She Will Be Loved

I went to my little sister’s graduation last night. It’s crazy to see all of the kids she grew up with as young adults, and how they all have become so different from one another. Some are still friends, many are not.

One of her girl friends was recognized for scholastic acheivement from having a 4.0 her entire 4 years at high school. This 4.0 was in addition to being active in extracurricular activities, taking AP classes, and competing in horse shows. She smiled proudly on the stage as the school principal praised her hard work, determination, and never-give-up attitude.

He forgot to mention that she has an eating disorder, is sleeping around, and is getting wasted on a regular basis to numb the pain that she feels from within. As she so easily hid her darkest secrets behind her big, beautiful smile and can-do attitude, I wonder what she was really thinking. Her hair curled, dress ironed, and make-up just so, one would never guess she had a problem. I went up to her and gave her a big hug of congratulations as I myself had doubts that she had a problem. That is, until I saw the bursted blood vessel in her eye. How can one go from pig tails and infectious laughter to bursted blood vessels and masks?

Yes, she won a spectacular academic acheivement that will most certainly help her get into the college of her dreams. But at what cost? What are we teaching our children when we pride those that reach perfection, yet push aside the ones that don’t quite make it?

I don’t know what the solution is, but the knot in my stomach as I watched her proudly, yet carefully, walk on the stage, leads me to believe that there has got to be a better option.

Beauty queen of only eighteen
She had some trouble with herself
He was always there to help her
She always belonged to someone else
I don’t mind spending everyday
Out on your corner in the pouring rain
Look for the girl with the broken smile
Ask her if she wants to stay awhile
And she will be loved
She will be loved

(-Maroon 5)


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Welcome to the Senior Sanctuary Street!

The above title was how my new next door neighbor welcomed me. She, slightly older than myself (okay, that’s an understatement!), is one of four new neighbors I met yesterday while I was moving in. And yes, I’m pretty sure they’re all at least over 80…
And I love it! I love how they wear their pants way higher than they were ever designed to go, that they have stories galore that don’t pertain to who is cheating on whom on what reality TV show, and that they’ve given up on pleasing society, but are instead living without regret or self-judgement. I’m sure it’s not always the case, but how could you NOT have self-confidence as “Socks and Sandals Guy”?! I’m just sayin’… 🙂

I’m exhausted. Moving can be a real bitch. Yeah, it sucks to wake up the following morning after 10 hours of moving and realize you have no idea where your clean clothes are, but the emotions are what get me. I’m a creature of habit. My house is my sanctuary, my “me” spot, and my place to release from the every day crud. I’ve been gearing myself up for this move for months now and it was good to be able to prepare, to notice my “lasts” in my favorite house, and to be okay with moving on. Granted I will miss the little house and it’s neighborhood, but I’ll miss the “safe house” feeling. How do you make that again in a new place? Yes, I’ll have all of the same stuff, but it’s more than that. How do I make it my sanctuary? My heart fluttered and my brain would go on overload each time thinking about it. The night before I just wanted to scream, “I changed my mind!!! I don’t want to do this! I quit!!”

And, I made it! After transporting all the stuff that I don’t need but seem to have, dusting off cat hair on the furniture that I haven’t seen the backs of in years, and covering my only injury with a Dora band aide, I made it. There were no panic attacks, boycotts on food, or calls to my therapist. I did it all by myself, and I made it! It seems so simple to most people, but was something that I’ve been dreading for years. There was no magic wand and I most certainly will have to continue to work on it and make this new place feel like the sanctuary that I desire, but I’ve got the hardest part behind me.

Or do I? I still need to find my clothes!!

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The last 10%

“So… What’s on your mind?”

It’s a question that I both love and hate. Love that my therapist, using her most caring tone, seems to actually care what’s going on. I hate that I have many thoughts I want to talk about, but even more judgements about them.
Should I talk about how it drives me nuts that my nanny employer requires I write down every single stinkin’ food item, the amount, and what time her child ate that day? (No, I’m overreacting. I need to just let it go). That I’m scared out of my mind to move to a house that’s quiet, thus bringing on the feelings of being alone? (Gosh, she’s going to think I’m a loon. Who doesn’t want to live on a quiet street removed from everything?) What about feeling overwhelmed with the possibility of taking a Nutrition class next quarter to fulfill my pre-nursing requirements? (Oh gosh. Nutrition class. Getting overwhelmed just thinking about talking about it! I’m surely not ready…)

So we sit quietly. She smiles, and I smile back.

I start BSing, and slowly get into the therapeutic groove of bearing my soul to this woman that means the world to me, but I know nothing about. I ease my way into the first topic, and we rabbit trail in and around the second and third. I know there’s something in there that I need to talk about more, but I never seem to get the strength to bring it up.

That is, until the last ten minutes. Occasionally even the last five, or even two minutes, depending on how much my stomach is flip-flopping and the MPH of my leg jostles.

But we get there. And it’s awesome. And I feel vulnerable, and raw, and wet from tears, snot and the occasional slobber. I share, she listens, and we both know that our time is up.

I go home much more emotional than how I went in, but also feeling lighter and more free. There was little time for reflection from my bare-all, but sometimes simply getting it outside of oneself is enough.

Share your heart. As my pastor says, there’s always that last 10% that we don’t like to talk about. Sure, we have friends that we convince ourselves know everything, but who are we kidding? There’s always that little bit that we hold on to, and wait until the last few minutes of our time, whether in therapy or life in general. Sometimes we share it, but many times we chicken out. I can’t even begin to think what it would be like if we all shared that last 10% that we’re so embarrassed and ashamed of, together, feeling lighter and more free.

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I’m walking a new walk, never be the same again (Darlene Zschech)

Today was a big day. A day of celebration, euphoria, and reflection on how far I’ve come. Today was my four year anniversary from being discharged from my last treatment center…

More simply put,

Today marks FOUR YEARS since I have been inpatient!

I seriously never thought this day would come. It seemed so likely that I would continue the vicious cycle of struggling, hitting rock bottom, finding hope and gaining life in treatment, relapsing, and beginning it all over again. After doing it several times, it didn’t even seem to be a possibility that “this time it was different”.

And don’t get me wrong, things have NOT been easy. Less than a year after I was discharged from the last facility, I was assaulted. With each second that passed by, I could see all of my hard work being washed away. I was livid, overwhelmed, and exhausted by the fact that this may send me back into turmoil. Why did something so awful have to happen after I finally felt like I was on the road to recovery? I feared this would be the end of me.  But I made it.

 What is recovery? How did I get to where I’m at? What do I need to do to ensure I continue on the same path? It’s a constant day by day, sometimes hour by hour struggle. There were times were I thought it was virtuously impossible, and that I would forever be classified as the chronic patient that my doctor once told me she feared I would be. I’ve slipped up, made mistakes, knowingly chosen to participate in my eating disoder when I knew I shouldn’t, and doubted my abilities in every which way.

But I made it! And I’m making it! I can enjoy myself out at a restaurant with friends, hike up a mountain, shop for new jeans without having to leave the store in a panic attack, wear a bathing suit and swim in the lake, and most importantly, wake up without feeling hopeless, helpless, and completely under attack from the eating disorder. Sure I have my moments. There’s days where I walk past a mirror and cringe because of what I see. It’s hard not to feel like I have to lose weight because every single stinkin’ magazine and billboard tells me that I should.

But I choose not to listen, and instead, live. Recovery is eating Gushers because I like them. Choosing to eat a cookie not because I’m hungry, but because it sounds good. Going for a walk outside with my dog instead of spending countless hours in the workout room trying to reach an impossible goal. Letting go of having to have my closet organized by color. Not feeling like I have to shower every day if I don’t want to. Blaring the music as loud as possible and singing along at the top of my lungs. SLEEPING. Being flexible. Living outside of myself. Dancing! Asking for help. Saying no when I don’t want to do something or am doing too much.
Having faith, but also being okay with doubting.
Giving up on perfection.

It’s being okay when things don’t go as planned. Learning that God always has a Plan B. Looking outside of myself and my abilities. Trusting that even though life sometimes looks unfeasible, quitting is really the only thing that is impossible.

Recovery is the only option.

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Houston, we have a problem…

I had three friends text or message me tonight struggling with the overwhelming hopelessness of the ED. They were exhausted, frustrated, and confused as to why things weren’t getting better despite all they put into it.
And I had no idea what to tell them.
What do you say to someone that’s sitting in a pit of pain and sorrow and working their butt off, yet not able to crawl out of the muck of the eating disorder that continues to bog them down? “Hang on?” “Things will get better?”
It’s hard to know when to sit in the muck with them, and when to let go and hope that they find their own path. I commend them for reaching out and seeking support from the grueling weight of the eating disorder, yet I know it’s important to also keep my own recovery. The fine line of being a friend yet continuing on in my own recovery is confusing and often sketchy.
I met these girls through my own treatment. To know that they’re still struggling in the total depths of the ED when I finally feel like I’m on the other side is frustrating and confusing.
Why am I better and not them? How do I support yet move on?

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It’s a go!

I’ve been thinking of doing this for a long time… There’s times throughout the day that I have moments where I feel like only someone else in recovery could understand. It may be a trip to Starbucks and see that they’re now showing the calories of every ingredient, or the amazingly victorious feeling one gets when running into an old doctor that has only known me only as sick, and can now see me for who I am. I’m going to commit to being honest on here. To say it like it really is, and not sugar coat (… pun TOTALLY intended!) what everyone thinks recovery to be. I have my good days and bad days. But guess what? So does everyone else! Join me as I try to figure this whole recovery thing out, and how to enjoy life and myself as who I truly am.

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