Thursday, October 27, 2011

happily never after

Throughout the years, as I have gone through the ups and downs of recovery, my recovery playlist has also grown. Each song holds a special, emotional, & memorable place in my heart because of how it helped me during that time in my recovery. Music is something that has always been a huge part of my life. Those of you who know me personally know this about me, but for those of you who don't - I have had a passion for singing and songwriting ever since I was young. I wanted to be a songwriter "when I grew up." My eating disorder took this dream away from me as it broke me down (inside & out). But a big part of me still has that dream. And I have been writing more again lately, so maybe....

The song that I wanted to share is one of my current recovery songs. This song is so powerful to me because of everything that I have been through because of my eating disorder. And so, when I first heard it, it gave me chills as I listened to the words. This song is filled with so much emotion for me, and what it's like to feel the freedom of letting go of the ed and believing that I do deserve better. That we all deserve better! And when I listen to it - it gives me the strength and courage I need to keep fighting, and to keep striving for recovery. Throughout my recovery, I have run back to the eating disorder so... many... times. I never thought I would be able to let go of it. And now that I am finally experiencing what life is like without my ed - I never want to go back! And that's what this song is about for me. I hope y'all like it too. It's called "Happily Never After" by The Pussycat Dolls.

(side note: - the "him" in this song is referring to the eating disorder)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

the middle one

"I am the middle sister," she reads. "The one in between. Not the oldest, not the youngest, not the boldest, not the nicest. I am the shade of gray, the glass half empty or full, depending on your view. In my life, there has been little that I have done first or better than the one preceding or following me. Of all of us though, I am the only one who has been broken."

"On the day of my youngest sister's ninth birthday party," Whitney continued. "I'd been sulking around the house all day, feeling alternately ignored and entirely too hassled, which was pretty much my default setting, even at eleven. My older sister, the social one, was going to ride her bike down to the neighborhood pool to meet some friends and asked me to come along. I didn't want to. I didn't want to be with anyone. If my older sister was friendly, and my younger sister sweet, I was the darkness. Nobody understood my pain. Not even me."

"My older sister got on her bike and headed for the pool, and I started to follow. I always followed, and once we were riding, I started to get angry about it. I was tired of being second. So I turned back. And suddenly, the road was empty ahead of me, this whole new view, all mine. I started to pedal as fast as I could. It was great. Freedom, even the imagined kind, always is. But as I got farther away, and didn't recognize what was ahead of me, I started to realize the distance I was covering. I was still going full speed, away from home, when my front wheel suddenly sank, and I was flying. It's a funny feeling, being suddenly airborne. Just as you realize it, it's over, and your sinking. When I hit the pavement, I heard the bone in my arm break. In the moments afterwards, I could hear the wheel of my bike, ticking as it spun. All I could think was what I always thought, even then: that this was just not fair. To get a taste of freedom, only to instantly be punished for it.

Everything hurt. I closed my eyes, pressing my cheeks to the street, and waited. What for, I didn't know. To be rescued. Or found. But no one came. All I'd ever thought I wanted was to be left alone. Until I was. I don't know how long I lay there before my sister came back for me. I remember staring up at the sky, the clouds moving past, and then hearing her call my name. When she skidded to a stop beside me, she was the last person I wanted to see. And yet, like so many times before and since, the only one I had. She lifted me up and settled me onto her handlebars. I knew I should be grateful to her. But as we pedaled toward home, I was angry. With myself, for falling, and with her for being there to see it. As we came up the driveway, my younger sister, the birthday girl, burst out of the house. When she saw me, my arm dangling useless, she ran back inside yelling for my mother. That was her role, as the youngest. She was the one who told.

My father took me to the emergency room, where the bone was reset. When we got home, the party was almost over, presents unwrapped, the cake just being served. In the pictures taken that day, I am holding my arm over my cast, as if I don't trust it to keep me together. My older sister is on one side, the hero; my younger sister, the birthday girl, on the other. For years, when I looked at that snapshot, all I could see was my broken arm. It was only later that I began to make out other things. Like how my sisters are both smiling and leaning in towards me, while I am, as always, between them.

It was not the last time I would run away from my sisters. Not the last time I thought being alone was preferable. I am still the center sister. But I see it differently now. There has to be a middle. Without it, nothing can ever truly be whole. Because it is not just the space between, but also what holds everything together."

(excerpt from the novel "Just Listen" by Sarah Dessen)

(me in the middle)

Growing up as the middle child in the family was difficult for me. I didn't know where I fit in, and often felt lost and ignored among my siblings. There are 5 of us. Two older and two younger. I think it was also one of the factors (there were many) that led to the development of my eating disorder. It gave me an identity. A way to cope. Something to focus on and control. Something that was mine - no one else's, and no one could take it away from me. It became my best friend, the thing that I could turn to for comfort. Growing up, I felt like the one who was always doing things wrong, getting in trouble, and making mistakes. The one who would never be as smart, pretty, well-mannered, talented (ect.) as my other siblings. I often felt like I could just slip away and no one would miss me. I don't blame my family. My family was (and is) a close and wonderful family. I think it was my personality, my super-sensitiveness, and feeling lost in all the shuffle that caused me to feel this way.

I don't feel this way as much anymore. Through my years of treatment, I have mended a lot of the feelings that I felt growing up. I know my family loves me, and I know they always have. I know it was really tough for my parents to have a child who struggled so terribly with this illness. And I know it was hard for my siblings to have a sister like this as well. I am grateful that I was able to mend these relationships, and I have never felt closer to my family then I do now. I am grateful for that. But often, I still think about that little girl who felt so lost and forgotten in the shuffle of a big family. The little girl, who then turned into a teenager, and then a young adult - never really knowing where she belonged or who she was. Who became trapped in a deadly eating disorder that hurt her (very nearly killed her!!) and hurt the people around her for much too long. I am healing from this past pain - but I won't forget. I know I can't go back and change things. But that's okay because I know that my past has helped shape me into the person I am today.

I am glad that young girl is finally finding her wings, her voice, her identity, & her purpose in a healthy and positive way. I feel grateful that this young girl is healing and not letting the past define her any longer. This young girl will always be a part of me. But she is growing stronger and more confident every day. She no longer feels lost and forgotten in the shuffle. And for that - I am grateful. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

diet soda update

I am happy to report that I have only had diet coke a couple times (in moments of vulnerable, tempting, weakness) since that fateful...(er, I mean mindful...?) day in September that I vowed to try this yet again. I am proud of myself because it has not been easy. At all. I love my diet soda, and it's been really hard to give it up. Which is why it has taken me many many... many tries. But I am determined. I am too addicted to it. And even in recovery, I have found that I did sometimes, still find myself using it to replace eating. Not purposely, I don't think. Just habit still, I suppose. But that is not good. I am aware of this now. And I will admit it.

Also, I am trying to listen to my body ( and my doctors) and do it for my health. My treatment team has told me over and over again, that it is not healthy for me. My body has gone through so much damage because of the eating disorder, and it is still trying to heal and recover. And the choices I make regarding food and exercise DO affect that healing.

I am starting to get used to not drinking it. (wow, did I really say that!?) And it IS getting easier day by day, the longer I go without it. But I do still find myself wanting to reach for it when I see it at the store, or I am at a restaurant. I know I still need to be careful, because as the past has shown me - once I start drinking it again, I fall quickly back into the cycle. I know this was the right decision for me. So I will keep on truckin' down the path and try not to look back... too much.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

never stop fighting for recovery

"You and I,
know what it's like,
to be kicked down - forced to fight.

But tonight, we're all right,
So hold up your lights,
and shine!"

(from the song "Lighters" - Eminem, Royce Da 5'9", & Bruno Mars)

Friday, October 7, 2011

"You look so healthy!"

"You've gained so
much weight! You look so healthy! You look so much better!"

I don't get these comments said to me as much as I used to. I have been able to maintain a healthy weight for nearly a year now (which is something I never thought I'd be able to do!) So most people around me have already gotten those comments out of their system (while I silently cringed uncomfortably & wanted to die the whole time...because the eating disorder had me convinced that they were calling me fat...). But someone I hadn't seen in a while said these things to me the other day. And while it's true that I do feel a lot more comfortable in my body now then when I first reached this weight - it does still trigger some negative feelings for me when people say this. I am not sure why. I thought I had gotten over that part.

I have worked so hard in recovery, and I am learning to love my body more and more every day... so why do these comments still bring up negative feelings? Feelings of embarrassment, guilt, shame, regret, ect. I am proud of myself for reaching this weight. Every day I am learning to love my body more. I am grateful for all of the things I can do now - that I couldn't do when my weight was so unstable. It has taken a lot of hard work in my recovery (a long, tiring, difficult, seemingly endless process full of relapses), a lot of self-acceptance, a lot of time and patience as I was getting used to having all of these new curves, and certain people in my life to help me to truly believe that this body is a better & healthier body for me then the one that I had for so long while I was struggling with my eating disorder. And most days, I believe that. I am happy with the weight I am at. I look like a woman now instead of a little girl. I have curves. Curves are beautiful. And I feel good about that.

But those comments... still do sting a little. They are still hard to hear, and it does make me catch my breath & panic for a minute when I hear them (and then "healthy jenn" quickly intervenes and reminds me that those comments are a good thing!) and I feel more okay about it again. I guess it just surprised me how much those comments affected me the other day. Especially since I've been feeling pretty confident and comfortable at the weight I am at (which I never thought would be possible!!) But it is. And I do. So why do I still feel that way when I hear those comments? Is it just a part of my mind that is still irrational and I just need to give it more time in recovery? Or will those feelings always be there in the back of my mind?