What does your average day look like?

Dear Bee,

In therapy today, we were discussing my relationship, and I was asked, So, have you two had your first fight, yet? I said no. Then, she asked, How do you react if _____ upsets/disappoints you? And to that, I said I didn’t know, because it hasn’t happened. 

I’m not naive. I don’t think my boyfriend is perfect nor do I think we are in some la-dee-dah honeymoon phase. I’ve been in enough dysfunctional friendships and relationships to understand when needs aren’t being met or communication isn’t effective. We both know each other’s needs; we make it each a mission to give more than we receive; we both validate and appreciate and respect the other; we genuinely enjoy our relationship and time together. Most importantly, however, we aren’t afraid to talk about, well, anything. We aren’t afraid to delve into the deep issues, to explore our transparent and vulnerable selves, to express emotions with brutal and raw honesty. 

After my session, I came up with an analogy to describe my relationship with my boyfriend, but also, to describe my own recovery. 

Our relationship is like a car. Most people spend a long time shopping and comparing for the vehicle of their dreams, and then, when they find one they really like, they invest in it. For awhile, they appreciate the car and take as good care of it as possible. Nothing is wrong. They love driving it as often as they can. And then life happens. Eventually, you start leaving trash on the floor. The windows stay spotted. The paint loses its shine. You stop checking your tires or making sure the interior smells nice. You taper off checking up on the car until there is some kind of inevitable breakdown or accident. But we check the gas everyday. We check the surface for scratches or defects. We continuously measure the driving conditions, make sure the roads look safe, and navigate the obstacles as they come. We take care of it everyday, not just before a huge road trip or after a major collision. Speed bumps just reminds us when we need to slow down and take even extra caution. 

Just like relationships, recovery is are about the day-to-day gestures. Are you positive? Are your thoughts and behaviors strengthening or weakening you? Are your feelings validating or condescending? The homeostasis is what matters. Not the one time you go 80 mph for a stretch on the freeway. Not the one day you’re stuck in two hours of traffic. The average commute matters. The one you take every single day. 

We must stop dwelling on simply the outliers in the process of recovery. Those do not define the whole picture. They are outliers for a reason. Rather, what does the average look like? The typical day? What does a typical day in recovery look like? Again, some days it may just be eating a balanced meal. Other days, it may be smiling instead of crying when you look at your reflection. There will be setbacks. Traffic jams, horrible weather conditions, potholes in the road. There will be distracted drivers and running out of gas money. There will be times the entire car looks like an utter mess. 

But is everyday crisis mode? For some of us, it absolutely is. Eating disorders are hellacious and degenerating diseases. If everyday is getting progressively worse, it’s imperative to have a safety plan for yourself. Treatment options are available. However, after deciding to work some kind of recovery, many of us can achieve some progress. That doesn’t mean it’s linear nor does it mean it comes naturally or quickly. But when we continuously push through recovery, we notice that one week it may become easier than the last week…or one month may be easier than the previous one…or one year may seem simpler.

I don’t glorify or sugarcoat the process of recovery, because it is incredibly difficult and nothing about changing the entire way you live your life comes easily. Everyday, I have to choose this way. Sometimes, it’s every moment. But, I know it’s the only alternative that keeps me on the path I want to be on. So, I focus on the day-to-day stuff. Just like with my relationship, I don’t think about if and when we will fight, the same reason I do my best to avoid that negative thinking about if and when I will binge. If it happens, it happens. I will handle it then. When I become too preoccupied with such a thought, my reality will create it. We call these self-fulfilling prophecies for a reason.  

My overall homeostasis in recovery is mostly where I want it to be. Yes, I want to have less obsessed thoughts about food and experience less desires to restrict or binge. Yes, I want to get to a place where food really is just food.That type of mentality just comes with time. But, I am grateful that, more days than not, I am eating well and nourishing my body with good food without following rigid rules or experiencing regret or remorse afterwards. I feel confident in my body, and I appreciate it for all that it can do. My body has never given up on me, despite the many times I have abused it. My body WANTS me to survive, thrive, and rock, and that is just a wonderful feeling! 

Dear Boyfriend

Dear Amazing and Loving Boyfriend of Mine,

SOOOOOOOOOOO! This is it. The website/blog I was telling you about! Fancy, huh? I’ve had it for about seven months now. You can look around all you want. I have nothing to hide from you:) It’s very extensive, but that won’t surprise you. After all, you know how methodical and analytical we are when it comes to our lives. Nothing about us is simple. Ever. I prefer it that way.

As you can see, I’ve written about you at length since we met. I probably drive my readers nuts. They come here to relate to my eating disorder recovery, and I end up gushing about how GREAT our relationship is and HOW MUCH you mean to me. I almost sicken myself. The bottom line is that we are both incredibly lucky. You light up my world. This is nothing new. I tell you that everyday!

I started this blog as a way to document my eating disorder recovery process. A few months after starting therapy with my current therapist, I decided to make my journal public, and it just escalated from there. I love hearing from all my followers, responding to email, etc. I didn’t go into this intending to help anyone, but I feel so fortunate to be able to reach out to so many people on a daily basis. We both know how isolating and scary mental illness can feel, so I write with the most raw and authentic perspective. Most of these pieces come from a place of hope. By nature, I am an optimistic person. But, naturally, some pieces come from an evident place of despair and fear.

With that being said, some of the content may be difficult or upsetting to read. There have been some tough times. Some difficult choices. Some incredible pain. All growth transforms us. We, more than most, understand how the therapeutic process surfaces one’s deeply-rooted issues. For me, they’ve all been surfaced over the past few months. I put in hard work, and, at the same time, I have learned how and when to take it easy. I listen to those who are there to support me. I seek help when needed. Everyday, I strive to heal myself. After all, my homeostasis, for so long, was to torment and punish myself because I had not recognized that I deserved better. I no longer believe that. I realize I don’t deserve to starve. Or binge. Or over-exercise. Or obsess over how much I weigh or don’t weigh. Instead, I aim to love myself in the best ways I know how. I chose against letting a diagnosis define me. I chose against defeat.

Thank you for walking through this journey with me. We talked about this last night: the socially-constructed idea people hold that baggage is unforgivable, that pasts make us feel broken, and that shame creates such deep vulnerability. You and I share such a healthy relationship: we are exactly where we need and want to be. Trusting, honest, passionate, and willing to listen and be heard. You said yesterday that you want to know and will accept every single thing about me, and this is why I choose to share this exposure. I trust you with my past, present, and future, and I am so overjoyed that I have found someone who can give me such unconditional love and support. You give me more than I anticipated I could ever receive, and I will always be grateful for all of it.

I leave for Europe tomorrow. 18 days. Considering you and I have become all but literally inseparable, I know we will insanely miss each other. But, it’s okay. There is a sense of thankfulness in knowing that I have someone to miss this much! I’m so fortunate you give me such a reason to LIVE and CHERISH every moment. You make me want to be the best version of myself all the time. You really are the sprinkles…which reminds me, I still need to do the dishes. 🙂

This is me. All of it captured in here. I rant. I complain. I beg. I express. I ramble. I talk to myself. I coach myself. I ask for guidance. I seek direction. I talk about school. Therapy. Support groups. Quotes. Ex-boyfriends. Dating. Friendships. Family. Medication. You know how we are with emotional vomit: whatever is on my mind comes out. Right then and there. No filter. No second-guessing.

Writing has been one of my most powerful tools in my recovery process. It makes my feelings tangible, and it helps me sort out the clusterfucks inside my head. The very act of it is healing for me, and it always has been. Being able to inspire others on their own journeys is simply just a wonderful by-product of this experience! I feel so very lucky.

Anyways, I’m going to wrap it up now.

I absolutely and wholeheartedly love you for all you are, all you do, and all you embody ❤

XO

And we’re falling now.

Dear Bee,

I had breakfast with the Boy this morning. It was amazing. He is amazing. We are amazing. 

I’ve never experienced such an instantaneous connection with someone. Some people talk about that spark. I had no idea what it meant until now. Maybe I thought I did, but no, this is different. I feel like I’ve known him for years. I’ve been able to tell him things I haven’t told anyone. Without even thinking or stressing over it. This is electrifying. I’m feeling it with him. We both are. It’s incredible. 

Last night, we were talking about security in relationships and what that entails. I told him that I think true security comes from being able to expose your true and raw self in front of someone, knowing you will receive unconditional support and love. Because ideally that’s what we all want. We want acceptance for who we are: not for what we do, look like, or any of that. Yet, most of the time, we are so wrapped in our own insecurities and fears that we use defenses: we put up walls, we play games, we try and make others jealous, we carry resent, we seek revenge, we lie about ourselves, we become the people others want us to be, we try so hard to impress. I believe these all compensate for the deep fears we have: the fear of being rejected or abandoned or unloved. 

I love how we can talk about this kind of stuff. For hours. Intellectual conversations make me wet. Ha. But seriously. Our conversation flows so well! 

I was able to tell him, for instance, all the fears I’ve been experiencing. I told him what I talked about in therapy yesterday (perks of both of us studying to be therapists): the vulnerabilities, the doubts that this will crumble in my hands, the worries that we’re not following some “proper timeline,” the disbelief that I am deserving of something so fulfilling. Not only did he express having the same concerns and feelings, but he also shared his gratitude that I was willing to look honestly at myself and work towards my own growth as we get to know each other more.

We talked about control and how we’ve grown through past relationships: mistakes we made, lessons we learned, goals we want to achieve. We talked about the past, the present, the future. We don’t stop talking. And when he holds my hand and kisses me, I get those silly little butterflies. And I love looking at him! Creepy, right!? But, he’s so damn gorgeous! 

And then there was this message he sent right after I left for work: So surreal. I spent so long feeling I would need to settle for someone that I couldn’t be totally genuine with that, now that I feel like I found someone that I don’t need to be anything but myself with makes me feel blessed. I’ve been putting positive energy out for awhile and I think it’s finally paying off. 

Um. YES. 

I’m falling. 

What choice do I have? 

I never envisioned myself dating someone just like me, but he really is SO MUCH LIKE ME. And in good ways. Exciting ways. Ah.

Okay, I don’t know what else to say, except I do deserve this joy and I am thankful for the good karma of the universe.

best first date EVER.

Um

I’m in love.

Nah, but seriously, I just had the best date of my entire life. With a guy I’ve known for literally less than a week. We had like a FREAKING 8-hour conversation. Sometime during that, we were walking along the beach, eating lunch, in a coffeehouse, running for our lives across a busy street, dangling our feet barefoot off a marina dock, sharing a first kiss under the full moon and still water. But, we didn’t stop talking. Okay, maybe during the few minutes we kissed. But, there wasn’t a shred of awkwardness. No weird how’s the weather or, what’s your favorite color? No, we talked about everything you don’t talk about on a first date: the meaning of religion, political imbalance, thoughts and feelings, past relationships and the meaning of love, radical honesty. We talked about our childhoods and our families and the meaning of life. 

He may just be the male replica of me. True story.

He said I’ve been exactly what he’s looking for. Serendipitous. That was the word he used. That he’s been looking for someone he can connect with intellectually. That he’s been looking for someone with depth and perspective. That he wants happy energy and optimism.

Came home to the sweetest text message that basically read, you’re amazing. Hope you were okay with me kissing you. It just felt right 🙂 I’m sure you felt that too. I would love to see you again this coming week, let’s make it happen. 

Um yeah, I’m going to make it happen. 

Tonight, I’ll be falling asleep with a big, goofy smile on my face 😀

Oh, and today is the anniversary of the day my dad first met my mom! If that’s not good karma, I don’t know what is. 

My ex-boyfriend has a new girl. Why can’t I accept it?

My ex has a girlfriend. Or, he’s seeing someone, anyway.

I saw pictures.

I’m not surprised. I’d heard around. But, I hadn’t seen the tangible proof yet.

First instinct: She’s uglier than me. 

Second instinct: I want to know every possible detail about her. 

Third instinct: I want to call, text, contact him. I know he’d come back to me in a heartbeat, because he loved me more than he ever loved anyone, because the way he felt about me was unlike anything he’d ever experienced. I FELT that love every single day. He couldn’t believe we were together: he consistently reminded me that I was out of his league. He didn’t understand how he had gotten so lucky. He couldn’t wait to spend a lifetime with me.

I know he thinks about us. I’m sure he’s even seen pictures of me. In fact, we still have tagged pictures on Facebook that I’ve never gotten around to deleting. 

I wonder what he thinks. I wonder what he misses. We were part of each other’s lives for years…so many memories interlaced into places, songs, events. I’d never seen someone cry as hard as he did when I broke up with him. He apologized for everything he’d done to hurt me and swore up and down that he’d wait a lifetime for me to come back to him.

I was starting my graduate program and simultaneously entering recovery. I had grown tired of his childish ways, half-assed ambition, and elaborate plans that never manifested. I had been emotionally checked out of that relationship for months: by the time I ended it, the wounds had practically been healed. 

I’ll never go back. Ever. But, that’s not the point right now.

I was his fucking world, and he was just a piece in mine.

I miss being someone’s world. I miss being needed like that.

I want what I can’t have, and if I no longer want it, nobody else can have it. 

Control, control, control. 

He’s not the right person for me. He never was. He had enough baggage to fill an entire airport. I just wanted to save him: fix him, change him. Essentially, I was in that relationship for all the wrong reasons.  But he could give me a gift I have yet to give myself: unconditional love, endless support, and adoration. In his eyes, I could do no wrong. In his eyes, I was flawless. It wasn’t hard to let go of that, but it took me so long to realize that, without him, I was alone to increase my basically nonexistent self-esteem. I could always depend on him for compliments and admiration. Now, I try to find it through other people…when, really, I need to learn to develop it for myself. 

I wish I could be happy for him, but that would be a lie.

I’m enraged and jealous. 

Why am I holding onto something that I clearly broke off?

Why am I letting myself suffer?

Why am I still even dwelling on this? Isn’t it time to move on?

I feel jealous. I feel sad. I feel immature. I feel needy.

The end. 

Being selfish, living the single life, and texting my food

Dear Bee,

It was a good weekend! It feels AMAZING finally lying in bed after running around like a madwoman for the past two days.

I’ve gone out the past few nights, and I’ve been having such a fun time. Reckless youth at its finest. I must admit that my confidence has soared in recent months, and for that, I feel very grateful. There is nothing worse than that itching feeling of feeling uncomfortable in your own skin, an emotion I know extremely well. I also attribute my confidence to the people I’m choosing to spend time my time with: I’m finally being selfish and putting my own wants and needs first. In other words, I’m hanging out with people I ENJOY and who LIFT ME UP! If  a certain plan doesn’t appeal to me, I don’t feel like a selfless bitch for saying no anymore. I’m number one, and I remind myself that as often as I need to.

The men are everywhere. After existing in relationship la-la-land for the past few years, this newly-single lifestyle still astounds me. I know dating is a game, but I loathe most of the rules, and I usually end up breaking them (wait three days? Uh, just call me now). Don’t kiss on the first date (too bad, he’s cute, and I’m horny).

I haven’t really met anyone worth pursuing, and in a way, I know I probably risk pushing away any potential suitors…I’m not ready for a relationship. Not until I REALLY establish the one I have with myself. I let my identity merge with that of being someone’s else’s girlfriend for so long, and in doing so, I essentially shattered my own self-reliance and worth.

You triangulated yourself into my previous two relationships (spanning over four years), and only now, do I truly realize how much this inhibited my ability to trust and just let go and love. I needed control, not just with you, but with my past two boyfriends. Both those men placed me on a tremendously high pedestal, thought the world of me…both were whipped and codependent, and I enabled this homeostasis because it provided me with a sense of control and allowed me to hurt them before they could hurt me.

While I’ve never depended on a man for happiness, I’ve used boyfriends to validate me with the love, affection, generosity, and unconditional positive regard I failed to give myself.

Now, I’m learning. Now, I’m really, really learning (while wearing my teeny dresses, high heels, dancing with gorgeous men, and making out with them in dark booths). Being selfish is different, and it’s FUN. But more importantly, I want to experience stability in my recovery before even thinking of considering such commitment with another individual. Otherwise, I know I risk placing someone else’s needs before my own and compromising my own happiness for the sake of the relationship. I refuse to let that happen again.

You’ve come around a few times this weekend. I’ve had a few cravings here and there…but I haven’t given in to you, and to be honest, I haven’t really come close. I enjoy texting my food to my sponsor, not just because it keeps me accountable, but because I’ve realized that I’ve actually held shame over my food for a long time. Sometimes, I don’t want to tell her a certain thing I’ve eaten (just because it sounds weird or unusual), and then I realize: Who cares? Who cares if I had blueberry oatmeal at noon and a veggie burger patty at three and a green beer at nine (Happy St. Patrick’s Day !). Who cares if I ate the same lunch three days in a row? I am the only one obsessing.