Authentic Struggles

Yesterday I sat in Maiya’s office exhausted and shivering under the soft massive blanket I swiped from my therapist, Jen’s office. Maiya looked me dead in the eyes and told me, “I know you have been restricting your carbs. Do you want to tell me what that’s about?” My shivers turned to trembles, and my exhausted eyes over flowed with tears. I didn’t know what to say. I know all the non-logical eating disorder reasons why I have found it perfectly fine to restrict my carbs. The feelings of safety, of value, of control, of power. I know all those things. But they aren’t the root of all this evil I’ve been inflicting on my body. After lots of back and forth, and finally promising Maiya I would properly nourish my body at least through Tuesday when I see Jen and we can plan a course of action, I began to really understand why this relapse is bringing me so much safety. Not that I didn’t know it before, but sometimes you really have to be burned by the flames to understand.

Today, the more I thought about the question Maiya first asked me, I was overwhelmed. And in that sensation, I found the truth. Facing my feelings is insanely difficult for me. Digging up my wounds, dusting off the dirt, and stitching the pieces back together- it’s too much.  Facing the people who caused those hurts, can be just as traumatizing as when the original cut was made. Acknowledging your pain, and letting yourself truly grieve can be devastating. When I started that process, I wasn’t fully prepared. I didn’t know just how shitty it would all feel. I didn’t know I had so much pain locked away. And then Ed came calling-screaming my name. He knew what to say to make feel loved, secure, worthy. He knew how to wrap me up so tightly the way I needed someone- anyone to do for me in those moments, but wasn’t strong enough to ask. I felt I had to deal alone, and let my grief take its own course. But that was faulty thinking. All I have done since I was a child has been to isolate myself from facing my problems. I isolate myself from true connections, from living fully, from happiness, because I don’t feel worthy of other people’s care because I was made to feel like a burden every time I reached out. So of course, when things got rough, I ran full speed back to Ed. Because why not, right? (I can tell you right now – if you are flirting with this idea WORST DECISION EVER!!) I hated seeing the sad look on Maiya’s face yesterday, and felt I failed her. She told me she was sad for my sweet body, and hearing those words out of her mouth was almost too much to take. I’ve never known Maiya to be sad in the year and a half I’ve been seeing her, and I just wanted to cry in her arms yesterday and beg her to fix me. But the thing is the fixing- or the process of the fixing is up to me. No one can help me unless I let them in. No one knows what I’m going through and feeling unless I let go of my “it’s all good in the hood” exterior, and reach out with an open heart. No one can be there for me while I heal unless I am genuinely authentic. I want to get back to that place where I lived in brazen authenticity. I want to let people back in. I want to tell my best friend what has been going on without sugar coating or pretending I’m fine. I want to live by the words I wrote in my post last week, and live my life with purpose, because I am so much more than my eating disorder. I want to let go, and let others in.

As I work through these challenges myself, I want to throw out a courageous challenge to you, my readers. If you find yourself struggling with a battle that you feel alone and abandoned in, I encourage you to reach out. I encourage you to let your walls come tumbling down, and start on your own path to fully living authentically. I think you will find you’re not as alone as you think. Maybe you’re not on the alone side of this struggle but know someone who is. Send a text, a card, an invite to spend time with them. Share your story, and embrace theirs. Our burdens are not meant to be carried alone.

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Purpose

Over the weekend I attended a wake for a relative that passed away suddenly. While I had only met her a handful of times, her wake left a lasting impact on my heart. The following is a journal entry from this past Sunday that I would like to share.

 

4/24/16

I am still hardcore in my relapse. I cannot stand the feel of my own body inside of my skin. All I feel is my fat suffocating me and the eyes of the world staring at and counting each of my visible rolls. I put on my black dress earlier that I haven’t worn since last summer to attend my relative Gerri’s wake tonight. I have never felt so uncomfortable in a dress in my life. I just wanted to crawl into a rabbit hole and not be seen. The eyes of my uncles and aunts I’m sure were sizing up my body noticing all the weight I’ve gained. Judging my every step. All of these things flooding my mind in a moment where my body shouldn’t have mattered. But somehow, it did. Ed had accompanied me to the wake.

As time went on, and we talked to the close family members of my relative, I began to feel this overwhelming, empathetic, melancholy feeling. I looked around at the grieving faces. I looked at the closed casket covered with the most beautiful yellow roses. I saw the pictures of a young, radiant, beloved, wife, mother, grandmother. I saw the smiles of happiness, and the lines of a journey well-traveled on her face in each picture. And the more my senses were engaged with my surroundings I began to think deeply and it brought me back to a meaningful conversation I had not too long ago with Maiya about snowflakes and purpose. And I thought, someday, when this is me, people aren’t going to remember how many rolls I thought I had on my body; they aren’t going to remember how much food I didn’t eat or did eat. No one will remember how many hours I spent in the gym or my weight on the scale or the size of my dress. What they will remember is all the things I can’t see when I’m stuck with Ed. They will remember (I hope) my smile, my loving heart, my free spirit, my compassion, my talents, the joy they felt around me. They will remember my strength, and how I tried to be a light of God’s love and hope. They will remember things I probably don’t even know about myself. And it brings so many tears to my eyes. My earthly body doesn’t matter because my heavenly father has given me a spirit of love, and that above all else makes my heart swell.

The parlor of Gerri’s wake was filled with yellow flowers. When I looked around, I realized something else. These flowers had a purpose. Gerri had a purpose. I have a purpose. I was not placed on this earth for decorative reasons, but to make a difference. As I continue to struggle with finding my footing in a strong place of recovery again, I am going to try to remember all these things. Although I did not know her well, her wake left a lasting imprint on my life. And now, whenever I see a yellow flower, just as when I see snowflakes, I will smile because I will know I have a purpose too.

Hope Through The Struggles

So Friday, in an attempt to pull me out of my relapse that I can’t seem to beat at the moment, Maiya (my dietitian), sent me home with a stuffed puppy named Mitchell. The idea being that I am babysitting him and he is my accountability buddy and the only way Mitchell will be nourished is if I am nourishing myself. And somehow it took the guilt away from not feeding myself to feeling guilty instead for not feeding this little thing who is theoretically dependent on me. Honestly, I thought Maiya was absolutely losing her mind when she told me this was what we were going to do because it is just a stuffed animal and I know this! But turns out Maiya is actually a genius. And it’s driving me absolutely crazy that I can’t figure out why this little stuffed animal is helping me get my meals in, but I’m just gonna go with it for a while. Mitchell is actually very comforting to me during mealtimes too and after. I have been abnormally, severely petrified of eating and gaining weight and somehow it is helping me a little with that too. This is so confusing! I wish I could have been inside of Maiya’s head to figure out how on Earth she knew this would be helpful, but hopefully she will explain it next time I see her. The only problem is now I am overexercising to justify eating and burn more calories and it’s not helping with my fear foods that have returned. I guess it’s just important I don’t give up. And if I need a stuffed animal to help me through meals good news is someday I will be able to look back and smile at this right?!?

I also got to spend a lot of time with my best friend Ally over the weekend and it really helped me to feel like I wasn’t alone. I was talking to her about how hard it has been for me lately to not know how I look to the world. She said something that was really profound to me. She said, “It took me a really long time to realize and understand this, but everyone perceives beauty differently. Very rarely is it dependent on appearance. What one person might not see as beautiful about you, will become someone’s treasure. And what the little boy at work said about your belly, he doesn’t know the size of your heart.” Her words just hit me as this overwhelming feeling of love and acceptance and value. I felt valued. And I needed that so badly. And it really got me thinking I only have this one life. There are no do overs. I only have one chance to use the big heart I have to make a difference. Do I really want to waste it worrying about calories, food, weight, inches, BMI, body fat percentage, etc.? Do I really want or need to obsess about how healthy I can eat and how much I can work out so I don’t get obesity related diseases when I’m perfectly healthy and could honestly get hit by a car when I walk out the door tomorrow? Do I really want to live this life only halfway because I’m too worried about not being enough when the cross shows me daily that I am more than good enough, worthy enough, that just the way I am- I. Am. Enough. Do I want to starve myself of the beauty of connection, of love, and wholeness just to obtain worldly beauty? Obviously the answer is no. I ultimately want to live each moment with purpose, not restrained by earthly chains. I want to experience all life can offer. I want to bring others hope. But how can I do any of that if I can’t find that hope for myself right now? How can I do any of this if I continue to dance with Ed? I know I can’t. And maybe by sending me home with Mitchell, Maiya was trying to send me home with hope.