Tag Archives: relationships
Aside

“Yes, butting…”

8 Nov

ImageYes, but what about your bones? What about the four fractures you’ve already had? What about the D, K2, calcium, magnesium, zinc, boron cluttering the refrigerator door?

Yes, but what about Osteoporosis screaming from the bottom of the bone density results form?

Yes, but what about when you want to still dance when you’re 90?

Yes. I know… but what about your brain? What about your future, college, your dreams? Yes, those will all go down the toilet, too.

Yes, but what about your potential? What about all the time you’ve wasted? What about differential equations, and calculus problems, long novels, research, and psychology? What about brain chemicals and alternative therapies? What about creativity, art, crossword puzzles, and KenKens?

Yes, but what about all the kids that depend on you? What about giving and teaching? What about them? What about saying, “You don’t really matter that much to me?”

Yes, but what about your skin? What about glowing? What about being beautiful, alive, vibrant?

What about those clumps of hair on the shower floor? Will you go back to that?

Yes, but what about your eyes? Sunken and hollow, a thin connection between the living outside and the dead inside…

Yes, you can do that… but do you want to?

Yes, but what about your heart? But the body doesn’t shrink disproportionally… the heart shrinks, too.

Yes, in more ways than one.

But what about your loved ones? What about the mother who worked so hard to care for you so many years and now must watch you self-destruct, helpless to do anything? What do you think you are putting HER through?

What about the aunt who took you in when you needed a home? What about all the teachers who’ve helped you along, both in school and out? What about the treatment team that has always believed in you, even when you haven’t believed in yourself?

What about all the people who love you?

Yes, but get real… you ARE choosing it over them. Yes, but do you value starving more than them?

Yes but what about all you’ve lost? But how much more will you let it rob you of?

Yes, but what about all you have? All the joy recovery brought?

Yes, but what about all you’ve gained? All that you’ve worked for? All the dreams to come?

Yes, you can choose the eating disorder again.

But it will never be worth it.

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The Truth about Guys, Girls, and Weight

17 Dec

For many girls struggling with food, body image, and weight, their eating disorder provides a sense of security and control over life events or feelings that seem overwhelming. I know this was the driving force behind mine.

But oftentimes, there are other incentives to continue manipulating food and exercise, like receiving compliments from friends and family, feeling lightheaded and invincible, and believing that being thin is more attractive. For me, it was a no brainer to pursue a full blown eating disorder because it not only helped me cope, but hey… I was also going to be admired, popular and pretty. What a bargain!

I really did believe that I was so huge and ugly that the only way someone would be attracted to me was if I became much, much thinner. Let me tell you… I was wrong.

After a certain point, people stopped admiring my “self-control” and “fitness” and began expressing disgust or concern for my health. The more emaciated I became, the less people wanted to be around me. It was as though they were afraid they would catch the anorexia like it was contagious.

Slowly, I lost what made me a woman- my butt, breasts, and curves. Instead, I looked like a malnourished teenage boy- gangly limbs, pointy elbows, sunken eyes, and prominent, countable ribs. Complete with the surly disposition due to my malnutrition and the resulting depression. I lost my body, but more importantly the quest to be the thinnest made me lose my joy. My smiles were stretched thin. Fake. And frankly, I see now why no boy would ever approach me because of that.

And now, being through the physical restoration component of recovery, I can see in retrospect how wrong I was about what exists in the minds of guys. I’m not saying I’m an expert, because clearly, I’m a girl. But I have been lucky enough to enter into a relationship with a very sweet, kind guy the past few months and have had to reconsider my previous beliefs about gender and beauty.

The first time he remarked on my figure, it took me a moment or two to recover. What? Everything my eating disorder had told me about being attractive was turned upside down. It shocked me, after talking with him, to realize that 20, 30 lbs. ago, he wouldn’t have even considered dating me… “I want to have something to hug.”

And apparently, this guy is not an exception. A recent study done at St. Andrew’s University in Scottland questioned whether the “size zero” body or a more curvaceous figure was more attractive to the 18-26 male age group. The girls were assessed for health by taking blood pressures and weights and then photographed. Then each guy was presented with the photos and asked to rate them in terms of health and attractiveness. Reports indicate that the overwhelming majority of the young men preferred the women at healthy weights over under or overweight women. What a strong message to girls who believe that you you have to be nothing but bones in order to be beautiful.

Don’t believe the lie.

Being healthy is more important that being thin. No matter what the eating disorder may say. End of story.

 The truth is, guys like happy, healthy girls.

A Love that Pulls You Through

5 Nov

Have you ever had to lose someone you loved? You love them, yet you know it’s best to let them go. With tears streaming down my face, I am writing this post because I am going to lose someone I love soon– my precious, adorable, sweet old dog, Freckles.

She is old… 14 years. I knew this was coming, but it doesn’t make it any easier. 

This morning she seemed fine. I mean she’s been sleeping a lot lately, but that’s to be expected of an old dog. Nothing out of the ordinary… it became our routine. Her laying at my feet as I typed away on my computer, the click of the keyboard a lullaby to her doggy dreams of endless kibble and long, drawn-out walks.

And again, she lays at my feet, but this time, not sleeping peacefully but in a painful slump. As though just breathing and being here is an effort. She’s had an arduous day- no appetite, listless, and unwilling to walk much further than around our apartment building. Her eyes are unfocused, dull and half-closed as her legs twitch convulsively. I think this is the first day she’s ever NOT eaten, especially chicken, and I hadn’t noticed how many ribs I could feel until this afternoon. It seemed to sneak up on me… how could she go downhill this fast?

I wonder what I will do… how many days I cried into her fur, my sobs saturating her coat. She listened better than any human and gave the appropriate paw for “more petting please” as I grappled with the difficulties of life, my hands grasping the only thing in the apartment that reminded me life was soft, warm, and pretty darn cute.

So many days she kept me safe. Freckles has saved me so many starve-days or purge episodes. Simply because she loves, like all dogs, unconditionally. It didn’t matter if I royally messed up that day, how my pants fit, what number was on the scale, or whether or not I ate the “right” foods. To her, it was only me.

And now, I am no longer numb from the eating disorder, so I feel the pain of losing her. How hard it is to watch suffering. And how many times I have asked myself the past few hours, why does it have to be this way? Why must she ache and bruise, stumble and forget, starve and waste away? Yes, it’s part of life, but who designed that?

Yes, as a life is reblooming, so many opportunities restored to my horizon, another is closing. What will I do without her? I can’t fathom it yet. I have no idea how I will ever say goodbye. But I do know one thing… her love has been a tipping factor in my recovery.

Though she may leave me soon, I will keep her in my heart always.

Because it was her love that pulled me through.

The Women I Waited For

29 Oct

Alone in a city of millions… what a paradox.

Yet, just over a year ago, it’s exactly how I lived. Fresh out of inpatient treatment, I went to live with my aunt in New York City. Physically, I looked better, and everyone exclaimed behind hopeful smiles at how restored I seemed. But I knew the truth. The ED spat,

“Look how you’ve let them stuff you. How dare you actually ENJOY eating when they fed you at Oliver Pyatt? I am not done with you yet… You’re mine again.”

After two days in the metropolis, my insurance terminated my intensive outpatient care and I was left with little treatment support. And my ED went wild in jubilation. It was perfect… no one to monitor, no one to force feed, just me and him… all day long.

In the sea of people, I was stranded on a desert island. The ED made me feel ashamed of my newer, higher weight, so I drew inward, clamming up, losing all evidence that I ever had a social life. It was as though I could not emerge back into the world until the ED had deemed me thin enough again. Unfortunately( or perhaps fortunately), I never reached what my ED considered “acceptable.”

No one understood what I was going through. No one could possibly comprehend the pain, the loneliness, the anxiety, and the bleakness that pervaded the summer. No one else was being eaten up from the inside out, being sucked inwardly into a vacuum, where hope did not exist.

Oh, but they did. They do.

This past weekend was a milestone in my recovery as I ventured once again to New York City. But this time I wasn’t alone. And this time, it was on my terms.

Of course, my ED protested, “You shouldn’t… you’ll have to deal with all those messy memories and not knowing every nutritional fact of every bite you eat there. Think of the apple juice on the plane, how much do those flight attendants really pour? Half a can, 3/4? Oh, and those pretzels and peanuts. You’ll have to decline those. Don’t make me remind you of the restaurants all over New York. What land mines! Really, let’s just stay here in nice, safe, cozy Austin and continue to avoid those pesky things called feelings. Doesn’t that sound just peachy?”

Shut. The. Hell. Up.

While the ED pitched its, fit, I stood unwavering, like a parent riding out the terrible-two tantrums. It was not going to keep me alone. Not this time.

So I got on that airplane. And enjoyed the peanuts and the pretzels, plus NYC’s best pierogis, sushi, and muffins. I had coffee with a new friend, wishing the whole time… if only we had met a year ago. Maybe…..    I stayed up ’til 3 in the morning gossiping and reminiscing with my aunt until my eyelids collapsed, yet my heart wanted more. I saw more in four days than I did the entire summer I lived in NYC- art museums, fashion exhibits, improv shows- or at least savored it more. And I attended a bodyPeace by Piece workshop held by Susan Weiss Berry and Margaux Laskey, where I learned new creative tools to help cultivate a deeper acceptance of what my body looks like and how I feel towards this new weight I exist at.

But perhaps, most importantly, the women I interacted with this weekend made me realize that all along, I’ve never truly been on my own. While there are times where I have felt no one could possibly “get it,” they were there, I just didn’t know it then. Their companionship, their empathy, their compassion made me appreciate how “real” these women were. How rare it was to find them. yet here was a whole group of them assembled. Finally, those unafraid to admit, “Yes, we are struggling, too. We are vulnerable and yearning for understanding. We will not turn you away because we know what it’s like to hurt, but also what it’s like to lean on one another and find strength together.”

I could feel it in their smiles, in their warm, enveloping hugs, in their joyful dance, their quiet moments of reflection, their beauty. I knew I wasn’t alone any longer in the struggle. Yes, I silently whispered…

“Thank you. You are the ones I was waiting for…”

Even with an ED, You Belong

18 Aug

My treatment team has always emphasized the importance of community and fostering social relationships in my recovery because, for so long, I isolated completely. Not too long ago, the only person I saw was my Mom when she came home from work. The rest of the day I spent with my eating disorder. I was lonely and the loneliness felt dark, enveloping, a huge gaping hole swallowing me from the inside out. I feared I’d never be able to fill that void I felt so intensely- that I was unlovable because of my eating disorder, so I should stay away from everyone. It was easier to hide in the apartment than face a world where I would inevitably sometimes get hurt, be afraid, or, perhaps most frightening of all, have to eat in public.

But the eating disorder said it’d keep me company. It wrapped me in a blanket of despair that provided security from the uncertain world and held my cold, spindly hand in its iron, death grip. Though I felt I could trust no one, the ED was different- it was constant, stable and predictable. Even if the rest of my life felt shattered, the ED gave me one thing to hold onto: “At least, at least you are still THIN.” 

As I’ve grown in recovery, I’ve found, however, that the desire to live and feel connected outweighs the fear that once kept me alone.

Today, I visited some of the teachers at my old high school. They were, of course, shocked to see me and from the look on their faces, they didn’t seem to think they’d ever see me like this. Over and over again, in each classroom, I heard the same phrase uttered, “You look so good!” And while a few months ago, the ED would have sensored their words before they reached my ear, twisting them into, “You look so fat,” today, I felt proud. They wanted to know how I came so far and pulled through; they sensed the magnitude and strength it takes to overcome an eating disorder. It was a radically different visit than the one I had taken a few months ago when I was near my all-time lowest weight.

Seeing me months ago, after I took medical leave from my freshman year of college, I saw concern written across their faces at the dramatic amount of weight I lost so soon after leaving inpatient “weight restored.” Most of them seemed doubtful then that I would ever reach the height of success they once expected from me. They saw me as someone to be pitied- someone who had everything going for her, but lost that in the grips of a wretched medical illness.

The visit today was inspiring for both me, and I hope for them as well. After hearing how healthy, good, well, beautiful, strong, and pretty I looked, I left feeling like I was on top of the world. For once, I didn’t have to lie about what was happening at home and outside of the classroom door. It was a whole new dynamic because I am not a sufferer anymore. I danced through each concrete hallway with my head up, confidence blaring, a bounce in my step and eyes sparkling. I refuse to let my ED make me suffer so much anymore. I don’t deserve it- I’ve done enough suffering for a lifetime. Two years ago, I hid behind a mask of perfection, pretending I was confident and put together, pushing through the pain inside. But that’s no longer: chatting with my AP Government teacher, I told her, “Honestly, I have not felt this good in a very long, long time.” She responded simply, “I know… you’re smiling.”

Most of all, today I felt connected, like I belonged, and that I was always remembered, always loved.

Recovery means risking hurt, rejection, rumors, criticisms and all the mess that comes along with relationships. But it’s worth it. Take a poll. Go see old friends, old coworkers, old teachers. And if you have none of those, I’ll tell you. Let this message flood your pores, ricochet in your ears, and sink into every part of yourself:

You deserve. You are loved.

You belong here.

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