. But then I somehow land in Oz among the flowers and there’s a period of calm again–or as calm as it really can be in recovery.
It’s interesting though, because there is a lot of freedom in fear. It sucks, of course. But if you do whatever you fear, and then you do it again, and again, and again, and you keep going, the fear leaves and you just have freedom. It’s a process and it takes a LONG time. But each time you do the thing you fear and you make it to the other side, you get a little bit more space from the fright. You get a little bit more free.
Yesterday night, as I was preparing for bed, I pulled of my shirt and I stood in front of the mirror in my sports bra and I brushed my teeth. I looked at myself straight-on in the mirror and let my eyes wash over my body. I let them run over the shape of my stomach and my arms and my chest and let the feelings come. I noticed the thoughts that usually come with looking at my exposed body–the judgements and criticisms and slight sense of discomfort.
But I smiled instead of covering up again and just kept looking. I did it because I needed to and because I physically couldn’t put a shirt back on with a toothbrush in my mouth… but mostly because I needed to do it. Because it kind of doesn’t matter what thoughts come to me. They are only thoughts. They do not mean that I am any less of a person. And I may not believe that entirely just yet, but I stood through the discomfort anyway and embraced it.
It sucked a little bit. It sucked to not like everything I saw. But I only dislike it because of a standard I have in my head that is absolutely ridiculous. I will never fit the standard that society holds for me and that, therefore, I have in my mind is correct.
But it isn’t correct. It is warped and unachievable and unhealthy (at least for me). And that’s the way it is–like it or not.
I keep thinking about a poem I read the other day. It’s entitled “Enough” and it reads:
Enough. These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath.
If not this breath, this sitting here.
This opening to the life
we have refused
again and again
I think it spoke to me because I am so ready for it all to be “enough.” But what I like so much about this poem is that it finds enough in the simple. Breathing is enough. Sitting is enough. Being is enough.
Stop refusing life. Stop refusing to open yourself up to the world. Let just being be enough. Let being YOU be enough.
So standing in front of that mirror yesterday night, or putting on clothes this morning that didn’t hide my curves, or eating a before breakfast snack because my body was hungry, or looking down and seeing my stomach and my thighs and my body, I remember that I am enough. I might not completely believe it yet, but I tell myself it anyway. I’m not lying. I may feel like I am sometimes; I may not agree with the statement; I may try to refute and disprove it, but it is true none-the-less.
I am enough. You are enough. And I’ve had enough of “refusing life.”