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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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learning to trust my body

It’s time I had a lil faith in my own body.

Ed’s done everything to destroy that faith for me, for as long as I can remember. ¬†He told me I was different, I couldn’t eat like other people. ¬†Sure, their bodies could have all the treats and desserts that they wanted, but mine couldn’t handle it. ¬†Obviously any trace of fat I ate would cling to my body; any extra calories meant inevitable weight gain. ¬†It didn’t matter that I saw everyone around me eating as they pleased without consequence, I was convinced that it didn’t work like that for me. ¬†That theory took root in my mind, and stayed there, making me obsess over everything I ate and its impact on my body.¬†¬†I could never trust my body to do its own thing; I had to control everything.

As a rational person, especially with everything I’ve learned in therapy, I know that’s not true. ¬†In fact, since changing some of my eating habits and trying to add to my diet, my dietitian has told me multiple times that my metabolism is crazy-high. ¬†My body currently needs even more than the average person, just to maintain the weight I’m at. ¬†So there’s really no reason to worry¬†that eating a cupcake will make me gain five pounds overnight. ¬†But Ed’s still in the back of my mind, telling me that’s the truth, and it’s hard to ignore him and think rationally sometimes.

Yesterday, I decided to challenge that whole theory, and challenge myself, with a cupcake.

I know, it sounds silly to consider a cupcake a “challenge”, but that’s just how ridiculous eating disorders are. ¬†Not too long ago I wouldn’t dare treat myself and eat a cupcake; a year ago I wouldn’t even have a lick of icing. ¬†So while the idea of going out for coffee and cupcakes with my dad sounded like a lovely way to spend the afternoon, it also had the potential to cause a whole lot of anxiety.

The chosen cupcake? ¬†Yummy chocolate, with marshmallowy goo in the centre, and a perfect pink flower made of icing on top. ¬†And completely unknown calories/fat/blah blah blah – I didn’t even let myself start the pointless guessing and estimating I normally would have done.

I surprised myself Рno stressing, before, during, or after!  I enjoyed a delicious cupcake, spent some quality time with my dad, and had an overall lovely afternoon.

And today, my body surprised me! ¬†I woke up, and *surprise!*, I hadn’t become a human blob overnight. ¬†I looked the same, felt the same, fit into my jeans the same as I did yesterday morning. ¬†I resisted the urge to weigh myself, but I’m willing to bet that wouldn’t have shown any cupcake evidence either.

Proof: it’s definitely not as risky as I believed to treat myself once in a while.

I think this was an important lesson to teach myself. ¬†I don’t have to be afraid of food. ¬†My body knows exactly what to do with it, just like anyone else’s. ¬†I’m allowed to have all the yummies I’ve denied myself, and nothing bad is going to happen because of it. ¬†Yes, I know I still have weight to gain, and I’ve accepted and embraced that, but it won’t happen all at once like Ed threatens it will. ¬†Pushing that belief aside, even if it’s a little bit at a time, is hugely important in my recovery. ¬†This was one more recovery challenge I’ve succeeded in, one more point for me in the war against Ed.

Every day of fighting for recovery isn’t great, but some days sure are sweet (as a cupcake)!

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I feel like I’ve had the same New Year’s Resolution over and over and over¬†– this will be the year I get healthy.

I know it’s been an issue for a lot longer than that, but for the past two years especially, my eating disorder has been an obvious problem around the holidays. ¬†Two years ago, I can remember¬†going shopping with mom for a dress to wear to a New Years Eve party. ¬†After a comment on how tiny I was, I gave up looking and ended up wearing the least revealing dress I already owned, not wanting anyone else to notice how much my bones stuck out. ¬†Last year, I was living on my own and eating the least I could get away with, and I was well-aware of how bad I’d gotten. ¬†The idea of staying at my parents’ house over Christmas and having to eat with them for those few days¬†was terrifying.

Both years, I “decided” that I’d had enough of this crap, and that I’d finally break the bad habits and get healthier in the new year. ¬†Of course, nothing ever changed. ¬†They were empty, pretend resolutions that I didn’t even make an effort to achieve.

Finally, this year I am getting better and healthier, although it’s not because of any New Year’s resolutions, In April I kind of had a harsh coming-to-terms with reality, and started the long, struggle-filled journey of recovery. ¬†Who says life changes have to begin in January?

I’ve come a long way since then. ¬†I’ve still got plenty left to work on, but I’m proud of what I’ve done.

It’s weird almost, to be headed into the new year without a huge plan to change. ¬†Instead I want to continue with the changes I’ve made, and just keep getting better, healthier, happier. ¬†For the first time, “getting healthier” is a plausible goal, and I’m already on the way there. ¬†I feel a lot more positive and capable about that goal this year, and about life in general.

I think I started this post intending for it to be a “year in review” type thing, but I feel like it’s more about gratefulness. ¬†Whether or not I fully wanted to start the whole recovery process, I couldn’t be happier that I gave it a chance. ¬†The progress that I’ve made¬†over the past year feel amazing, and I feel so proud of myself for making the changes I have, and so thankful that my parents pushed me to make them. ¬†Recovery has been a daily struggle, but so was living fully in an eating disorder. ¬†This struggle, at least, is worth it, and is leading to amazing things, and I don’t regret the decision for it for a second. ¬†Life is starting to feel more and more worth living, and I know it’ll just get better.

‚ÄúI am so grateful for my troubles. As I reflect back on my life, I have come to realize that my greatest triumphs have been born of my greatest troubles.‚ÄĚ
-Steve Maraboli

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