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.

I Have A Special Secret

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.

adf

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

Are divorced

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!

XOXOXOXO

Self-Empathy & Compassion

Self-empathy, to me, I feel like this is a brand new topic. One read about in fictional tales, along with princesses with flowing locks of hair and birds that make my bed for me.

In Brene Brown’s book, I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t), she goes on to explain the difference between empathy and sympathy. I’m very guilty of using these words interchangeably for years, but now having such a better understanding of the words. I want someone to empathize with me, but don’t want their sympathy. Brenė puts it,

“When they talked about their ability to overcome shame, they clearly pointed to empathy: sharing their feelings with someone who would understand and relate to what they were saying. Conversely, women used words like hate, despise, and can’t stand to describe their feelings about sympathy seeking- looking for sympathy or being asked for sympathy.”

Empathy, is looking for acceptance, and understanding that we are not alone in our experiences.

It has been argued you cannot give what you don’t have, this also including love and empathy, but I respectfully disagree. It is so much easier to give others empathy and the benefit of the doubt. I questioned daily why I was much more able to cut others slack, or be more understanding of others, why I was so hard on myself, and I believe this is a lack of self-compassion as well as empathy towards myself.

I fully believe that everyone has something in their life they are dealing with. Whether it be a sick family member, mental illness, recent death, financial issues, whatever it is, so I attempt to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. That is it though, right there. I don’t know everybody’s story, as much as I love hearing peoples’ stories and hearing how far they’ve come. What if I did though? Honestly, I might be more empathic and compassionate towards them, realizing what they are dealing with on a daily basis. Why is that any different than myself?

I know my story, I know what I have been through. I may not think it is “All that bad” but I know there are people out there who believe I am “brave” “strong” “courageous”. It is the shame of believing the lies I have been fed for years, and internally believing that I am not deserving or worthy. I am much more empathetic and compassionate to those I don’t know their story, than myself.

Seeing Myself In A Student

It is so difficult to compliment myself, brag on myself, or even see myself in a worthy light. My homework from my therapist this week was to “build a court case” against the lies I’ve been fed for so many years.

This is so hard for me, it is not like me to talk about what I have done or accomplished, because I just find that selfish and conceited.

My last post was about owning your story, but at the same time, owning it, doesn’t mean owning the lies you have been told your entire life. That is completely different. In an attempt to placate my therapist, I sat down the night before, and did the assignment she had given me last week. I didn’t put too much thought into it, because that would have been stressful and scary (which I know is kind of the point, to push me out of my comfort zone.)

Well, yesterday, I decided I wouldn’t wait last minute. I got home from my appointment, sat down and began to really think about the assignment and how difficult it would be. To not do it would be giving into the lies, rather than fighting them, but to do the homework meant dealing with the lies and trying to combat them with bragging on myself.

 

So, as I sat there, staring at the paper, it really hit me that this assignment was going to suck.

I began to think of my kids when I worked at a school, and one girl in particular who came to my mind and heart. I missed her, she had a very difficult home life, was hands down, one of my favorites, a heart of gold, and sassy as all get out (A girl after her own teacher’s heart).

So I started the assignment with, “What Would I Tell Alisha?”

  • You have been through so much, and are so strong.
  • Stay loud and loving.
  • Be there for your brother, you guys will be close.
  • You can’t control your parents.
  • None of that was your fault.
  • You are so loved.
  • It is ok to ask for a hug.
  • Be honest.

This is the girl, who was one of the smallest in her grade, yet, with a older brother, she would be out on the basketball court showing all the guys how to shoot. She was loud, sassy, played like one of the guys, but has a heart of gold.

Every day she would come running down the hallway, yelling my name and run into my arms. I was one of the select few who she came to for hugs and compassion, she didn’t want to lead on that she too, was tough, but needed love.

 

The day she came to school with stitches above her eye and scraped up, my heart sunk. The more I found out about her home life, the more I wanted to pick her up and take her home with me. No wonder she was tough and snarky, but I loved her just the same.

 

Reading the list that I would tell one of my students, but at the same time, me, not wanting or asking for help.

Worth & Deserving

For the absolute longest time, I was certain that I was unworthy and undeserving- of many things:

  • Relationships
  • Recovery
  • Love
  • Compliments

I believed I was the exception, that serious complications from an eating disorder happened to others, not to me. That others deserved recovery, not me.

 

Being consumed with my inner critic and eating disorder, I fully believed that my worth was based solely on my actions and others’ opinions of me. Yet, it was always unfairly graded and weighed.

Positive that the pleasant compliments were only said to be polite, and maybe even out of pity, they held no truth to them. Yet, when someone was critical or demeaning, I held those comments as gospel and put my worth in my imperfections and short comings.

 

By listening to my inner critic and falling for the lie of being unworthy and undeserving, I was practically saying that I held no worth in who I am.

I would never say this to another person, but yet I found it acceptable to refer to myself as this.

It has taken many, many years, but I am not the exception.

Just like how my body won’t survive on carrot sticks because I want it to.

My worth isn’t based on my short comings because I think that is all I deserve.

 

In a society that thrives on perfection and believes asking for help is a weakness, we become fake to those around us.

It has become taboo to talk about struggles, we portray only the very best side of our life, feeding into the belief that we can’t measure up.

I am a huge advocate for sharing our stories. It is so easy to get caught up with our faults and mistakes and make our identity in them, but yet, I want to hear who you are.

I don’t care about the weather, your car or your job. We ALL have SOMETHING and I want to hear it. What you’ve been through, how far you’ve come, what you learned, and how it made you, you.

So instead of only showing the best side of yourself – be real.

Own your story, it is yours to tell and nobody has the power or authority to belittle it for how far you have come.

Be unapologetically you.

You are worthy of it.

I am worthy of it.

We deserve so much more.

Who, Not What, Are You.

Who are you?

If someone was to ask you who you were what would you say?

Would you identify yourself with your flaws?

Would you identify yourself with the size pants you wear?

“I am _______.”

How would you fill that?

The world has told us to fit molds, stereotypes and to hold certain expectations.

As if your importance and worth in the world is somehow based on how you look; and God forbid we are open about our struggles and flaws, which could somehow make us less human or less worthy.

Who you are is not:

                What you do.

                A label set by others.

                A diagnosis.

                Mistakes you made.

Why would I accept a label set on me by others?

                I don’t walk up to someone and say, “Hi, I am a recovering anorexic.”

“Hello, I am anxious.”

                                “Good afternoon, I am depressed.”

Honestly, to me, this doesn’t sound bad. It would be more real. People may stop hiding behind the taboo shame that comes with these labels.

But, these labels, regardless of what they are, are not WHO we are.

I’m gonna say that again for the people in the back….

                Regardless of what these labels are, THEY ARE NOT WHO WE ARE.

1 Corinthians 10:12

1 Corinthians 10:12

“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”

Over the course of being in recovery, I have had the same goals.

1)      Be “normal”

2)      Find a healthy balance between working out and eating

3)      Be able to help and share with others

Some of you may read these, especially number one and think, “Come on, what even is ‘normal’, that is such a vague idea.” Others of you, I know because I have talked with others, are sitting there thinking, “Holy shit! Yes! She gets it!”  I’m not saying I want a job, a husband, a dog, a house with a picket fence, 2.5 kids. I already have two of those… I’ll let you guess 😉

What I am saying is I want to eat like a normal person, eat when I’m hungry, eat when I’m not hungry, put cheese on food, not count calories like a fiend. Eat cold pizza for breakfast, have hot chocolate, you know, what NORMAL people would do, and not think twice about.

While I am so thankful that I am not where I was, I know I have work to be where I want to be. (Even though you guys can’t see it, I’m finishing up a tofu taco salad- delish!) I still struggle with the morbid sense of wanting to be sick, and wanting to be back in treatment. At the same time, lately I have been able to take a step back and realize, “ok, I’ve been there before. Nothing will be different, so why do I want to go back?”

At this point in my life, I am 23 years old. Living in Pennsylvania, by myself, moving from NC to PA after graduation to pursue my career in Biochemistry. I feel fortunate to have a career with benefits, PTO, and in a field where I have my degree. So why would I want to throw that all away to go back to being weighed everyday?

I have made friends going to the support group, and through that I have had lunch, and gotten coffee, with some of the girls. It is eye opening that at times, I am the oldest one in the group, and I am not ok with this. I do not want to be tied down by this thing. Recently, I have reached out, getting to know some of the girls, and I want to be a support for them to reach out to.

I have been reminded of this verse lately, “So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.” This is huge to me. I don’t want to reach out to help, if it may completely undo the progress I have built. I want to help and pull others up without worrying about being triggered or being dragged down. I pray this a lot, especially when I hang out with the girls, hoping for the best, for the right words to say and to remember to be careful.

 

Trust the Process!

xoxoxo

Fearfully Recovering

I used to be afraid of recovery. Not so much the action of recovering itself, but more like what happens after the fact. When I am out, on my own, and recovered.

I was fearful.

My life had revolved around this huge elephant in the room that nobody talked about. Some people refused to acknowledge its existence, some knew about it but was unsure what to do about it.

  • What would I do when I wasn’t catering to ED every moment of every day?
  • Who would I be if I wasn’t completely immersed in my eating disorder?
  • Who would I be when ED was no longer able to tell me who I was?

First, I was afraid of letting go of the one thing in my life that was constant. The ridicule and critical comments that came from ED daily, but yet, found comfort in it. I clung to ED because it was what I knew. There was no other way of life, I gave in to every demand ED threw at me. “Run more.” “Eat less.” “Throw that up.” With everything else going on in my life I didn’t have time to slow down or focus on anything besides my disordered habits.

Then, during treatment I feared me.

  • What would I do when I wasn’t acting on ED behaviors?
  • Who would I become?
  • How would I handle it?
  • What would I eat?

I feared everything and nothing simultaneously. Putting my trust in my team and in the process, yet fearing the change and the unknown that laid ahead.

After treatment I feared relapse, but feared gaining weight. Still scared about who I would be and how my life would turn out. I began to cope and try to find balance.

While I feared relapse and being a “failure” at recovery, I also feared doing it well.

I was scared that if I did better people would no longer care about me and some of the people closest to me would kick me to the curb.

I feared rejection.

Fear of being rejected because of my slip ups and relapses and feeling like a disappointment to others.

Also fearful of no longer being cared about or acknowledged.

There are still uncertainties that come with recovery that I question and struggle with. Disordered thoughts and counteracting them are something I haven’t yet mastered. I do know, that I no longer fear the idea of being “normal”. The days I have had without ED are some of the most fun and freeing ones I have had.

The people that I fear will leave me, I have tried to shift that and think about how they want me to get better and not struggle. I want to continue on and make them proud of me. I want them to turn to other people and clients and say something along the lines of, “She has come so far.” “I am so proud of her accomplishments.” “She is doing great.”

I want to recover, without fear.

My Fear and Desire for Normalcy

I want it so bad, I crave it, dream of it, wish and hope for it more than anything. I want to be normal.

What is normal though?

This question was asked this week at therapy. Does that mean I am behavior free? That I am not longer exercising? What exactly did I perceive “normal” in this context.  I told her, to me, it would be purging free. She asked me “What about restricting?” I told her I believe that it is normal for somebody to skip lunch every now and then, or skip something, but it is the intention behind it.

I want a balance between working out and eating so fucking badly. I love running, love working out. I just cannot seem to find that balance between the two. When I run and hardcore workout, my eating suffers horribly. I would never want to give up running completely that just isn’t an option to me, but then how do I balance this?

The fear or normal scares me though. I don’t know what my life would look like not constantly revolving around this. What is normal? How much food is “normal”? What is a “normal” relationship? I want it, I want it all, but I don’t get it or understand it, and it scares me because of how unfamiliar it is to me.

Desiring to be normal, live my life. I am not a college graduate, still no boyfriend, and still ridiculously unsure of the future. I would like to be in a relationship, go out on dates, be normal. There is no way that I could drag a guy into this. Currently, I am already in a relationship with my eating disorder, and dragging somebody into this mess would just be so unfair.

I want to work out like a normal person. Run 10 miles because I enjoy it, not to punish myself, think calories and then get reprimanded for running so far. Going to the gym because I enjoy it and want to, not because the voice in my head says I need to and have to.

I want to eat like a normal person. Go out and eat, enjoy it, laugh. How much is too much. Still currently using my measuring cups to attempt and stay on track… normal people don’t do that. I eat practically only Greek yogurt, granola, blueberries, and oatmeal. What do normal people eat? How often do normal people eat?

I don’t even know what a normal person thinks about. Calories, miles, restricting, purging, chugging water, body dissatisfaction… on my mind 24/7. How freeing it would be to finally have something else on my mind.

Honestly? I would like to have the amount of self-hatred and body dissatisfaction a normal person has. There is so much of that within me, and it is awful. Draining, depressing, saddening.

Normal. So unfamiliar, but yet I want it. I need something new.

Trust the Process!!!

xoxoxo

Lunch With My Professor

I feel like everything I’ve posted lately has been so negative, well, today was. Today was; well, I’m grateful.

A few weeks ago I talked with my advisor about a possible medical withdraw. She asked what it was, if I was having surgery again, was I ok?  I mentioned looking into residential treatment for an eating disorder. She explained that her daughter’s friend went to a place for a while, was getting better, etc. She was also so helpful in explaining my options as far as next semester. Dr. A told me that her doctor thought she was anorexic at one point and she disagreed because she was never stick thin, but her doctor explained it is how she perceives food, and not necessarily her body.  It was a very nice conversation and I enjoyed it.  Dr. A told me how her daughter kind of struggled and would call her mom and ask, “Mom, I’m struggling again, can we go out to dinner?”  That way she could have a “normal meal” with her mom and try to not worry about it. After that story she extended a similar invitation, “If you ever need a “normal meal”, Let me know, and we will go out.”

Well, today, Dr. A and I went out to lunch together. It was ridiculously outside of my comfort zone and stressed me out, but I am so unbelievably grateful/thankful/flattered/happy that she would do that with/for me. After emailing her she said to just come by her office. I had asked about possible coffee or something because I like to keep myself busy in order to avoid having to eat. So, I stopped by her office today after class.  Dr. A looked happy to see me. She asked where I would like to go, and after talking for a few minutes we decided on a place, she grabbed her purse and we were headed out, also emphasizing that this was her treat and on her. We headed to her car (which I wasn’t expecting), talked about her grandbabies, her husband, school, work, treatment, the weather. We rode together through town, still making conversation, talking mainly about traveling.

It was so kind of her, and very enjoyable.

I picked at the grilled chicken and veggies that I had ordered and we continued to talk outside on the patio. She watched me as I attempted to eat and offered dessert, I declined.  Dr. A made a comment about not eating much, I told her I couldn’t eat too much or I’d get sick.  I didn’t want to risk throwing up something that someone else was buying for me.  It probably sounds dumb, but I think it is one thing to flush my own money down the toilet by puking the foods I buy, but it really bothers me to throw up food, or waste anything, that someone else bought for me.  She is such an unbelievably kind lady, and thanked me for sending her that email. I was just so appreciative that she actually said yes, drove, and paid- she didn’t have to do any of that. I wasn’t expecting lunch, maybe coffee and fruit or something, but wow.  Thank you Lord for people like Dr. A.