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Sunday, May 15, 2011

99.9% there

Hello friends:  It has been a while since I last blogged and that is simply because I didn't know what to blog about.  There has been many new developments in my life regarding recovery and it was just hard to decide which to write about. 

So, I made a decision to write about...shall I dare to admit it...Almost recovered!!!  I titled this entry 99.9% because that's how close I feel to being fully RECOVERED.  You may be critical, cynical even.  Or you may even be doubtful of the possibility that there is such a thing as being fully RECOVERED.  I used to feel that way too.  But, I honestly feel more recovered than at any other time in my life.  On some days I feel 99.7% but it's pretty close.  I feel good. Jennifer Schafer and others have written about their journeys as being RECOVERED but I had my doubts.  BUT, it's happening, my friend, it's happening.

I was always struggling with something.  Keeping the weight down, keeping the food down, battling the number on the scale, eating forbidden food and secretly taking diet pills. I constantly compared my body and my whole self with others.  I always had something to focus on that prevented me from feeling truly alive and free.  But over the past year, I have made tremendous progress in these areas.  I have faced fears that once seemed insurmountable.  Things I once shied away from, challenges that seemed bigger than me and personal awarenesses such as pride that I didn't want to admit to have seemed less scary. This year something made it worth the little more effort it took to merely be IN RECOVERY, the little EXTRA it took to be RECOVERED. 

Staring into the sun is what I call it.  I can't tell you exactly what it was that kept me going, the "not turning away" so to speak.  The one more step over the sidelines. I took the risk and it has made all the difference.  And, now I am almost there.  What exactly is THERE? I do not know how to answer really.  But I will know once I have arrived, that I trust.  Because I know I have arrived HERE and although I don't know exactly know how I got HERE, I know what HERE feels like therefore I trust I will recognize THERE in the same way I know HERE.  (got that??)

Although I don't know what it is that is missing, the missing .1% I am determined to keep working on it, searching for it.  That is the journey I'm on.  I'm determined to keep taking the next step, keep walking.  And, I don't beat myself up for where I am not, as I used to.  I am very proud of the 99.9%.  It's been a lot of hard work, and I say again I am proud of myself and my work.

If you are struggling with the 20%, 50% or 75%, take this very moment to congratulate yourself for that work.  It is really 100% of who you are really, not simply the work that you have put into your recovery.  Take this moment to be proud of what and who you are and what and who you are becoming.  The work you are progressing on can offer you motivation and direction but it is just as important to take a moment to look at how far you have already come, the 10%, 40% or 85%.  Because at any point, you are also 100% of all of you. You are completely you right here in the moment, not merely 45% recovered from an eating disorder.   

Recovered....what a concept!!!!!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Lately I have been having a lot of feelings mixed up together, and this has been causing me some distress. I also have bipolar disorder (along with a few other diagnoses) Top that off with working and going to school, and being in a relationship, let's just say things have been a challenge.  I saw my psychiatrist yesterday and she decided to add a medication for me to take at night. 

Back in days when I was active in my eating disorder, this would have sent me into a tailspin. Not only the feelings, but the suggestion that maybe I needed something more medically to help me out. You mean, I can't control this on my own? Does this make me weak? Does this make me crazy? The voices in my head would shout. 

Today it's much different. Through recovery, I am able to recognize and be present to my emotions, and I am open and willing to ask for - and receive - help.

I used to think that somehow something was innately wrong with me.  A diagnosis here, a diagnosis there, and it just seemed as though I was defective.  That took me a long time to work through and process, a long road of self acceptance and acceptance that I am NOT defective, I just have some challenges, and everyone has their own challenges.

So I walk into this day knowing and understanding that I am perfectly okay just as I am in this very moment. And so are you.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


I'm stuck!  Ever felt stuck? 

I've been stuck in my Eating Disorder and I've been stuck in my recovery.  In the past, I resisted it, hate it, yell and scream about it to others as well as yell and scream AT it or I can even push through it, avoid it, distract myself from it or get obsessed about it.  I can even accept it.  And, believe me I have done all of these things.  Only to end up feeling stickier.  I just feel like Braer Rabbit! But I'm realizing that it's less important to me to try and unstick myself as it is how I sit WITH the stickiness.   In other words, I am finding that what feels better is to merely allow myself to be sticky.  I don't think this is the same as accepting it.  Rather, it is an opening up of myself to the experience of "sticky".  I learned this concept from a very basic yet profound activity when I was in treatment.  I learned to "taste" my food again after many years of denying myself of this pleasure.  I would take the time to look, smell and then taste each bite as if each was a unique experience that would never occur again.  Later in my recovery, I broadened this lesson by having meals with my therapist and engaging in food challenges with my friends who were also in recovery from an Eating Disorder.  Over and over, I would experience this "stickiness." I remember it being challenging and I often HATED it, I fought it.  But, in time, I learned to enjoy the experience of being "sticky" with food. 

I no longer experience this sense of stickiness when interacting with food, but believe me, I experience it in life over and over again.  I often feel I can't move forward. I have the desire, I have the yearning but I am STUCK.  Stuck by and within a place in life, by circumstances, and by situations that are mostly outside my control.  And, again, the concept of merely accepting it sounds too simple and almost dismissive.  Instead, I imagine myself sitting beside the stickiness as if it is within me at all but a state of being.  Almost as if it is an alien I do not know anything about.  Because, in reality, it may not be me at all.  I have to ask myself  "Who am I to be so VAIN!" So, instead, I try to be-friend this stickiness.  I try to be gentle with it and listen to it, be curious about it.  Or if that's too difficult, I merely just sit with it.  I am patient with it and I am patient with myself as I am being patient with it!  And, amazingly enough, I often find that it is not as uncomfortable as I thought it was.  It is not as threatening.  It is not as awful. 

Throughout my recovery and throughout my life, I am learning that I have little control over most things, including (ironically enough) how quickly I recover.  But, though I have little control, I do have much impact. My impact comes from how I care for myself and how I care for life in general.  I am learning that when I feel stuck it is because I WANT more.  And that is a degree.  But, as my mother so frequently reminded me as I was growing up, I do not ALWAYS get what I want.  However, I want it none the less and I get angry that I can 't have it. Then I begin to resent IT or I resent the world or the universe or God or whatever is in front of me at the moment. When this happens, I soon feel helpless to change and then I get STUCK. But, I can, on the other hand, choose to be open and willing. I can invite this stickiness to stick with me just as I can reassure the stickiness that I will stick with it.     

So, in my last thought for this blog....Maybe this stickiness isn't so bad. After all, isn't there such a thing as "sticky sweet."

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Self Soothing or Self Sacrifice

When was the last time you took a really long, hot shower? A shower that is truly enjoyable, with your favorite body washes. A shower in which you were mindful of how absolutely good it felt? Today, I realized that it had been months since I had taken that kind of shower. I have gotten into the habit of hopping in and hopping out, and gone astray from something that I once took true pleasure in.

I had a therapy appointment today, that was very insightful. I realized I have gotten out of the regular routine of self care, and self soothing. Hence, my serenity has been seriously interrupted. It's easy for me (as it is for all of us) to get caught up in all the things we have to do.  For me, that includes 2 part time jobs, a daily dog walking gig, school, a relationship, recovery, and maintaining responsibility as a productive member of society.  That's a big difference from where I used to be in my eating disorder.  There came a point in my eating disorder that I couldn't even function, I had nothing in my life but chaos and dis-order. I lived (rather, existed) in and out of hospitals or treatment centers. That was my life.  Through recovery, though, I got better. I learned not only to function without the eating disorder, but to enjoy life without the eating disorder. In time, my life became filled - and fulfilled. Five and a half years later, life is good. Better than I could have ever imagined it to be. Ah, but again, how easy it is to "forget", or let slide, one of the staples that helped me to recover in the first place - self care.

Early in my recovery, I learned that I absolutely love long, hot showers. I love the way the hot water feels beating down on my skin. I love the smells of my favorite body wash, and the way my loofah feels. I love the way the water runs down my hair. I love scrubbing my head with my nails while I wash my hair.  Lastly, I love how clean and crisp and relaxed I feel when I get out. Yet, somewhere a long the way I let that go. I got busy and pre-occupied.  In fact, I have let a lot of self care and self soothing fall by the wayside.  Sure, it's easy to practice self care on my days off, but on the days when I'm going from here to there I treat myself more so like a human doing rather than a human being.

This is my commitment to myself to get back to basics. To make myself more of a priority. Regularly.This is  also my challenge to you, to do the same. 

Until next time, take care of yourself. It really does make all the difference!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

"Gotta Run"

Hello again my friend:  My friend and co-author wore a t-shirt the other day that reminded me of my recovery.  It read "Gotta Run."  I consider myself an avid runner, although I am by no means a "natural runner"  although as I write those words...maybe I am or at least I was.  Relevant to the message of this blog, while active in my eating disorder, I would have been easily defined as a "runner" by the definition as someone who runs.  I RAN, literally, and I RAN figuratively.  Running helped me cope.  I ran from problems.  Specifically, fear and insecurity. My Anorexia was at it's worse at a time in my life when I was the most alone.  I had few people I referred to as friends and no purpose except completing a masters degree (ironically enough in psychology).  I was faced with what my life meant and I had no answer to give.  So, I ran.

I ran from my past but I was not running to anything. I was lost and, as I sit here reflecting and writing to you, running in circles.  My co-author's last blog entry was about her experience with walking a labrynth and how it paralleled her search for the inner "truth."  The spiralling of the eating disorder was on her.  Well, running was like that for me.  Running (again, literally and figuratively) kept me from the introspection that my friend had experienced with the labrynth.  Running kept my mind and my body busy. 

One thing that made a huge difference (among so many on this journey of self discovery and life acceptance) was that I began to run because I enjoyed it, I wanted to do it and stopped running because I felt I HAD to.  I stopped running my life and started running purposefully.  The parallel of physically and running mentally is evident to you, I think. 

When I was active in my eating disorder I starved because I felt I HAD to and only then tricked myself into believing that I WANTED to.  No one WANTS to starve.  It is against every survival instinct.  But, amazingly enough, that is exactly what I was trying to do...SURVIVE.  All I knew to do was run.  Gotta Run!!!!  That was all that was in my head.  Over and over in my head....GOTTA RUN!!!!  I had no choice, didn't anyone understand that?!  I realize now, that I do have a choice.  When I run now, I listen to my body, sometimes I push it further to see how far I can but never too far.  I listen to it.  When it no longer becomes fun or meaningful I stop.  That was not a concept I was familiar with in life.  You mean, I can stop?  What?  That was baffoling.  I can stop the chaos?  What would I do, then?  I now know that if I push too far, I will feel bad afterwards, my body will be too tired, I will get easily irritated with others and I won't feel good.  When I was anorexic, non of that mattered.  All that mattered was that I was running.  I was surviving. 

People run from so much.  Our lives are so busy.  Everyone's running from somewhere to go somewhere else.  I saw a billboard the other day that read "Nice to meet you, gotta run."  That says it all, doesn't it?  It's encouraged to run so that you don't think and so that you don't feel.  I feel pained that it is that way.  I feel pain for old self that believed it and how painful it was to run. 

I run now because, as I said, I enjoy it.  I meditate, create, listen and am calmed by it.  I neither run from something nor am I running to something (say, a skinnier body), rather, I run because I feel good.  My readers, my friends---ask yourself "why do you run?"  And, on that guessed it...."GOTTA RUN!"

Thursday, March 3, 2011

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Friday, February 25, 2011

The Labyrinth

I had an opportunity this week to go on a one day spiritual retreat. As we all know, the hustle and bustle of every day life is known to, at times, get the best of us; I was feeling the need to get away.  I have learned in my process of recovery, and in life, that scheduling "me" time, to just "be", is an essential part of my own self care. Even if just for an hour. I was lucky to get 7 consecutive hours on this retreat.  

At this particular retreat center, there is a walking labyrinth.  If you are not familiar with walking labyrinths, I invite you to do some research on them.  They can be wonderfully meditative. 

As I approached this labyrinth, I took a moment to study it. I had walked it twice before - both times not getting much out of it, and it leaving much to be desired.  I noticed the intricate spirals, and immediately found myself wanting to get to the middle of the labyrinth. It dawned on me that's the way I am with life - wanting to get in the middle of it.  Interesting, because when I was in my eating disorder I wanted to be anything but in the middle of life. I began my walk through the labyrinth, noticing the red brick stepping stones that outlined its path. And while, there was a clear path, and a clear middle, the stepping stones too were obviously their own entity and part of a bigger whole.

It seemed to take quite a bit of twists and turns to get in the middle of the labyrinth.  And as I found myself trying to rush through those twists and turns, I stopped and took things a bit slower.  Eventually, I got there, only to find myself wanting to get out of the middle and start walking again. 

How symbolic this is of the process of recovery, and the process of life. In recovery, I wanted to just get there already.  I wanted to get to this place of  "recovered", this place where things just magically fell together and I no longer had an eating disorder. In my own process, I thought that once the eating disorder was gone, then life would "fit". Much like in the eating disorder, I thought that once I got to a certain size or weight,  or if I found some "magic formula", things too would then come together.  In both circumstances, I have experienced this was not the case.  I am learning that balance is the key.

As I reflect on walking that labyrinth, I am grateful for the experience I had. I am sure that when I walk it again, I may have an entirely different experience.  And further on, another different experience.  Or perhaps, no notable experience at all.  That, in and of itself, is an experience. 

That is not only the beauty of symbolic experiences, but concrete life experiences as well.