Friday, December 31, 2010

5 great uses for clothes that never should have fit you in the first place.

If anyone else has some old clothes with lamppost-size-circumferences that you're looking to kick out of your life along with 2010, here are five constructive things you can do with them...

1. use them as rags for cleaning the bathroom sink

2. cut horizontal strips into pant legs and use them as fringe around the edges of boring pillows or blankets

3. donate them shelters or charities so that young, needy children {who are actually supposed to fit into those clothing sizes} can have something new to wear.

4. cut the pockets out of old pants and use them as slip covers for ipods

5. sew up the bottoms of long sleeved shirts, cut the neck hole so it's a little bit larger, tie the sleeves together to make a strap and you have a reusable shopping bag!

{{BONUS NUMBER 6}}:

soak them {along with your ugg boots [whether they fit or not]} in gasoline and use them to make a beautiful bonfire to welcome in the new year.

i find its always nice to add a little humor into the somewhat painstaking process of throwing out my old, evil clothes, so i thought i'd share some of it with you :)

happy new year.

love to you,

EA

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Dear Jesus,

if historians/pastors/christian culture actually spoke/wrote accurately, then this would be at least your 2022'nd birthday. i say this because every Christmas that i've existed, i've heard and reheard that you were born 2000 years ago. this has always bothered me, and so i'm just going to take this opportunity to tell you happy birthday- however many years its been since bethlehem- and move on.

I was thinking last night, Jesus, about the fact that you really must not have cared a whole bunch about making any kind of scene or show, or abiding by any sort of kingly rituals that would have highlighted the powerful role that you were born into. if you did care, it was only about showing the world how meaningless and minuscule its pomp and circumstance and royal traditions really are.

that's why, however many years ago, you spent your first night on this earth amidst surroundings that would have been lowly for anyone, much less heaven's king.

i thought about that last night, Jesus. i thought about it as i sat in a Christmas Eve service for which i'd tried on a couple of different pairs of shoes and put on eye shadow.

i thought about the fact that your birth is a perfectly plain example of the things that you think are important and the things that aren't. if you cared much for appearances or presentation, our nativity sets would look much different than they do, and my dad wouldn't have had to take his allergy medicine before coming to watch me sit atop a bail of hay as Mary in our church's live nativity.

i thought about the fact that you really wanted to show us that you were coming to defy most of what the world saw was worthy of any sort of praise. and that aside from that and the sheer fact that that night began your journey to the cross, the most important thing that we can take away from your birthday is the blind faith by which the shepherds left their flocks to come and worship you.

as these thoughts rounded my head, i began to think back across the past 22 Christmases {and years in general} and i searched my memory for the times i've celebrated your birthday the way in which you would want.

Jesus, i'm not sure why we fight so fiercely to maintain outward appearances when appearances are what you directly defied. i don't understand why we still seek to fit a mold when we look forward all year to celebrating the day you showed us that breaking molds was okay. i've got no idea why i looked in the tag of the new pajama pants i got today to make sure they were a size *, when the reason we give presents in the first place is in honor of the gifts the wise men placed at your feet to show you that they worshipped you above all else.

please convict me and everyone else who celebrates your birthday today of whatever idols we need to let go and place at your manger. please point out the ashes in our lives of we're still trying to make use of, and give us the strength to loosen our fingers and let them slip into yours. let us let you make them beautiful. let us place our outward appearances behind us, rather than before us, where they hinder our connection with others and with you.

Happy Birthday, Jesus. i love you. and in your 2022nd {or whatever the heck it is} year, let me live as a reflection of the day you came to earth; unworried about things working or appearing as they seemingly should, walking in blind faith to whatever places of worship you call me.

thank you for coming, Jesus. and thank you for bringing your freedom.

Merry Christmas.

love,

EA




Friday, December 24, 2010

the best is the worst.

{and visa//versa}

i had an eating disorder for a really long time. but before i had an eating disorder, i was a singer and a basketball player and a really, really happy person.

i sang at church and in choir and all that but i also did some competitive stuff. i placed ninth in the state for alto singers as a sophomore in high school. was it because of my talent? yes. was it because i worked tirelessly with unfailing intensity to make sure i had practically committed the songs to muscle memory by the time try outs came? even bigger yes. i made copy after copy of practice CDs. i attended weekly voice lessons and practiced before, during, and after school. by the time region and state competitions came, i knew my music so well i would literally have had to try to mess anything up.

i can't say that i possess any real raw talent for basketball. my brother got that. but i wanted to play and i could run fast and i didn't mind my thighs burning and so i played from third to 9th grade, winning the heart and/or defensive player award for somewhere over half the teams i played on or camps i attended. i can remember during defensive and running drills, ignoring {at times loving} the pain and discomfort. i knew it was going to make me better, and i knew that i wanted to feel like i had nothing left. and that was what got me through the pain.

i've always had passion, i've always had drive, and i've always had discipline.

the parts of my life i just shared with you are not of any sort of bragging or pompous nature. i shared them to show you what can come from the types of qualities that make a person really good at having an eating disordered when they are channeled for positive, constructive things.

if you think about it, someone who's incredibly thoughtful, considerate, and conscious of the people around them is also likely to be overly sensitive and easily hurt when they are not treated with the same consideration. it's the same with people who are understanding and forgiving of wrongdoers; although they avoid poisonous, bitter grudges and are generous with love and with chances, they are likely to forgive and forget so unceasingly that they reduce themselves to doormats.

in other words, our best and worst qualities may not be separate qualities at all. they are simply our strongest qualities manifested in positive and negative ways.

when i think back to basketball practice and doing those defense drills- sliding low with thighs parallel to the ground- i'm more than able to draw a connection between my thoughts then and my thoughts as i ran for hours around our church gym's track. i was already at ** pounds and all i could think was that just one more lap was that much closer to the next pound i'd lose.

and when i think about practicing all those songs- literally making them a part of me until i knew every time signature and how it sounded it what it felt like and when it changed- i can see why it was so easy for me to push myself to starvation and well beyond it.

i'm capable of looking pain and discomfort and difficulty in the face and taking them on with a predetermined assurance that i'm going to succeed. it's incredibly productive. it's incredibly dangerous.

i've realized though, that i think the same things about me that made me so good at having an eating disorder- my passion, my drive, my intensity- are the same things that make me so good at recovering from an eating disorder. this hasn't happened in a decent while, but for months on end all i could see when i looked at myself in the mirror was an overweight person. it hurt more than i can say to have to see myself like that and continue to gain weight and then to maintain it. but i can remember looking at myself and saying, "i see a fat person right now and i have to keep eating. my life actually kind of sucks. but i refuse to give any more of myself or my time to my disorder, so i'm going to keep going."

it was a lot harder than defense drills. it hurt a lot more and it took a lot longer. but i made a choice. i stripped my passion and my discipline away from my eating disorder and i plugged them into my decision to recover. like i said, it sucks, but it works. and it's worth it.

people are always wanting to know what's supposed to make them "feel" like recovering. how they're supposed to do it when they don't want to. the thing is, no one ever really feels like doing anything enough to become really good at it- people know that they want things and so they push through the exhaustion and the opposition and the burnout until they get them.

right now, i'm reading a book called Outliers, by Malcom Gladwell. Throughout the book, Gladwell traces the paths of all kinds of successful people, pointing out the common threads and trends between them that led them to success.

in one of the book's early chapters, Gladwell suggests that the magic number of hours someone has to spend practicing something to become a true master is 10,000. From master musicians to the Beatles to Bill Gates, Gladwell shows us that although raw talent is a crucial factor in the equation for success, no incredibly successful person would have gotten anywhere before putting 10,000 hours of practice and experience into his or her respective craft.

in other words, it takes hours, days, weeks, and months of dedication to make a person a master anorexic, and it takes just as much {if not more} time and effort to make a person free.

so whether you're a fellow struggler or not {if not, you know you're a struggler of something} the very worst things about you are likely the very best. whatever destruction you've inflicted on yourself or on others could be birthed from the very parts of you that make you capable of greatness.

it was those parts of me that made me sick. and it's those parts of me that make me able to say i'm free.

love,

EA

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

the city...

...is one of my favorite places on earth.

i pride myself on the fact that this blog is not one of those i-woke-up-this-morning-and-did-this-this-and-this-and-i-assume-that-you-care-so-i'm-going-to-post-each-detail-along-with-pictures type of sites, but i suppose i'm going to break my own mold and be that obnoxious person this morning.

that being said, the one thread of tangible purpose in this post is to give a glimpse into this newfound life i've been living, rather than just referencing it.

my family has made a bit of a tradition out of spending three or four days before Christmas here in New York {shallow confession: i love it because it's the only few days out of the year where my clothes are typical of our surroundings and theirs are not.} and needless to say, the city has certainly looked different this time.

i couldn't tell you that frequenting restaurants three times daily hasn't been a little stressful without lying. but it's a stress that {with lots and lots and lots of practice} i've learned to handle, and all-in-all it's been the best family vacation ever.

{just ask my little brother who told me my entire countenance is different than it ever used to be}


all that to say, here are some photos of freedom to the tune of the city:
ginger and me in the subway

dad, brother and me being total tourists in grand central station

undoubtedly my favorite 20 minutes of the trip: a darling peruvian man showed me all around his booth




i hope you all live alive today.

love,

EA

Monday, December 13, 2010

cold weather...

...is
leaps
& bounds

more wonderful

when
you
are
not
underweight.

that is all.

love,
EA

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Brooke Fraser -Flags

i've mentioned this indirectly {a least a zillion times}, but if anyone were to trace my eating disorder from beginning to end, they would find a road laden with one rejection after another.

i've been told, "no" in nearly every arena of life imaginable. each "no" as i received it, drove me deeper into the arms of my disorder where i found the ability to achieve my own validity, my own success. in my eating disorder, no one could tell me i wasn't good enough or that i didn't make the cut or that they were sorry but they just felt like there was a "better fit" for my life that didn't include having an eating disorder. it was all mine and i could carry it as far as i wanted and i never met anyone who was better at it than i was.

now that i've {finally} reached a place in which i live apart from my disorder, i've found that my life has reached a fullness i know not how to describe. i've also found that the fuel of this fullness is vulnerability {with people, with myself, with God, with everything} and with vulnerability also comes pain.

as i've begun to {fully and truly} live vulnerably i have {of course} found myself experiencing disappointment in various forms and pointing them out to my loved ones and my therapist and relishing in the "i told you so" moments of explaining to them that this is why i had an eating disorder- because these are the types things that always {and will always} happen to me. this is my life. no one picks me and nothing turns out right. this is why i felt the need to seek my own validation for so long.

as i've allowed myself to open again to others and to life and all these accompanying uncertainties, i've grown fearful of the familiar sting of rejection. i've grown fearful that i may continue to taste it and find my eyes pulling in a slow shift- looking behind me to my destructive, protective enemy seeking to separate from painful "no's", once again trading myself and my spirit and taking the safety of numbness in return.

but last evening, after a delightful greek gyro salad across a cozy booth from kelsey boone, i heard a song playing in her car that He wanted me to hear. a song that He is using to remind me that i am promised no earthly accolades or accomplishments {if such things really even exist at all}.

thanks to brooke fraser's flags i am reminded that God's heart is for the lowliest and least recognized. His treasures share no commonality with the world's. His standards of success and validation hold no meaning in society's eyes.

i am so quick to clench my fists around something concrete that i feel i can live for. something that makes me feel my days have meaning and my moments have purpose. i just want to feel like someone picked me, or that there's something i'm better at than anyone else. but in doing so, i forget that i am not long for this world. that i am here for but a moment and that that moment will only hold meaning when i let it go and offer it back to the One who allowed me the opportunity for it's investment in the first place—when i pour it into His overarching purpose and allow Him to make it a living branch of a tree that will flourish. apart from him {no matter who i impress or what i achieve} i am dead.

Jesus, my moment here on earth is all yours. forgive me for forgetting that my attempts at self-validation are in vain. you are all-sustaining —which is why you make no promises of worldly success or acceptance—the world is momentarily quenching, but you are a wellspring of life.

love,
EA

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

overflowing toilets.

something that's really annoying about life is that toilets sometimes overflow.


something that's really really annoying about life is that toilets sometimes overflow in the middle of the night, soaking the carpet all way from the bathroom into the surrounding bedrooms. it's really nice to step into first thing in the morning.


so i called maintenance more times than i care to remember and thankfully, by the time i returned from class the carpet had been shampooed and there was a big green fan making loud noises and blowing bits of fabric about my floor, indicating that it will eventually make the carpet dry.


to say that i'm thankful that maintenance took care of the situation would be the understatement of the century. However, it would also be an understatement to say that my carpet is still just a little bit damp.


i'm not trying to be a complainer, but i can't say i'm incredibly fond of having to stand on my tiptoes to walk across my room and then dry my feet whenever i get where i'm going. and as of last night, the pile of wet towels and bathmats that the overflow had taken by storm were still festering in the bathroom corner where maintenance had left them earlier in the afternoon.


i came in late from the library, talking on the phone to my mother who had foolishly hyped herself up on coffee a couple of hours before and was unable to sleep. i intentionally left my boots on until i'd plopped onto my bed so my feet would stay safe and dry.


by the time i hung up with my mom, my eyelids were heavy and burning. i needed to venture across the marshlands and into the bathroom to get ready for bed, but putting my shoes on and half-squishing my way to the bathroom and then not feeling like i could go to bed until i carried the filthy, wet towels to the washer just wasn't something i was up for, and so i stayed in the safety of my island-bed and fell asleep in my clothes and my mascara.


i woke up to the early winter sun peeping through my window. i smiled because i love it when that happens. i felt surprisingly rested, considering i'd fallen asleep in my clothes. this was probably due to the 30 extra minutes of sleep i'd gotten because i'd failed to set an alarm.


usually i take my mornings as they come- sitting, listening to music, reading things on the internet, eating my breakfast, drinking my coffee, and not getting myself together for the day until i feel completely satisfied with my moments of waking stillness .


but being that i was short on time this morning, i woke and immeadiately began a mental list of things i needed to accomplish in the 45 minutes to follow. a jolt of hurried energy started to pull me from my bed until i remembered that the floor was wet, and that the bathroom was filled with soaked matts and towels, and that i was going to have to walk through all of it and take off my mascara from the night before and move the towels to the washer and suddenly it just didn't seem worth it. the prospect of sitting in my bed with my computer for the rest of the day grew increasingly attractive.


i started to imagine ways that i could avoid the wet carpet and the soaked towels and my bathroom floor that needed to be scrubbed and still make it to class in a half-hygenic manner. but i was a prisoner in my own bed, and the only way i was going to get anywhere i needed to go was to scrunch my nose and place my toes on the cold, wet floor and walk across it and move the mildewing towels that were blocking the shower and just accept that it was all really gross and unpleasant but that i had no choice other than to do it.


i knew that no matter how long i waited, the dirty tasks would always lie between me and the rest of my life and that as long as that was the truth, i may as well just get them over sooner rather than later.


my recovery was the same way. I knew that it was going to be excruciatingly unpleasant. (much more so than moving wet towels or walking on overflowed toilet water) but i also knew that the excruciation of gaining weight and eating a meal plan and buying new clothes and looking "healthy" was standing directly between me and my life and that it would always be standing there until i chose to bear the pain and walk through it.


the only thing that putting off something like recovery will ever change is how much of your life you're wasting. i've wasted a lot of time sitting, paralyzed by my unwillingness to step into the difficulty of relinquishing my eating disorder. but the time that i haven't wasted- the time on the other side of the pain- stepping out the door and letting the endless blue sky and the sun fill my field of vision instead of just a sliver through my bedroom window- that time has been more beautiful than i know how to say.


and if i were still sitting with dry feet and hands in safety of the middle of my bed, i might be clean and and i might not be grossed out, but the extent of what i would have experienced in my supposed place of safety would reach no farther than the dimensions of a double bed. in other words, i would be alone and empty.


recovery {from anything} will always be between you and your day {and the rest of your life} and recovery {from anything} will always be hard.


why not get it over with and start living?


Love,

EA







Monday, December 6, 2010

free.


one of the dearest people i know (kelseyboone) recently applied for an internship with the clothing line freepeople. she submitted the following creation as a part of her application and i was overjoyed to be able to help her out. i thought it might be fitting show you all, considering that i am not just modeling as a free person, but truly am the free person in Kelsey's freepeople submission below.

kelsey and i are aware of most of what goes on in one another's heads, (andweloveeachotherallthemoreforit) and at one point in our photo shoot i told her i felt the sudden urge to apologize for my regular-lookingness. had we done the shoot about 12 months ago, i would have been a very skinny and model-like subject for all of her photos, but because the shoot was a mere three days ago, i wasn't.

"EA-" she replied, "these clothes would have looked terrible on you if you were still that skinny".

my momentary lapse of judgement blew out her car window along with the sounds of our laughter and i could feel strength form in my voice.

"you know what? you're right. i'm not sorry," i said.

and i'm not.

love and freedom,

EA






Wednesday, November 24, 2010


One day at Magnolia Creek, i remember a strange and slightly annoying guest-therapist asking us all to draw a picture of what the journey of recovery looked like to us from where were at that moment.

the girls and i were clustered in the middle of the group room floor, some of kneeling, some settled into beanbags, i was cross-legged. construction paper and markers encircled us, and i remember thinking that of all the ways i could have been spending my time, i was sitting at a rehabilitation center with a hauntingly soft-spoken therapist and coloring supplies all around me.

i first chose a yellow sheet of paper and i drew a road that narrowed into a distant mountain with a cross at the top. people i know and love and people i'll one day know and love walked the same road, each of us headed for Home.

when i rested the finished drawing on the carpet in front of me the therapist asked a little too kindly if i would share what i'd drawn with the group.

i glanced at him through lowered eyes, leaned forward on my kneecaps and reached with a stretched arm and fingertips for a black piece of paper a few feet away.

i settled back into the carpet and then at the bewilderment of the therapist, but not really the girls, i folded the paper in half, placed on the ground like a triangular tunnel and held my drawing of the road and the mountain at the paper tunnel's end.

"This yellow one- this isn't my recovery," I said, "The scary black-hole-tunnel- that's my recovery- the yellow is the rest of my life afterwards."

The therapist asked me to explain...

"well," I said, "i'm not going to pretend that recovery sounds fun or exciting or easy or even like something i want to do at this point. To be honest, i've never felt so terrified of anything in my whole life, but i have to give this up, and so i'm just going to walk blindly into this awful black abyss and trust that God's got a light for me on the other side."




fast forward to yesterday.

i spent the first half of the day on the road home...just me, my car, and about ten cds i made for the thanksgiving journey.

aside from the fact that thick clouds hid the early sun from the treetops, i was thrilled for the music-filled hours ahead, until i saw this:



oppressed by the ominous sky ahead, i couldn't help but reminisce the feeling of jumping into a black hole that accompanied my initial decision to recover. the january day when i folded that black sheet of paper and yesterday morning's drive had more than just an oppressively dark-looking future in common: both offered only two courses of action: forwards or backwards; and when i chose to move forward, both would provide me a torrential downpour:



i really am one for road trips, but in the midst of the down pour when i could hardly see the tail lights in front of me there wasn't enjoying much of anything- just gripping the wheel and getting through it (and risking my life taking the above photo...i guess i'm a true blogger now). i can remember first gaining weight and throwing out clothes and having to eat six times a day and dreading every mirror and reflective surface i passed. The chaos that my sickness constantly sought to appease pelted my mind like hard raindrops. i just wanted it to stop. i wanted to turn and go back to safety. but i knew it couldn't rain forever and so i begged God for His strength and steadiness, and through the blinding rain i continued.

after a time of seemingly unbearable downpour, moment by moment the rain lightened. at first i feared it would only heavy again, but as i made my way forward my hope grew in the lightening sky and although the rain had not stopped, i knew things were going to get better:



i loosened my grip on the wheel and the color returned to my knuckles. i continued to pray but with an unclenched jaw and i restored my music to full volume. when things began to lighten in early months of my recovery, i remember feeling strange a freedom from the most rigid of my thoughts. my idea of beauty took on a new form- one that could other people and i could fit into without being reduced to a skeletal frame. i slowly learned presence of mind and to smile and to be alive separate from the parasitic entity to which i'd grown accustomed. i began to understand why i needed and sometimes wanted to move forward- there was a light at the end of the black piece of paper, a light that broke up the darkness that had once filled the sky:





i moved forward still, and for awhile, i thought things were fine as they were. i felt safe and i felt some sun trapped in the car window and for awhile i just wanted to rest. the clouds continued in their dominance which i would not have preferred, but the storm in its worst was bad enough to make me thankful for the semblance of peace that had settled overhead:





but as i continued forward on the journey's road, eventually breaking my eating disorder's rules day in and day out, trying new things like the #1 at Chic Fil A (my new favorite thing the world has to offer) and all kinds of desserts and asserting myself and being confident for once, i looked around me and i realized that the storm had lost its strength. blue sky and the sun were taking over and i was facing the yellow drawing all by its self- the black paper tunnel was a thing of the past:



i know that the future ahead of me is not one without storms. but i also know that the clouds of my eating disorder have broken and i'm walking through a season of blessing and anointing that on the fore side of the black sky i could have never seen coming. the joy of moving through yesterday's clouds and pulling into the driveway and throwing my arms around the people i love and sleeping in my bright red bed and waking up to my dad brewing coffee was completely worth the morning's plunge into the rain.

recovery is worth the storm too.

love,

EA




Sunday, November 21, 2010

"i gave her roses...

today while i was studying at O'Henry's {chatting with friends and listening to music with a study guide on the table in front of me} i took a bathroom break and noticed a painting hanging on the wall above the thick silver wheelchair handle. The painting was forgettable, the phrase scripted across it was not.

"I gave her roses..." it said across the top,

"-and she blames me for the thorns" followed at the bottom.

for a split second i thought about the quote in terms of romantic relationships and i made a mental note never to be the kind of wife who notices thorns before roses.

but as i stood there washing my hands, the words began to sink in more deeply and i started to consider them in terms of my Heavenly Father and i realized that if He were the kind to complain or hold grudges, he would probably have written the quote from the forgettable painting across the sky or carved it into a mountain or something else noticeable that would get the point across.

"i gave her roses...and she blames me for the thorns."

as i left the bathroom and turned the corner back towards my table, i considered the figurative roses God has lovingly placed in my hands in my lifetime. so often i've failed to acknowledge the beauty before me. the colors and the sweet smells He meant for my blessing—to turn my face to His—but i've noticed only the thorns.

"i'd rather not be blessed at all," i've said, "than to have to touch these thorns or to risk touching them."

i've crossed my arms and laced my fingers, refusing the gift from the One who knows and loves me best—all because i thought i knew better than to touch the roses that He purposefully created with thorns in the first place.

thanks to some extensive googling, i now understand that without thorns, roses would doubtfully make it more than a few days in full bloom, as predators would have nothing to deter them from stealing a mouth full of richly colored petals. in other words, though painful, the thorns are a life-giving source to the beauty {i actually don't like roses that much, but we'll pretend....} that opens at the end of the stem.

i think that one reason i chose my eating disorder over my life for so many years was that i refused to see any purpose in life's thorns other than pain. I forgot all about the roses the thorns were protecting and grew bitter and angry towards the One who'd grown them. i turned my face from His and set out to make a way for myself in which i could have all that i thought life should entail without any of the thorns.

but what i failed to understand for all for all of those years was that was that in avoiding the thorns, i was avoiding the beauty that they could have made possible. the pain He allowed me was meant for shaping and molding and making me into a woman capable of receiving a blessing and keeping and tending it for His glory. the pain of the thorns was intended to magnify my need for him, thereby magnifying the beauty of the roses He offered me. what i failed to realize was that joy in Him is so often made possible through preliminary pain.

i dare not say my understanding of pain and its purpose is complete now by any means. what i will say, however, is that i'm going to make a conscious effort from here on out to embrace both thorns and roses; to trust that my Creator put the thorns and the smooth parts just where they were needed and nowhere else. I'll blame Him not for the thorns, but thank Him for the flowers and for His provision for their protection.


love,

EA

Sunday, November 14, 2010

strong enough to feel.

on November 20, 2009, i wrote in my journal, "i'm beginning to lose my passions and loves. all i can think of is this. i used to care for so much, but it's all been replaced by emptiness".

i was fully engaged in my relapse and i knew it, but i cared so deeply for my eating disorder and all it entailed that it would be another two months before i would make the decision to let go.

"to let go" sounds like an instantaneous effort- one fell swoop that clears it all out and lays the open ground for something new.

but in this case, "to let go" has been months worth of minute-by-minute picking apart of the tightly woven intricacies that filled my heart and mind, disguising themselves as who i was.

as old habits and ways of thinking have slowly but surely unraveled, the cares and strongholds behind them have certainly weakened, but continued to occupy significant space and strength in my soul for a good while.

even as i've lived recovery i've found myself feeling invincible- as if nothing nor anyone could hurt me. this is because the vast majority of pain that i've felt over the past year has been directly tied to my eating disorder. it was the supreme priority for which i cared so much for so long, and i think that i forgot what it was like to hurt or to ache for anything else.

the reason i (or anyone else for that matter) had an eating disorder in the first place was to protect and validate me against pain and fear and uncertainty that naturally occur when we live. in other words, i used my disorder to block out the emotions i was too afraid to feel- i placed my weight and my food intake at a place of such importance, that all else became worthless, thereby eliminating the ability of any entity outside of myself to affect or control my emotions.

i thought i was stronger and better and tougher and more capable than people who cried because of other people and got themselves caught up in life's cuts and scrapes. i thought i would be more successful in the working world and the world in general because i was too strong to let silly emotions affect me- too special and too different to get upset the way others did.

over the past months, my heart has finally found the space and the capacity to care for other things. it's been liberating, humanizing, exciting and energizing...it's been fun.

recently, i've become so enthralled with living and loving to God's melodic freedom that i've allowed the last of my protective outer shell to slip away. constant thoughts of my body and of heath-consciousness and grams of carbs and amounts of exercise have grown sparse and the things of life--things that are natural and beautiful and fiercely uncontrollable, things that are the prize of vulnerability-- have replaced them.

i've suddenly found myself fearful of this newfound vulnerability- of life outside the protection of my eating disorder (or even of it's remnants)- although true joy and peace reclaimed their place in my heart soon into recovery, it's been recent weeks in which i've found i am no longer exempt from the aches and stings of life's hurts- things that i thought i was too tough to feel.

i was recently in a car full of friends when i broke down and cried in front them about something completely unrelated to my disorder for the first time. "This is so dumb," i said over and over. I couldn't believe i was actually upset about something so seemingly trivial. i felt weak and honestly silly that i'd allowed tears of such a nature to leave my eyes.

but thanks to the strongest women i know, i sat and i cried for as long as i needed. and afterwards we celebrated that i was actually feeling and caring for something for which my eating disorder had zero regard, but for which my heart in its independent state finds much meaning and importance.

i realized that the times in which i did not feel were not my strongest times at all, but my very weakest. anyone can put on a mask of pseudo-strength in the face of numbness, but true strength, HIS strength, is what enables us to walk through the pain and anguish and hurt we are promised and to let ourselves feel them and cry over them, to swallow forced smiles or fake hello's, to just keep going and to let our trials make us who we are.

"...My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness..."
2 Corinthians 12:9


love,

ea

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

to give life is to have life.



i'm going to preface this post by letting you all know that the Red Cross is nothing but a bunch of snobs. apparently my blood is unacceptable because it's been to Honduras and back in last 12 months.

but in all seriousness- i understand. i would hate to give someone malaria or some other deadly Honduran disease (although i assured them i was 90 percent positive i wasn't bitten by a mosquito when i was there).

although the fact that i was unable to give blood today kind of ruins this post, i'm still going to go with the idea behind it because i feel it's a good one.

i suppose a college campus like Samford is a decent place to hold a blood drive because word gets around fast and because there are less blood-contaminating behaviors on campuses like this one (right?...). Whatever the reason, blood drives happen on a quite regular basis around here. Consequently, over the past three years i've passed the Red Cross truck and congratulated myself for being too underweight to give blood on a quite regular basis as well.

Pre-recovery, the big white blood truck seemed like nothing more than a bright spot in my day- something to ensure my validity and importance each i time i saw it or saw someone wearing one of its stickers. i could look at it and know that of all the things i wasn't, there was one thing i was: thin. And for me, this brief look into how thin i actually was was like a fix of pseudo-awareness of my significance and specialness.

according to my old standards, i'm apparently no longer special or important, because i weigh enough to wear a red cross sticker, just like all the other non-special people who weigh enough to take time out of their days to keep blood banks stocked.

because this mindset is one in which my beliefs were firmly rooted for the majority of my college experience, i decided it would be only fitting to make my way over to the next blood drive, give my blood, and enjoy knowing that my now lively body is capable of offering its life to someone else.

it sickens me to consider the amount of emotional security i found in my own lacking physiological health. but what's even worse to me is that i found self assurance and pride in the fact that i was unable to offer life in the form of blood to another person.

giving blood, i think, parallels to much of the rest of my life (this is the part where you pretend that i successfully donated a couple of crimson pints today). There have been a myriad of ways i've seen and experienced myself being able to pour forth (or stay steady as a vessel as He pours forth) into others where i found it previously impossible to be present. Just as my body was without the health required to offer blood to someone who needed it, my mind was without the nourishment and free space it needed to be present even amidst the lightest of passings-by conversations. My heart and spirit were without the security and the joy of contentment they needed to laugh from down deep, and to love my father, my neighbors, and myself with open arms.

for so long, i thought that not weighing enough to give blood made me "good enough". i now realize that "good enough" is something i'll never be; "good enough" is not what makes us able to give. what makes us able to give is to have life ourselves. i now have life, and i'll give life. today, i marched into the blood drive and i said, "i'm here for the first time ever because i finally weigh enough to donate blood". and even though i didn't even technically need a band-aid when i left red cross, i left the drive feeling fuller, more capable, and more like myself than i ever felt passing it by.

love,

EA

Monday, October 18, 2010

just an update.

things got hard last night. the kind of hard that they were during very early recovery.

i've grown accustomed to my daily thoughts and struggles. i've learned to experience them and to avoid their them in their forms of severity.

things were just fine in the early afternoon, but all of a sudden my body image slipped and went tumbling, and with it went my peace of mind.

it's been about a month and a half since i hated my body enough to cry, and i think part of me thought i was over that part of my disorder.

all i wanted to was to go outside and run. i was out of town for the first half of the week and missed a couple of workouts, and so i thought that making one of them up might ease my dismay.

but although running would have made me feel better, it would not have made me better, and so i abstained and committed myself to the hard fight that has lasted into today- into right now.

i have no idea when this battle of body image will end. all i know is that a two-fold opportunity lays before me:

i can make myself feel better or i can make myself better.

i can workout harder and eat lighter and look in the mirror and measure and compare myself and just do what it takes to get through it until it's gone-

-or i can realize that life is about much more than fitness level and size, and use this opportunity of dissatisfaction with myself to find joy in other things; to allow God and the life He's given me the opportunity to prove themselves worth it even when the shell that's housing them is completely imperfect.

the fight was getting so easy, and i hate that its reigns have suddenly tightened, but part of me thinks that means its that much closer to being over.

regardless, i will not quit.

love,

ea


Friday, October 8, 2010

unending tasks.


Now that I’ve been living in an apartment for nearly three months, I’m beginning to empathize with the frequent utterances I grew up hearing from my mom about housework and how exhaustingly unending it is.

i’ve learned that no matter how many dishes I put away, there will be more that are dirty within less than 24 hours; no matter how huge a load I pull hot from the dryer, the clothes I’m wearing as I do it will start a new pile in the hamper by bedtime; no matter how perfectly my bed is made, it will need making again by the morning.

There are a zillion tasks in life with which we will literally never be finished. Sometimes they’re exhausting, sometimes they’re a welcomed, mindless, break, sometimes we live in denial of them until we can no longer stand it and they have to be done.

As I was running today (which I’m now allowed to do under certain time constraints) I was thinking about how thankful I am that I’m no longer on a constant mission to lose weight. When I was stuck in my eating disorder I lived to pour myself into a goal that was constantly one step ahead of me. no matter how low my weight got, as soon as it got there, the “perfect weight” became a few pounds lower.

I started to think about life’s constant tasks- like the one’s I mentioned above- and I imagined how empty life would be if things like laundry or cleaning the bathroom or vacuuming were all-consuming endeavors. It would be awful and incredibly sad for someone to devote all their thoughts, emotions, energy and health to something they’d never really see the fruits of.

Thankfully, housework is simple and mindless and aside from occasional inconvenience and the fact that it keeps things sanitary and orderly, it really doesn’t affect anyone’s life story or longevity.

Eating disorders are not so light a burden. Although housework is not demanding of much other than superficial effort, an eating disorder requires the entirety of a life devoted towards an unending cause to continue.

There was a time when I thought I’d have my eating disorder for the rest of my life. Looking back, I don’t know I how I didn’t realize what daunting demands it laid before me. I don’t know how I missed the fact that it was asking for my life- be it in living enslavement or death. I don’t know why it didn’t phase me that I was signing myself away for something at which I’d eternally fail.

But now that I’ve backed out and now that I’ve walked across the hot coals that pave the way out of the cave I dug myself into in the first place, it’s the best feeling in the world to breathe easy, and to know that some things (my body being the main thing at this point in my life) are actually finished.

Of course there are a handful of things (that are primarily faith-related) that we will never achieve but we’re intended to work towards regardless. But aside from these things, I’ve got a hundred goals I’m aiming towards, all of which have a foreseeable end. It would be tragic to let some unreachable task steal my heart and my energy towards these goals, all for its parasitic self, and that’s just what my eating disorder did.

From the superficial-most parts to the uttermost parts of who I am, it’s a true relief to know that I’ve got one less unending task to accomplish. My day’s are no longer poured into a black hole of an effort, but invested into a life that I pray brings and will bring glory to my father.

be it perfectionism or material wealth or any other myriad of unquenchable thirsts, there’s a moment of peace after fleeting accomplishment that briefly satisfies, only to leave a longing for the same peace again.

True peace is not something that is chased, but waiting to envelope us when we choose to stop running. It reaches farther than unending tasks, and it passes our human understanding as it is promised to rest in our hearts outside of any effort of our own, other than to choose it.

I would never want anything else.

love,

EA

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

the other night...

...i was driving home from my volunteer job, which is in the most charming section of downtown. i was ingesting and loving the scenery and my music and the air of autumn all around me. sometimes when i'm driving i find my mind in a completely capable state of full focus on the road, my music, and my surroundings simultaneously (okay okay, those of you laughing or gasping...maybe the road gets a bit less focus than the rest). it's a euphoric feeling that most often takes place beneath clear skies and dark leaves. it's what makes me love road trips.




i'm not sure when or how it happened- all i remember is my vision sharpening as i halted at a red light. somewhere amidst my savoring the drive to the interstate, my focus had blurred and the height of my senses had dissipated. as my foot pressed the break i realized that my fingertips were encircling the volume knob of my stereo. i was adding up calories and my subconscious was attempting to dim the music in order to maintain focus on the incoming numbers.





although i no longer count calories for the sake of restriction, i still count them on a near daily basis to ensure i don't get more than i need for any given day. it's the same measure of control as before, just less severe.





when i realized what was happening- that i was allowing numbers to take precedence over music- the symbolism floored me.





if my life could be respresented by one giant road trip, then for years i don't think i even had music- or if i did i kept the music or whatever music represents muted so i could immerse myself in the one thing i loved most.





it overjoys me to know that for the most part, i'm free to drive and to listen and to experience without the debilitating effects of my disorder. but now i want to stop turning down the volume when i feel like entertaining a few thoughts of old comfort. it's like selective recovery, which is actually not recovery at all, and non-recovery is not something with which i am interested.





choosing to keep the music up is thinking about every food in a non-judgmental way. it's replacing my self-depricating thoughts with positive ones and looking at every person in relation to themselves and not to me and visa versa. it's still being able to have a good time on the days when my self-image is poor. it's having the presence of mind to pour myself out for someone else because i've not given negative thoughts more than the second it took them to explode into to existence in my head.




just as it's my decision what is worthy and what is not worthy of me muting the music, it is also my decision what is worthy and not worthy of my attention and thoughts. from now on, the music isn't going anywhere unless it's for something that's worth it, and my thoughts and my attention will follow suit.




i'm incredibly comfortable here, knowing i can stop, withdraw, and think "safe" (safe as in eating disordered) thoughts and still stay in recovery.




but just now, seeing those last three words on the screen..."stay in recovery" makes me realize that continuing to think the old thoughts may not throw me back into my disorder, but it will fence me inside those three words for the rest of my life. i don't want to "stay in recovery" forever. i want to be recovered...completely and utterly finished with my eating disorder.

each time i choose the music, i'll be one step closer.

love,

ea
























Wednesday, September 22, 2010

to be womanly always...



with this past weekend being my last rush experience with Chi Omega, i had a lot of time to spend with and think about my friends. although i began planning this post long before the emotion-laden rush process, reflecting and remembering this weekend on both sad and happy parts of mine and my friends' lives together really onset the feeling that it was "the right time" to publish "the friend post".


one of my favorite parts of recovery has been taking the time to learn who and what i am and to allow these things to replace the hollowed out person i thought i was. i've grown more into myself on a hundred levels- some shallow, some deep, and when all other motivation fails, i've found myself imagining the woman i want to be and clinging to the abstract idea of who she is and knowing that she loves people and life too much to sacrifice the nutrition and peace of mind she needs to pour herself out to them, and that she understands that her time on earth is too short to trust, to laugh, to love, or to cry sparingly.


she's a mosaic of God's heart for who He wants His daughters to be; and when i finally allowed Him to remove the scales of my disorder from i eyes, i saw her pieced together in Christ's character as He shone through the hearts, minds, and spirits of my precious friends.


There's wonderful Morgan, in whom i've seen and experienced what comes of Christ-centered self-assurance, leadership, and determination. I am privileged to have watched her both struggle and succeed, to have seen her persevere through heartbreak and confusion and to emerge only better for it. watching the true morgan flourish on the other side of her struggles has given me something to strive towards on the other side of mine. Her strength is immense and exhibited through kindness and joy alone. It runs deep within her and she knows and unfailingly acknowledges from whence it comes. Morgan is a constant reminder that the work of God's hand is ever present and should never be taken for granted. She's inspired me to fight. she's shown me what strength can truly make a person. Morgan- your presence and your friendship are truly empowering.


there's hilarious, caretaking Paige, who's been nothing but loyalty and a truly safe place. if only everyone was so solidly committed to their friendships as Paige. She saw my struggle for what it was and helped me understand the gravity of what i was doing to myself. She fought for me and with me because when Paige loves a person, she's all in, and she takes the same stance on living life. Paige doesn't fear assertion and she's taught me through accountability and example that my voice and my opinion hold value and truth for the world. she refuses to accept an, "i'm fine" answer, and she's ever pushed me in the slow process of learning to love myself. Paige- you've never accepted less than honesty from me- you've helped me to see and understand my own value. i pray i'm there for you the way you've been for me.

then there's precious Keighlee with the most contagious trail of laughter that bounces behind her wherever she goes. Her constant joy comforts and welcomes all around her- her presence is an instant lift. Keighlee makes everyone feel wanted; when i'm with Keighlee, i feel celebrated. In the midst of my sickness, i would watch Keighlee and wish that i could find that happy version of myself. i wanted to have fun like she could- from the inside out instead of just wearing a mask. Keighlee inspired me to emerge from my shell, to discover my own laugh and my own fun. She's stretched herself to understand on my behalf and she never ceases to remind me what reason i have to keep going. Keighlee- I always love heartfelt laughter, but i love it most when i'm with you.

there's beautiful Hannah, a constant advocate for physical health and the truest, most careful listener. She's not only willing to listen and to help, but considers it an enjoyment and a privilege to bear a burden alongside a friend. Hannah's drive and incredible efficiency were intangible in my sickness and now serve as examples to which i aspire in my capable state. She's unfailingly honest and open- especially to those with whom she's closest. She's helped me to realize that opinions and ideas and preferences are not to be left unacknowledged, but are parts of who we are that are meant to be shared and expressed. Hannah- thank you for never taking a conversation for granted.

then there's abby in all her vivation, a true depiction of life. Abby's is a heart of utter innocence towards people and fun and the vast possibility held in each day. Her enthusiasm and will to live fully were qualities i deeply admired and wished i could find in myself. Abby makes a deep, passionate investment in each day that comes. it was her ability to invest and the smiles, laughs, and relationships she reaped as i observed them that shed light on the growing number of days i was wasting and inspired me to change. Abby- as i come to experience my own form of vivation, i only hope that i can be a fraction of the reminder to live fully to other's as you've been to me.

there's accomplished, huge-hearted Kameryn, the friend that my selfishness affected most, the friend that lived in a room with me when i was at my very worst. Kameryn's drive and determination in her personal and professional endeavors are incredible to observe and were intensely convicting to live with in the midst of my unproductive self-consumption. In addition to her life example, kameryn became an advocate for my recovery. She protected me from myself- hiding scales, giving the hard but honest answers, setting herself aside to support me- even amidst her own seasons of heartbreak. When it became evident that early recovery would be just as difficult as my disorder itself, she did not back down, but was constantly there to remind me why i was fighting and to help me see the truth. She continues to celebrate beside me and for me in my victories and continues to encourage me as life comes back before my eyes. She never tired, never considered another option other than to be there. Kameryn- you got something in living with me that you didn't sign on for, but you took it on with your whole heart. there is truly no way to thank you.

finally, there's Erin. thanks to her love, support, and willingness to listen and help, Erin understands what i've been through nearly as well as if she'd been through it herself. She's hurt for me and with me and celebrated even my minute-most victories. my disorder was my source of self-redemption. in it, i thought i was special and set apart. erin saw who i could be- she saw what my disorder was stealing- she saw how it made me see other people. Erin stood firm in the face of my worst days. she helped me see what recovery could give me and what recovery could give other people through me. Erin is truly unique in the world of women, as one of her greatest strengths is her effort to seek contentment with her body as her own, not as compared to someone else's. Her advice and refusal to give "feel better" answers have been vital to my recovery, but it's been her inside-out example of womanly strength and beauty that have helped to challenge and transform what i see as important and what i see as beautiful. Erin- through you, God has moved mountains.

and so, dear friends, i want to thank you both collectively and individually for the women and the true friends that you are. Although the decision to recover was mine alone, it's been your unending support and understanding that have pushed and inspired me to overcome who i was and grow into the woman i'm supposed to be. Each of you has seen me through the most difficult thing i will ever endure, and i honestly believe that three years ago, God wove us together with the different pieces of Him that each of us reflects in mind.

Through you, my friends, God looked me in the eye when i'd turned my head, grabbed hold of me and said, "Look- here is life- please take it and live it and invest it the way i will you would- the way these women are striving to do".

There's no way of knowing how many lives will be touched by my struggle, but however many it is, each one of them will have been touched by your friendship as well.

thank you.

love and more love to each of you,

EA










Monday, September 13, 2010

a new kind of mourning.

the first post i ever published on this blog explained the blog's name in terms of Psalm 30:5, which says, "weeping may last for the night but joy comes in the morning!"

i explained in both retrospect and anticipation that the mourning that comes with the decision to recover from any sort of addiction is eventually replaced by a bright morning that is worth far more in joy than any moment of mourning was worth in pain.

i described the nature of the mo(u)rn through which i was walking like this, " it is perseverance through mourning- mourning the loss of our disorder, of our ideals, of unhealthy mental framework, of our comforts, of what we thought was our sanity, that pulls the morning sun up into the tops of the trees."

as is apparent above, i remember starting this blog in a full-blown state of mourning the loss of my disorder. "normal people" may wonder why someone would mourn a self-starvation-inflicting mental illness, but in the midst of an addiction, the numbness that comes with addictive behaviors is more than worth the resulting self-destruction.

as crazy as it sounds, losing this disorder felt for the longest time like losing a best friend. although i stand firmly beside the validity of those feelings, i've realized i've left the feelings themselves behind. the other day, as i was driving to babysit, i realized that although i'm still in a state of mourning, it is no longer the loss of my disorder that pains me, what hurts me now, is the fact that it existed in the first place.

a couple of years ago, a dear friend asked me if i wished that my eating disorder had never happened. i remember saying something about how i regretted having an idol in my life, but that i couldn't exactly regret my disorder because without it i would never have gotten skinny.

if that friend asked me the same question today i think my answer would sound something like this:

"i absolutely wish that my eating disorder would never have happened. i wish that i could go back and right the wrongs and invest in the people i wished i'd had the energy to invest in and do things with a whole heart and a whole mind. i wish i wouldn't have been scared to love other people and my body just like they were and even more than that, i wish i could've learned to find contentment and security in Jesus instead of myself. i wish all of that, but i can't go back and so all i can hope for is that God will somehow redeem these losses i'm mourning and bring beauty from the ashes."
Although i'm completely confident that God will one day reverse the waste i inflicted upon a hearty piece of my young life, that confidence is hard to rest on.

it's hard when i look into faces i love, but realize i could know so much better. it's hard when i laugh with my whole body and i realize how long i could have been laughing that way. it's hard when i'm sitting in class, enjoying how much i understand and consider how much my parents paid for months worth of empty-headedness.

Mourning the loss of my disorder was daily excruciation, but it made way for the abundance of life i now experience- abundance i would suffer all over again to keep. Although this new mourning hurts just as much in a different way, i know that one day i will look upon the Lord's work with these painful seeds, and i will see a harvest so breathtakingly beautiful, i'll find it worth all the pain.

until then, there is life right now.

love,

EA





Sunday, September 12, 2010

i'm not skinny.

i have the wonderful privilege of working with my dear friend, paige slaughter, as social chair of our sorority (CHI OMEGA if you were wondering).

the two of us have had a beautifully adventurous time the past couple of weeks, wandering Birmingham and searching out venues for upcoming events. the other day, as we pulled into a downtown stoplight, Paige crossed her arms, shivered, and said, "Gosh, EA! I'm not used to you not being anorexic...it's freezing in this car!"

we laughed for a hearty minute or so, and continued on our way. paige never gave the wonderfully candid comment a second thought, but it left a soft smile on my face for the rest of the day.

on my first ever visit to the "eating disorder specialist" in high school, i remember learning that individuals with malnutrition and inadequate amounts of body fat often find themselves feeling cold in the midst of perfectly comfortable temperatures. i think that doctors think that telling their patients with eating disorders that they're always going to be cold is supposed to be a selling point for recovery, but it ends up turning around on them and becoming yet another burdensome and destructive criteria for finding success in the disorder.

when i was active in my eating disorder, i found victory in the goosebumps that constantly inhabited my arms- especially when i looked around and no one else had them. when friends begged me to turn down the heat or roll down the windows in my car, i felt like the "special" one - the one who's uninsulated body was perfectly comfortable in the heat. ironically enough, the constant cold was a blanket of security that i took with me wherever i went.

i haven't been unnaturally cold for months now. i've thought about it a couple of times, but i didn't want to feel the guilt of the absence of the cold, and so i lightly brushed the subject with my thoughts, but never dwelled upon it. until the other day.

as i laughed a guilt-free, out-loud laugh at paige's comment, i transcended myself for a moment, and realized that i'm growing into someone different. i realized that i'm "that girl" that i never wanted to be- the one who doesn't get cold because she has "meat on her bones"- the one who thinks curves are beautiful and low-carb diets are stupid- and lifting weights is more important than cardio- and that belly dancers deserve a lot of respect for loving their womanly bodies.

i'm that girl who gets hungry more than once a day, and doesn't think that red meat is just for men, and laughs a little bit at the thought of trying to put on a size *, and is proud of the "something" in the back of her jeans.

i'm the girl who isn't skinny, and isn't worried about it, the girl who's sick of comparing herself to others, the girl who thinks runway models are gross and healthy fats are a food staple.

my eating disorder would like me to think that the girl described above is un-memorable, un-unique, a lower status of human who secretly wishes she could just be thin.

but my eating disorder is lying. because in addition to the girl described above, i'm also the girl who's happier than she's ever been, more able to love than she ever thought she could be, more open to her Father's idea of beautiful than she ever felt was safe, more excited to be alive than she ever knew was possible, more of herself than she ever thought there was.

i thought the "skinniest" was all i'd ever be. Thank God it isn't.

love,

EA






Wednesday, September 1, 2010

i love scary movies...

...more than i love a lot of things. especially in the fall.

i started thinking about them the other night when i walked into my apartment (yes! my new apartment! pictures soon to come) and it was pitch black dark and i was the only one home and i couldn't find the light switch.

during scary circumstances like the one above or when i'm home alone and something makes a noise or the power goes out, my mind takes off without me (how i wish it wouldn't) and i begin to imagine myself as that stupid scary movie girl who wanders straight into the danger time and again. the one that faces some chainsaw or michetti-clad man a hundred times and still doesn't get that she needs to be careful. the one you get out of your seat and scream at as she wanders into the bathroom and opens the shower curtain instead of just running out the door. the girl who would save herself if she would own up to the fact that there's someone out to get her that she should be scared of and just call the cops for heaven's sakes!

i end up freaking myself out completely, and doing the strangest things like opening every closet door in the house or spontaneously deciding to run errands in case there really is someone lurking somewhere- things i hope no one ever sees me do.

the other day in class, i found myself strangely craving the old comfort of my eating disorder. i remembered the euphoric feeling of sitting in class and tuning out the teacher, planning out each of the few calories i would allow myself to have and when i would have them and how i would make them last across the day.

the craving took me by surprise. i think it was both brought on and perpetuated by my sudden re-immersion in Samford and all its skinny bodies and weight loss chit-chat and perfectionism. it scared me how fondly i found myself thinking of my disorder and how weak truth's typically strong-sounding voice was sounding in my head.

if i quit taking notes right now and started writing down numbers- if i just get lost in a few calculations and figured out how long it would take me to lose 5 or so pounds- that would feel really good, and-

suddenly, i interrupted my own thoughts and began to imagine myself as the dumb actress on the screen. i pictured all my friends sitting there watching me. i imagined the screams and groans of fear and disappointment they would utter as they watched me wander straight into the room with the killer- replacing food groups with vegetables, buying my tell-tale weight loss foods. I could feel the anguish they would feel watching me let go of life once again- especially when all i had to do was walk outside and ask for help instead of going looking for danger alone. i imagined their unavoidable terror- watching me wander through dark rooms in a house with a man with a chainsaw- knowing that there was nothing they could do.

thanks to my wild imagination, i'd gotten a glimpse of what it's been like for my dear friends and for my family. it's been like watching a scary movie, hoping that each bout with my disorder was the last they'd have to watch through covered eyes, that they could sit back and finally watch the happy ending.

i'm not saying that the ending without my disorder will always be happy, but i AM saying that i won't be searching out showers or wandering down dark alleys alone. and no matter how much sense my disorder may make to me, if it puts me in the category of the stupid scary movie girl, and my friends on the edge of the couch watching with clenched fists and jaws, then there's no way that going back to it can help anyone or anything.

and besides, i like the strong woman i've become. i'd like to think that if anyone ever makes my life into a movie, i'll be the woman that fights people off and takes them out- like alias maybe. i would actually be really offended if someone thought that a typical stupid-scary-movie-chick would serve as an accurate portrayal of EA Wade. so i'm not going to live like it would.

love,

EA







Saturday, August 28, 2010

Nini.




"...When they called they said there was an abnormality, I had to go back and have another mammogram, and then i had to go back and have a biopsy," a kind voice recalls into the phone. the voice is salty with age, sweet with the south. the voice is my grandmother's...

"...Cancer is cancer," she says, "...and you think, 'well, this is probably the end of me' of course it wasn’t – I was so blessed..."

i remember us all knowing something was wrong. it was October 2006, and my grandmother (to whom i'll refer as Nini from this point forward) had not been herself for several weeks. finally, less than a week before her surgery, she told us she'd been diagnosed with breast cancer.

over a month before, she'd gotten the call to come in so the doctors could get a second look at the abnormal readings on her mammogram. after her second mammogram and biopsy, she had to wait a week or so before she could return to the doctor for her diagnosis.

i remember a point in time when she found herself able to talk about that week. we were sitting in the car as she recalled the torment of knowing yet not knowing what was growing inside her, the gripping fear that accompanied the utter helplessness of having no option other than to wait.

"But what came to my mind in the midst of all of this," Nini says this morning on the phone, "was something that my leader in Bible study said, 'do not waste your suffering- seek the Lord and see how he can use that to strengthen your walk and to make you stronger- to give you insight you’ve never had and make you able to help other people.'"

When i look back on that fall, i consider how alone Nini must have felt waiting to find out if she was going to die or not. the reason she didn't say anything was because i was on homecoming court, and she wanted to wait until after the big football game to tell us the news (i don't suppose this is appropriate given the circumstances, but yes, i wanted to kill her for that). It's hard for me to fathom the kind of strength it takes to think of others above one's self, to knowingly choose peace over turmoil when a cancer of unknown size or severity is alive inside your chest, but Nini did it.

i started to think about my eating disorder and all the unspeakable selfishness and weakness and fear i've spent years in because of it. so many times i tearfully explained through clenched jaws how excruciating it was to try and do better- how even the slightest effort towards progress created a painful turmoil in my head that just wasn't worth it to me.

"I have a mental illness!" i would scream, "you can't just expect me to get over it- i am SICK- just like someone with cancer!"

therapist after therapist urged me to just take a step at a time- my mom likened my situation to a dark forest- assuring me that if i would just step into the unknown and hold on, i would one day enter into a clearing- into freedom.

it's taken five years for me to realize the uniqueness of the disorder from which i suffer. while just as diagnosable as the flu or cancer or any other type of illness, it is one of few in which the possibility for complete recovery rests entirely in the sufferer's hands.

there are countless others like Nini- completely at the mercy of an illness- who would give anything to have the option of guaranteed recovery placed into their hands. colorless, bald-headed people would jump from their beds and follow limitless orders if their doctors told them it would make them better.

fellow strugglers, they are not so fortunate as we.

and yet, we sit and rot and waste away, ignoring the life in front of us that is ours for the taking and using and giving.

if i could go back a few years to Nini's hospital room after her surgery, i would look her in the cancer-free eye and tell her thank you for showing me what it means to be strong, to choose life. i would tell her that in honor of that fearful, lonely week through which she wondered if she'd reached her end, i was going to step into the unknown, stop cowering before my diagnosis, stop getting in my own way, and reach for the life of freedom and recovery that five years later, i've finally found.

Nini- i'm sorry it took so long. but i thank you for loving me all the more anyway. you are a true example of what it means to fight. even when recovery was out of your hands, you chose life regardless. you've inspired me and now i pray your story inspires others. i love you.

-EA





Wednesday, August 18, 2010

a true adventure.

the other day i was spreading some newspaper out on the floor to catch stray paint, and a review of Eat, Pray, Love caught my eye.

as i glanced it over, i noticed that whoever authored the review wrote with a merciless intensity that suggested he/she wanted to be published yet hidden at the same time. he/she suggested that Eat, Pray, Love places bored, spoiled wanderers with the time and resources to run across the world on pedestals as "true adventurers" or "real-go-getters in life".

the author also suggested that the main character's journey is actually nothing more than glorified selfishness and irresponsibility, and that Eat, Pray, Love is enabling and encouraging such thinking, all the while deeming "normal life" as a hindrance to finding our "true selves". i'll never know what this reviewer was really thinking, but it seems to me that whoever it was was feeling a little ashamed or insecure about the lack of adventure in his/her own life.

i can certainly see where the merciless author is coming from, but i've neither read book nor seen the movie, so i can't say whether or not i agree.

but Eat, Pray, Love set aside, i think that the author was wrong to write-off a "normal" lifestyle as in impossibility for adventure.

Merriam Webster's online dictionary defines adventure as, "an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks".

if Merriam Webster is right, then an adventure is not characterized by geographical distance, how much money it costs, or how glamourous or fun it is. In other words, if Merriam Webster is right, as long as a little fear or a little risk is involved, an adventure is just as possible sitting right at home as it is on a transcontinental journey or in some foreign place.

this realization empowered me, and made me excited, honestly. because since january, there've been times i've found myself cowering inside- bracing myself for coming pain and anguish. i've found myself secretly thinking through my escape from this torture and back into my disorder or at least writing off the possibility of full recovery and resting in the comfortable idea of clinging to some habits or behaviors forever. i feel strangely satisfied in thinking, i'm just not there yet. i probably won't do/think that for another couple of years. at times i've been a victim- at the mercy of of my disorder. but it doesn't have to be that way.

i realized that real recovery is an adventurous journey like in some kind of epic story- fighting my way through each day- running straight into the most dangerous and fearful things i can think of- knowing it's going to be awful and wonderful and that i'm going to win- coming out better, happier, more alive than i ever knew i could be. it's been moments of this type thinking that have gotten me where i am, and it's going to be this type thinking as a constant that's going to get me recovered and that's going to start making this fun.

the day before my brother left for college, he wanted to eat lunch at his favorite italian place (italian = my biggest fear food). i decided not to be wimpy and order a salad, but to have an adventure instead. i ate some pizza. not too much, not too little. and when we got home i wanted to busy myself to burn it off and avoid the guilt, but i let my adventure continue. i decided to sprawl on the living room couch instead and watch TV with my brother for the last time for several months. it was the perfect end to our summer.

over a week out from the pizza adventure, i find myself sure of two things: that i'm no bigger than i was before, and that i'm stronger, much less afraid. but i think the most important thing i learned was that many adventures (like pizza) might seem completely hopeless in terms of rewards or happy outcomes, but the most hopeless of apparent dangers often end up being the sweetest. in other words: pizza is delicious.

it's a beautiful way to approach our problems, i think. not as worn out victims just scraping around to survive, but as adventurers on a voyage to recovery from something. we're probably unsure of how we'll do it, but set in absolution of the outcome: victory.

so regardless of whether or not the merciless author's conclusions were correct, whether a trip around the world to figure things out entails immaturity or irresponsibility or not, i think the point- the only way to get anywhere- is to knowingly put yourself in some danger.

i'm not talking about jumping in front of cars or eating rat poison or anything. i'm talking about the dangerous things that might hurt if they happen, but will undoubtedly hinder us if they don't. for some, those things are eating pizza or taking naps or trying to understand what's beautiful about health. for others those things are letting people in, telling someone "no", or trying and failing.

regardless of what our dangers are, it's time to be excited about defeating them- adventure towards them, through them, and past them. to let them happen and let who we are result.

i'm no longer the victim. i'm the adventurer and i'm going to win. join me.

love,

EA