Recovery

changing with the season

DSC_0810As much as I try to blog at least once a week… it doesn’t always happen. And this one is going to be a doozy because it’s been a while and so much change has happened in my life lately.

So change used to suck and it was scary and unknown and terrifying and I thought I was going to die. Guess what? I don’t feel like that anymore. If I did… these past two weeks would have left me six-feet-under…maybe more.

As spring officially begins (but no one informed the weather because it’s not cooperating to be honest), change has come to my life as well. For the past 291 days I have been either in a treatment center, in between treatment centers, fighting treatment centers, fighting myself for being in a treatment center, or fighting ed while in a treatment center… but last Friday, I took my last steps into and out of of my Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) and made my transition to the “real world.”

I’ll be honest… that on paper doesn’t sound like much. But it is. And I try not to tell people they are wrong, but if you are thinking right now “that sounds easy. You just have more free days,” you are wrong. Flat out fucking wrong. Because along with leaving a treatment center, even one at IOP level, comes leaving the security of a place where you can go multiple days a week for a few hours and be surrounded by others who genuinely get it. It means (if you are like me and went to a center in a different state) packing up and moving yourself 3 plus hours back to your college town and trying to fit back into the place where you used to be…. but this time, without a prevalent eating disorder. It means being somewhere were you can’t see your treatment friends outside of a center even if you wanted to because they aren’t there with you… at all. It means facing questions about where you were and what you are doing that you may or may not want to answer. It means finding a new balance. It means so much more accountability for your own recovery and fear that you might mess up. It means trying to make a place for yourself all over again. And it is scary.

But it is also necessary. It is life. There comes a day when we all need to leave the metaphorical nest of an eating disorder treatment center. Hopefully, you have tested your wings a bit before you do… but you never really know if you can fly without taking the leap. You have to throw yourself out of the nest and trust you will be able to soar sometimes and just ride the wind other times. But either way, the only option is out and it’s up to you to remove both your feet from the edge and go.

And go I did. IMG_2389

In the week since I left treatment, there have been so many emotions. I cried with happiness as I looked over at my boyfriend one evening and realized I didn’t have to leave again the next morning. I cried with sadness as I read our treatment group chat and realized I wouldn’t be able to join in on any of the activities because I am three hours away. I dealt successfully with some ED thoughts as they (not surprisingly) tried to convince me to do something I didn’t want (or would) do, and then felt guilty for having the thoughts in the first place. (But, they will be there sometimes, and it is not whether I have the thoughts but what I do with them that matters the most.) I have struggled (and still do) with insecurities going back to work and feeling like I am annoying and disliked by a co-worker. But then told myself that it doesn’t really matter anyway, because I am being me. And then told myself it again…and again… and again… an still do. I’ve felt apathetic. I’ve felt confused. I’ve felt scared I was slipping because I didn’t write down my food the next morning and make sure I had enough even though I was eating when hungry and all. I’ve felt lonely. I’ve felt immense joy. I’ve felt loose and free and fun loving and then uptight and worried. But all of these things are just feelings. And I am still here. I am still living. I am still recovering. I am still doing my best to push towards what I want most… a life free from ED.

My journey is not yet over. There is so much more to come. And I have miles left to travel. But it’s begun a new chapter. And that new chapter starts with me here. Living a free life where I used to be consumed by an eating disorder.

 

Musings

tripping on stars

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. DSC_0090

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.

Recovery

sacrificing the wants for the want mores

because choices have sacrifices and, inevitably, that means giving up something that you want for something that you want more.

I found those words in a White Collar episode of all places. But I wrote them down, because the message is one of utter truth.

When I heard this, I immediately thought of my eating disorder.

But wait, I thought I had broken up with that bitch? I did. I have. But the thing about break ups is you can still want. You can still want that which you KNOW you cannot have. But if you really look at it…do you really want that relationship back or are you just missing the feeling that came along with it?

For me, it is the feeling.

I miss the feeling of “safety” which was going back to my anorexia. I miss feeling like I had all the willpower in the world and like I could control my life. I miss feeling like I was special because I had this “friend” who was steering me to “success.”

All of these feelings were lies. They were elaborate concoctions of my disordered mind that told me I had it all. But, in all actuality, I had nothing. I didn’t have control, willpower, success, safety. I was slowly dying. I was starving my soul.

Maybe I am grieving my loss. I am grieving the loss of the image I have of what I want to look like, because I know it will never happen unless I begin to slowly die all over again (which is NOT an option). I am grieving the loss of my coping tool for all the fucking shit life throws at you. I am grieving the loss of an identity I held for so so many years. I am grieving the loss of the control I thought I had. I am grieving the loss of the feelings I had in my disorder.

The thing is, I remember all of these feelings that I liked… but I also look back and see all the misery. I remember (and still experience) the depression. I see the shit I put myself through and the tired, sick form of myself. I see the way I pretended to have it all together and then cried to myself in the shower so no one could tell. I remember the fear I had walking into a college cafeteria, party, club, etc. I remember the constant worry and thoughts about food and weight and exercise. I remember the darkness and how I couldn’t have cared less about life. I remember feeling the intense secrecy of it all. I remember feeling the pain. I see the scars that illustrate the points I thought there were no other options and it was all my fault. I remember how I really did feel like I was falling into a hole I would never leave.

“Choices have sacrifices and, inevitably, that means giving up something you want for something you want more.”

I want those feelings of control, identity, success, safety. But I want recovery more.

I’m giving up my wants for the ones I want more. Because life is a gift, and I want to really live it.

Musings, Recovery

how do you learn to love yourself?

*Let me preface this by saying that this post is going to be a brutally honest, zero bullshit, hands-up-in-surrender type of post.*

My body and I don’t are not getting along too well right now. I might go so far as to say that I hate my body, or at least the way it looks.

I struggle with having curves. I struggle with having a butt and thighs that touch and a stomach that isn’t flat. I struggle with not being toned and defined. I struggle with not having stamina and endurance. I struggle seeing the way my body squishes. I struggle with the changes that have happened since I started recovery.

I don’t always want to be seen. Actually, I almost NEVER want to be seen. I don’t like undressing. I don’t like having to see myself in the shower and be reminded of my changes. I don’t like wearing fitting clothing. I don’t even really like my boyfriend seeing my “new” body.

I compare myself to other girls and wish I looked like they do. I see someone and a voice says to me that if I just looked like she did then I would have the right curves and I would be pretty. THEN, I would be satisfied with myself.

That’s a fucking lie.

The truth is, I will never be satisfied with myself by changing. Satisfaction and self-confidence have nothing to do with what shape I am, if I have a thigh gap, whether my abs are visible, or if I weigh a certain number.

It is so easy to turn to “fixing” the problem when really you are only altering the manifestations of a deeper, underlying issue.

The problem is not how I look; it is how I perceive myself and where I store my worth.

Of course, if my self-worth is stored in my thighs, my stomach, or how thin I am compared to another UNIQUE human being, I will never measure up; I will never feel worth anything.

I wish I could figure out when what my body looks like became more important than who I am as a person. Because I am not my body. Beauty is not skin deep. Beauty is found in the soul, the personality, the heart of someone. The body is only the vessel.

I wish I could pinpoint exactly what happened to make my body my enemy… but I know I never will and, ultimately, it doesn’t matter. What matters is how I change this perception, this unfounded belief that I am only as good as the way I look. I need to try to own who I am until I really can own it.

I have skin over my ribs. I have skin with a scar that shows my battle to recovery. I see it and I remember how far I have come. I am ashamed of that scar, but I carry on because I have to. Because I want to.

I have a belly that squishes and folds when I sit. It hides my abs and sticks out a bit. But it is healthy. It isn’t gnawing away at me and begging me for food even when it knows I won’t listen.

I have hips that have shape. I have hips that sway as I walk. I have hips that make me self-conscious of wearing tight clothes for fear of being called fat. I have hips that no longer show bones when I walk. But I also have hips that may eventually help me have children. I have hips because I am supposed it.

I have thighs that touch. I have thighs of which I am self conscious and afraid of the same teasing I had when I was younger. I have thighs that remind me of the nights I would cry and wish I could cut them away from my body because then all of it would stop. I have thighs that hold scars of the pain I have felt–self imposed scars to try to get out all the hurt. But they are still there. And they still work. Why should the space in between them dictate my worth?

I have an ass for which I had been teased endlessly as a kid. I was so excited when I lost it during my eating disorder. I dreaded getting it back during recovery. But I need to forgive the teasing and make peace with myself. I have a butt. I have curves and shape. I also have a soul and a mind. I don’t hate those, why hate the other?

The battle to love my body is so far from over. It probably won’t be over anytime soon. But I am trying… and that’s the best I can do.

I have hope that I can learn to love me for who I am as a person and not what I look like. I have hope that I can strip my perception of worth away from the size and shape of my person. I have hope that I can come to accept what I look like, maybe even like it, one day.

Recovery

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.

Recovery

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.