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.
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.
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.
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
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.
With Eating Disorder Awareness week slowly but surely creeping up, there has been something that has really been bothering me.
The fucking before and after pictures.
I realize, that for some, they can be helpful. You can see how far people have come, the weight they have put on, etc.
For some though, it is a complete and total nightmare. Can we quit glamorizing the before and after pictures??! YOU DO NOT HAVE TO LOOK LIKE THOSE PICTURES TO BE WORTHY OF RECOVERY.
YOUR WEIGHT DOES NOT INVALIDATE YOUR NEED FOR HELP!
I was one of those people who saw emaciated people and wished to look like that. I wanted so badly to be tiny like “those girls”. That was also my justification for not needing treatment. “I wasn’t THAT small.” “I didn’t look like THAT.” So in my mind, it made me less worthy of recovery.
As if somehow, my weight had a direct correlation on the amount of pain and suffering I had gone through.
Those before and after pictures do nothing but add to the stigma of how you are “supposed to look”
I think one of the most infuriating things about being a “Millennial” is the fact that the generation before us doesn’t seem to take us seriously.
Hearing comments from the Baby Boomers and Generation X like, “Welcome to Adulthood” “Adulthood isn’t all it has cracked up to be, has it?”, or the ever sarcastic, unwanted invitation of, “Welcome to the real world”. As if our struggles through finals week, in college was all just a bad hallucinogen trip.
We are put into a category of “entitled”, “lazy”, “selfish”, the list goes on and on, and yet, seldom do we fit this tight narrow minded view of ourselves. With these confounded credit cards, and the debt we had dug our way into trying to afford an education.
Not to mention the technology we are so attached to, neglecting the fact that we may, in fact, be checking work email, or comforting a friend whose parents don’t understand their mental illness.
It isn’t that we are failing expectations of past generations, or that we are somehow unsuited to grow into adulthood without past generations’ supervision, it is that we are different.
Our goal is no longer to be married with kids by the time we are 20. It isn’t that we don’t want a good house, car or job, but it has become exponentially more difficult. Healthcare prices, cars, education, housing, everything has increased in price. As Millennials, it is our decision to choose what necessities we actually “need”, and what gets cut off the list. Some continue to live with their parents, some decide to rely on other modes of transportation, we try and stay on our parents’ insurance for as long as possible.
We sit and do the math, living paycheck to paycheck, wondering what should be paid first and what can wait a little while longer. The decisions from past generations impacted where Millennials are today, but they don’t want to admit that. The fact that prices didn’t change overnight, and the adults that were supposed to be looking out for future generations didn’t screw us over….well guess what, you did.
I feel to be one of the few, one of the blessed. I graduated college on a scholarship. Got a full time job, with benefits, right out of college in the field I studied for. My apartment is small, drafty and expensive, but it has hot water, carpet, and everything else I could want. I am able to see my therapist every week, and it not costing me an arm and a leg.
This too, did not happen overnight. Baby Boomers and Gen X, you don’t get to take credit for my accomplishments, when you are the reason I had to work so hard to overcome it. I live paycheck to paycheck, I also work ~100 hours every two weeks, so it is not for a lack of trying. It is that no matter how hard I try, I can’t get ahead.
So next time you call us lazy, selfish, and entitled, I want you to look around. If you are at work, I bet there is a Millennial close by trying to get ahead. If you are at the coffee shop, I bet the barista behind the counter is a Millennial, trying to pay her rent, or car, while going to school.
It was that awkward moment when I realized I’m not doing as well as I thought I had been.
There was no purging, I was starting to go out more with friends, work was at a steady lull.
I had stopped going to therapy, and had stopped going to the support group. I felt fine, so thought I’d take some time off.
I’d been so busy ignoring my Eating Disorder, that I had neglected to see it had slowly began to crawl its way back into my life. Then, Saturday, it hit me like a ton of bricks. “Holy Fuck. I’m running twice a day again.”
I hadn’t thought about my Eating Disorder, I hadn’t even been thinking about eating, and that was the issue. When I sat down and really reflected, I realized I wasn’t doing “better” I was just neglecting my recovery and becoming complacent. I hadn’t been eating, or even packing breakfast, and lunch was a joke, not packing anything for that either.
I haven’t been fully involved in my Eating Disorder.
But I haven’t been fully engaged in recovery either.
I genuinely believe it has taken me this long to finally comprehend radical acceptance.
Being a young, white woman in her early twenties, with a college education automatically puts me in the category of cliché/privileged; and I would be an idiot to disagree. Then throw in the facts that I’m from a family with divorced parents, middle class, and struggled with an eating disorder, and it sounds like any Lifetime movie you have seen that screams cliché.
I’ve also accepted the fact that my past is not something I should hide, but looking back I am grateful and have come to terms that my mom did the best she could.
That does not make what she has said or done in the past acceptable, but I do not feel a lump of resentment in my chest anymore.
My goals, hopes and aspirations as a child was never to have my parents divorce, move 9 hours away to a different state, have my mother become an alcoholic, live with my pastor and his wife, have an eating disorder, turn to cutting, go to every school in the county, but you play with the hand you were dealt.
I am not saying all of this for pity or sympathy.
On the contrary, growing up, I wouldn’t have thought I would be in solid recovery from my eating disorder, become a biochemist, have a German Shepherd, travel to Germany, or have a full ride scholarship to college.
Spending almost a week with my cousin almost makes me thankful for how I was raised, almost. My cousin is still in college, her parents are not divorced, she has three dogs in the suburbs, and has traveled to various places thanks to her parents. During this week, I heard thank you maybe three times, and two of those times was when I was dropping her off at the airport.
She decided to inform me of how she recently broke up with her boyfriend, but had already been spending nights at another guy’s house. The story of wearing leather pants to the bar, but not sleeping in them when she went to his house. Now, I know I am no better than anyone else, I have messed up, I have many many faults, but these are stories I didn’t care to hear.
Instead of visiting the market, or letting me take her to the park, she wanted to go to the mall. When we went out for coffee, she proceeded to whine about the syrup at the bottom of her ice coffee and how she “knew it was going to be an issue the moment I saw her making it.”. When we went out for dinner, she answers the phone in the restaurant. Whistling at me like a dog across the length of a store to get my attention. While we are supposed to be hanging out, she decides to make phone calls, then tells me about how her ex cornered her side guy at the bar.
While in Baltimore for a day, I bought two coffees purposely. My cousin scoffed, complained about something else, and judged me for the two coffees in my hands. As we were walking back to the car there was a man at an intersection with a handwritten cardboard sign (pretty common in that area). I walked up to him, wished him a Happy Monday, handed him the coffee and two packs of sugar, and was given a, “Thank you miss, God Bless.” In return.
I am thankful for individuality, and pray ceaselessly for patience, humility and happiness, but this week was very difficult for me. I’m thankful that I am practically 23 going on 60, and am thankful for gratitude and manners that my mom instilled in me. I fully believe in showing others the same respect that I would want, and be treated in the same manner. I believe in forgiving others for mistakes, because what if that was you one day. Regardless of title, CEO, Janitor, or Security Guard, everyone is a person and has a story.
My mother may not have been perfect, but I also do not correct others if it isn’t important, I consider myself a pretty optimistic person at times, and try to not nit-pick at others, even though I may fall short many times. So, I will focus on the good, be thankful for what I have, finish my glass of wine, and curl up with a book.
You, yeah you reading this.
I hope you are sitting down for what I am about to tell you, but not driving, that’s an entirely different sitting. I mean, I guess you could stand, but be careful walking and reading. What if you bump into someone and that person is having a bad day and picks a fight, and you are all, “Yo, I’m really sorry! I was reading this girl’s blog and bumped into you.” Then that person asks what blog (which could really work to my advantage).
Anyway, you, you reading this. Whether you are standing, sitting (not driving), kneeling, laying down, squatting or jogging, I have some news for you.
You are not special.
There, I said it.
Much like that person you bumped into while reading this, you may be ready to pick a fight.
The truth of the matter is, you are not special. Whether the person who told you this was a mom, dad, brother, sister, grandparent, (pssssttt, that isn’t true).
You aren’t the only one who:
Dyed their hair a crazy color
Got a tattoo in a weird place
Speaks a foreign language
Likes food others find repulsive
Now, I know we all want to think that we, as an individual, are special. Not sounding haughty of ourselves, but just “individual enough” to stick out. This could actually serve as a barrier between us and others, us and building relationships, us and our worthiness.
If we believe we are special, then we are also different and unique; meaning we may interpret that as not being relatable. I could be out in left field somewhere, but by also having that mentality, it can also be thought of that you are the exception to the rule or are somehow undeserving.
You aren’t the only one who:
Has divorced parent
Struggles with a mental illness
Struggles with self-harm
Had an abusive childhood
Deals with alcoholism/drugs/addiction
But by believing you are somehow special or unique, you separate yourself from others, believing you are somehow different than everyone around you.
This mentality is a huge factor, I believe, in being open and vulnerable. If we are unable to discuss our struggles and shortcomings, it makes it that much more taboo when someone finally does open up. We are able to see that “I’m not the only one struggling with _________.” Yet, if we all walk around stoic, others may believe they are the only ones and find it more difficult, maybe even impossible, to open up if they feel like the people around them can’t relate.
I found this to be true during the support group I attend. If we keep the conversation shallow, I leave feeling unfulfilled and like it was a waste. Yet, in front of four new people I talked openly about my urge to self-harm and purge. Realizing that more people can relate than they initially acted. One lady in particular, was quite, until I mentioned my struggle; she opened up about how she copes and what works for her. It was great to see strangers who were able to come together over one very taboo struggle and talk openly, because I know, I am not the only one.
Trust the Process!
Slightly drunk, sitting on my knees wavering back and forth, watching him clean up the dog shit off the carpet, it was then that I realized, he was too good for me.
If there was ever a competition for who has the worst choice in men, I’d probably come in top ten, somewhere under Charles Manson’s wives, Hitler’s wife, and those cliché women from those Lifetime movies.
Ever since High School, my chose in men was much to be desired. The hot football player with a temper who would smack me for sassing. A drunk who also fell into drugs, but was there when I needed him, except that he drugged me and took advantage of me.
Ok, maybe he isn’t “too good” for me. Honestly though, I just don’t think I am in a place where I can accept someone’s compassion and thoughtfulness towards me.
While my eating disorder is currently like a sedated lion. I’m hesitant that at any moment it may wake up, pissed at the world and I must be on my toes, ready.
So, I don’t want to throw a relationship into the middle of that right now.
We had our first “fight”, even though we are friends. (Everybody knows we are a couple, except us). He asked if I wanted to go hiking on Saturday, I said “sure, just text me”.
Saturday came, I took the dog to the park, went running, met up with a girlfriend for breakfast. By that point he had texted me, but I was enjoying time with my friend.
It ended up getting blown out of proportion, him feeling “disrespected”, “shitty”, etc. I took some time to breathe, and responded the following morning. It was expressed by me, that while I heard what he was saying, and I apologized for not answering my phone, it was also not fair to me to be guilt tripped when no actual plans were made.
There was more, but isn’t worth it. Work has been slightly awkward since we are coworkers, but that is just another reason I’ve made it clear that I don’t want to date him.