Saturday Morning Writing

I spent a long time talking about my eating disorder with my fiancé last night. It was real and raw and scary, but I felt so much better afterwards. I always do.

I admitted things I didn’t even realize I was hiding. Like the fact that I’ve been weighing myself every single day. Like the fact that I’ve been labeling food as “good” or “bad,” and the bad list continues to grow.

I haven’t been hiding these things from him; they have just been so unconscious to me, such embodiments of old behavior that I hadn’t even realized they embodied symptoms of sickness.

I’m committed to working recovery again. It’s been so sloppy over the past two years, and I forgive myself for that. I’ve been cocky and fake- I’ve been preaching recovery like it’s a miracle, and, at the same time, I’m measuring my progress via a number on the scale and the amount of mental calories I’ve consumed that day. My “behaviors” may be less frequent than they ever were, but we know the distorted mind speaks volumes, and, for me, the obsessive thoughts far outweigh the compulsive acts.

With that said, it’s time to go back to the basics. For me, that means writing- really writing about me. Not about my work, not about the external things in my life, but the real stuff. The stuff that scares me, the stuff that keeps me stuck and ashamed. It also means talking- for now, my safe person is my fiancé, and I have vowed to be open with him, as terrifying as it can be. It also means utilizing my actual coping skills: this means self-care in the form of hot showers, yoga, stretching just to feel good, nice walks, doing my nails and makeup, playing with the dog, reading a good book, scrapbooking, being in nature. It means introducing food back into my life- in a way that’s not diet-centered, macro-centered, calculated and rigid.

I’ve never been in a mental place where I can have ice cream in the freezer. Without obsessing, fantasizing, or bingeing on it. I’d like to get to that place.

Yesterday, I ate grilled cheese and left some on the plate and went home and enjoyed my night. Who knows what today will bring? I’m not going to pre-plan it. I’m not going to place expectations and rules on it. This is new terrain, but I’m committed. I believe in myself, I believe in the universe taking care of me, and goddamn, I believe in recovery.

Let’s stop sugarcoating how to deal with holidays

Ah, Thanksgiving Eve.

There are always a million of pro-recovery, pro-love, pro-gratitude posts swarming around this time of year. These tend to include steadfast tips for enjoying the holidays, as if a 10-itemed list can accurately identify and provide you with all the answers to keep your eating disorder at bay at a time where your biggest vice- food- is what the entire day is all about.

I’m not knocking those lists. I’m not even knocking that advice. I dole it out to my clients on the regular. But here’s what we’re missing.

Yes, there’s family, and family is so important. Yes, there’s gratitude, and that’s even more important. We know this. I don’t have to tell you it.

While I appreciate the efforts to focus on what the holidays are really about, I find it dangerous and concerning to push down the reality of the food component, as if gratitude and connection with our loved ones will alleviate us from the stressors that come with our eating disorders.

Here’s the thing. Food is always going to be here to stay. Food is social glue. Food is there multiple times a day, in every setting, and is necessary for, you know, living. And I can rattle on and on about how we can’t change situations, how we just need to accept that fact, how we can’t let it defeat us. And while all that is true, we also cannot deny that Thanksgiving and the holidays alike can be kryptonite.

My piece.

I love my family. I fucking love gratitude. And for about ten years, I hated holidays surrounding food. I still struggle with them.  My point is, they are not mutually exclusive. Any holiday around food, no matter how actively I practice recovery, brings up some anxieties, desires to engage in old behaviors whether it be overeating or undereating, and general discomfort. I spent many dinners judging the plates of others, keeping score of how “good” I was doing until I inevitably “fucked up” and swore myself I’d start over again tomorrow. I can remember my weight on most Thanksgiving mornings, and most of the Fridays after. I can remember which Thanksgivings became full-pie, midnight binges and which ones entailed daylong fasts until I “allowed” myself a few bites.

This year, I’m doing two Thanksgivings. This year, like every year, there will be a lot of food. Food that “feels” scary and unsafe. Food that I don’t eat everyday. Food that has the capacity to create anxieties and stressors that, even when I know are irrational, suck to have.

I consider myself in a high phase of recovery. I am relatively happy with my body, the way I eat, and how I take care of myself. It’s not perfect. Far from it, but part of the recovery is also accepting the imperfections. With that said, the fall-winter season is still difficult.

I’m not here to write lengthy advice today. You’ve probably seen all the cliched suggestions, anyway. There is no right advice for navigating tomorrow, except for the notion that it’s one day, and one day never has and never will define us and our recoveries.

My only advice for you all tomorrrow? Don’t guilt yourself if you can’t fully stay present with your friends, family, and gratitude. It’s not always that easy, and I’m applying that same forgiveness to myself. Just do your best, reflect afterwards, and know that you’re chugging along, doing what needs to be done. There are no real mistakes, only lessons along the way.

 

 

writing to write

Dear Bee,

Writing because I made a commitment, and just like working out, I always feel better after I just do it.

Days after rough days are harder than the actual rough days. I’ve said that before. It’s like the body has to recover, but even more, the screaming dialogue and running commentary in my mind also has to recover. During the “rough day,” I’m numb to the world, just totally in the disorder, knowing that I need to “enjoy it” because tomorrow, it’s “back to business.” This is terrible logic, but it is logic that everyone with an eating disorder probably understands. The binges, the restrictions, the behaviors, those aren’t the worst part. Not even close. Those are the highs.

It’s the coming down that hurts.

Today wasn’t that bad though. Yoga always helps. So does good music and love and afternoon naps and coffee. Life is getting busy again. I’m probably moving into my boyfriend’s apartment within the next few weeks (although I basically live there now). So many changes and emotions. I’m doing the best I can.

Kindness to myself is key.

That’s all for today.

cookies and calories and candor

Hello Bee and hello insomnia,

Hello late night cookies. Hello fatigue. Hello lovely readers of mine.

I downloaded one of those calorie counting apps two weeks ago. I know. I KNOW. This is terrible to do in eating disorder recovery. I know. I KNOW. And yet, there is a strange comfort in tracking, in quantifying, in numerical data, and in precise, black-and-white readings. When everything else feels unpredictable and chaotic, I have my macros and my calories.

God. That sounds disordered. That sounds so absolutely disordered.

I want to sit here and rationalize. It’s good for my health. It’s just to keep me on track. It’s just this, it’s just that…

That’s not me rationalizing. Please. We all know who’s the one that’s rationalizing. We all know what happens when I start counting…anything. But it happens when I stop counting, too. The slips happen. They tell me something; they give me meaning, but yes, they happen.

Maybe, I’ll delete it. I’m not sure. It’s made me more mindful of my food choices. It’s hard when you struggle with both, with the bingeing and the restricting. But I like when the seesaw is on the restrictive side. It’s pure. It’s dainty. It’s discipline. Bingeing is the beast, the monster.

I’m seeing so many clients now. I’m running groups. I’m helping so many people. Every issue and pain under the sun. I am blessed. I am doing my best to avoid burnout. I go with my clinical intuition. I help as much as I can. I use metaphors and stories and am unconventional. I care so much about these people. Most of my clients like it. Well, they must. Because they keep coming back. That’s surely a good sign. I doubt my own competence often, but I keep pressing. I know I’m good at what I do, and I know I’m willing to continue learning. 

I miss my own therapist. I miss a lot of things. I keep changing everyday. The boyfriend and I have been together nine months now. That’s insane. Remember when we first met? Where has time flown? We are still solid. He’s amazing.

Food is hardly at the forefront of my life anymore. It’s there, yes, but it’s not the only thing that’s there. The recovery is more of an integration into my life. No, I’m not actively doing much to maintain recovery. I’m not going to therapy nor am I attending support group meetings nor am I even writing on here very often. But, I am taking care of myself in other ways. I’m meditating. I’m practicing mindfulness. I’m letting go of “food rules,” even though tonight, I ate about 750 calories worth of cookies. I’m not beating myself up for that. I’m exercising, a lot of yoga, because that feels good for my body. Hiking, getting out in the world, that feels good, too. I’m reading. I’m spending time with people I love. I have a brighter energy that transcends my soul.

I am different. I am changing. I like that about myself.

I have moved away from this diagnostic nightmare, from this stigmatized label, and morphed into a more whole and complete person. I am shining, through the struggles, through the strife, through the constant inconsistency, through the predictable unpredictability. That is how life just works. I have surrendered. 

Yes, I still binge here and there. Yes, I’m counting calories here and there. Yes, I’m definitely “in recovery.” No, I’m not perfect, and no, I don’t pretend to be. 

I’m a crazy, flawed human who makes mistakes, who falls on her face, who bruises and who stumbles…but I’m a warrior. I’m a fighter. I wouldn’t love myself any other way. 

It’s not about self-actualization. It’s not about the destination. It’s not even about reaching happiness.

It’s about all the steps and all the journeys it takes to get there.

 

floating, swimming, drowning.

Dear Bee,

I guess I haven’t made writing to you much of a priority lately. That’s not to say you haven’t been around, because you certainly have, but I suppose I not felt the itch to just write out all my worrisome thoughts and feelings.

I spend a lot of time talking philosophy and existential concerns with my boyfriend. That used to be the purpose of this blog. But, to be honest, I prefer talking to a live human that I love over a computer screen. Even if the computer screen is safer. My eating disorder ties into philosophy, existentialism, and every other facet of life. Because my eating disorder is a part of my life- and it represents something symbolic. A mental illness always signifies something. 

I remember bingeing last Wednesday with fierce vigor. A lot of food. There’s never enough food in an all-day binge fest. That night, I tried to induce vomiting multiple times in the shower. I couldn’t do it. Part of me felt blessed (I’m aware of that slippery slope), and part of me felt resentful that I couldn’t empty out my insides. Needless to say, I woke up on Thursday with a pounding headache and that full-body-hangover we all know quite well. My eating has been “normal” since.

Food-wise, this year has been more of a struggle than last, but only because I haven’t made RECOVERY the utmost priority. I would be lying if I said differently. A new job and a new relationship have somewhat shifted my scope of thinking and being. Do I still practice recovery on a daily basis? Yes. But I just use different tools now. I’m not going to therapy, support group meetings, or writing daily on this blog anymore. Instead, I’m trying to be honest with myself and my boyfriend, use meditation and deep breathing, and practice moderation and living life on life’s terms rather than controlling every morsel of food. Is it an ideal change? Well, probably not. This change heightens the risk of relapse and keeps me in that weird “gray” area between choosing recovery and choosing disordered behaviors.

But, I’m MUCH happier than I’ve been in…well, years. I give love, I receive love, I grow, I learn, I help others. Those who have followed my blog since the beginning have seen so many changes unfold, so many insights discovered. This is just another stepping stone in my journey of life.

Turn every opportunity into an experience. When I do that, there is no such thing as “wasted time.” Only time well spent. Only lessons well learned.

Freedom tastes sweet. I understand WHY I engage in every single behavior. The awareness, I have found, is more important than the actual engagement. It teaches me so much about myself: When I feel the need to binge, I want to escape, avoid feeling, procrastinate, center my good feelings into the “bad” ones that I think I deserve. When I feel the need to restrict, I want to feel pure and light; I want to punish myself, I want to feel “in control.” When I feel the need to compulsively exercise, I want to feel strong and competent; I want to “burn off” pain and worry and fear. 

The choice to sit with feelings is hard for me. That’s an understatement. It’s been the single greatest challenge of recovery. But, feelings are like waves. They pass. They crash over us, they knock us down, maybe…but they pass. They always pass. We can choose to sink or swim. Or we can choose to lie on our backs and float. Today, I’m choosing to float.

 

Aside

I hate this part right here.

Dear Bee,

This is the part I hate. The owning-up-to-the-fucking-up. Even though I have some sense of anonymity on this blog, I still want to be that shining star who succeeds in recovery, who doesn’t mess up, who can be a source of inspiration for everyone. Yes, I’m still perfectionistic, and yes, I still have a need to impress. It’s a long, dirty habit I’m really trying to break. 

Anyway.

I feel hypocritical because I’m not practicing the self-care and self-love I encourage my clients to embody. I’m not taking good care of myself in the way I’m taking care of them. It’s so amazing how nonjudgmental I can be towards any of their self-perceived baggage, but when I slip in recovery, it’s a complete all-or-nothing failure.

I know I’m stressed. School is going to be overwhelming. I had five clients before my three-hour class. I am lost with two of my clients. One has Borderline Personality Disorder and the other I suspect has Borderline traits. Both are elderly, and neither are willing to change or grow much. It’s hard to be in the room with them. I like my teenage clients best, and I saw them all today. I don’t miss high school, that’s for damn sure. 

My eating is alternating; my exercise is alternating. Some days, I know I’m overdoing it, and others I’m not doing enough. Moderation, it seems, bores me. The erratic is more glamorous. The chaos keeps it exciting. I guess. I’m used to being anxious, used to being frustrated and insecure and unsure and essentially frightened.

My body isn’t a fucking trash can. It’s a temple. I need to take care of it, love it, honor it as i would for any holy place. I wouldn’t treat an enemy the way I sometimes treat my own body. That’s the cold truth, and it’s a tough one to swallow.

Going to bed.

The struggle is real, but tomorrow will be better. 

 

the day got harder.

Dude. 

Semi-massive binge just now. I’ll rate it a 7. I’m not pleased.

All the typical trigger foods were present.

It came over me. With force. Of course, it started slowly enough to believe I had control, and then, I got the case of what my boyfriend likes to call, the fuck-its (he works with substance abuse populations, and this is a common slang for slips), where i just didn’t give a fuck anymore. I just wanted the food. Don’t-bother-me-just-let-me-eat-as-much-as-I-damn-well-want. 

The damage is done. There was a scoop of peanut butter, two scoops of Nutella, one granola bar, four frozen waffles with butter, four and a half pop tarts, and some chocolate. It’s almost laughable. Almost. My stomach is going to be screaming tomorrow. I want to question, why do I do this to myself, but obviously I know.

 Blah. Blah. Part of the process. It’s getting better, but shit. This takes a toll. Being home and surrounded by all this tempting food has been hard. 

So much for a “perfect” 2014. But perfect doesn’t exist, and by putting that pressure on myself, I was essentially setting up for failure. I’m doing a good job, and one slip doesn’t define me. 

Today, three different people happened to comment how pretty I looked. And yesterday my friend–a very old friend whom I used to envy for her absolute stunning appearance–lamented, you’re so tiny! I have the same impulses to destroy my body, it seems, as I do to uphold its so-called beauty. This is the beauty in dialectics. I want to be skinny, and yet, true skinniness would probably bore me. Because then I would have nothing to “fix” or “improve.” I would have no project to be continuously working on. For so long, I had dieting and exercise. I could just focus on that above anything else. I need to continue focusing my energy elsewhere: on my relationships and my work. That’s what matters now. Those are my passions. Those have been my sources of healing: this eating disorder stunts me from being who I want to be and doing what I want to do. My appearance will never carry me that far. I need to let go of this idea that beauty is the remedy for the pain and negativity in life. I need to let of this idea that my eating disorder is a quick fix to a long and complex journey. 

 

PS: Been getting a lot of notifications regarding new followers and readers! Thank you so much for all the support. I appreciate all of your love and feedback. It’s so amazing to watch this blog expand and grow. XO! 

 

the rainbow of emotions

Dear Bee,

I’m so sick of the holiday food. There. I said it. I’m so tired of junk food being EVERYWHERE. At my work, in my house, at the parties. It’s way too triggering right now. I don’t want to blame neutral ingredients, but it would be much easier to focus on my emotions without continuously feeling overwhelmed by the distractions of tempting chocolates, cookies, brownies, etc. I alternate between wanting to avoid everything altogether and fantasizing about extreme gluttony. 

To recap the past few days,

My loved relative is still dying. I’ve cried many times. I’ve pondered the meaning of life many more times. 

My ex-boyfriend is now engaged. This bothers me for many reasons. One, being that I felt so much emotional agony after I broke up with him, terrified that he would kill himself because he supposedly could not live without me. Two, he had proposed to me. Twice. And said I was the only person he could ever love. Three, I just don’t like to see him happy. Selfish, sure, but it’s the truth. Four, according to my highly judgmental opinion, he is immature and thus way too young/financially insecure/LAZY and ambitious to actually get married. 

My dad had a birthday. Things have been good with the family. The grieving process does that to people. 

My boyfriend has been off-the-charts incredible. SERIOUSLY. What kind of boyfriend is willing to help me process how and why I feel upset that my ex-boyfriend is getting married…while also completely validating my frustration. Love of my life, I swear. He’s my favorite person in the world. 

My clients are going through deep shit. What IS it about the holidays? There’s been self-harm, suicidal ideation, possible eating disorder behaviors, major depressive episodes, binge drinking, family fights… all I can say is that I’m happy I’m here for them. I’m learning so much every session. 

I did my first mandated child abuse & elder abuse report. These are really scary…

I’m going to Florida for a week with boyfriend. We leave Christmas Day. I’m BEYOND excited. 

I’ve been alternating between overeating and restricting. Too. Much. Sugar. Why does it have to taste so damn good?!?!?!

I’ve binged one and a half times. I stopped myself mid-binge this evening. I actually put food back. I know I’m supposed to be proud of myself, but I’m irritated that I was numbing my feelings in the first place. The first binge was atrocious. Really. It was just disgusting. I feel like such a savage animal attacking food like that.

Oh, and I’ve felt fat. And yes, I know fat isn’t a feeling. 

And most of all, I feel guilty because someone I love, someone who is close to me, is literally on her last final days…and I’m obsessing about the amount of candy bars I can cram into my mouth without anybody noticing that they are gone. I’m worried about someone getting married, someone who I can’t stand. 

I’m just grateful I can cry and express. I’m grateful for my support reaching out to me. I’m grateful that my life is colorful and vibrant. 

You, Bee, are a security blanket. I turn to you when my world becomes cold and frightening. Instead, I need to trust that my own body can handle the changes in temperature. Because no matter how much you may “protect” me, you also shield me. And this little bird wants to fly free. 

 

binge.

Dear Bee, 

Today,

I woke up in my boyfriend’s arms.

I went to a recognition ceremony for a wonderful nonprofit group that I run.

I did yoga.

I studied for my finals.

I laughed with family.

I binged.

Yeah. Sometimes, it just happens like that. Seems like it comes out of nowhere, right? Those triggers suck.

 

It wasn’t even good binge food, and you know what I mean…leftover chocolate, cereal, some rice cakes. At least it could have been something I really like.

I’m not very happy about it. In fact, I’m trying not to hate myself. But it’s hard. I just told my boyfriend, too. Yeah, talk about shameful. Right? But secrets keep us sick. And I promised I’d be honest with him as hard as it is, so at least that’s a step in the right direction.

I want to throw up. I can’t. I want to starve for the next three days. I can’t do that either. I want to stop fighting my body. I can do that right now. I want to be done with the eating disorder. I can do my best.

I know that there are times when I just can’t tempt myself, and tonight, I let the sick, twisted voice take over. The you can just have one…one won’t hurt you…just have a bite. My recovery knows better; my eating disorder does not.

I hate hurting myself.

I hate being obsessed with my body.

I hate when food dominates my mind. 

My boyfriend wants to talk about it. I don’t want to. I’m too wrapped up in the shame. But I will. Because that’s the part of recovery that matters. The coming clean and the being honest and the letting go. That’s how the disorder loses power. That’s how I win. He’ll be there to catch me, to listen, to love, because that’s how he is…it’s me that just wants to stay isolated right now. Why? Because I feel too unstable, too crazy, too unlovable. I don’t know. There’s still a tiny part of me that thinks, Oh God, I’m broken. And I’m never going to get better. And nobody is going to want to be with that. 

I know this is all distorted.

I recognize that my feelings are valid but my thoughts are irrational. 

But, fuck. Recovery is no joke. 

This isn’t square one, baby.

Dear Bee,

When I reflect on what happened Monday, I realize that it was pretty much bound to happen. My triggering thoughts led to the inevitable action. This does not mean I was necessarily doomed, but it indicates I was not actively working as hard to change my thoughts and acknowledge my feelings as I could have.

It was a weird binge. You know how some kind of make sense and they’re so satisfying because you’re eating all the foods you’ve been depriving yourself of in one harried sitting? Nope, that wasn’t the case this time. Over the long span of the day, I ate basically a bag of fun-sized candy Snickers. Leftovers from Halloween. Overcompensation for all the candy I avoided over the past few weeks.  And some flavored mini rice cakes. Again, nothing great. And some Pop-tarts. Those always show up in binges. I can’t remember the last time I ate Pop-tarts just as part of a regular meal or snack. They taste like cardboard with a coat of cheap icing. With a binge, there is never enough. With a binge, taste doesn’t matter and neither do calories, texture, or stomach pain. With a binge, you are filling emptiness with food…and because one cannot satisfy a feeling with such nutrients, even being stuffed to the brink of explosion does not satisfy.

It was right after my therapy session, too. And we barely even touched on eating disorder related content. We focused more on other things happening in life, on my internship, family, friends. That kind of stuff. I left feeling pretty good. Then, BAM.

I would love to think these slips are completely random, but my ego knows better. There is always a reason, always some kind of underlying motivator that provokes me to engage in destructive behaviors. Otherwise, I would constantly do it. Or I would be able to stop completely. There is a reason I take a few steps back after seemingly taking so many steps forward.  

Of course, I woke up yesterday on a mission to restrict. I had gained two pounds of water weight, after all. I didn’t actively do it, although I wasn’t hungry at all much during the day. Forcing myself to eat was tough, especially when I wanted to get away with consuming as little as possible to “make up” for what I had “messed up.” This SCREAMS eating disorder logic. I’m well aware. That’s why I ate. Restricting just propagates the yearning desire to overeat. This is common sense. 

Today is my half birthday. I don’t think anyone else in the world celebrates these little six-month marks, but my family and I always have. And I love it. Just another significant milestone to remind me of how much I have done in this life and how much I have yet to achieve. Just another reminder of how much I’ve grown and developed into the person I always aspired to be.

I am damn proud of who I am, and there is nothing and nobody who can convince me otherwise. I have my back. It doesn’t matter how long I neglected myself. What matters is that now I know I DESERVE to take care of myself. I DESERVE to love myself. These affirmations are not easy, and it isn’t something I just automatically resonate with. I have to be reminded on a daily basis. I am used to being at war; I am used to being my own enemy; I am used to feeling like I am stuck on a battlefield. And you know what? It is EXHAUSTIVE and, at the end of the day, it is absolutely FUTILE. No matter how much you hate yourself, you’re stuck with yourself. So, sooner or later, you either need to accept or change, because the self-loathing just becomes  and it filters into every crack and crevice of your life, from your relationships to your hobbies to your personality. Self-loathing is an ugly outfit. 

So, I binged on Monday. It wasn’t fun. But, in great news, it was probably only the second or third time in about a month and a half. Am I back at the dreaded Square One? Not a chance. Square One means returning to denial. Square One means choosing to not only engage in destructive actions, but also choosing to BELIEVE distorted thoughts, rather than challenge them. Square One means losing hope and giving up on recovery. Square One means staying in sickness.

I am at Square 38493797. And yes, that is a random number. And no, I don’t care. I can be wherever I want to be. Because I know what direction I am headed. And it’s the furthest path from backwards