Not Running Day 2:

It was a long, rough day at work today. What I thought was going to be an easy day turned into an almost 11 hour day. Feel like nothing got accomplished.

I ended up doing my manager’s work for him at one point. I couldn’t start my next analysis because my instrument wouldn’t connect. I kept processing the same run, but it didn’t want to work.

I finally left work about 5. So anxious and annoyed, I just wanted to go on a run. Then, while sitting in traffic, I screamed, “THAT’S RIGHT. I DON’T HAVE ANY FUCKING SHOES!”

I got home, work laptop in hand. Face planted onto my couch and screamed into the cushions. Grabbed Ella’s leash and we headed to the park. It was chilly, I didn’t walk/run/move enough today which is really bothering me. We went to the park, walked around, super annoyed that I was in boots and not one of my many pairs of Nikes that are out of my reach.

My friend, Emma, and I decided to go to yoga tomorrow morning. So, we will see how that goes.

Not sure how I feel about hot yoga at 6 am.

It’s only my second day of not running, and already I feel so tempted to go buy a pair of shoes. After yelling in my car I was trying to think of any spare shoes I might have overlooked. Under my bed? In my gym bag? In the back of my car? Unfortunately (and fortunately, I guess) I couldn’t think of any place where I might have left spare shoes.

So, here I sit. Wanting to go to the gym. Trying to think of anything else I could do.

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Not Running Day 1:

I guess the best place to start is with me having a “Come to Jesus” meeting with myself. It hadn’t been scheduled on my calendar, on the contrary, my calendar said I had my dietitian appointment in ten minutes. I was in a terrible mood. There is so much going on, my eating disorder is so angry and freaking out, there are so many uncertain things going on, I feel like I can’t catch a breath or have a stable stone to step on.

My goal sheet had stated it clearly last week though, “Either bring shoes and laces next time OR come up with an action plan to address exercise (that you are willing to do).” Well, we’ve been there and tried that. Action plans never seemed to work. Try only running X days/week. Try only running X miles when you run. It snow balled and I never wanted to follow that. So I knew my other option was to hand over all of my shoes. Go all in, try something different. 

I didn’t want to do that, I wanted nothing to do with that. I wanted to cancel my appointment, pretend like I never saw that goal and push it out of my mind.

So, here I was, sitting in my car staring at the building, building stories, with nine pairs of running shoes in my back seat.

Stories about how I just wasn’t going to go.

How I was going to be late to the point of her texting and checking on me.

How I was just going to get up and leave mid-session because I was so over it.

How I SHOULDN’T go, because I was in a bad mood and was going to tell her off.

Then my meeting had promptly started:

“You do not need to be a bitch and take your emotions out on her. She has done nothing to you and is only looking out for your best interest. You can go in there, be a bitch, regret it and feel bad about it later, or you can be honest about how you’re scared, worried, angry and be slightly more productive than telling her to go fuck herself.”

With that, I got out of the car and walked to her office. Dragging my feet and walking slower than I ever have. Slowly trudging up the stairs, making my way down the hallway.

 

“You’re quiet…. You’re quiet because you didn’t bring any shoes with you…”

I responded, “They’re in the car.”

I felt like a lot of session was me staring at the wall, trying to not cry and still somehow trying to get out of this entire situation.

We talked about something my best friend say just the other day about me giving up running, “I don’t want you sad, but I want you healthy.”

Acknowledging that I really needed to give up running in order to fully recover, but feeling so unwilling and so unready to give it all up.

“It just doesn’t feel worth it. The last time we tried this I ended up going out and buying another pair of shoes because I just couldn’t do it. I’d rather not try than risk failing.”

Panic sets in when I think about giving up running. It’s the NEED to run, the panic if I don’t, the “what ifs” if I don’t. Panic of being a failure. Panic of gaining weight. Panic of giving up running.

I sat there, trying to numb out. Staring at the wall, trying to find something to count, repeating the decimals of pi in my head, ANYTHING to help with the thoughts and fear of all of this.

She mentioned how I was the last patient of the day, and she pushed the topic of my shoes again.

“So what do you want to do? You put them in your car this morning. Did you pack up all of them?”

I told her yes, and shrugged, because I knew what needed to happen, but I still wanted no part of it.

“If I walk you out to your car will you give them to me?”

Fidgeting with my ring, I looked up, “yeah”.

That is how my dietitian left with nine pairs of Nikes in the back of her vehicle.

I got home, wanting to isolate, go to bed at like 6, be upset, have PB&J for the third night in a row.

Instead I curled up with a book and read, trying to keep my mind busy.

At about 6:30 the guy I’m talking to asked if I wanted to get dinner.

Every ounce of me screamed no. “Why does he want to hang out with me?” “Why does he want to see me?” “I don’t want to eat!” Instead, I put pants on, and met him for dinner.

It was nice, we talked, I found myself get panicky about the food. I think a lot of it is just how stressed out I am and everything else that is going on in my life, that eating (and eating out) was just another thing on the list of shit that is stressing me out.

We had a nice time though, he walked me to my car and gave me a kiss.

Overall, I feel like today wasn’t too bad as far as not running since I kept myself preoccupied and went out and stayed busy. I know it will get harder before it gets easier.

Exercise: The thing holding back my recovery.

I haven’t written in what feels like forever.

My life feels like it’s changing, and I don’t handle uncertainty well.

It feels like all my symptoms are at bay. I’m eating well, eating pizza, fries, and usually I’m really okay with it.

The thing holding me back is my exercise.

There is too much exercise and not enough self-compassion happening right now.

I thought I was doing better, I went through a phase where my dietitian had my shoes in order to help me not run and exercise. It didn’t work, I couldn’t sit through the discomfort and went and bought another pair of shoes.

It feels like ever time I try, I fail miserably. I do okay for a week, maybe two. Then I start jonesing. I get another gym fob, I buy another pair of shoes. It feels safer to not try, then to try and fail for the tenth time.

The thought of giving up my shoes, running and the gym is enough to make my eyes well up. That thought terrifies me, but so does the thought of staying where I am and being stuck on this merry-go-round from hell.

Logical me know. Logical me rounded up my shoes to give my dietitian next week. Logical me is so tired of this and knows this is the one thing holding back my recovery.

Trying To Not Think Before I Act

She asks if I’m numb,
                             I’m not really sure how I feel.
                                                                So I guess the answer is yes.
I’m exhausted,
I’m numb,
I’m fearful.
I’m not really sure what I am, but if I had been feeling anything I probably wouldn’t have gotten my running shoes and handed them over with really no fight.
                                                          I’m more fearful of gaining weight than losing my job;
                                                         and if we’re honest,
                                                         only one of them has driven me to starve myself.
Maybe my problem is that I really just think too much.
I question,
I wonder,
I doubt and I worry.
Which in itself isn’t a bad thing, but it is the only thing standing in my way.
I doubt my own abilities.
This week, I was given a menu to follow for food.
Like a meal plan, but really with no options or substitutes, which is what I really need right now.
No gray area, more or less this menu is a list of chores or rules that need to be followed, non-negotiables.
It was a direct: “Wednesday have this that and the other.”
Not a “try this”, or “how about that”, but something black and white to follow, which for some reason makes it easier. Just like when I am reassured that I don’t need to run, or am told to flat out “stop running”. It makes it easier when I’m not able to bargain or weasel my way out, no loop holes, or ways around it.
I find and make excuses daily. Reasons why I don’t need to eat, shouldn’t eat, am too busy to eat.
I think. And it gets me into the hole I find myself in.
With this menu, there are no other options, no thinking, no excuses.
For the next couple of days I’m going to do. Not think or try.
For now, it needs to be something that I just do.
I will always remember the conversation I had with my pastor when I lived with him and his wife.
Me: “I don’t want to.”
Him: “That’s fine, you don’t have to….”
Me: “Really?!”
Him: “….you don’t have to WANT to, but you’re going to.”
So, for this week, I really don’t want to, and I don’t have to want to.

 

What I do, Not who I am

Do you remember that old anxiety provoking game of “Perfection”?

Where you were given a time limit to put various shapes in their respective slots before the board buzzed and the pieces you managed to meticulously put in place were then shot into the air and back in your face.

Somehow this “game” feels like the perfect metaphor of my childhood.

Being busy and doing “stuff”, was always regarded as “good”. If mom was vacuuming we were expected to get up and do something as well. It was hectic, and typically felt like we were walking on egg shells. The anxiety and panic my mom could set off, similar to that timer of the game.

Still to this day, when my sister calls me because my mother is stressing out and off in one of her whirlwinds, I just tell her, “Stay out of mom’s way. She will freak out and yell at you if she sees you, so go hide downstairs, or at least stay out of her sight.”

When my parents were gone, I would sometimes arrive home to a list of things to be done:

Vacuum

Empty the dishwasher

Clean the cat box

Fold the laundry

Feed the dog

It was a race against time to get all the tasks done before they arrived home, and god forbid I forgot something on the list.

I was “lazy”, “selfish”, I did things “half-ass”.

I was constantly bombarded with the pursuit of what was “good enough” and because of that became very driven and goal oriented. I found my identity in what I accomplished and how well I accomplished said tasks. My worth was knit tightly with my productivity.

In elementary school these goals and fixation on my productivity started off small, making the honor roll, getting a lead in a play. Later, these became the idea that I had to do it all, and do it with excellence. I’m not sure my story could become more cliché, but if I made a 95 on a test I was congratulated and reprimanded in the same breath, “Well, what about a 100?” “Were there no extra credit points?”.

Somewhere in the mix, I was doing sports in middle school, and staying busy with student government, the school paper and science fairs; dodging the school receptionist and my math teacher because between the two of them they weren’t sure if they had ever seen me eat.

Learning about Eating Disorders in my health class, as if I hadn’t already stumbled across that tucked somewhere in between my mom’s comments about my body, my parents’ drunken fights and taking care of my two little sibs before I could even drive.

For as long as I can remember I stayed busy in school, especially in high school. I would go into school early for a National Honor Society meeting, or a Student Government meeting. I would stay late for practice, or tutoring classmates, then head off to work where I would stay, by myself, until about 11 – if I didn’t have to call the cops because of a hostile customer. While other high schoolers may have been sneaking alcohol and cigarettes, I could tell you the price difference between Marlboro and Pall Malls, and the total the packs would come to, including tax. If I skipped class it was to go back to the weight room and work out, my music kept me preoccupied, I didn’t have to think. I could immerse myself in music and not have to worry about later.

Did I stay so busy because I didn’t want to go home where my parents were probably drunk and screaming at each other, or was it for another reason?

Did I want to be prideful about how I could juggle everything at a young age and still succeed at school?

Maybe – regardless, self-esteem and worth held hands with grades and productivity as they skipped through the freshly mopped aisles of the gas station I worked at.

No matter what I did, I was blamed for the bad, and my mom took credit for the good.

Full ride scholarship to college? Oh, my mom just raised a smart, mature daughter.

Marriage falling apart? I’m the trouble making selfish child.

Softball award? Well, it’s a good thing mom went to all of those games… or, ehhh, one, that one time.

I did anything I could to get my mom to like me. I didn’t understand what I had done wrong, or why nothing was good enough. Voted most unforgettable, holding a job, participating in sports, scholarship, live in babysitter. I didn’t understand why nothing I did seemed to be right, or enough.

I figured if it wasn’t my productivity and accomplishments that weren’t good enough, maybe it was just me.

Maybe I was just “too fat”.

My mom, on a good day, soaking wet, is probably 100 lbs.

I did sports, but I began to run.

And run.

Weight came off, I was still staying busy, and it was another way that hopefully my mom would like me.

It was more or less my commitment, I would run in the rain, in the snow, it didn’t matter if it was 9 degrees or 90.

People noticed, they commented on the weight, or how frequently they would see me run.

Mom disregarded it all together, by that point I was no longer living with them, but still lived in fear of her, and wanted so badly to be loved and appreciated by her.

If I didn’t run what I deemed to be far enough, it was twisted as something I could have and should have done better. I considered it a lack of trying, or being lazy, not necessarily listening to my body and what it needed. Skipping a day of running was a lack of productivity, leading to the ever spinning cycle of “fat”, “lazy”, “selfish”. It wasn’t like a tape you see, because tapes have to be stopped and rewound to get back to the beginning. This was an endless loop of judgement based on my actions.

Why I still cling to running is still cloudy to me. Could be because it is something I can still be prideful in, or that is looked at through the disordered glasses of the diet culture as something to be praised.

Sometimes I’m not really sure who I am. It feels more or less like a list of what I do.

I go to work, I take care of my dog, I run and workout.

Who I am seems more uncomfortable.

I am a biochemist, a dog mom, a runner.

The first and last still seem to be closely tied with what I accomplish and how productive I am, not necessarily WHO I am.

The Angel on my Shoulder Hung an “Out of Office” Sign

I feel like I’d be lying if I didn’t say that for a moment, if only a brief moment, it felt like it was my eating disorder and I against everyone else.
In the cliché scenario of the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other, the angel had hung an “Out of Office” sign, and the devil was none other than the eating disorder I had catered to for an unknown amount of years.
Sitting in my appointment replaying the week over in my head, “I did alright” I told myself. Allowing myself to eat pizza, toast (with butter), and other terrifying foods that sat somewhere between dentist appointment and pap smear on list of things I really wanted in my body.
Then hearing, “I’m concerned, this isn’t good. There has to be a shift.”
At that moment, the devil on my shoulder gave me a high-five and felt ready to tag team the world.
Having to sit and acknowledge the fact that no, maybe running and working out isn’t a great idea right now was enough to bring tears to my eyes; Unable to figure out how I would cope and numb everything if I wasn’t able to lift and go to the gym.
They joke that “Denial is more than just a river in Africa.”
Which is true, to me it felt more like a hot tub, surrounding me with comfort and warmth. Trying to get out of it would be uncomfortable, and leave me wanting to dive back in head first, to what I had grown accustomed to. Much like the parable of the boiling frog, in which a frog is placed in warm water, and the temperature slowly rises to boiling, until the frog is boiled to death.
I wanted more than anything to stand up, I could feel ED tugging on the neck of my shirt. I wanted to let ED ruin this appointment. I wanted to act like a 2 year old, the “terrible twos” – type of two year old, and have a fit. I wanted to tell her she didn’t know what she was talking about.
The dietitian, with more letters behind her name than actually in mine, I wanted to tell her she didn’t know what she was talking about. I wanted to gesture to the waiting room and shout that “I DON’T LOOK LIKE HER! I’M FINE.” Once again, using my weight and my capabilities in the gym as my only standing as to why I am “fine”.
Now, taking a step back, I know that what she says is truth, and I know something has to change. (I’m also glad I didn’t make an ass out of myself yesterday).
It speaks volumes when something as little as trying to take a break from exercising sends me into a full blow panic and fit. Now, trying to remind myself that; not running is an accomplishment for me.
Taking another step back, I realize that if I had the type of body my ED says I should want, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy, or do, the physical activities I want. Plus, then what? I’d be another year or so older, still struggling with an eating disorder, maybe weighing less, but at some point being right back here.
It’s been a reoccurring theme lately from various people, that your heart only gets so many beats, so why waste them on things I don’t enjoy?

Recovery Manifesto

Your body is really nothing more than a pair of shoes.

They start out spotless, like a blank canvas.

They carry you from place to place.

After a time they come out with scuffs, dirt and cuts.

The stories they would tell if only they could talk.

 

I will stop trying to beat an unbeatable system.

You cannot argue with science and biology, as much as you try.

Your body will not thrive on inadequate nutrition just because you want it to.

You feed things you care about, your pets, plants, etc.

This should include yourself as well.

 

I acknowledge there is no room for shame.

Shame says “I am bad”.

I will not beat myself up for being human.

I am human, and will embrace the imperfections that come with it.

 

There is no guilt for having to send for a search party,

Especially when it looks like motivation and hunger cues ran off again holding hands.

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness.

It takes strength to realize you cannot do this all on your own.

I will trust my OP team, when I feel like I can’t trust my own thoughts.

I will not believe everything I think.

 

Every body tells a story,

At times it may seem like a tragic love story, or even a fantasy that you only dream about happy endings.

Recovery Record showing up for the third time, asking the same question, “Are you going to eat today?”

The teeth marks on the back of my hand reading like braille, trying to remind me why I started.

 

Exercise is optional, eating is not.

I accept that exercising is not like a carpet.

Spot treatment does not work.

I acknowledge that my self-confidence should never be based on what I’ve eaten.

What I’ve eaten should never be determined on how I’ve exercised.

How I’ve exercised should be focused on body kindness and recovery.

 

If muscles are just the result of repeated heavy lifting, maybe I’m sore from figuring out where this self-hatred should fit.

Moving this self-hatred again, like I’m rearranging furniture.

Remembering that I don’t want it, but somehow feeling its necessity, as if it is my license to drive my own body.

Getting pulled over for something ED deems illegal, but showing my license as proof of, “don’t worry, I still feel entirely inadequate and inferior.”

I will realize that my body is mine, and I don’t owe anything to anyone. It may still feel like I owe something to others, but I will learn to not pay for the space I take up in apologies or miles.

 

Why I Haven’t, Won’t, and Don’t Plan on Keeping my Eating Disorder from my Little Sister.

Involving family in your recovery is probably a good idea if it is beneficial, but what if that family is your little sister who is 12 years younger than you? Is that too young to involve your sister in your eating disorder and your recovery?

I didn’t keep the fact that I have an eating disorder secret while in recovery.

My sister came with me the day I was admitted, she came to two of my family weekends, and after meals she would sometimes accompany me to the bathroom, where we would sing songs and laugh.

Why would I involve my 12 year old sister in something that could be so raw and vulnerable you might ask.

Her life currently consists of pointe, competitions, and teaching ballet to little kids.

She could very well be in my shoes in a few short years and is susceptible to also struggling with an eating disorder.

If there is the possibility that she could struggle, I want to be honest and open with her about my struggles so she can acknowledge it before it consumes her. That doesn’t mean she won’t hide it, or is sheltered from it, but knowing that it is okay to talk about it and seek help if her eating or thought process becomes disordered.

I reassure her that eating when you are hungry is great. That it is necessary to eat before and/or after practice. That there isn’t “good” or “bad” foods, that regardless if our mom eats, or what she eats, we need to eat and be okay with it. When your sister makes comments like, “Mom can eat whatever she wants, and always stays so tiny.” You know it is crucial to reinforce the thoughts that it doesn’t matter and you need to fuel your body.

Rather than silently suffering for years like I did, and denying I ever had a problem, I want her to be able to speak up, allow me to help, and attempt to nip it in the bud before it overgrows inside of her.

That is why I choose to involve my little sister in something that could be considered taboo or shameful. I want my sister to realize there is not guilt or shame in suffering, and being open with your struggles, and an eating disorder is nothing to be ashamed of or silent about.

Ella and the Non Verbal Child

Friends of mine typically know two things about me: I have a three legged dog, and my typical, daily extreme dislike of people.
Today was different, since it was raining Ella and I didn’t do our normal routine of going to the dog park. Instead, I spent over an hour in That Pet Place. The look of fear I get from some people due to the fact that Ella is a German Sheperd kills me. She is the sweetest baby ever, but yet people still avoid the two of us, as if somehow Ella is going to viciously go after them and their small children.


I met a mom and her two kids, one of her daughters has nonverbal autism, seizures, and cerebral palsy. Seeing that Ella had three legs, the mom made a statement of her daughter and Ella both having disabilities.


The daughter, Bri, quickly fell in love with Ella. She copied Ella by panting with her tongue out, squealed, held Ella’s tail, pet her ears, and shook with excitement when Ella soaked her face with kisses.

Was I scared that Bri would reach for Ella and was going to fall out of her wheelchair onto the floor?

No….. I was terrified.

Image may contain: one or more people and dog

I knew my dog better than anybody in that store, and knew nothing would happen. I could feel my anxiety rising, I hated being out, in stores, around people and my very vocal dog for any amount of time. I lived for the fact that I could run in and out of stores by the time most parents got their kids out of their car seat.


This family and I walked around the store for about an hour, letting the other daughter walk Ella, while we trailed behind. Listening to the excited squeals coming from both Ella and Bri. This was an amazing rainy Saturday, that warmed my heart as I watched this little girl shake, squeal, laugh and reach for Ella out of pure joy.

This was the Saturday that absolutely melted my heart.

Trusting The Process With a Trust Problem

If not now, then when?

The question was enough to fuel my morning drive to work.

Recovery has been filling my mind and thoughts, probably more than it should.

Life is going great, I have no more stress than the next person,

A good job                                          an awesome dog

A warm apartment                          a running car                      supportive friends

Coffee                                                  benefits                               paid time off

The ability to run

Why does my recovery want to take a sudden stop?

I don’t think it was sudden, it never is, but the restricting became more and more, until my list of foods was as depleted as my ability to fight ED off.

I’ve begun seeing a nutritionist, after months and months of putting it off, not wanting to go, etc. I like her, she is a believer and advocate of HAES, believes in intuitive eating. Overall, I have enjoyed the experience.

Yet the battle in my head is still raging.

It isn’t as easy as the “talking back” that I hear others talk about so frequently. No, for me, it has to be factual.

Which kinda fueled the internal dialogue this morning.

On more than one occasion I have been in a room of people struggling with their Eating Disorders, whether it be in treatment, support groups, wherever.

I look around, (and no, this is not going where you think it is going), and sometimes I am almost the oldest in the room, sometimes I am practically the youngest. When I am at the upper range of age I remember being their age, being so filled of denial, and so full of my eating disorder.

When there are people much older than me, I think of that is how I want my life to be at their age?

Should my life be focused on my body and eating disorder when:

I have kids

Get married

Start another job

My kids are grown up

My siblings get married

So, if not now, then when?

I also have “Trust the Process” tattooed on my wrist, to remind me of recovery.

I’m struggling with following my meal plan given to me, and it is so difficult to listen to my body when I am hungry and not feel the need to run first in order to “earn” the food that my body needs.

I am telling myself that I wouldn’t want someone to tell/question me on how to do my job, so then why am I questioning and fighting her so much?

She knows what she is talking about and is on my side, so why am I fighting her?

I need to focus on Trusting the Process.

I may not always enjoy it or find it easy, but I’ve been here before.