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.
“Insanity is doing the same thing
over and over again
and expecting different results.”
This isn’t the first, or even second, time I’ve left group and felt like it was a waste of time, effort, gas, and regretted going all together.
This evening was nothing different. It takes the “same shit, different day” motto to the extreme.
I feel like I have been going for so long that I know everyone, their back story, and what they are bringing to the table every week.
She is sick and feels like shit.
She so desperately wants to be in a relationship.
She sleeps all day, and struggling.
Sure enough, I was right, I even called it earlier when I was in my appointment.
Not wanting to even go this evening, one of the girls texted me asking me to come. So I threw on my Nikes, put a baseball cap on and hid myself under a comfy hoodie and headed to support group.
If we were all making progress or something, that would be great, beneficial, something.
It just feels like something has to give. Maybe we need a group exercise, or an assignment, something to pull us from the perfunctory routine of what seems to be a whiny venting session. Or maybe I just need to quit going so often, that way when I go, it is something new.
I sat there, trying to listen, be supportive, but it was the same things I had just heard the week before. My ass bone grinding against the uncomfortable chairs, and being able to smell myself since I had yet to shower post run.
The thought was even there, “Text brother, get him to call you. That’s your way out. Answer your phone, and leave.” Still, I was trying to give group the benefit of the doubt. I may have said two words tonight. It just didn’t seem worth it.
Same shit, different week.
I could have bitched about my head hurting.
Whined about work.
Praised my awesome lunch.
Bragged about a delicious apple cake.
Instead, I sat there. Knowing what would happen if I opened my mouth. Not so much praised for the good, but fixated on the bad.
I would talk about how I ran today, but how I had a black bean burger yesterday for lunch. It would quickly become a “How often/much are you running?” “Oh, well are you eating lunch every day?” I understand where they would come from, but it just didn’t seem worth it. I may just be being a stuck up bitch, but lately it just hasn’t been beneficial at all, and I don’t think I am getting anything out of it.
I don’t see me returning for a while. Think I’m done re-living the same Thursday of my life over and over.
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!!!
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.
For the absolute longest time, I was certain that I was unworthy and undeserving- of many things:
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.
First, I wanted to apologize.
The days of class I skipped.
The days I couldn’t pay attention.
Or, the days when I would skip your class, and you would catch me running around campus walking back to your office.
It wasn’t that I didn’t care, it was that I was just more consumed with burning calories and making my Eating Disorder happy that I didn’t want to sit in class.
I didn’t want you to take my struggle as apathy or anything like that, and for the professors that did know about my struggle, I’m thankful for all that you did.
It wasn’t so much that I didn’t want to go to class, I physically didn’t have the energy to be there. I was freezing, exhausted, and all I wanted to do was go out and run this anxiety off. Running was more important to me than school, studying, or any sort of life.
Classmates would comment on how athletic I am, and how impressed they were at the distances I was running and how often I went to the gym. (Little did they know I had eaten an apple in maybe two days, and the violent shakes were from the Hydroxycut, not the coffee like I told people.) They didn’t see the girl who laid in her bed crying because of her electrolytes and her legs were locked up again, or the girl who ran to the toilet at 2 am because I had taken the laxatives too early and was up in the middle of the night.
College just seems like one big blur to me. Life was a half-hearted perfunctory routine of get up, run, go to class, run, go to work, maybe go to the gym, and start all over again.
Recently, I had the opportunity to catch up with one of my professors. I had her class during the semester that I left for treatment. We sat outside, laughed and caught up on all that we had missed. She told me that I looked happy and she was so proud of me. That, was what I needed to hear. That I didn’t disappoint her, or had somehow failed at being a “normal” college student.
She went on to say that she talks about me frequently, how I never asked for special treatment, and did continue to show up and do well in her class. The only thing I ever asked was if I could take my final early, (I was admitted on finals week).
I was honest and told her that while I was in her class I was consuming more diet pills and laxatives than actual food, she shook her head in a concerning way.
The most difficult was a male professor, only because my senior research also included a food log, which I was sure would lead to me failing my senior research if I didn’t have any data to actually document. He was very understanding, and I missed half of the following semester since I was still in treatment. Returning in March to his Biostatistics class, he was shocked and surprised to see me walk in the door. I had three tests to make up, multiple practicals, and I was determined. He was willing to work with me and said I could take an incomplete and finish the semester when I was feeling better. I told him I was supposed to graduate this semester, and I wanted to catch up.
I did, I finished school on time and graduated on time, missing half of a semester of Biostatistics, Virology, and Biochemistry.
I am very thankful to have the support I did through my academic career. Both of those professors actually wrote me letters of recommendation. They believed in me, even when I didn’t think I could.
It is EVERYWHERE……
…….Get Ready for Bikini Season……
…….Have Great Sex……
…..Get the Body of Your Dreams…..
You can’t get away from it.
How about “How to not tell me how the fuck to live.”
There is no “How to”, it is an answer to a question, that half of the time the public isn’t even asking.
We aren’t asking “How do we get somewhere?”, or “How do I do a headstand?”
No, these “How to’s” are nothing more than solutions to unasked questions in a way to make the general public think the way they are doing things are inadequate.
“How to Lose Weight” – We all know the answer. Every single one of us. Including children. But deep in our minds we wonder if how we are doing it is inadequate and want to know the “secret”, the “shortcut”.
I found it fascinating actually, that according to etymonline.com, how, is “practically a doublet of why.”
I’m not saying that now we should ask “Why be happy?”, but, why are we putting so much importance and emphasis on things like losing weight, and eating right. Who places these rigid, guilt-provoking, guidelines of what is “eating right”.
If you are thinking, “Yeah, but eating right is fruits, veggies, no fats, no carbs.”
Why? Who says so? The media? The industries that make millions everyday feeding off of you insecurities. Think about makeup, just in general, how much do you think that industry brings in PER DAY, working and basing their selling points solely on your facial insecurities and “HOW to look better.”
I need coffee. That is it for today.
But unless you genuinely don’t know the answer, stay away from the How-Tos
Trust the Process
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!
There are umpteen articles out there that are titled, “What Not To Say To Someone With An Eating Disorder.” Or “What to Say to Someone Recovering.” “How to talk to someone with an eating disorder.” “What is acceptable to say to someone with an eating disorder.” Etc, the list goes on and on, some are probably titled the same thing, with a different font, different capitalization, different spelling.
One thing that I have been told, on more than one occasion, is to use my “science brain”. Some background on me, I hate compliments, hate positive affirmations even more, and was able to finish school and graduate, while spending half of my final semester in residential.
I am a Biology Major, with a Chemistry Minor. After graduation I got a job offer several states away, after interviewing, weighing my options, and looking at the hefty benefits that went along with it, I took the offer. I am currently working as a Biochemist, specializing in HPLC Method and Development. All of this to say, I have been called “smart” for as long as I can remember. I am nothing more than average. I got a C in Inorganic Chemistry, passed Virology with a disheartening B, and that is nothing to the hell I endured through Cell and Molecular Biology, with a professor I referred to as “Dr. Douche Fuck.” (Only behind his back, of course).
So, when people tell me to use my “science brain”, it, well, it pisses me off.
Yes, I can tell you that carbohydrates are needed for the cell, as well as lipids, protein, etc. I can tell you glycolysis, the one letter amino acid codes, the vitamins and what the body uses each for. Logically, I know food is fuel, that you can’t gain anymore than you consume, I know basal metabolic rate.
I know people die from eating disorders.
My science mind is great and useful for information about health, bacteria, the works. My mind is also great at using denial and deception, along with ED. I believe that I am the exception, I believe that it will never happen to me. I spent years in denial, I craved my morning runs and the lifting, I still don’t believe I’ve done any long term damage to my body. To some morbid degree, that bothers me.
I wish I could sit here and tell you that I was the frail, feeble, weakling with the feeding tube. Knees knocking as I wait for the elevator because I am unable to climb one flight of stairs. That I had some miraculous story to tell.
I fight with myself and my body daily. Wishing I was thinner, that my stretch marks would go away, that my thigh gap was more obvious and my collar bone would protrude a little more.
It is very difficult sitting in program, in a room full of sick people, comparing my body to theirs. She may not be allowed to take the stairs. He may need help carrying his tray.
Me? I did 5 miles before program. I did push ups, I did crunches. You name it.
I am the heaviest patient in the room, I am nearly sure of it.
I wouldn’t say I am “ok” with it- but I am accepting of this fact.
I could probably also dead lift their body weight no problem.
It is this morbid sense of comparison that is so difficult to me. You are the heaviest one here. Yeah, but I lift and run. Or are you justifying the reason you are fat? No, I tell myself. I wonder how they see me though.
ED’s never ceasing manipulation.