Recovery is not mystical rainbows and dancing unicorns

Dear Bee,

I don’t actually think of you as the “voice inside my head” anymore. I guess I’ve evolved in the sense that I just inherently know what’s “eating disordered” vs “non-eating disordered” thinking. To externalize you, to make you this quasi-tangible force that could overcome my voice and reason, helped me undoubtedly. Finding you and knowing you and taming you- really, that has been the most profound part of my journey. You were just the little girl inside me. Who needed to be nourished. Who wanted to be loved. Who wanted permission to feel. 

I’m not recovered, and that’s okay. I’m in a really strong recovery, and to be honest, I like that better. It keeps me blessed but also humble. I know my achilles heel and I know that a stressful day and a turn of events can easily take me to that dark pit of despair. Instantly. I’m cautious, but I’m also living. To wait in fear for those dark days to come is a waste of my time. I can prepare. But I’m not going to stop living. I’m not going to stop moving. 

It’s arbitrary now to start every letter with the Dear Bee, but the truth is, I no longer feel like it is as genuine. I don’t feel like I need to get those words out in such a harried and frantic manner the way I once did. Bee is in me, but Bee is just a part. And that voice doesn’t dominate my every choice. 

It doesn’t feel genuine to write to a “voice” anymore. Because that voice is just a faint echo. So much quieter than the recovery one. 

I’m not as scared anymore. Fear is pervasive in eating disorders. Fear of losing control, fear of the world, fear of self. Imagine that. Fear of self. When we are frightened by ourselves, how can we feel safe with anyone else? It’s a curious paradox. In sickness, I did not feel safe with myself. I couldn’t trust myself. Couldn’t like myself. Not enough willpower, not enough self-love, not enough this or that…it was never good enough. The fear was so pervasive I didn’t even recognize that it was fear until I began climbing out of it. To me, it just felt like my ordinary state. 

Recovery isn’t a mystical rainbow of dancing unicorns and butterflies. Anyone who makes promises of that is lying or delusional. Recovery is work. Recovery really should be a verb, in the sense that it is a constant action, movement, and journey rather than a stagnant noun. There isn’t a pot of gold at the end. 

But there’s a chance at life. And I mean, LIFE. Not just existence. Not just the day-in-and-day-out mundane routine consisting of a cluster of days, weeks, months of miserable dread. 

Whatever I thought I was living then? It was like driving with a dusty windshield. Some clarity, can sorta see where you’re going, able to move and have direction. But how I am living now? It’s like driving with a clean windshield. I didn’t even realize how much BETTER it is to see the world in these lenses until I removed that dust.  

Intuitition vs. Compulsion


The force of needing to do something rather than wanting to do something.

I struggle with compulsion. I

It’s not just an eating disorder- although that would be an easy diagnosis to wrap up in a pretty little box.

It’s a mentality- a constant belief that I can fill certain voids with inappropriate measures-it’s beyond desire, it morphs into necessity.
It’s a choke-hold restraint of control over the things I will never, ever be able to control.

I don’t want to live this way
I don’t want to have to live needing anything tangible
I want to live for experience and spontaneity. I want my intuition to guide me- I trust that, but I ignore its pleading voice. Intuition, for me, is synonymous with higher power. It is the good energy of the universe, the karma of the spiritual world, leading me in the right direction. And so often, I ignore that very clear insight. So often, I run in the opposite direction. It scares me to let go. To trust that things will, as they tend to do, fall into place. They will. I know they will.
And yet, I flirt with control.
My compulsion emerges in subtle ways-
From the coffee I think I “need” to drink to the work I think I “need” to do to the exercise I think I “need” to achieve to the “lists” I think I need to cross off to the gum I think I “need” to chew to the food I think I “need” to eat to the people I think I “need” to please to the therapy I think I “need” to perform to the expectations I think I “need” to meet.
My compulsion drives me to calculate, to predict, to meticulously plan. Basically, it drives me to a life that rides me.
What I am realizing is this: compulsion cannot healthily coexist with intuition. They contradict each other. Intuition makes me an active participant in life; compulsion makes me a passive rider. Compulsion throws me around and makes me a victim. Compulsion strips me of free will by convincing me I need to do what I can to take control…of something that doesn’t really need to be controlled, of something larger than me, of something that is a distorted need or want in my life.
I take solace that I am not alone.
I am among many others struggling the same fights
A fight against oneself, we discover, is more complex than fighting against anyone else.
 When there is only a party of one, who wins and who loses?
Death keeps happening in my life. Another relative. Another funeral. It hurts. God, it hurts. Why me? Why now? So many questions.  I cannot control these acts of nature as much as I want to believe I can. I can only feel. And I hate to feel. Because who wants to be in pain? But I’m letting myself do that. Compulsions cannot “cure” me, or protect me from experiencing the inevitable spectrum of emotions that come with BEING ALIVE AND HUMAN. I am used to believing that I need to punish myself for the “bad things” that happen to me. As if they are somehow my fault. As if I need to add a layer of suffering on top of suffering. As if my pain weren’t real.
We were talking about vices the other day. I still hang onto some of mine, but I guess I didn’t like to examine those. I consider them “less evil” than the ones I used to hold onto. I mean, they aren’t drugs. I’m not killing people for recreation. I’m not cutting or self-meditating myself with alcohol. I’m not engaging in the same destructive eating behaviors I used to.
But, still. Why? What’s keeping me attached to these compulsive needs. What drives me to the coffee cup, to the constant checking of online media, to the list-making and obsessive planning, and so on?
I read this affirmation this morning: Today I dare look within to see what is keeping me stuck. I know I cannot change unless I know what there is to change. I feel energized and empowered to move forward.
Fear keeps me stuck. Shame keeps me stuck. Anxiety keeps me stuck. But stuck is not feeling; stuck is a place. And I can get out of there. I know how. I know what I want to change. Intuition- not compulsion- is the answer. I am a beautiful and capable person- innately, I can trust that my heart and soul will lead me in the right directions. There are no rules. I can let go of rigidity. If it’s not making me happy – if it’s not filling the right the void– if it’s not something I genuinely WANT–I can let it go. I can let it go any damn time I want.

It’s not the unknown we fear

Dear Bee, 

I’ve been anxious about my future. Feelings of being overwhelmed, feelings that I won’t “make it” in this tough, grown-up adult world consisting of budgets, time management, and full-time work. It’s hard to get ahead. I’ll have my M.S in Counseling by the end of summer, but my particular career requires licensure, which, in turn, means thousands of hours of supervised clinical work. I have the opportunity to find a paying internship after graduation, and I’m going to do whatever I can to land one. Competition, however, is fierce. 

I know, given my stage and level of experience and training, I’m good at what I do. And I love doing it. I’m not a money-chaser, not by any means, but I understand I need enough of it to live comfortably. Moreover, I want to stay in California, which, unfortunately, means a very high cost of living. I suppose it’s just hard not working right now. I’m making zero income. This is the first time I haven’t had a job (or been actively searching for a new job) in about six years. I’m working my ass off at my unpaid internship, grabbing any and every opportunity I can, because it’s the best way to learn and become an attractive applicant for the future. In fact, tonight, I’m going to start leading a brand new support group for young adults facing life transitions. I love that I’m following my dream! I just pray a money trail follows. I certainly didn’t get into this field to become rich, as that would be oxymoronic for a mental health professional, but I do want to travel and have a family. Those are very important to me, and they both take steady income. The good news is that my boyfriend and I will be done with school at the same time, and we will essentially enter the same workforce together. It’s so relieving to have that support. Love is a lot harder to find than any job, so I keep that in perspective.

Food has been going well. I haven’t had much of an appetite over the past few days, but I’ve been eating normally, as in not restricting and not bingeing. Because that’s part of my recovery medicine. I’ve also been insanely craving sugar, but I haven’t really been giving into it, because I’ve been feeling sluggish. Instead, I’m trying to recognize that my cravings are more emotional, rather than physical, and that it probably signals I’m tired, stressed, or need to attend to some other feeling occurring within me. 

One of my favorite professors once told us that it’s a misconception to “fear the unknown,” because it’s not the unknown we actually fear. It’s all the horrible events and manifestations we perceive will happen. It’s all those worst-case scenarios. We fear the worst, rather than the unknown. Because what’s to fear about something we know nothing about. We fear bad things happening to us, things in which we have no control over. That’s where I’m at right now. It’s not the unknown I’m fearing. It’s the fear that I won’t get a job, that all this school and training won’t pay off for me, that I won’t make it as a successful adult in this corporate world. These thoughts stem from insecurity, rather than evidence. I’m where I am for a reason. I graduated college for a reason, got accepted into graduate school for a reason, landed this internship for a reason…these things didn’t just “happen” passively to me. I don’t deserve anything this life. Nobody does. We have to earn what we want.

Anyways, food. Everyone is on a diet. What else is new? I wish I could say it gets boring to hear about, but I can’t lie here. I still devour everyone’s meal plans the way they devour the food. It still fascinates me to watch people eat, to analyze their food choices, to review their bodies relative to their nutrition and exercise. It’s like a thirst that still can’t quite be quenched. I would think after awhile, it would just become exhausting to hear all this diet and food talk, but it kind of fuels me. It’s like a safe way to stay disordered by living vicariously through other people’s obsessions or own disorders. It’s not all that healthy, because I’m still ruminating on food, exercise, dieting, etc. but I know it’s better than ruminating on my OWN food, exercise, dieting. I can’t be too hard on myself. Recovery still requires active work and brutal honesty with myself and others. It’s kind of like doing homework for my hardest class. Not effortless, not really something I can just put off or “hope” I’ll understand, but something I have to concentrate and focus my full attention on. That’s how recovery works. It’s not automatic nor is it natural. It requires actual work and deep soul-searching. 

And that’s okay. Because we most appreciate the gifts we work for and buy ourselves. If someone just handed us recovery, we wouldn’t nearly understand the complexity and gratitude that comes with such a valuable present. 

Let the fear work for you

Dear Bee,

I had a really good therapy session this morning. I didn’t think I would, because I had a session just last week, but it was extremely useful. We are still processing recovery and what that looks like, especially now that I’m working in the field, containing the emotions of my clients who face similar triggers in their own journeys. I admitted my fear that this whole recovery thing still seems so fragile–like it could just slip through my fingers at any given time. She said, yep, you’re always one step away from relapse. It’s good to be scared. We’re all one step away. 

That’s addiction logic. The idea that you are always just one “something” away from sickness. It doesn’t matter how many years of recovery you have behind you; you’re not immune to relapse. 

I’m not used to fear. Rather, I’m used to minimizing, avoiding, or stuffing it down. Fear itself scares me. It makes me feel incompetent, out of control, and anxious. I liked her reframe. Use the fear to work for you. 

This is the first time in my life I truly feel like I have so much at stake. I’m in the healthiest and happiest relationship of my life. I’m working at an amazing agency with a truly wonderful group of clientele. I’m finishing up graduate school. I’m healthy, I’m relatively happy, and I’m experiencing more tastes of freedom than ever before. I don’t want to lose any of it. Ever. I don’t want to push anyone I love away. I don’t want to isolate myself. I don’t want to be manipulative. I don’t want to lie.

I’ve worked hard to get to where I’m at. I refuse to let my eating disorder stand in the way of that.

I don’t want my eating disorder, because I don’t NEED it as a crutch anymore. Is life harder without it? Sometimes. Is life better without it? Absolutely. I’ve made tremendous, indescribable strides in the past year, taken risks I didn’t believe were in me, and have emerged into a more resilient, autonomous, and empowered soul. I am not the same person I was when my eating disorder was my best friend. I am not the same person I was even when my eating disorder was my sworn enemy. Recovery isn’t about the conflict or the resolution; recovery is about the willingness to fight when needed and, ultimately, surrender when needed. 

My therapist is doing guest lectures at local high schools about eating disorder awareness around the area. She’s going to be sharing her story and asked if I wanted to come with her and share my own. I might. I don’t know how that will impact our therapeutic relationship- it’s something I need to process with her- but I’m also flattered that she even considered bringing up to me in the first place. Do I feel ready to expose my vulnerabilities and obstacles in front of a room of strangers? Unsure. Will I do it? Probably. Why? Because, on the other side of fear lies freedom. 


late-night thoughts

Dear Bee,

Not really sure what to write. Just wanted to check in and say hello to you. It’s been a long day, and I want to thank you for not interrupting it. You didn’t trigger me today. You didn’t make me want to restrict or binge. You didn’t make me loathe the skin I’m in. 

That deserves gratitude. 

I think about how quickly you can enter my mind and alter my mood. It’s stunning and baffling, terrifying and unpredictable. I know my triggers, sure, but that’s not to say you don’t just appear out of nowhere. Because you do. Yes, you’re there during those high-stress times, those moments where I expect you to be lurking around, but you sometimes appear during the mellow, easy days, when everything seems to be falling into place. You like me in your clutches. That is how you feel powerful. It doesn’t necessarily what mood I’m in, person I’m with, or place I’m at. You have no problem intruding any of those.

I’m at such a good mental place right now. Like for real. I don’t even know what else to say except how truly grateful I feel to be at this point in my recovery. It is a wonderful place to be, a place that I didn’t think I would be able to find…through all the obstacles and hurdles, through all the lapses and triggers and rock-bottoms, there is a glimmer of hope. Hold out for it. Even in the darkest of days, it shines. 

I have learned more in one year than I have in all my years being alive. I have learned to establish boundaries with people, take care of myself, put my needs first, and change my thoughts. I have learned to let go of control and trust the process. I have learned that the world is a fabulous, exciting place to live in, and I want to be an active participant in this game we call life.

They say recovery may be the hardest process we ever endure. I can attest to that. There is nothing simple about the complexity of an eating disorder. There simply cannot be. To suddenly believe that depriving our bodies of the very nourishment we need to survive, to purge ourselves as a means of feeling empty and clean, to stuff ourselves so we no longer have to feel…there are deep, gnawing issues at the foundations of those symptoms.

Before we learn to hate something, we learn to fear it. We fear our bodies before we hate them. We fear food before we hate it. We fear ourselves before we hate ourselves. 

F.E.A.R: False Evidence Appearing Real

What is fear

But just a fallacy?

A wrath of distortion

Perceived as reality


Fear- the thread

Of choke-hold lust

Captures our energy

And depletes our trust.


Fear- the barrier

That only builds a wall

Separating two souls

Until no closeness exists at all


Fear- the force

So true in a fickle mind

Turn your back upon it,

Or it is never far behind.

Sometimes, I write poetry. Usually on yellow legal pads during slow days at work. I write essays. I write song lyrics. I write fiction. I once wrote a full book, but it still sits just roughly edited somewhere on a computer file. I have a bundle of scribbled notes on unused receipt paper rolls (from when I used to work retail). I have draft upon draft of starts of stories saved on my laptop.

I was this close to majoring in creative writing in college, but I feared the instability of existing on an erratic salary and bleak job opportunities.

Fortunately, I fell in love with psychology. And then, I fell in love with therapy. Still, creative writing has always been my primary love, and so long as I have the ability to put the pen to the paper and string letters together, I will forever be creating stories and sensing my logic together in fluid motion.

So, fear. This is a big one. Fear is what keeps us stuck. Fear is what keeps us in a chronic state of anxiety and distress. Fear is this blanket of irrationality that suffocates us in the calmest weathers.

It holds us back, whether we realize it or not. In the face of fear, we play games with people, we avoid taking chances, we settle for less than we deserve, we accept misery and discontent.

If you are living with an eating disorder, you are living in fear. You are afraid of something. I thought I was afraid of gaining weight. And, indeed, I was. But, what did this fear of gaining weight actually stem from? It is unnatural to fear a fluctuation or increase of body mass unless we attach some kind of potent emotion to it. So, for me, I associated gaining weight as an indication of gluttony, laziness, and being unlovable. Thus, losing weight indicated the opposite: pureness, discipline, and love. I was afraid of the former, so I desperately sought for the latter.

These thoughts manifested from a deep pit of fear. They are untrue, no matter how much society wants me to believe that a certain size of body or certain intake of food will stimulate genuine emotions. Body size does not correlate with love, confidence, self-acceptance, or happiness. Whatever feelings I have towards my body or towards the food I ate create are artificial: they indicate deeper issues elsewhere. They are laced with fear; fear of being unacceptable, fear of the unknown, fear of being incompetent and unworthy. After all, a body cannot make me sad. But the idea of someone rejecting me or feeling insecure can.

And what happens when someone rejected me or I feel insecure when I’m skinny? Because, my body has always been on the slim-to-average size. Well, then I just have one less excuse to blame (my body)…and again, I have to face my fear of being unlovable, unworthy, or incompetent. Those fears do not disappear as weight disappears.

Recovery means accepting and then releasing this fear. I recognize that every single step and breakthrough made in recovery requires accepting, facing, and eventually conquering specific fears. For instance, I have experienced sheer terror in asking for help when I needed it, adopting coping strategies besides than eating or exercising, accepting my body the way it is, seeking outside support, incorporating new foods into my regular diet, letting go of my tight grip of control, decreasing my exercise, equalizing all foods, speaking up about my issues, sitting with feelings and letting them pass, and embracing the unknown identity that has started to emerge as a result of my transformation.

The human mind is incredibly resilient. We do not develop fear without a good reason, but it is important to recognize that those reasons may be ineffective and untrue. More importantly, despite our resilience, we are eager to “maintain homeostasis” and stay as is. That is why personalities are so hard to change and decisions can be so tricky to make. We fear taking risks because it may alter our homeostasis…and we tend to be pessimistic in the outcome.

Fear penetrates us and attacks our character. Stand up to something you are scared of today. Laugh at it. Challenge it. Talk to it if you must. But don’t give it another ounce of power to overcome you. You are greater than the sum of your fears.

The first time I told someone my secret

Dear Bee, 

Life is so amazing right now. I know I’m lucky, and I don’t take one SECOND of it for granted. The boyfriend and I are doing so well, and everything between us is just incredible. I could spend every waking and sleeping moment with him. We connect on a level I never knew existed, and it astounds us both. Yesterday, I dropped most of my dinner in the parking lot outside of my workplace. This isn’t unusual for me, as I am a ridiculous klutz, but how does he respond? Goes to the grocery store to buy vegetable broth (because he only had chicken in his place), makes us quinoa, roasts a bunch of vegetables, buys my favorite iced tea, and brings us some fresh blueberries for dessert….then drives the half hour to forty-five minutes in rush-hour traffic to my work just to see me and give me dinner. And I’m not one to blast my sex life on the Internet (yeah, right), but NOTHING has been lacking in that department. It’s like I literally can’t get enough. So our relationship compromises of a healthy balance of insanely deep conversation, playfulness and goofiness, random and crazy adventures, mushy and gushy love babble, crazy hot sex, and therapeutic jargon. Like, what more could I possibly want? I’m ridiculously happy. 

Summer is winding down quickly. August is just around the corner, and in two weeks, I’ll be prancing around Europe!! Just got my grade for my most recent summer class…98.5% on my 3-hour and 10-page final. Still maintaining that shiny 4.0 🙂 Stoked. 

Yesterday, I had therapy. It’s been slow and mellow in sessions lately. I’ll be seeing clients soon, so we’ve been talking and processing that. I’m really excited, of course, but part of me is definitely nervous. I think this anxiety comes from a genuine place of caring, but I have to be mindful of my perfectionistic tendencies. If I go into this field expecting to save the world, I won’t even be able to save myself from burnout. I know I struggle with a core belief of incompetency, in that I won’t be good enough. I am certainly no expert, but I also realize we tend to put mental health professionals on a pedestal.  recognize that my clients may perceive me to be some all-knowing source of power…when really, I’m just a human being who is trained to understand patterns of behavior and offer uncompromising support and guidance to those in distress. Ah well. Everyone has to start out somewhere!!!

I also had a follow-up with the psychiatrist yesterday. Ten minutes. Ugh. I guess I’m biased, but I really DO NOT like him. He fits the perfect “psychiatrist” stereotype. Lack of empathy, no attempt to join or connect with me, only focusing on symptoms. For a career that is designed to dole out medication, you would think there would be more in-depth analysis with patients. I guess not. Anyways, I’m staying on the lowest dose of Prozac (20 mg) for the time being. My emotions have definitely stabilized, but it’s obviously hard to tell whether it is from the medication or simply my life circumstances. One thing I have noticed: I experience significantly less urges to binge and stronger hunger satiety signals. This is one of the reason antidepressants are actually prescribed for bulimia and binge-eating disorder; in conjunction with psychotherapy, this evidence-based treatment reduces the insane and nearly intolerable cravings to frantically binge. 

Interestingly, I was searching for an old email yesterday, and I stumbled upon an email I had sent my ex-boyfriend in April 2012. He was the first person I ever told about my eating disorder. At the time, I couldn’t do it in person. I was too scared. Too insecure. I didn’t even know how to approach the subject, but my condition was worsening, and like most secrets, it just kept getting bigger and bigger, until it began controlling my every thought. I attached the email (with some edits for privacy) here.

 I’ve never been able to tell you this, and mostly it’s because it’s the one part about me that makes me want to hate myself, the one part that makes me feel like a complete hypocrite and failure. And believe me, I feel ridiculous writing this all out in a stupid email, but I also know that I owe it to both you and myself, and I don’t have the same bravery you do to say it to your face. 

I clinically have an eating disorder. If I went to a doctor or therapist, I would be immediately diagnosed, given that I match every single criteria. It’s not mild or temporary, and it’s something that is seriously compromising my quality of life. To be specific, I have bulimia nervosa-nonpurging type disorder. I know that’s quite a term, but that’s what I have. You can read over the criteria if you’re not familiar with it (basically: eating a lot of food in a discrete period of time, a sense of lack of control over eating during this binge episode, using compensatory behavior to prevent the weight gain). It is nonpurging type, because instead of vomiting, I abuse other “compensatory” behaviors, like excessive exercising or severely restricting my food intake. 

I know I told you that I suffered from this during a dark phase in high school. I suppose that was lie. I’m still in the middle of it, and I struggle privately everyday. It’s never gotten easier. I’ve just gotten better at not disclosing it.

Explaining all the psychological disturbances is just exhaustive and upsetting. Just assume I’ve done it all. Count calories, weigh myself fifteen times a day, look in the mirror and cry, etc. I have the world fooled in thinking I eat so healthy and rationally. And, 90% of the time, I do because I care so much about my health. And, it makes me so amazing when I’m eating the proper nutrients for my body. But there are those times, those scary and sad times, when I fall into a mood and devour incessant amounts of food. Amounts of  food that I’m sure you don’t think I’m capable of eating. Last night, for example, I was really upset about what happened between us. I couldn’t concentrate on anything, and I just needed to numb the pain. That’s when people turn to alcohol. Or drugs. You once turned to painkillers. And not to sound like a bitter, forty-five year-old divorced woman, I use food.  I ate a bowl of ice cream, a piece of pie, three cookies, four waffles with butter, a chocolate bunny, and two spoonfuls of Nutella in less than an hour. Was I hungry? Nope. Not really. My mind just goes on auto-pilot, and all I want to do is grab whatever I’ve restricted myself from eating and stuff it into my mouth before I can feel guilty about it.

Invariably, I end up feeling physically sick to my stomach. I can handle that. It’s the mental consequences that hurt. The dread, the guilt, the disgust at the person I am, the shame at my lack of willpower, the confusion as to why I’m like this, the promise to never, ever let it happen again. It’s a control issue. You know all about my control issues. Nevertheless, it’s just not normal, and it’s just not something I can easily talk about.

The main problem is that I truly know I have nothing to worry about. I’m healthy. I know I’m beautiful. I take such good care of myself. So why do I feel this need to sabotage my body? Why do I feel so anxious around “bad” foods or “good” foods?

I suppose the worst part about having this disorder is that I FUCKING know all the biological and social reasons for my behavior. I FUCKING know the appropriate treatment, what medications are prescribed, what kinds of therapies help people recover from it. I FUCKING want to do this for a living. But, I can’t even help myself. I can’t even talk about it. Ugh. Who am I kidding?

I’m telling you all this because I love you, and because, I honestly need your help. I’m not sure how you can help me, but maybe, I just need you as my sort of sponsor for when I’m feeling anxious or scared. Because, right now, I feel so discouraged. I feel like I’ve tried everything to fix myself, but maybe I need professional help. Either way, I have to open up to you the way you open up to me. And that’s no easy task either. I love that you find me so strong and powerful. But, I don’t feel like I am, and I’m scared after reading this, you will think I’m just a coward. Of course, that’s not really true. I know you would never think that of me, but honestly, this monster inside of me makes me feel so weak and powerless. I’ve been fighting it since high school, for probably (X) years. I just want it to end. I just want to be at peace with myself.

Writing this all out is probably one of the most difficult things I’ve done in awhile. Admitting weakness hurts, especially when it’s over something I feel isn’t as important as other problems. For example, I always thought drug addiction was WAY worse than an eating disorder. But, I’m starting to realize that I’m not overreacting over a “first-world” problem.  

Yesterday, I promised myself that I would tell you this. I’m sorry I haven’t found the courage to talk about in person yet. I hope you understand. Thank you for loving me and already believing me. I love you.

I could process this all right now, but for anyone who has followed me on this blog…you can see how much I’ve grown. That was probably the first time I recognized that I needed help. That I needed to do something, and that the problem was just going to go away on its own, like I had spent years hoping.

In that letter, I just see a terrified and isolated little girl. I see someone who has no idea if she will ever get better. I see someone who is so sick, so afraid, and so lost. I am not that girl anymore, but I still relate to her everyday. I remember what it is like to be in that position. I can feel the agony, cry those same tears, experience that same horror. Words cannot describe my gratitude for recovery, but the memories of such hell will never be lost upon me.

I have come a damn long way.  

Grateful Optimist

Dear Bee,

Journaling is so healing. I love writing these letters. In fact, I just love recovery: the good, the bad, the laughter, the tears…it’s one amazing process.

I have written about it countless times, but I never want to underestimate the power of gratitude and optimism. Gratitude puts my life in perspective. Gratitude gives me insurmountable joy and satisfaction. And optimism? Optimism makes life always worth living. Optimism turns ordinary situations into fabulous moments. Through recovery, I have become a grateful optimist. Through recovery, I have started to transform into the person I always wanted to be, but didn’t know I could ever become. 

My eating disorder is a symptom of fear, insecurity, anxiety, and depression. I’ve been working to conquer each of those. I worked through fear when I first walked into therapy, when I bravely ended a stagnant, dysfunctional relationship just as I started recovery, when I first went to an OA meeting, when I began to eliminate negative people from my life, when I started opening up about my eating disorder in real life and through this blog, when I quit a job because it became too demanding, when I booked a trip to Europe on a whim, when I decided to plunge into a new relationship a few weeks ago because my intuition (correctly) told me this was going to be wonderful. I am working through insecurity through cognitive restructuring and positive affirmations. I am learning to believe that I am worthy, amazing, and beautiful. I used to rely on this validation from other people: now, I can give it to myself. I am working through anxiety by meditation and yoga, by learning how to deep breathe and step out of triggering situations. I now recognize that most of my worries are irrational, and I am working to work accept the present moment for what it is. I am working through depression by actively seeking to engage in positive activities and people and taking medication. 

Recovery isn’t cheap. It isn’t easy. It isn’t quick. It isn’t linear. It isn’t logical. It isn’t even fun most of the time. But moments and clarity like this make every penny, hour, tear, and heartache worth it. 

Recovery at any attempt is always worth it. A desire to heal yourself is always worth it. Self-love is always worth it. Happiness is always worth it. Treating yourself with kindness is always worth it. 

Eating disorders are NEVER, EVER worth the sacrifice of your health, self-worth, and happiness. 

I used to be a perfectionist, so it was no surprise that I delved into recovery with the same kind of mindset. I still have high expectations for myself, but I firmly believe in progress over perfection. My expectations have shifted from I have to do this perfectly to I am exactly on the right path. There is no right way to recovery, and it is a journey, not a destination. I am so kind to myself lately. I am so much more forgiving. I am proud of myself, and I am happy with myself. These are huge accomplishments. These give me so much joy. 

Most of all, I know I am worth recovery. I no longer want to be sick. I no longer want to be hidden or protected by my eating disorder. I no longer want to shun myself from the world. And how am I doing this? Mostly by shifting away from dwelling on the problem and instead focusing on the SOLUTION. Recovery works when I work it. Recovery feels good when I let it. Recovery has changed my entire life. It has given me immense courage, peace, and energy. I love deeper than I ever have before. I experience richer than I ever have before.

For today, I am a grateful optimist. I am happy to be me. I am in love with my life. I am a girl who still consciously decides everyday that I AM WORTH IT. 

This girl is on fire?

Disclaimer: There is nothing eating disorder-related in this post.

I literally experienced a fire in my house today. I’m okay. Everything and everyone is okay. Except an extension cord and part of my bed frame. 

I was about two feet from this fire, and my fight-or-flight instinct immediately kicked in. Luckily, it died down on its own (very small fire) within just a few seconds. I tried to turn off all the smoke detectors, as they were ALL blaring, but I couldn’t figure out how to do it. Then, I noticed all the smoke and decided I needed to call 911 just to be on the safe side.

I am so blessed my primal survival instincts kicked in.

Sometimes, it takes those heart-pounding moments for the real emotions to REALLY kick in: for the fear, the gratitude, the anxiety, the undeniable relief. It wasn’t until about forty-five minutes later that I realized I could not stop shaking. I could have been seriously hurt or worse. My house could have burnt down.

I had classes today, and I guess there is nothing better than being part of a cohort of twenty-something therapist-in-trainings during times of stress. My amazing friends were able to help calm me down.

I am still a little panicky and kind of nervous to go to bed. Even though I feel nervous (I was deathly afraid of house fires and getting burned alive as a small child), I am reminded how damn lucky I am to be alive and healthy and kicking. FIre or no fire. I am just lucky to be where I am today. Every moment we live is a blessing, and it’s just interesting how it sometimes takes those dire life-changing moments to redefine what we consider as problematic.