Radical Acceptance of my Past

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.

My Faith mixed with the Food and Fear

It’s a question I have been asked several times, but I’ve never actually stopped to dig deeply and dissect the answer.

The question may differ slightly,

“How did I get into Christianity?”

“Why did I choose to stay involved?”

“Have you always been a Christian?”

but the answer inevitably brings me back to a certain time in my life.

I can vividly remember being somewhere around 6 years old. I remember our apartment, the glass table, the beanie babies piled high, the kitchen bar, the stained bathroom floor from when I spilled red nail polish. I never remember church. I remember the park, my neighbor upstairs, my cat, the statue of the panther in the living room. I never remember praying.

Around 7 years old I was dragged along with mom who moved to North Carolina with some strange man who would later become my stepfather. I remember my bus stop, my dog, my teacher. Still no church or praying.

In 2000 my brother was born. At some point, unsure of exactly when that was, it was decided among my parental units that my brother, in order to keep him from being damned to hell for reasons I was unsure of at the time, was going to be baptized/saved/christened. I guess by default, I was volun-told that I was to participate in such religious ritual as well. I remember the smell of vegetable oil on my forehead and how I was sickened that I had some greasy oily stuff smeared on my face by a stranger. Up until that point that was the most religious experience of my life.

In 2004 my sister came into the picture. Somewhere between moving and the birth of my sister we began to make an appearance to a church. We stood up, knelt, sat, knelt, it felt like a bad version of Simon says. I watched as my parents introduced me to people that could be my grandparents. We showed up, smiled, and left. One Sunday morning I was getting ready for the perfunctory routine, I had decided to put on mascara and was instantly ridiculed by my step dad.

This is also when their religion seemed to be found more frequently at the bottom of a bottle than in a church pew.

Being under 13, I remember one night, after they had been praising the bottle again. A fight broke out. I gestured to my brother to go to our room and that I’d be right there. I grabbed my sister from her high chair and was going to take her with me to our room. Immediately, I was spun around by a slurred patron saint of the bottle. “You don’t EVER take my child away from me!” With that, my sister was ripped from my arms.

Another move, and another sibling later, I was in middle school. My parent’s religious worshiping of the bottle increased as did my self-hatred. I wasn’t allowed to speak up, have an opinion that was different from my mom’s, or stick up for myself. I turned all the feelings inward. Turning to self-harming, purging, anything. I was already hurting with all of the screaming and fights, which I was convinced was my fault anyways, so it made sense to punish myself, and simultaneously release some of the built up angst. I was blamed for why my parent’s argued. This logic made sense in my world since I had introduced the two of them by accident. I wasn’t sure if they hated me because of it, and if only I was thinner, better behaved, made better grades, maybe they wouldn’t hate me and their marriage would get strengthen.

Eating less, cutting more, purging when I could.

I had the opportunity to go to Ireland on a student program. I was threatened by one of the leaders that if I didn’t start eating I would be sent home.

A family friend invited us to church with them. We reluctantly began to go. I had learned from my past experience with church that it was time to put on my nice clothes, put on a smile and pretend everything was amazingly awesome in my picture perfect world.

Behind closed doors my family threw stuff, screamed, hated each other. My mother would wake me up at all hours to clean my room, clean the kitchen, whatever. Digging her nails into my arm and screaming, as my brother cried from behind her, “Don’t hit her mom!” My parent’s would scream and fight until the church door. With that, the name calling was suddenly, “Oh sweetie, I love you.”, “I love you too honey.” With controlling displays of affection to show to the church how great our family actually was.

I began to question what I was told about God, and even the very existence of God.

“God doesn’t love me, if he did why would he allow this?” I would question.

My own mother would push me against walls, dig her nails into me, and throw stuff at me. The next morning she would say “I love you, have a great day at school.”

I doubted the very word of “love” and it took years for me to be able to tell her I loved her back.

I continued to put on a happy face when we went to church, and was criticized by my parent’s when I wanted to go to church on Wednesdays for youth group, being asked, “Don’t you have anything else you could do besides go to church?”

I went into High School, from moving so much I knew almost everyone in my class. I told myself I would never drink or smoke weed, I didn’t want to be anything like my parents. I began to drink, and would smoke during the off season of sports.

I don’t remember a lot during this time. I went to school, did sports, was on student government, had a job, didn’t eat. Did anything I could to not go home.

Being told that what happens in this house, stays in this house.

My math teacher is the reason I actually became involved and plugged in. During Senior year I moved in with my pastor and his wife. Being told once again that I am the reason their marriage is so rocky, so if I moved out for a while…..

I changed my number, paid my own bills, went to church. Pastor and his wife actually gave me curfew, and I was thrilled someone actually cared about me and where I was. I was diving deep into Christianity, my devotional, and church in a way I hadn’t. We talked, like a family, prayed, like a family, went on trips. There was no yelling, and I realized what I had lived in wasn’t normal.

My parents left the church, I was eventually forced to move back home, and continued to stay at that church for as long as I could, refusing to ever go to church with my parents again.

My math teacher would pray for me and with me. I had convinced myself that if I don’t talk about what’s going on at home, then it’s like it doesn’t happen. After the cops were called, I began to open up to my teacher who invited me to her house, prayed with me, shared books and articles with me, and invited me to Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She spoke of her mistakes, I told her about mine, but it was never from a criticizing or demeaning place, but one of hope and love.

After graduation, I moved out, again. Found a church which I attended regularly, as well as a girls college bible study that my teacher led up. It was a safe environment. Learning about mistakes, love, forgiveness for not only ourselves, but others. There was something peaceful about the entire thing, a sense of belonging and security. How faithful God is and all He has in store for us and our future.

During all of this, my self-harming would come and go, and I was consistently struggling with my Eating Disorder. I was told by several people, that someone must have been looking out for me.

Deep in my eating disorder I would eat under 100 calories a day, and was running and lifting. I was taking diet pills, laxatives, and going to the gym. I have sustained injuries because of it, but when I look back, it is crazy to me that nothing severe happened. There is no reason that I shouldn’t have collapsed during a run, or seriously damaged my body.

I can only think that God has something in store for me, for keeping me around.

I continue in my faith for many reasons. It is one step further away from becoming my parents, every person I admire and look to are strong in their faith, and just the pure honesty that is spoken and how I feel after digging into my devotional.

Trust the Process!!!

Eating Disorders Impact Loved Ones, Not Just the Individual

I’ve been told, more times than I can count, that I need to “get mad at ED.”

The crazy thing is, I just can’t get mad at his impact on my life. It helped me cope, for years! Gave me something to cling to.

Would I go back in time and change it all? No, I’ve learned a lot.

Would I voluntarily go through it all again? Not Likely At All.

I am annoyed though. For the hell and havoc it put the people close to me through.

Unable to go out to eat with my best friend. Her standing outside the bathroom door while I puke on the cruise. Her concern for me and watching me day in and day out run and abuse her best friend. Watching me pick at the salad during our family dinners, or the look on her face when I make eye contact after I come out of the bathroom, ashamed of what I had just done. On our beach trips, when I would still get up and force myself to run, or would leave the hotel room at ten at night to go to the gym in an attempt to burn off what I had consumed.

To my brother, who no longer went on sushi dates with his sister because I was no longer able to keep it down. Fear of rice, cream cheese and by this point, foods in general. I never meant for this to get to you. You would ask me when we would go out, I would make up any excuse in the book. Please know, I was never avoiding you, I was avoiding food.

My dear sister, I hope you learn from my mistakes. Our 5k races were the highlight of our weekends. Do not run and work out because you “have to”, I want you to love and enjoy it. I hope and pray I never pushed you too hard or too far.

Mom, we had our ups and downs, many downs. You didn’t want me to go to treatment, I know this, you made it clear. ED became more important than you, or even life. I skipped Thanksgiving this year, and it meant a lot that you were understanding of it. Knowing I was in a good place, but didn’t want to put myself in that situation.

YOU, on the other hand, I’m not sure if I can ever forgive you. As long as I can remember you were my life, I was your princess. Grandma, you supported me when, at the age of 5, I wanted to be a vet. You believed in me at 13 when I wanted to become a lawyer. Thrilled, when I decided at 19 to pursue dentistry.

Then, practically disowned me at the age of 21, when I went into treatment. That was when I needed your love and support the most. We still haven’t talked and I’m not sure if our relationship will ever be the same. I think you hated ED more than I ever could. You were angry with my eating disorder and took it out on me.

To my professors, I never meant to worry you. Commenting on how I’m getting smaller, passing me on campus while I’m running, even though you just left the class of yours that I skipped- again. Some of you went so far to physically drive me to a restaurant for lunch just so you could watch me eat and help. I picked at the veggies. There was the time you offered me your lunch, “as long as you’ll actually eat it.” I declined your offer. Your support to keep me on track while doing school while in treatment. The shock some of you had when you realized I hadn’t dropped my classes, and was still scheduled to graduate on time. Yet, you guys believed in me and sing my praises to current students.

T, the times I was doing well, and the times that kicked my ass, you were there. You are so supportive, encouraging, and my biggest advocate. Sometimes it’s all I can do to not call you just crying, so unsure of myself and decisions. I fear you will think I’m too wishy-washy for recovery. ED has dug his claws into our relationship too many times. I visualize you doing the dance and cheers when things are good, and a disappointed lowering shake of the head when it’s bad. It is scary to question you own (well, seemingly own) thoughts and doubt your own capabilities.

You’ve seen the scars, the tears, the successes. We’ve gone on walks, gone to breakfast, lunch, given me reading material. ED still wants to fuck with you and I’m sorry.

There comes a time where you have to want recovery for yourself and your life- I’m there. I want a happy, fulfilling life, without an eating disorder. I’m scared to be given up on, lose faith in me. One day you will wake up and no longer care. ED will pipe up and blame my weight for the reason you left.

I can’t even write down the words, “I’m sorry” doesn’t cover it, and guilt doesn’t fully describe it.

When I take a step back, it hurts me to see how much ED has impacted you all.

That is what bothers me the most.

I was unable to hide it and protect you all from the ugly wrath of ED.

Left only to my imagination of the exhausting feelings you are left with after an encounter with my eating disorder and I. Being annoyed and hurt by my blatant snarky sass. Wanting to help while simultaneously wanting to throw your hands in the air in defeat. The uncertain feeling of helplessness. Wanting to help, to make it better, wishing it to go away for me. Yet, unable to do so. Knowing that through it all, it is left to me and my decision.

When your support and influence impact my next decision, I hope you feel a glimmer of hope, knowing I’m still under there.

 

To T, my biggest influence.

T,

I have debated writing something like this for a long time.

  • Couldn’t quite get my thoughts together.
  • Thought it might be kinda pathetic.
  • Might think I’m weak.
  • Or didn’t have the time.

Whichever option you choose to pick.

Quick question:

-Do you ever feel like a glorified babysitter?

-A ring leader at a circus?

I can see it now, standing in the middle of a flaming clusterfuck, head spinning a thousand miles an hour. Holding a flaming ring you are expected to jump through. Being torn in a thousand different ways.

                                                                                The dietitian needs you.

          Sally is refusing to eat.                                                                   Jill just threw up.

The director (what is her actual title anyway??) needs to see you.

                                                                                                                Phone is ringing.

                                Sue needs to talk to you.

Let’s reminisce for a second, because there was (more specifically) all of the hell I put you through.

Remember the time(s):

-You stood up to my mom for me?

-Sat on the kitchen floor to therapize me?

-The multiple times I threw up.

-When I would go hide on top of the shed, or on my perch.

-When I was gone for like an hour on my run.

-The time you thought I just left, because I missed snack and was on my perch.

-The night I called you crying over pizza.

-My self harm issues.

-Come to Jesus meeting(s).

-My smart mouth.

That could be it’s own post.

-Having to take me to the hospital.

-Watching you cry.

-The night B and I snuck out and stole that flamingo.

-(Oh, btw, the crayon splatters in the downstairs bathroom, to the right of the mirror. That was me too. I was trying to be artsy fartsy….)

-All of my ungodly honesty.

-Let’s not forget my concealed.

Also, some of my journal excerpts:

                12/11/14

                                “I hurried to the kitchen where I was told T was looking for me. “Oh Shit.” I thought.”

                12/16/14

                                “Then came group with T. We talked about feelings and safe places, she seemed to focus in on me for a while. I avoided and deflected for as long as I could.”

                12/23/14

                                “So, that’s about it. I had a melt down in T’s office about how everything is being taken away from me.”

                12/24/14

                                “After yoga I was informed I had to call T before snack-shit! The phone rang and rang I was so nervous. She answered, my heart dropped, she said she heard I had a rough breakfast and refused an Ensure.”

                12/26/14

                                “T asked me to come down off the roof, I tossed my journal and watched it fall, then climbed down. T handed me my journal and I followed her to her office.”

                12/27/14

                                “I was up tossing and turning at 2:30. The conversation between T and I played over and over in my head. ‘If you aren’t ready for you, do it for your sister.’ ‘Crying would have been better than purging.’.”

                12/31/14

                                “T began to cry. I began to get mad. ‘K goes to the hospital, she gets to stay. M refuses to eat, she gets to stay. C practically gives you the finger…. ‘You have made amazing strides and progress…’ ‘….not good enough!!’ I cut in between sobs.”

                1/10/2015

                                “The next thing I know, I’m eating my left over, clenching a frozen orange, and hearing the words: Talk, T and Consequences. Strung together in an anxiety provoking sentence.”

                1/11/2015

                                “T complimented me on what I did do right over pass. I began to cry and looked away. I admitted I went on a run, she had known something was up.”

                1/16/15

                                “T is so freaking great, she works her ass off for us and is just such an amazing lady.”

                1/28/15

                                “Shopping was just awful- some young vegan telling me what to do, then a brand new girl disrespecting T and talking down to her…Oh hell no!”

                2/5/15

                                “Feeling guilty. Skipped dairy with lunch, didn’t add extra fruit since I ran. Skipped fat with snack.      Came clean about the restriction, T made me drink an Ensure.”

                2/9/15

                                “I felt so discouraged hearing T’s motherly tone come out when I said I went to the guy for 2 hours. ‘What part of you thought that was ok??’”

                2/18/15

                                “T grabbed the letter from the back and began to read it silently. She rolled her eyes and I could tell she wasn’t exactly thrilled. T read the very last bit to me out loud and told me I didn’t need to read that shit. I bawled and bawled.”

                2/19/15

                                “I cried a lot today. I went to T’s office to read the letter from mom. I called A too for support. I’m so thankful that T and A were there when I read it.”

                                “T hugged me and wouldn’t let go. I felt, well, loved and cared about. She whispered how she didn’t want me to live like this- I said me either.”

                2/20/15

                                “I got told today I was being transferred to the hospital. I bawled and bawled. I got my phone, called A and went upstairs to pack. T tried to help, I didn’t want any help. She came back up and told me she would be the one to take me to the hospital, that was the only time I felt slightly relieved. I packed everything up, told the girls bye, cried with T in her office and headed out.”

                                “T just held me as I cried, she cried, she told me this was no way to live. After arriving to the hospital, T helped me get checked in and came with me to the unit. They took my b.p and weight. T was beside me the entire time, holding my hand. They took me to my room, T sat down with me and we both began to cry.

                                3/1/15

                “T,

                I’ve written you a note before, but this is different. I can never express enough everything you have done for me. With your humor, patience and intelligence, you are an amazing person.

                I walked into Tap feeling worthless and like a complete failure from our kitchen talks, to you holding the flamingo and watching me cry.

                As much as I hate being here, I still appreciate everything you have done. I look up to you and admire your strength, determination and love.

                Having someone during this time that is practically my motherly figure and supports me, means the world to me.”

 

Anyways, these are just blips of how much of an influence you have had, not only in my recovery, but in my life.

You do so much for not just Tap in general, but for each and every woman who walks through that door. Even a year later, I have no idea why you took me under your wing, or what you saw in me, but I am forever grateful, that no matter how much I tried to push you away, you just weren’t having it.

I genuinely believe you are my biggest supporter and believe in me and what I can accomplish. Lovingly pushing me to try neurofeedback, and our amazing breakfast outtings. I admire and respect you so much and all that you do. I also know, whole heartedly, that I wouldn’t be where I am today without your love and support.

Eating Disorder, Thanksgiving, and Spending it Alone

Spending the Holidays alone may not be as bad as it sounds. Thanksgiving is probably the most popular holiday to spend with family. They all get together, sit around, chat, laugh, drink, eat. I opted out of today.

I did get up, I went to my family’s house, saw my brothers and sister, loved on the dogs, went on a walk, then left.

The original plan was to all go to my grandmother’s house where my Aunt, Uncle and cousins would also join us for Thanksgiving. I hadn’t even been at the house long and my parents were arguing and fighting, my grandmother told me last year while I was in treatment, “You treated me better when you had an eating disorder.” And, “You realized walking in to that place they thought your mom was the patient and not you, right?”. It was very deliberately hurtful and mean, and unfortunately, I am not sure if I can get over that feeling. My grandmother is an awful cook, smothering everything in butter, and my aunt and one cousin who is vegan. That was all I needed, somebody reprimanding everyone else for what they chose to eat. I didn’t want to drive over an hour to her house, I didn’t want to make bullshit conversation, watch from the sidelines as my entire family acted fake, and grandmom pretended as if everything was perfect in her delusional world.

I went home and did some work since the Dr would be expecting stuff to be done tomorrow. I started veggie soup in the crock pot, cleaned, lit candles, watched Once Upon a Time, and started a fire. It was a typical day for me, and I enjoyed it. Honestly? I did restrict. I just wasn’t feeling it today. I wanted to relax, not worry, just enjoy today without work, or stressful family drama.

Mom and I made a couple jokes about what to tell everyone when they asked where I was. “Tell them I’m calling out of Thanksgiving because I’m anorexic.” “Well, just tell grandma that you don’t know, and I guess I treated her better when I had an eating disorder.” Honestly, there just weren’t enough fucks to give today. I enjoyed my time alone, eating the usual stuff, and just relaxing.

 

I hope you all had a terrific Thanksgiving!

Trust the Process and do what’s best for you!!!

My Facade of Resting Bitch Face. Recovery

To the untrained eye I could be the epitome of resting bitch face who takes no shit and is in charge. I am loud, quick to respond, quicker to sass and with the mouth of a sailor. I am a very independent, tough, stubborn and, at times, even angry person. I’ve worked tirelessly for many years to accomplish such a façade that one could deem unfavorable or covetous- depending on who you are. I take pride in the fact I work to the point of exhaustion, try my damnedest to never rely on anyone or need anything because “I have it handled” and, “Just get out of my way, I’ll do it.”, is my constant mentality.

So what happens when I am faced with something, such as my eating disorder, which seems to be insurmountable? When the humbling experience of realizing that no, I really don’t “have it handled”, creeps into my mind slowly, then all at once. When my perfunctory routine that I had claimed as “living” in becomes so exhausting but comfortable simultaneously.

There are many times and many days that I have no faith in myself. I question my recovery, my own determination and my own willingness so many times. The mindset that has been with me for many years is one I still fight, being leery of anyone who tries to become too close; certain they will either fuck me over, or just want something. Opening up, being vulnerable, these things are more terrifying than just handling whatever life throws at me on my own.

I desperately want, yearn, and strive to be good enough in the eyes of my mother. To be good enough for her. Feel worthy in her eyes, and get credit and acknowledgement for my accomplishments; which I know will never happen. Indentured to her wishes and expectations at the age of 8 when my brother was born and the bar of perfectionism seemed to be raised higher. When I don’t even have confidence and faith in myself and my abilities, I am so thankful for the people in my life that do believe in me and my recovery efforts.

To the people in my life that are there for me, words cannot ever express the importance you play in my life. Through the peppy/happy times and the discouraging/disappointing times the love, help, support is staggering. I sit on the edge of my seat, waiting for everyone to concurrently stand up, pack their stuff and remove themselves from my life. As if my life is indistinguishable from a theater, waiting for the end where everyone gets up together, lining up to leave in a line and promenade their way out into the streets; finished. My mother would be in the very back of the line, sauntering her way towards the exit too. She would watch everyone leave, looking back towards me, as one last stab, so she could bring up the rear, reassured that I was left alone in the empty theater of my life.

That, has yet to happen though, even with my bitchy avail to those who don’t deserve it. I feel unworthy to those people in my life who do care, I always fall back on the one question, “Why do you care?” and “Why me?” It is an instantaneous jolt of guilt and love that I feel wash over me along with an immense amount of appreciation towards these people. (I’m babbling, and my writing is going downhill fast).

The ability to look someone in the face, be 100% honest, candid, hold nothing back, be unable to lie to them because it doesn’t feel right. It is one of the most nerve wracking and freeing things. Knowing that what I did isn’t beneficial to my recovery, having to fess up and be honest. Also knowing (and hoping), that they are concerned out of love and not just to reprimand me. Being understanding and not critical. Doesn’t mean it is easy to sit there and openly admit when you fuck up, but having that as an option with someone.

Sitting outside with me, eating something scary with me, the hugs, tears, laughs, stories. These are the things that have impacted my relationships with others, as well as aid in my recovery. From motherly figures to best friends to support teams and roommates; I love my space and my independent nature, but it still feels good to have someone there.

(There will be another entry about this soon, just way too tired)