Saturday, June 30, 2012

COMMUNITY


I have found SO much comfort in the recovery community.  Whether it was groups, treatment centers, friends, or the blogging community... there is so much strength & healing in it!  Community has been one of the GREATEST things that have impacted my recovery.  I don't think I would be where I am today without it.  

When you are surrounded by people who love you, who support you, who understand you and what you are going through - it's amazing how that can impact and strengthen someone.  I am grateful for ALL of the people in my life who have been in my recovery community.  I am grateful to ALL of you who write the words that inspire and strengthen me on your blogs, post comments to give me continued strength, and who keep fighting and keep getting back up no matter how many times you fall.

Never underestimate the power of community!  It is a force that can do so much good if it is used the right way.  I have really enjoyed this challenge and because of this challenge, I have gotten to know many more amazing & inspiring people.  This journey of recovery is so tough - but if we stick together... we WILL rise above the madness of the eating disorder and find the freedom that is waiting for us in recovery.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

TRAVEL


Growing up, I moved around a lot because of my dad's job.  I was born in Illinois, then moved to Oklahoma, then to Texas, then back to Oklahoma, then to West Virginia, then again to Oklahoma before our family settled here in Utah.  I have also traveled to many different states growing up with my family, and also with friends when I got older.  But... I have never been out of the country.  I have been to Hawaii - but not other countries. 

I want to SO much though!  My heart yearns to travel, and to see other cultures.  I just haven't been able to yet because of certain things that have prevented it.  The main reason being my struggle with my eating disorder and not being well enough to travel.  But now that I am in recovery, I am healthy, and doing really well... I am in a much better place to travel, to see the world, to experience other cultures.  

I am planning on going to Mexico in November with some people from my church for a week to help build houses.  I am really excited because this also fits into my deep desires to do humanitarian work and to do what I can to lend myself to others who need that help, love, & support.  I also really want to travel all over the world!  I want to go to Italy, Australia, Ireland, Greece... SO many places!!  Traveling is one of the things I really want to do, and I hope that I will be able to make this dream a reality.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

BLISS


Bliss

  1. Perfect happiness; great joy
  2. Something providing such happiness
  3. A state of spiritual blessedness


The eating disorder steals our bliss from us.
Recovery gives it back. 




PURPOSE


One of my greatest hopes in my life is that I will be able to make a difference.  Whether it's big or small... I want my struggles, and my life to have meant something.  I want to do ALL that I can to help others who are struggling find the beauty, life, & peace inside of themselves so they can let go of what's tearing at their souls and find that freedom.  I have SO much I want to give and share with others, and my hope is that I will be able to use my voice, my experiences, & my knowledge to continue to spread awareness, education & understanding, & do what I can to support and help strengthen others who are struggling.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

FORGIVENESS



Tyler Perry quote




FACE


When I went into treatment for the first time, my whole world was turned upside down.  The world that I knew (the ed) was being taken away from me and it terrified me.  The eating disorder had been my identity for so long that I thought I would disappear without it.  When I discharged and went back home, I came back a different person.  My body looked completely different, my face looked different.  I didn't recognize the person that I saw looking back at me in the mirror.  When I looked into my eyes, I saw someone who was lost, scared, and confused.  And even though, those are the things that I saw while I was struggling with my ed... it was a different kind of lost and scared this time.  

I was thrown into a world that felt so foreign to me.  I was living in this world of "recovery" and I felt so lost.  I had a really hard time adjusting to it and ended up relapsing soon after.  It took many more years, with lots of ups and downs, for me to get to where I am today.  But today when I look in the mirror and I look into my eyes, I see ME and I now know who that person is.  I do still struggle with body image, and there are parts of me that I am still trying to figure out and find.  But I am a lot closer than I have ever been.  I am happy and comfortable in recovery.  I know this is where I belong and I know it's the place where I will be able to live the life I want and to continue strengthening myself and pursuing my dreams.  Recovery is so scary.  It is a process... it was a long one for me.  But it IS worth it!  

This is a poem that I wrote in 2007, shortly after coming home from my first treatment center.  It describes how I was feeling about being thrown into this new "life" and the confusion I felt about leaving my old world (the ed) behind and embracing this new world (recovery).  It's hard for me to read this poem because it was a really confusing time for me in my recovery.  But I am thankful to be able to say that I have been able to heal that girl inside of me, and I have found comfort in recovery.

Torn Between

I walk up to the mirror
And take a deep breath.
I stare at the reflection
That's looking back at me.

Who is that girl?
And where did she come from?
When did she get here?

The small and delicate girl I knew,
Is not here anymore.
Where did she go?

If I cry hard enough, beg and plead,
Or promise to never let her go again
Will she come back?
Or is she gone for good?

Is she too far gone for my outstretched arms to reach her?
Is she too far away for my cries to be heard?

And who is this new girl anyway?
I already don't like her!
But why don't I like her?
I don't even know her.

Should I give her a chance?
Should I find out all I can
About her hopes and dreams,
What she likes and what her fears are?

But I'm so afraid to get to know her.
I'm so afraid to let her in.
I'm afraid I'll lose the old me forever!

But would that be so bad?
Maybe this new girl
Is a better version of me.
Someone who is not so afraid of the world.

But I don't think I can let the old me go.
She is me, she is all I know!
I have a lot of good memories,
But I also have too many nightmares.
She had such a hard time trusting anyone - even herself!
You could see fear and sadness
When you looked into her eyes,
More often then happiness and joy.
But...she is me - and I love her!

So now, I'm torn.
I'm stuck in a tug of war!
I'm not sure who I should reach out and hold on to
And who I should let go of.

Can you help me?
Will I trust your advice?
Or is this something I need to figure out on my own?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

HOME




I want to share one of my favorite songs.  This song is very personal and means a lot to me.  When I think about the word home, I think of my boyfriend.  He is my best friend and my everything.  And when I am with him... I feel like I am "home."  No matter where we are or what we are doing - even when we have our bad days - with him, I am home.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

FIGHT


I have had a really tough few days with certain things are causing me to feel more fragile at the moment than I have felt in a while.  It's causing a lot of self-doubt in me for a few different reasons.  But, like the word that is at the top of this post... I am going to do my best to fight.  To fight for my recovery.  To fight for the things that are important in my life.  And to fight for myself.  I've been through SO much in my life, and I know that this is just another bump in the road.  But that doesn't mean that it's not hard.  Because it is.  But I have to believe that things will get better, and that I will be able to overcome these insecurities and the things that are knocking me down right now.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

COMPLIMENT



I just want all of you to know that...





and...




And please don't let anyone ever make you feel otherwise!

 love always,
jenn

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

LAUGHTER & TEARS



Laughing is one of my favorite things to do!  I love to be silly and laugh.  A day when I laugh and smile, is a day that happens SO much more often since I have been in stable recovery and have been able to let go of my eating disorder.  My ed held me down and tried to suffocate me to the point where it became nearly impossible for me to laugh.  To feel happy.  To feel alive.  It's one of the things that the ed takes away from us.  But then when we find that part of us again... and we let that part SHINE... it's such a wonderful feeling!  I will never take laughing for granted.  If  I ever get a tattoo... I want to get one that says "I live to love and laugh often."  It's one of my favorite quotes, and it's something that I feel represents me and my life in recovery.


I am a very sensitive person.  I always have been.  I wish I wasn't... but I am.  I cry pretty easily too.  I wish I didn't... but I do.  I am an emotional person.  And that part of me used to scare me and made me feel out of control.  So, I would try to numb my feelings.  I didn't want to feel because ever since I was young - I felt like I "felt" too much.  As a kid, I was very emotional and sensitive.  During my eating disorder, I went back and forth between being very emotional to numbing and disconnecting from my emotions.  Now in recovery, I am learning to balance it out.  I am still sensitive.  Emotional.  And I do cry pretty easily (especially if I am stressed, sad, overwhelmed, hurt... even when I am happy or excited sometimes)  But I am learning to manage these feelings a lot better.  To understand them and keep them in balance.  I am a work in progress, but I am getting there.  But if you put on a sad, emotional, or heartfelt movie or tv show... or even certain songs... there will be tears coming from my direction.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

END



This reminds me of recovery too.  In treatment they would always tell us that we needed to jump off the cliff.  To take chances.  To jump and find our wings as we fell.  And you NEED to in recovery.  The eating disorder clings to us as tightly as it can, it keeps us stuck, and it keeps us sick.  It is our comfort zone.  It is what we know.  And it's SO scary to let go of that and to take that leap.  But we NEED to.  It took me a really long time to jump.  I would creep out to the cliff.  I would stand at the edge.  I would put one foot over the edge.  I would even try to climb down...  But I would get scared and I would quickly climb back up & run to the "safety" of the eating disorder.  It wasn't until I actually jumped - that I really started to strengthen my recovery and myself.  It is so scary, but it is so worth it!  Because that's where recovery is, and it is waiting for you to take that leap!

To every end is a new beginning.  Yes, endings can be scary.  They can be sad.  They can be hard.  But they can ALSO be positive & good in your life.  If you let them, they can lead the way to new opportunities, new experiences, and second chances.  Maybe something is ending because it is unhealthy for you.  Or because you have learned all that you need to learn from it, and it's time to move forward.  Or sometimes... things just end and we don't know why.  Endings are a part of life.  But to every end is a new beginning.  And we just need to trust that in the end, things will work out the way they are supposed to.
 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

BEGINNING



This is how I feel about my life in recovery.
I feel like I got a new start.
I feel like I have my life back.
I am grateful that I fought hard enough for myself to get to this place.
I am grateful that I never gave up - even though my body nearly did.

And even though, things are still hard sometimes.
And even though, I still struggle with the ed sometimes.
I feel a peace & happiness inside of me - that I never want to lose.
And my wish for all of you, is to find your peace & happiness too.

It's worth it!

Friday, June 15, 2012

NOW


A lot of times, we think "When I graduate, then I will be happy." or "When I get married or start a family, then I will be happy." or "When I recover, then I will be happy."

Yesterday in Process Group one of the things we talked about was the importance of finding happiness in your life NOW - not waiting for the future to make you happy. Especially in recovery. Because you don't have to just wait with your life on hold until you are recovered to be happy. Yes, recovery is hard, and painful, and feels like complete and total hell at times... But one of the keys is to focus on things that make you happy and things that can take you and your mind away from the eating disorder NOW - in this moment.    


Also, a lot of times we live in the past too much.  We can't let go of  the regrets, and the bad and painful memories.  But we also live in good and happy memories from our past. Those memories are important to hold and keep in your heart -- but don't focus on them... Focus on the NOW.  If we focus too much on the past - or even the future - then we can't live in the "today."

And so we all had to go around the room and say something that makes us happy currently in our life. This was hard of course, considering most of us girls, at the moment, seem to have a STRONGER negative mind than positive mind. But we were all able to come up with something. The thing that I said was: My friends make me happy. I love to laugh and be silly with my friends (or family or co-workers, or anyone). I just love to laugh because there is no room for my eating disorder at that moment!

 
So that is something that I want to work on and apply more and more into my recovery and MY LIFE!  I want to live in the present - not in the past or the future. It's going to take time... but I know I will get there.

(a blog post I wrote back on February 5, 2009)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

LOVE


In recovery I have found love.
 
I have rediscovered the things that I used to love before my eating disorder.
I have discovered new things in my life that I now love and enjoy.
I have become so much closer to my friends and family,
And am able to love them so much more now.
I have reconnected with my spirituality and my relationship 
with God and my love for Him has strengthened so much.
I have found love in the simple things in life.
I am finally learning to love myself (imperfections and all).
I met and have fallen in love with the man of my dreams. My best friend. My everything. <3

Because of recovery, I am able to give and receive love more fully,
And because of recovery, I have fallen in love with life again.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

PERFECT




PERFECT.  I hate that word.  That word held me captive for SO long.
But I refuse to let it tear me down or tear me apart any longer.
I am a work in progress when it comes to this word because I lived under it's spell for way to long.
It will take time to free myself from it... But I WILL get there.

This is something that I am still trying to embrace and love about myself.
I want to believe that I AM enough just the way that I am,
And that I don't need to be perfect... because my imperfections are what make me unique, beautiful,
And what makes me... ME.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

CROWD


When I was younger, I was really really shy.  I didn't like to be in crowds because they overwhelmed me and I felt like I could get lost really easily.

But then when I developed my eating disorder, I actually preferred to be in crowds as opposed to smaller gatherings.  Because I could get lost.  I could slip into the background and no one would notice me.  Especially at parties, family gatherings, work things, ect.  I would prefer crowds because then no one would notice that I wasn't eating.  No one would notice if I wasn't engaging in conversations with everyone.  It was easier to just hide in a crowd instead of always having to put on my "mask" of being okay.  That mask of pretending like I was happy, fun, go-lucky... because sometimes, I just didn't have the energy to pretend like everything was fine - while inside I was falling apart.

Now that I am in recovery, things have changed again.  I don't mind being in crowds.  I like it sometimes.   But I think that I prefer smaller gatherings because I am able to connect with people better.  And connection is something that is so important to me.  It's something I crave.  Something I need.  I have always needed it - but I pushed it away for so long and didn't realize how much I needed it until I was able to start letting go of the eating disorder and actually let people in.  And now, it's something that I cherish.

Monday, June 11, 2012

FORCE



"YOU are a force to be reckoned with.

When hard times come...your shoulders are strong enough to carry the weight.

When you face a mountain of adversity or a seemingly unsurpassable plateau...your legs have the energy you need to get you to the other side.

When you get knocked down or people push you aside...your feet stay steady and you continue on no matter how many times you have to stop.

When the pressures of life are bearing down on you...your back is sturdy and your will is unyielding.

When those you love are suffering or have fallen down, you are there...steadfast...ready to offer a helping hand or pick them up with strong arms if need be.

When it would be easier to quit - your willpower and determination are relentless.

No one can break your spirit or take away your dreams. No one can stop you but you...because you are a force to be reckoned with! Be a force for good in your life and in the lives of others."
( from Marsha at strongisnewskinny.blogspot)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

EMOTIONAL & LOGICAL


My thought process & decision making tends to be a lot more emotional rather than logical.


but...
My boyfriend is a lot more logical when it comes to his thought process & decision making.


so...
I think we balance each other out pretty well ; )



Saturday, June 9, 2012

TROUBLE


I knew I was in trouble.  I couldn't deny it anymore.  I couldn't pretend like I was "fine."  Because I wasn't.  I was in a lot of trouble.  These are some of the poems that I wrote shortly after I was admitted into my first inpatient treatment center in January 2007.  They describe a bit of the "trouble" that my eating disorder had brought into my life.  Trouble that I knew I needed help getting out of. 

I Don't Understand

Why can't you just go away?
Why are you so determined to stay?
I can't even breathe without you pulling me down
Everywhere I go, you follow me around.
I'm trying so hard to fight for my recovery
But the more that I fight - the further away you push me.
My family and friends are really great.
They support me, no matter how many mistakes I make.
But I am really at the end of my rope.
With nothing left to hold on to, I'm about to choke.
You've got your arms wrapped around me so tight.
It's getting so much harder to see that small light.
That light of hope - it's fading away.
Please someone help me, before it's too late.

Me and my ED

I need to let go of this horrible addiction,
That tears at my soul and blurs my vision.
I try and try to leave my ED behind,
But it sneaks up on me and puts it’s hand in mine.
And before I can recognize the ED and push it away,
It’s grip gets even tighter and I can't get away.
The ed's voice and my voice sound so much alike,
So how do I tell, which one is mine?

My Secret

I used to have a secret, I never told
I kept it inside, I couldn't let go.
I thought I could fool everyone around me,
But the ED's destruction was too easy to see.

It changed my appearance, my behavior, my life
I couldn't do anything without it right by my side.
Feeling so overwhelmed, but wanting to appear in control
He was sucking the life right out of my soul.

Friends, family, co-workers, even strangers
Would take one look at me and know my life was in danger.
They would cry, plead, beg, even yell
But I just fought back, I couldn't admit I had failed.

I pushed people away because I couldn't bear to let them see,
Just how much ED was hurting me.
I was lost in this world of food and weight
And I knew I needed help before it was too late.

Thankfully my family never gave up on me
And helped me get into treatment to start my recovery.
I'm going to work hard and give it my all,
Because a "life without ED" is the ultimate goal.

Friday, June 8, 2012

HONESTY


"To gain complete honesty, it is important to let go of all your fears and defense mechanisms."

One of the most important things I learned in recovery is the importance of honesty.  Without honesty, you can't fully recover because you are still hiding things.  You are still holding onto secrets that are keeping you sick.  My eating disorder made me such a dishonest person.  I hated that part of me.  I hated lying, sneaking, manipulating, & hiding things.  It made me feel terrible.  But I felt like I HAD to do those things to protect my eating disorder.  And the more I lied.  The more I hid things.  The easier it got to do it again and again... and again.  I hated my dishonesty - but I felt like I had no other choice.  I felt like I had so many secrets and I was so scared of what people would think or do if they found out the truth.  So I hid them.  And I carried so much guilt inside because of it. 

In recovery, I was able to slowly start to let go of my dishonest behaviors.  And I was able to slowly talk about the shame and the secrets I was holding on to.  And I started to feel safe exposing those things.  And it was one of the most freeing feelings.  Secrets keep us sick.  They keep us stuck.  They hurt us.  They hurt other people.  And now in recovery, I try to be as honest as I can.  I'm not perfect and I make mistakes sometimes, but I try to be an honest person.  It is a quality that is SO important to me.  Not only in others but in myself.  Trust takes time to rebuild, and I know that it is going to take time for my friends and family to have complete trust in me again.  But I have come a long way, and I am SO much more honest in my life now then when I was wrapped up in my eating disorder.  Our secrets keep us sick.  And we need to let people in - in order to find that peace, that freedom, the life in recovery. 


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

WARRIOR


To me, a warrior is someone who believes in themselves.  And no matter how many times life (or ED) knocks them down... they keep getting back up!  A warrior is someone who embraces their imperfections but won't settle for anything less than what they deserve.  A warrior is someone who fights not only for themselves, but fights for other people.  Someone who lends other people their hope and strength until that person finds those things in themselves.  A warrior is someone who is not bitter about the struggles they have gone through - but instead uses those things to make themselves stronger.  To make themselves fight harder for the things they want in life, and the things that are important to them.  A warrior is someone who is grateful and can recognize the beautiful things in life.  The beautiful things in others.  The beautiful things in them.  A warrior is someone who never gives up... no matter what!  A warrior is a survivor.  A thriver.  A warrior is someone who knows that even though they will probably fall down many many many many times... they continue getting up because they refuse to let life (or ED) keep them down on the ground.  To me, all of YOU are warriors.  And don't let anyone ever tell you otherwise!


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

SINCERE



Sincerity is...
real
honest
true
genuine
authentic

~~~

I think one of the most important qualities to have is sincerity.  But... I didn't have this while struggling with my eating disorder.  I couldn't.  I was dishonest.  I told people what I thought they needed and wanted to hear.  I was manipulative.  I HAD to be to protect my eating disorder.  It's still really hard for me to look back at the person I was back then, because I don't like that person.  I don't like the person my eating disorder turned me into.  That person isn't who I am deep inside.  I lost my true self when my eating disorder took over.  But in recovery, I found my true self.  I found the me that had been missing for so long.  And I hold all of these qualities that I listed above very close to me.  They are very important to me, and I try to be sincere in my thoughts, my words, & my actions.  I don't ever want to be that person again.  I want to be me.  I want to be sincere in everything I do.

Monday, June 4, 2012

CRAZY


"WHY are you doing this!?  Are you crazy!?  You MUST be or you would stop all of this!"

Those are words that people said to me... and I said to myself... for the longest time.  I know now that these words came from a place of hurt, pain, frustration, worry, fear, & confusion from my loved ones and from myself during this time - but the way that it was vocalized was by using the word crazy.  I couldn't understand WHY I couldn't let go of my eating disorder.  I couldn't understand WHY I was letting something control me, hurt me... slowly kill me.  And the people around me couldn't understand this either.  So, I must be crazy right???  That is the only thing that could explain this, right??.  Wrong!  I wasn't crazy.  I was a prisoner.  I was being held hostage by something that was bigger than me.  I was under the eating disorder's power and I didn't have the tools to get out of it.  But I wasn't crazy.

I sure felt like I was though.  And it took until I went into treatment and started understanding my illness.  Started understand the reasons WHY I couldn't let it go.  The reasons WHY I had all of these voices and thoughts in my head.  And the reasons WHY I needed help.  It wasn't until I went to treatment for the first time and saw other girls who were going through the same thing, that I really started to understand and believe that I wasn't in fact crazy.  And it brought a lot of relief and comfort to me.  It took time, but I was able to let go of those feelings and start to really work on the underlying issues underneath my eating disorder, and then I was able to start letting go and moving forward.

I hate when people use the term crazy when it comes to eating disorders and other addictions.  But I think people use that word because to them it might be "crazy."  But I think what they are really trying to say is that they don't understand it.  Eating disorders ARE very complicated, and very hard to understand.  Not just to people on the outside.  People who struggle with them don't understand them either at times.  But it doesn't mean they are crazy.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

POWER


When I first developed my eating disorder... I was desperate for a sense of control in my life.  And at first, I did feel a sense of power and of control.  It became addicting, intoxicating.  I felt like nothing could hurt me, nothing could touch me, that I would be safe with this protection around me.  

But of course I was wrong... because the eating disorder quickly took that power and used it to hurt me, to make me unsafe, and to slowly break me down bit by bit.  But by this time, I was so entrapped in it that I couldn't break free. 

Then it came to the day when I admitted that I was powerless over my eating disorder and that I needed help... and as soon as I admitted that, I started to slowly regain the power the eating disorder took from me.  But this time, I started using that power inside of me in a healthy way.  And through recovery, I have found that I am stronger and more powerful than my eating disorder.  I fought, I cried, I struggled... but I finally beat it!  And I found a healthy power inside of me that I will never let my eating disorder (or anyone or anything) take away from me.  

And now, I hope to use that power to be a voice for others.  To help others find the freedom that I have.  I want to help others see that they too, have a healthy power inside of them to not only beat their eating disorders - but to also live their dreams, find happiness, & be free from whatever is holding them down.


Saturday, June 2, 2012

INVISIBLE


"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)

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Growing up as the middle child in my family was difficult for me. I didn't know where I fit in, and often felt invisible and ignored among my siblings. There are 5 of us. Two older and two younger.  Growing up, I felt different.  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 didn't understand it then, but I think one of the reasons why I acted out more was my way of trying to say "I'm here, notice me too."  I didn't know how to say that.  All I knew is that I was hurting, I felt misunderstood, and invisible.  I don't blame my family. My family was (and is) a close and wonderful family.  I think it was my personality, I was overly-sensitive, and feeling lost in all the shuffle that caused me to feel this way.

And these feelings have carried with me throughout my teenage years and my 20's.  I struggled with feeling like I wasn't as important as other people.  Whether it was with friends, co-workers, classmates, ect.  I felt like if I wasn't there... no one would really miss me.  And it caused me to cling to my eating disorder even tighter.  I felt like it was my protection from the world.  I felt like it would keep me safe.

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.  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.  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 of this world. And for that - I am grateful.