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self love in 2016

I posted this on my instagram, but I feel it belongs here as well.

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new year’s honesty post: I may talk a big talk about positivity and self love and all that stuff, but in actual fact I’m fucking awful at it. I’ve been struggling, hard. I’ve been beating myself up about all my failures, and forgetting how far I’ve come in this past year. but really? life doesn’t just hand you wonderful things, and if recovery were easy people wouldn’t struggle for years with eating disorders. with everything, you’ve got to fight for what you want in life, and accept that you’re gonna mess up once in a while. you don’t have to be perfect, no one is. just do the best you can. so, here’s to starting 2016 with a better attitude and a lil self compassion. ūüíē happy new years bys, don’t forget to be nice to and love yo’self this year

To add to that, I’m setting a few goals for 2016:

  • be healthy enough to train for and run the Tely10 Roadrace with mom in July
  • be more social, by which I mean seeing friends and leaving the house at least once a week
  • travel, somewhere, anywhere, at least once this year
  • be solid enough in recovery by December 2016 that I don’t need monthly checkups
  • have some kind of plans/be thinking about moving out in 2017 ?

I’m not so good at goals, but I need something to work towards; I’ve begun to feel useless and totally unmotivated lately. ¬†I think I can handle those things. ¬†Hereby giving myself a kick in the ass to step my game up, I’m going to make 2016 goooood.

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because being sick takes too much effort

Revelation time.

It’s nothing groundbreaking, but it’s something I want to get down in words, so that maybe there’s a better chance I’ll keep it in mind and keep believing it.

Stuck in one of those hopeless-feeling slumps a few months ago, I remember asking a friend who was doing well in recovery when it all started to make sense for her. I was feeling so discouraged and frustrated with my progress (or lack thereof) in recovery, I needed some reassuring that it was possible.

Her answer, at the time, gave me a little hope that maybe someday I’d understand, but also seemed pretty unlikely. Quite simply, she said being sick takes too much effort.

I’m still struggling, I’m still sick, I still obsess over the silliest things ‚Äď but I’m finally realizing she was right. After little tastes of recovery and the freedom it brings, following ED’s rules is exhausting.

I’m not super sure where my weight is right now, but in my mind it’s higher than I’m comfortable with. It may be my disordered mind, but seeing my little belly in the mirror makes me feel awful. It’s a daily struggle to stop myself from constantly body-checking and obsessing and worrying about weight gain.

In the worse parts of my ED, it would have been an obvious decision: eat less. Obviously, the way to fix everything is to restrict and cut out anything unhealthy that may have contributed to that flubby body. But now? Yeah, cutting back and getting really strict about what’s ‚Äúokay‚ÄĚ to eat is still a thought. But it’s not one I’m listening to.

I’ve discovered I really like some of those foods ED would say aren’t okay. Some of my favorite foods are probably the ones most likely to make me gain weight. And this is where Brittany’s words ring true ‚Äď being sick is a lot of work. Why should I deny myself the simple pleasure of eating yummy food? Sure, a little body discomfort sucks, but forbidding poptarts sucks even more.

It may not be a huge aha moment, but I’m really glad I had this one. Food used to be such an unpleasant concept to me ‚Äď something necessary to be tolerated but never enjoyed. Being able to connect good food and a happy belly to a happy Emily is a much nicer frame of mind.

Again, baby steps ‚Äď but I’m getting there.

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nothing’s stopping you but yourself

I think I’m at the point where I’m just really disappointed in myself because I’m not better yet.

By saying that I don’t mean to discredit how far I’ve come – I know I have made progress in recovery. ¬†I’m better than I was. ¬†My list of fear foods, if I were to sit down and write one, is a fraction of what it once was. ¬†My anxiety about foods has lessened, I’ve relaxed about food rules, and I’ve had glimpses of how truly wonderful life must be without an eating disorder. ¬†But by no means can I say I’m recovered, and that fact makes me so, so angry at myself.

I really want to do better. ¬†I don’t want to be stuck in this disordered life forever; there’s so much I’m missing out on, still.

I know, I’ve preached on and on about the “compare and despair” thing, and how everyone’s recovery is a unique, individual journey. ¬†But right now, I think it’s the kick in the butt I need.

Two of my friends from Hope therapy have been top of my mind lately.  One, for a terrible reason, and the other for a wonderful one.

I’ll start with the terrible.

I met Jess at Hope, and we just clicked. ¬†I felt we did at least, but I think that’s the way she made everyone feel – her loving, smiling, wonderful personality drew people to her, and made you feel special just to be in her presence. ¬†We helped each other through the shittiest struggles of recovery, and saw each other on some of our best and worst days. ¬†No matter how bad her day was going, Jess always had a smile, hug, or a joke to make someone else feel better. ¬†I watched her transform from a sad, sick, ghost of a girl to the glowing, happy, healthy girl I loved. ¬†The past few months I really think she was doing well – living her life fully and happily.

In the midst of her living her life and doing what she loved, Jess died in what I can only call a freak accident while rock climbing. ¬†It’s still fresh, and not completely real to my brain, so I won’t write a lot about it, but I’m overwhelmed by how unfair life can be. ¬†Jess struggled¬†so hard, and overcame so much, just for this to take away the life she fought for. ¬†My heart is absolutely broken.

At the same time, another one of my recovery friends is making my heart glow with pride. ¬†When I first went to Hope, Brittany had been going for quite a while already, and although I immediately liked her, in the back of my mind she was always somewhat of a lost cause. ¬†It was obvious how very much she was struggling, and I was afraid she was one of the unlucky ones who are stuck, just “surviving” within the disorder for the rest of their lives.

Well, a year and a half later, she’s proving me wrong, and I’ve never been happier about being wrong. ¬†She’s gone away to an inpatient program, and as I watch her progress through Facebook, and get lil updates via text message, I can’t help but grin. ¬†I think she’s really beating this. ¬†She’s becoming healthier, brighter, realer in every picture, and you can see in her smile that recovery agrees with her – mind, body, and soul. ¬†She’s been a bit of an inspiration for me.

If my two friends, both of whom I had labeled “sicker than me”, can recover and¬†leave Ed in the past, what’s stopping me? ¬†I know the answer, and It’s time I acted on it. ¬†Nothing’s stopping me but myself.

It’s time to step my game up.
Recovery is possible, even for me.

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allllll the birthdays, and alllll the cake

I survived it: the weekend of allllll the birthdays, and all of the challenges that came with.

Like many of the things I say, to someone who’s never suffered an eating disorder, that sounds ridiculous. ¬†Challenges? ¬†What are you talking about, birthdays are great!?

This year I would agree – yes, birthdays are great. ¬†For the years and years when my eating disorder ruled my life, however, birthdays were nothing but stress and avoidance. ¬†Toooooo much food and socialization for Ed, that’s for sure. ¬†Family dinners were never fun, and birthday cake was not even up for consideration. ¬†When mom insisted that I choose a birthday dessert, it was always angel food cake – the only thing Ed considered safe. ¬†(I had angel food cake somewhat recently, after being re-introduced to actual desserts, and oh my god – it’s the most boring cake in the world.)

Last year, soon after starting my recovery journey, I had my first piece of birthday cake in over ten years. ¬†It was a huge accomplishment for me at the time, and a pretty exciting “new” thing. ¬†¬†Looking back on it, I’m still proud of that baby step, but I’m even more proud of how far I’ve come since then.

I spent my twenty-second birthday in Montreal with a friend, at a weekend-long music festival.  Eating that weekend was pretty unstructured and messy, but birthday cake was a priority.   It ended up being a slice of chocolatey mousse cake, at breakfast time, followed by a day of eating definitely-less-than-I-should-have.  Like I said, baby steps, I guess.  Any cake was a pretty big deal after ten+ years of none.

This year, birthday number twenty-three, involved a whole lot more cake.  A whole lot more everything.

My mom’s, my cousin’s, and my birthday are all within a four-day period, and this year that resulted in a full weekend of birthday festivities. ¬†Between Friday and Monday, our fridge calendar was blocked solid with celebrations, and leading up to it, I have to admit I was pretty nervous and anxious about all the food that would be involved. ¬†A single piece of cake is one thing – a weekend full of food-related events is just slightly more stressful. ¬†If I didn’t explode from either all the calories or all the anxiety, it’d be a miracle.

Well, it’s Tuesday, and here I am. ¬†And let me tell you – I had a fabulous weekend. ¬†I fully enjoyed it, because I didn’t listen to Ed’s BS. ¬†This year, I didn’t miss out on anything.

The past few days were wonderful.  I shared a drink (or two..) with my baby cousin to celebrate her turning nineteen.  I enjoyed a backyard barbecue with all my friends and family (and maybe more drinks).  I went out for a lovely birthday dinner with my also lovely boyfriend.  I ate homemade ice cream cake, and good old-fashioned vanilla birthday cake, and fancy gourmet (birthday) cupcakes, and it was all DELICIOUS.   And best of all, I talked and joked and laughed and enjoyed a relaxed, carefree, pretty-much-normal weekend with my favorite humans in the world.

This was not a weekend I could have enjoyed a year ago, and most definitely not before that. ¬†I’m so glad I’ve come far enough in recovery to be able to celebrate with my loved ones, and not have food be such a stressful thing, or something that prevents me from having a good time. ¬†I can’t lie – I did have a few moments when Ed tried to take over, and tell me “you don’t need to eat that, you don’t need those extra calories”. ¬†But I had to remind myself – one weekend of more-than-usual consumption is not going to matter¬†in the long term. ¬†Turning down the birthday treats, and being awkward at the various events, and spending my time obsessing would have had a much more negative impact on my weekend, and memories of it.

I have such amazing people in my life, and I am so thankful I got to spend my birthday (and Mom’s and Sammie’s) with them this year. ¬†Birthdays are pretty cool, when you let them be.

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A Big Ol’ F You, Ed

One of my therapists told me yesterday she knows I’ll beat this because I’m so frigging stubborn.

I think she meant it jokingly, and I laughed, but I’d kind of like to think it’s true.¬† I know I’m stubborn, I always have been.¬† I’ve never been good at accepting that I’m wrong, or that I’m not good at something, and I love to prove people wrong and surpass their expectations.¬† Sometimes my stubbornness can be seen as a bad thing, but in pursuit of recovery I’m embracing it, full-force.

I think after ten years of being led by Ed’s rules and carefully tiptoeing through life trying to keep him happy, I’m finally, truly DONE.¬† Even the past few months since I started seeing therapists/doctors/dietitians to get better, I’ve been somewhat hesitant and wavering in my decision to change my life.

As I get further into the recovery process, and spend more time thinking about everything, the list of things Ed has stolen from me gets longer and longer.¬† I honestly thought I was living a full, happy, normal life for all those years with Ed.¬† I’m realizing now how much I’ve been missing out on and denying myself, all because of my eating disorder.¬† All the little things I thought I was fine without built up to be a huge thing that Ed’s taken from me – my life.¬† And I refuse to give him that power any longer.

I think in recovery you really need to learn to hate Ed.¬† When I was stuck so deeply within my eating disorder, Ed was like a safety zone, or my best friend – always there for me to rely on when no one else was.¬† But as I put more distance between myself and it, I’m recognizing what an awful, lying, damaging frenemy Ed really is.¬† And I HATE him for it.¬† But I’m finding that it’s easier to disobey Ed’s rules when you hate him.¬† Every big healthy meal I eat at meal support, every fear food I conquer, is a great big FUCK YOU to Ed.

If for no reason other than stubbornness, I’m going to beat this.¬† But there are so many reasons besides that to get better.¬† Every day is a struggle, but I’ll win this fight.¬† I’ve always been stubborn as hell, and I don’t intend to change that now!

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Emma vs. PB&J

I’ve had a few really good days of motivated recovery, so in all honesty, I was just waiting for Ed’s voice to break into my thoughts.¬† And right on time, he showed up this morning while I was making my lunch to bring to work.

It’s so frustrating.¬† I feel like, after attending group therapy, dietitian meetings, and psychologist appointments for four months, it shouldn’t still be such a struggle.¬† But for every victory, I feel like Ed finds a new thing for me to stress about.

It seems like a never-ending cycle.¬† I have a few days where I feel so positive about recovery, and I’m looking forward to all the cool things in my healthy future, and I’m challenging fear foods left right and center.¬† And it’s usually on about the forth day, I wake up panicky and uncomfortable, and convinced every calorie I eat is going to accumulate on my body in pure fat.¬† THANKFULLY, the really bad guilty hateful thoughts only stick around for a day or so, and then I work my way back up to being super stoked about getting better.

I feel like I’m getting better at handling it though.¬† The fact that I haven’t turned into a gross obese whale after eating all the “bad, unhealthy, forbidden” foods I’d previously denied myself is reassuring.¬† I’m slowly learning that it’s NORMAL to eat all those things.¬† Normal people don’t think twice about having cookies or ice cream or any of those yummy things, and why should they?¬† NOBODY gains five pounds just because they decided to have a piece of birthday cake.¬† So, contrary to what I’ve believed for over ten years, I’m probably not the exception to that rule.¬† I can eat things that taste good, and nothing bad will happen.¬† I’ve even done it, and I’m still alive and well.

That’s probably why it’s so frustrating when I do get stressed about food.¬† There are still so many rules, STUPID rules, that are ingrained in my head.¬† Sure, I’ve tackled a lot of really scary stressy foods.¬† Some of them aren’t even an issue anymore, and I can eat them in normal life, no problem.¬† But so many things are stressful in nonsensical ways – they’re only safe on certain days, in combination with other allowable foods, or in specific places.

Like peanut butter.¬† At meal support, YUM, gimme all the peanut butter.¬† But when I set a goal to eat peanut butter at home, I instantly wanted to take it back because in the real world it’s just too scary.¬† So putting a pb&j sammich in my lunchbag this morning was a perfect time for Ed to start yelling at me.¬† There were tears involved.¬† At 6:30AM.¬† Over a SANDWICH.¬† How silly is that?!

I hate the whole “hashtag blessed” thing, but I truly feel #blessed to have such excellent friends from therapy.¬† I’m especially glad that one of them is the unofficial president of the peanut butter fan club, and gave me an early-morning pep talk on how good pb&j is and how happy and strong my body will be from it.¬† I can tell myself the same thing over and over, but somehow it’s more believable when Sarah tells me that I don’t need to stress about that delicious, healthy, happy lunch that’s waiting for me.

Some days are still struggle city, and on those days I feel like quitting and going back to all of Ed’s rules and forgetting all the progress I’ve made.¬† As time goes on though, those days are getting less frequent.¬†¬† And on the good days, I feel SO PROUD to show Ed I’m stronger than him.¬† Day by day I’m getting even stronger (thanks to peanut butter!), and soon Ed won’t have any power over me.

Baby steps.

Today at least, I’m counting as a win.¬† Nice try, pb&j, but you’re not gonna ruin my day.

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