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,


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.



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'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.



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.