Wednesday, November 30, 2011

still vunerable sometimes...

Yesterday at around 5:30pm, I went downstairs to the kitchen, to grab something for dinner before heading out for the evening. I wanted something quick, so I made two tuna fish sandwiches and took them back up to my room to eat while I finished getting ready. One of my roommates was cooking herself some dinner, and another roommate was doing homework on the kitchen table. After I finished eating, I came back downstairs to put my plate in the sink. My roommate, who was still cooking her dinner, said "Wow! You ate that SO fast! Hungry much?"

I know she wasn't trying to be mean. She probably didn't even think twice about what she said, because most people probably wouldn't have been bothered by a comment like that. But it's a completely different story for someone who is recovering from an eating disorder. Someone who is already sensitive about those kinds of comments. And, as I have been getting stronger in recovery and moving further away from the eating disorder - comments (about eating and food, my body, diets, ect) haven't bothered me as much as they used to. One of the things the eating disorder is a master at - is twisting ANY kind of comment (even harmless ones) into distorted, irrational thoughts and feelings, and convincing you that those distortions are actually truths (when they aren't!). And those kinds of comments, back when I was still struggling, would have spiraled me into ed behaviors and negative feelings about myself so quickly! They would have given the eating disorder fuel to distort "harmless" comments into much bigger and badder words.

Throughout my recovery, I have slowly learned (and am still learning) to NOT give those kinds of comments ANY amount of power to twist them into distorted/negative reflections on myself. And for the most part, I am able to do that. Most of the time, I am able to just let them go in one ear and out the other without letting the comments bother me too much. So I was a little caught off guard when those old emotions came rushing in when my roommate said that to me last night. I immediately felt embarrassed and the ed used this vulnerable moment to sneak in and try to take control. I responded to my roommates comment with, "I didn't really eat that fast. You've been down here cooking for a while." And she responded with, "Didn't you have two sandwiches though?" And I said, "Ya, but I haven't eaten since noon." And she said, "Oh, well it just seemed like you ate them so fast."

During this whole conversation. My mind was spinning with SO many thoughts. I thought, "I don't think I ate it too fast? did I eat it too fast? maybe I should have had only one sandwich. Did I eat too much? I couldn't have eaten too much. Two tuna sandwiches isn't really that much considering that's all I ate for dinner. But I am so embarrassed because one of my other roommates (who was doing homework on the table) is overhearing this... does she think that I ate too much too? Did I overeat? Are they going to think that I have no control and eat too much? No, jenn, she said you ate fast - not that you ate too much. Ya, but maybe I should have eaten slower, or just had one sandwich. But still, I don't think I ate it too fast... did I? I thought I ate it at a normal pace. Is it bad to have two tuna sandwiches. Should I have only had one? But why would she have made that comment unless I did eat too much or ate it too fast...?" And on and on the thoughts went in my head as I finished getting ready for the evening. The eating disorder and recovery battling it out in my head.

Looking back on it now, I recognize two important things. The first one is that lately the ed thoughts aren't as vicious and cruel as they used to be (which I am soooooooo thankful for because the ed used to tear me down and make me feel completely worthless). I think, for the most part, when the ed does creep into my thoughts now, they are more often questioning or being unsure about what I do, say, or how I look - and not so much the cruel, hurtful, fear & guilt filled abuse I used to have from my ed. And the second thing is that it wasn't just the ed's LOUD voice in my head... MY voice was in there too. Throughout my recovery, I have learned how to "talk back" to the ed, and recognize when the ed is distorting things... because for the longest time, I listened to (and believed) everything the eating disorder said to me.

I know I have come such a long way in my recovery, but I guess I am still frustrated when I let comments affect me like they did last night. It doesn't happen too often. But there are times when I am more sensitive to them then other days. But that's okay. Right? It happens, and it's normal.... right? The important thing I need to remember is what I do after - is what matters. And after the whole thing happened, it did bother me for a little while, but I was able to brush it off and not let it ruin or affect the rest of my evening. I am thankful for that. I just wish the eating disorder would stay away, and not keep trying to creep into my thoughts, my feelings, and my life. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

a new kind of thanksgiving

It's hard for me to remember what Thanksgiving (and the holidays) are like without my eating disorder. But this year will different. This year will be the first year in a really long time that I am NOT letting the ed come along with me. And it is exciting. I feel free. I am excited to actually be able to enjoy the day - instead of being wrapped up in the emotional chaos of the ed. And that is an amazing feeling! I have worked so hard in recovery, and there were so many times that I never ever thought it would be possible to let go of the ed and recover. But I AM letting go. I am recovering. I am healing. I am no longer letting the ed dictate my life, and for that... I am grateful.

This year there not be any:
  • food games or food rules
  • dread
  • fear
  • obsessiveness
  • guilt
  • avoidance
  • panic attacks
  • arguments about what/how much I am eating
  • tears
  • anxiety
  • unhealthy behaviors before, during, or after the meal
  • or ANY of the things that the eating disorder has brought into my life on this day year after year... after year
This year Thanksgiving WILL be about:
  • family and friends
  • good conversation and fun activities
  • love
  • thinking about all of the blessings in my life and the things I am thankful for
  • health
  • laughter
  • good food
  • new memories
  • positive choices and continued steps forward in my recovery and life
  • and so much more!
It will be a different Thanksgiving for me. But a much happier one that my family and I will be celebrating this year. I have so many things to be thankful for. And that is what is going to be on my mind on Thursday. Not the eating disorder and everything that comes with it.

And my wish and my hope for all of you is that no matter where you are in your recovery - that you are able to have a happy & healthy Thanksgiving. All of you deserve a life without ed, and every day you are taking steps to achieving that. Big steps, small steps, and all the steps in between - are ALL victories in their own way. Try not to judge yourself and your progress because any step forward you take matters, and will bring you closer to recovery. You all are beautiful, courageous, and strong. Remember that and be gentle with yourselves.

Monday, November 21, 2011

what it feels like

Close your eyes. Imagine that you're standing in a bakery. Not just any bakery - the best bakery in Paris, it's windows fogged, crowded with people who jostle for space in front of it's long glass cases. The room is fragrant and you can't take your eyes off the rows of cinnamon rolls and croissants, iced petits fours, flaky napoleons and elephant ears. Every counter holds at least one basket of baguettes, still warm from the oven.

And you're hungry. In fact, you're starving. Hunger is a tornado whirling in your chest, a bottomless vortex at your core. Hunger is a tiger sharpening its claws on your tender insides. You stand in front of the glass cases, trying to swallow, but your throat is dry and your stomach clenches and contracts.

You want more than anything to lick the side of an eclair, swirl the custard and chocolate against your tongue. You dream about biting off the end of a cruller, feeling the give of the spongy dough, the brief molecular friction of the glaze against your teeth, flooding your mouth with sweetness. The woman beside you reaches into a white paper bag, pulls out a hunk of sourdough roll. You see the little puff of steam that flares from its soft center, breathe in its warm yeasty smell. She pops it into her mouth and chews and you chew along with her. You can almost taste the bread she's eating. Almost.

But you can't, not really, because how long has it been since you've tasted bread? A month? A year? And though your stomach grinds against your backbone and your cheeks are hollow, though the tiger flays your belly, you can't eat. You want to, you have to, but your fear is greater than your hunger. Because when you do - when you choke down a spoonful of plain yogurt, five pretzel sticks, a grape - that's when the voice in your head starts up, a whisper, a cajoling sigh: "You don't need to eat, you're strong, so strong. That's right. Good girl."

Soon the whisper is a hiss filling the center of your head: "You don't deserve to eat. You're weak, unworthy. You are disgusting. You don't deserve to live." You, you, you. The voice is a drumbeat, a howl, a knife sunk in your gut, twisting. It knows what you're thinking. It knows everything you do. The more you try to block it out, the louder it becomes, until it's screaming in your ear: "You're fat. You're a pig. You make me sick. No one loves you and no one ever will. You don't deserve to be loved. You've sinned and now you must be punished."

So you don't eat, though food is all you think about. Though all day long, wherever you are - doing homework, sitting with friends, trying to sleep - part of you is standing in the bakery, mesmerized with hunger and with fear, the voice growling and rumbling. You have to stand there, your insides in shreds, empty of everything but your own longing. There will be no bread for you, no warm buttery pastries. There's only the pitiless voice inside your head, high-pitched, insistent, insidious. There's only you, more alone than you've ever been. You, growing smaller and frailer. You, with nowhere else to go.

The voice is part of you now, your friend and your tormenter. You can't fight it and you don't want to. You're not so strong, after all. You can't take it and you can't get away. "You don't deserve to live." You want to die. This is what it feels like to have anorexia.

(excerpt from "Brave Girl Eating" by Harriet Brown)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

tell me about yourself

First, I need to thank the lovely Sarah who nominated me for this award. She has an awesome blog so make sure you check it out if you haven't already :-)

The rules of this nomination are:
To tell seven random things about myself as well as pass on the award to seven other great bloggers.
Nominees, in order to accept this award you must:
-Thank and link back to the person who awarded you.
-Write seven random things about yourself.
-Award seven other awesome and inspiring bloggers.

1- I was born just outside of Chicago, and I have also lived in West Virginia, Texas, & Oklahoma before moving here to Utah when I was 9 years old.

2- I love cupcakes!!! They are my most favorite dessert ever!

3- I am left-handed ; )

4- I love learning, challenging myself, & experiencing new things. My latest endeavor is Latin dancing with my boyfriend. The ones we are learning now are the Salsa and the Bachata. And I am really enjoying it. I am also trying to learn Italian with him. (He is half-Italian) And slowly, but surely I am learning (and retaining) it.

5- One of my guilty pleasures is the soap opera General Hospital (...I am addicted, and I have been since high school. lol.)

6- I love to do jigsaw puzzles!

7- I am easily entertained. And, I prefer spontaneity to planning.

There are so many blogs that I love but I can only choose seven so... the bloggers I am passing this on to are:
* one of my bestest friends EVER!
* the lovely Kylie-Rose
* the sweet Emily
* my beautiful baby sister Ashley
* the fabulous Sarah
* the strong Emily
* the inspiring Scott


Friday, November 4, 2011

zumba does a body good!

Last night, while I was in my Zumba class, I started thinking about how much this class has helped me with my body image. Even though I love dancing (ballet the most), I couldn't help but think back to how - in the past - I NEVER would have felt comfortable shaking my booty and just letting go like we do in Zumba (especially in front of other people!) But I do feel comfortable and I love it!!

I love going to my class because it's such a great stress reliever and it's impossible to not feel happy and have a smile on your face while you are there! It's such a great way to not only connect with your body, but also gain more confidence in your body and your self. And it's been such an amazing help for me as I am learning to love and accept (and be comfortable!!) in this new healthy body of mine. Curves and all! At first, I was a little self-conscious, naturally... Because I haven't really put myself (and my body) out there like this since I gained all the weight. But it didn't take as long as I thought for me to be able to let go and just feel the music and my body. And now... I love it! It's so fun and a great form of exercise. It doesn't feel like exercise - it feels like I am in dance class. I crave my Monday and Thursday night classes and it's a positive & healthy part of my week, and my recovery.