Tuesday, November 29, 2011


i've been wanting to write this post for awhile now. i just wasn't sure how to say what i wanted to say. but i think i'm ready now. so here goes.

when i was 16 years old, a cute boy from down the street asked me out on a date. and then another date. and then another.

there was a creek that ran behind both our houses. it had an old wooden bridge over it. we got to know each other on that bridge. sitting and swinging our legs and talking and flirting. 

after a few months of sitting and leg-swinging, he walked me to the bridge one night and gave me my very first kiss.

we returned to the bridge often. even into college. whenever we were home, the bridge was where we would go to be together.

the cute boy from down the street is now a very handsome man. 

last night, he took me out on a date. 

afterwards, he walked me to a small stream with a bridge that crossed it and he asked me to marry him.

{i said yes.}

this stream and the bridge are across the country from the creek and the bridge where our relationship bloomed. they are new and they are different, but they are savoringly reminiscent of what led us to them. they are a unifying symbol that celebrates where we've been and where we are and where we're going. 

i will always be who i am because of where i've been. the struggle and the hurt, the victory and the joy, the eating disorder and God's hand carrying me away from it are undeniable parts of my make-up; seeds that will bloom and grow in a million different ways, time and again before i die.

but just like the old bridge gave way to the new, i think this journey of healing is ready to yield itself to new chapters. my recovery will be just as influential and present as always. my life is forever shaped by this journey, as my life could only happen once this journey took place.

but it's time to discover another new bridge. it's time to close the chapter this blog represents and step onward into all that God has.

so today, i am saying goodbye to the blog. i'm thanking God for holding my heart through the mourning and for keeping His promise of joy from tears. 

today, i am stepping into the beginnings of a new morning. a morning that starts a journey alongside the love of my life. a morning that might never have happened without the mourning that freed me to become one with another.

"...weeping may last for the night but joy comes in the morning." psalm 30:5

infinite thanks to you for reading. 

much, much love, 


....and for all who've asked, here is the ring. i could never love anything more :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

dear eating disorder,

today, i figured something out about you...

you do not think that i'm fat.

in fact, you think i look pretty great the way i am. you've also noticed that i'm in love, that i'm doing well in school, that i'm embracing the beauty of food and healthfully approached exercise. you hate that i get to look at the mountains every day.

it is because of the aforementioned things that you want me to believe that i am big. you recognize that although my life is imperfect, i am fully present. you watch me rejoicing in the good and doing my best to grow in the bad. you don't like when i'm alive. you want to paralyze me, and so you tell me that I am too fat for anything else to matter. you tell me that the size of my body invalidates my worth and that if i want to tap into my true potential, i've got to be skinny again.

but today, i realized that if i were truly fat, you would have no reason to attack me. if i were actually as big as you're telling me i am, then you wouldn't be telling me that i'm big at all. because in order to become big, i would have had to idolize the consumption of food. and if i were idolizing food i would be paralyzed already and you would be satisfied with that. and you would leave me alone.
but it is because i am far from paralyzed that you so desperately attempt to convince me that i need you.

so thanks, i'm taking your ambush of bad body image as a compliment.

i am not you and you are not me, so i get to decide all by myself whether or not i like my body.

and i decide that i like it.
actually i love it.

and you hate that it is loveable.


Thursday, November 3, 2011


if you want to know something that's incredibly difficult and confusing, it's going from starving yourself, to having medical professionals feeding you six times per day, to trying to learn to eat in moderation and maintain that moderation every day for the rest of your life.

there have been times throughout the past six years that i've been so confused by these different approaches to food that i've cried out to God, asking Him why in the devil He thought it was a good idea to just let us all loose down here with a world full of food and expect us to know how to use it. i've wondered why we can't all be the same size and just eat however much or little and it not matter instead of being tortured by the tension of moderation. if he really loved us, why did He make it so hard?

but then if you think about it, there's hardly anything in life that we just get to rest on, that we just get to have figured out. God's mercies are new every morning, but so are our capacities to for idolatry.

we need love and acceptance. we need to help and we need to be helped. we need to rest and work and play. we need exercise and we need sleep. we need to be cautious and we need to be alive. we need to need people and we need to be secure in who we are.

there isn't one of those needs that can't be over met or under met.

every single one of them is only healthy in moderation.

and sometimes, moderation is getting a lot or a little of any one of them, depending on where we are.

at first thought, moderation is a daunting task. we've got about a million different facets to our lives, all of which are teetering on the edge of becoming idols if we indulge or ignore them to extremes. it's frightening and stressful and it's a lot.

but it's also a part of what makes us alive.

and we are alive because God made us and God made us to  bring glory to Himself.

but the beautiful thing about God making us to bring Him glory is that it's when we're bringing him glory that we get to be the fullest alive.  and fullness of life can mean suffering for seasons, but fullness in suffering is better than emptiness in fun.

God gave us some clues when he talked about hating gluttony and sloth, but it would have been much easier if He would have just left us a list of which needs need to be met in what ways in what circumstances. but then meeting our own needs in moderation wouldn't be living fully for God's glory; it would be following a formula.

so meeting our needs without indulging or ignoring them is a day-by-day, really a moment-by-moment series of choices. to be moderate is to be in constant effort. it sounds exhausting, but what is really exhausting is stagnation.

the thing about moderation being a constant effort is that our relationship to God is a constant effort as well. as soon as we think we're good and we can stop trying, we've probably gone too far one way or the other.

so here is where (i think) it all comes together. to glorify God in our fullness of life, we need to be in constant communion with Him. to be in constant communion with Him we need to be in active battle against our existing and potential idols. And this active battle (i think) is otherwise known as moderation.

so moderation is the battle that fights off our idols and enables us to reach heavenward each time we choose it. But we have to choose it and we have to choose it a lot of times each day. and to choose something so in-between extremes requires effort, which requires help, which we get from our God, which means moderation and communion with Him go hand in hand.

God blessed us with beautiful, enjoyable means of meeting our needs. He intended for us to enjoy meeting our needs alongside the people we love. He intended for us to meet one another’s needs. He intended for us to bring glory to Him through lives that pulsate and thrive when we meet our needs in healthy fullness. in His infinite love and grace, God gave us sense and experience because He intended for us to get to taste hints of His majesty when we meet our needs in ways that satisfy those senses and experiences. we get to enjoy life and we get to enjoy it most when we lean on Him to help us enjoy it rightly.

how brilliant a design is that ?


Tuesday, November 1, 2011


i've always had long, muscular legs.

apparently i got them from my grandfather.

they're a little awkward sometimes because i'm only 5'4 and my legs take up so much of my height that there is hardly any room left for my torso. so i've got the shortest stomach in the world, probably.

but i kind of like the way i am because it's a little unusual for a girl who's 5'4 to have legs that are long. even at my sickest i was sometimes kind of okay with them. the real problem i've had has been with my arms.

the long story shortened is that all i wanted in life was to have stick-like arms. during a conversation that God ultimately used to lead me to the decision to get treatment, a friend asked me what i felt made me worth getting up and living every day. i told her it was because my arms were * inches around, the smallest they'd ever been.

so naturally, after hell upon hell's worth of months of weight gain and recovering, the thing i hated most about my body was my arms.

when i got back to school for the fall of my senior year i purchase some dumbbells because i decided that toned arms were not as beautiful as emaciated arms but they were more beautiful than fat arms and so i went to work, trying to get my arms all ripped up. 

my goal was to get my arms so toned that i was special again, the way i was when i was skinny. i thought that that would be the best of both worlds, because i could have what i really wanted in life without giving myself up to starvation. i thought it was a fool proof plan.

but apparently i am among the 7% of women who bulk up when they strength train, because that is what happened. 

so i stopped with the weights and started with these crazy pushups and arm circles and what not. all i did was think about my arms and try to make them burn so bad i could barely stand it. and once they burned that bad i would endure it for as long as possible, telling myself that this was what i had to do if i wanted to have a good life. 

nothing satisfied me. no matter what, i looked in the mirror and i hated my arms.

i think that this speaks to the idea that whenever we seek things with the desperation with which we ought to seek God, we will never feel that we've gotten them.

fast forward to denver.

i stopped being obsessed with working out and i started to love food and i started to like and sometimes love my body.

my arms aren't bulky anymore, they aren't toned, they aren't emaciated. they are just my arms and they are what they're supposed to be. 

i don't think i have the most gorgeous arms in the world, but to be honest, i don't think they're half bad. they allow me to hug the people i love and to carry groceries home from the store and they'll make me able to hold ski poles as soon as i dig up enough dollars for a lift ticket and they'll hold my flowers when i get married and they'll hold onto my clients' paperwork when i'm a counselor and one day they'll pick up my baby. 

all of those things are beautiful and all of those things are more than enough to make me love my arms and to make me feel thankful.

i guess what i really want to say is that i don't want to think of them as arms. i just want to think of them as me. because what i am is a heart and a soul and a mind and those things are the important things but they really aren't anything without a body to be their house and to manifest them here in the world. 

so i guess that's all. 



Tuesday, October 25, 2011

i love fall.

and i love halloween.

and i love scary movies.

until it's time to go to sleep.

actually, i recently placed a new restriction on myself in that regard:

no more scary movies. ever again. 

i have somewhat of a photographic memory. and images of killers in masks running around with butcher knives dancing through my head at night just isn't something i want going on in my life anymore. so in spite of how fun it is for the hour or two i'm doing it, i'm just not going to enter those images into my head.

but before i implemented this restriction, i spent one of my favorite halloweens of college in a friend of mine's dorm room watching a couple of horribly scary movies. it was hilarious and terrifying and fun.

we had been at a party on campus, but were tired of frat boys and their houses and so we left and went to blockbuster because it still existed then and we got our movies and went back to her dorm.

we watched this one movie called skeleton key. the majority of the movie was one mysterious, creepy occurrence after another until the very end, when the main character is trapped in the attic trying to protect herself from "spooks" by using spells from an old book she'd found lying around the house. 

although she didn't reveal herself until the final minutes of the movie, it had been obvious for awhile that this white-haired, raspy-voiced old lady was the source of all the creepiness and scary music the whole time. so when the main character is attempting to protect herself with the aforementioned spells, the old lady comes creaking up the stairs. a wild look in her eye, she steps into the room with the terrified main character, who tells her she's too late, that she's already cast the protective spell.

but the old lady laughs and tells her the protective spell could never have saved her. she tells her that the moment she believed the "spooks" were real, she entered their world and she made herself their prey. 

so if the main character had clung to the truth she'd previously known, the truth that "spooks" were make believe, she would have remained immune to them. she wouldn't have lost her life in the last fifteen minutes of the movie. she wouldn't have left disappointed audiences all over place to cope with a horrible ending to a pretty horrible movie. 

the other day, i thought about the fact that body image is a lot like the "spooks". i have spent more time and more energy than i care to think about, taking all kinds of precautionary measures to protect myself from bad body image. i've hoped and prayed that it would stay away. i've helplessly waited for it, like some kind of monster i can do nothing about, trying to enjoy the time i have before it barges in my door and turns my whole world upside down. 

i've had some great body image lately, but i've found myself afraid to believe that it's real, afraid that as soon as i settle into it the scary music will start playing and bad body image will be on its way back to get me. 

but i've realized that to be afraid of bad body image, to be unable to enjoy good body image and the peace that comes with it is to believe that bad body image is more than image. it's to believe that the large and ugly image i see is real. 

in other words, living in fear of seeing a fat person in the mirror is believing that that image is true and believing that that image is true is believing that i am fat

so if i am truly fat, then what do i do with the good body image? i can't believe that i'm fat and than i'm not fat, so i have to believe that the good body image is just a trick my mind is playing on me; that it's nice to look at, but only in a heartbreakingly imaginary sort of way.

but what if it's the other way around?

what if i'm actually kind of a small person, and the fat girl is just a fake production of my mind. what if i actually get to live inside the body i like and i get to simply dismiss the one i don't like?

what if i decide that bad body image is all a trick, a ploy from my eating disorder to make me serve it longer and harder. it's just a stupid illusion that can only touch me if i believe it. and there's no reason to believe it because nothing about my lifestyle can sensibly result in my body weighing more than it should. 

what if i decide that good body image is real. that when i like what i see, i'm seeing the real me. that when i don't like what i see, i can laugh and shrug it off and feel bad for my eating disorder because its exhausted all its tricks. that i don't have to be afraid to believe i'm actually okay and happy with where my body is because i don't have to be afraid that good things will always go away.

if i do these things, if i take the reigns of what i know about my body back into my own hands, i get to live a free life. i get to stop thinking about how much i hate myself and what i might do to fix it and i get to start using that extra time and those extra thoughts for things that are real and are important. i get to stop being oppressed and start appreciating my body and the things it does for me. i get to start eating awesome food and stop thinking that it's going to make me even fatter. i get to start thinking about my life as a life and not as a quest to escape the fat girl in the mirror. 

i've been living this way for nearly a month. 

it is wonderful. 

and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. 
john 8:32


Saturday, October 1, 2011

something that is newly true about me is this...

...i love food.

i have loved the things food makes possible for me for awhile, but i've been afraid to love food solely for its deliciousness.

but i've stopped worrying about what good-tasting food will do to me. i've stopped being afraid of good food. i've stopped being afraid of myself. i've stopped being afraid of myself having a relationship with good food.

i love macaroni and cheese and granola and toasted ravioli and fish tacos and chips with salsa and deep, dark chocolate and egg sandwiches with cheese on sourdough bread and best of all, frozen custard. i love it all most when it's made with its most real self, not fat or sugar free .

i've been living this way for a month...

...and my clothes all fit the same. my clothes all fit the same.

yes, the same.

i am not a self-indulgent person, i am not an overeater, i am not overweight.

 i am a woman who loves to be fully alive and loves to experience life's fullness on a daily basis through the taste of beautiful, flavorful, God-given foods.

i am a woman who is conscious of her health and as a result, believes in utter moderation (which is a whole post in itself).

i am a woman who feels more beautiful than ever when she quits worrying and just eats really good things til she's satisfied.

i am a woman who finally trusts her body.




Friday, September 16, 2011


i've mentioned this before, but i think it's funny and also fascinating that as humans, we possess certain qualities in such extremes that they end up being the very best and the very worst things about us at the same time.

today, i'm thinking about the best/worst idea in terms of selflessness and servitude and sacrifice. more specifically, i'm thinking about the best/worst idea in terms of treating others with utmost concern and telling them we're sorry when we don't.

it's really funny to me that there are some people who spend ungodly amounts of time agonizing over the way they treat others in the smallest of situations and end up apologizing for however they act anyway, while others take hefty stomps through relationships and interactions, pursuing their own agendas and never thinking twice about the way they're treating others unless they're confronted.

i've known a lot of fellow strugglers in addition to myself and i'd say that at least 99% of us fall into the "apologizer" category.

when i think back on some of the reasons i apologized just yesterday i'm slightly amazed at all the things for which i felt guilty and said i was sorry.

those who are closest to me get the bulk of the apologies and they also tell me to stop (i originally had "sorry to all of you" in these parentheses. i realized it when i was reading back over what i'd written and i laughed out loud). last night, after i'd apologized a few times over the course of an hour or so, a dear someone gently let me know that no more apologies were necessary.

so then i got mad at myself for apologizing so much. and i nearly had to bite my lips to keep from apologizing for apologizing.

but this morning i started thinking about it, and i started thinking about owning my actions and my words and what it would've been like if i hadn't gotten really upset with myself for putting too much lemon juice on the broccoli i was roasting or for realizing how much i miss my mom and calling her for 5 minutes to say goodnight while my boyfriend was over or for calling my best friend and talking about myself for a second. i thought about the fact that i wouldn't even have noticed if i'd been on the receiving end of those things, unless of course the person who'd done them had apologized. i suppose i would have noticed the intensely lemoned broccoli as well, but i would've made a sour face and laughed and moved on. and i would've been really sad if i'd known that the person who'd gone a little overboard with the lemon was beating him/herself up inside.

matthew 7:12 tells us to do unto others as we would have others do to ourselves.

of course, this means treating others with the respect and love with which we hope to be treated. but i also think that we can infer from this verse that that we should be as vulnerable and as receiving of love and care from others as we hope they'll be with us.

in other words, if i want people to feel comfortable to be themselves with me, to let their guard down and not worry about inconveniencing me or making a mistake or dumping their problems on me, then i should be my imperfect, disorganized (but working on it), occasionally emotional self with others, knowing that my authenticity in the context of our relationship is as much of a gift to them as theirs is a gift to me.

i am not saying that we should mistreat others and expect them to mistreat us back and call it all even. what i am saying is that "apologizers" need to be better discerners of what is mistreatment and what is just being human. there's nothing more healthy than admitting our wrongs and expressing our regret for them. but there's nothing more unhealthy than thinking everything we do is wrong and magnifying the effects of our smallest decisions and thinking we're horrible when the people around us never got past sensory perception of those decisions in the first place.

i am not saying that we shouldn't try to meet others' needs. what i am saying is that "apologizers" need to strive for a more realistic perspective on what others' needs actually are. outside of extenuating circumstances, i can't think of anyone who genuinely needs the person with whom they're spending time to never make a 5 minute phone call or run back to the car to grab a jacket or make one more trip to the produce section to grab something they forgot or act really silly when they're feeling silly or just simply say that they're sad. if anything, the people who love us need for us to be comfortable and confident enough in their love that we'll do any and more of the above without thinking.

when i write blog posts, i'm usually talking through things that, by the grace of God, i've already processed. i can only think of a few times i've ever written "on the fly" to process through something and hope i can make some sense of it as i type. but, just so everyone knows, i had no idea what this post was going to say until i said it. God came through. He spoke into my emptiness and i typed.

a few minutes ago i took a break from writing to change my laundry. as i was walking down the hall to the laundry room, my heart and mind felt lighter. i felt allowed to stop treading on eggshells and trying to be perfect. i felt allowed to be the my truest self in the context of striving for Christ's likeness in relationships. i felt like i could stop thinking a million miles a minute and just do unto others as i'd have them do unto me. it feels good.



Wednesday, September 14, 2011

i never thought i'd say this...

...but i'm done with working out. at least in my disorder's sense of the idea.

i think the fundamental error of my previous perception of exercise was that it wasn't my perception at all. it was my eating disorder's insistence that anything short of an all-out sprint fest was nothing more active or healthy than an afternoon spent on the couch. 

i don't want to get into specifics, because i'd hate to trigger anyone or worse, give someone's eating disorder ideas. but i will say that the majority of days i've lived over the course of the past 8 or so months have revolved around workouts. i woke up thinking about working out and i thought about it until it was done. i enjoyed my workouts immensely. not because i was enjoying my chosen forms of activity, but because i was enjoying the feeling of working too hard too often; i was enjoying the feeling of pushing my body to do something to an extreme for which it was not created. it was like an hour-long dose of my eating disorder each day and it felt good.

my counselor and nutritionist regularly encouraged me to reevaluate my approach to exercise, but it made me feel good to be living out a remnant of my disorder, and i was eating enough to support the calories i was burning, so it was a "best of both worlds" scenario. 

it's hard to believe, but today marks exactly three weeks since i moved to colorado. i'd had every intention of carrying my obsessive workout habits into my life here, but it was during my first run around the neighborhood that i realized it was time to make a change. 

it was a godsend of a combination, i think. because the air here is so thin that it's really hard to breathe at first. even for people in decent shape, running here is a whole new story. as i struggled to maintain my usual pace, my head began to ache i felt a little dizzy. i slowed to a walk, frustrated with myself for not being able to "beat the altitude".

 as i got my breathe back, i looked around. the sky looked so big. it made me feel close to the old neighborhood trees and the rooftops because the blueness was so far off and beautiful and vast that they could never touch it. i felt myself wanting to stop exercising inside my head, to quit taking in the sinister thoughts and pride in my ability to self-destruct with the same reverence with which i was taking in the trees and the sky.

i realized that if i was ever going to make a change, it would have to be from that moment forward. i realized that i could drag my old habits into this newness, or i could take advantage of the obliteration of all things familiar and of the lack air that's easily breathed and i could try exercise again, the way that it's meant to be.

so i loosened my grip on the notion that nothing counts as exercise unless at its utmost intensity and i left it behind. i remembered how much i love walking and stopped supplementing my walks with extra workouts to make them "count". I stopped running to prove my superiority and started running to enjoy running. i stopped timing myself. 

i realize that cardio intervals are quite the rage in the workout world, but i don't care. i'm in an old testament class this semester and right now, we're studying genesis. when i think about the earth in its rawest form, before we had machines to do everything for us, i think about the fact that there wasn't much sedentary living going on. i doubt anyone jumped up and down or ran sprints or tried to see how much they could lift, because cardio and strength related activity were a built-in aspect of daily life. no one thought, "phew! that was a workout!" because living life was a workout. 

i think it'd be healthy if we could somehow get back the idea of physical activity being a part of our daily function. instead of having a workout mode and an everyday life mode, integrating the two so they're one in the same. i realize it would take a little more intentionality than it did for people who lived thousands of years ago, because we can't change the reality of cars and computers and all the other stuff we have. but walking somewhere close by to run an errand or two, or while talking on the phone or talking to God is a great place to start. {note: this does not mean walking everywhere, or for hours at a time. if you are in recovery, this would be something to discuss with your dietician and counselor}.

of course, there are times that a good run or gym session just sounds right. but the point, i think, is balance. 

there were times i wondered how i was ever going to keep up with my workout schedule once i became responsible for more than just myself. thankfully, i've now got a workout schedule that is much more reasonably maintained. a few months ago, i would have thought myself better than anyone with the approach to exercise i'm now taking. i would've thought it weak and self-indulgent to enjoy exercise in any form other than its most intense. 

i'm thankful for the thin colorado air and the change it instigated in me. i'm thankful for walking and for slow, enjoyable runs. i'm thankful for yoga and for the fact that i don't have dumbbells in my room anymore. i'm thankful that my body image is better now that i ever remember it being. 

most of all, i'm thankful for truth.

"then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free." john 8:32



Saturday, September 3, 2011

life happens.

happy saturday, friends. i've been in denver a little over a week. i'm moved in, mostly settled and already trying my best to keep up with a hefty reading schedule for class. 

there's a woman in one of my classes who wants to work with eating disorders as well. she struggled for 27 years, but is now recovered. we were talking the other day and connected on the idea that it can be really tough to move out of recovery and into "real life".  we talked about the numbers of people we've watched make numerous returns to treatment and the condemnation we received from our eating disorders for not being right there with them. 

but something i'm continuing to understand is this:

recovery isn't force-feeding ourselves; it's experiencing the awakening of mental vitality that comes as a result of the force-feeding and being so thankful for the return of our thought lives that feeding no longer has to be forced. it's putting the beauty and uniqueness of our thoughts to the use for which they were created. 

recovery isn't creating a world for ourselves in which we feel safe; it's walking a balance between safety and challenge. it is giving ourselves what we need to move forward, being good stewards of the safeties that recovery entails, using them as the pathway by which we discover our real lives, the ones we never could have expected or hoped for, rather than settling into the safeties and living halfway. 

(just pretend this is a good picture of the rocky mountains...
my iphone does them no justice)

recovery isn't learning to feel without effect. it is not slipping on a cloak of pride so thick that nothing can touch us; it is learning to feel the bad and the good, loving ourselves and loving others in spite of our imperfections. it is acknowledging that we need other people. it is embracing vulnerability, even when we're scared, and learning that love is worth all of it. 

when i began this blog, i found purpose and meaning in my fight for recovery. it was where i needed to be, but it was not where i needed to stay. recovery is not life, recovery is a journey back to life. recovery is a necessary night of mourning from which we wake to morning restoration.



Tuesday, August 16, 2011

phantom pain.

there's this phenomenon among amputees that's known as phantom pain.  in the days and weeks that follow amputation, patients often feel pain (or itching or burning or simply a presence) in their no longer existing limbs. because the limbs do not exist, neither does the pain. hence the name "phantom".

according to the mayo clinic, codeine and morphine are options for some sufferers of phantom pain. but what i don't like about narcotics, as opposed to the myriad of other available treatments, is that they alter the patient's awareness and clarity and presence (and can just threaten overall health) all to escape them from pain that doesn't  even exist. although these medications bring temporary relief, if the victim of phantom pain is ever going to experience true freedom, he or she is going to have to face the discomfort and difficulty and longevity of one of the alternative treatment options that will treat the pain at its source, that will get rid of it for good.

as i wandered through a dismal week of bad body image last week, i found the core of my being crying out for some relief. i wanted nothing more than to dive into the depths of my disorder, to shut out the screaming voices that have tortured me to no end.

as i was plotting my return to the arms of my disorder, i remembered what has happened before and what would happen again. i remembered standing in front of the mirror at the lowest weight i would ever reach, tears streaming down my face because what i saw still wasn't thin. i remembered how good it felt to devote myself to the single cause of starvation, how quiet the voices would get when they had me where they wanted me, i thirsted for the quietness, but i realized that the quietness was a sense of relief from an excruciating pain with no basis for existence. i also realized that the quietness would only remain as long as i was actively starving. if at any moment i sought some semblance of satisfaction with myself and the mirror, some strand of truth, the voices would chime in and spur me on to further destruction.

i realized that treating my body as if it were as big as the false reflection before me would be the same thing as a victim of phantom pain treating their non-existent, aching limb as if it were actually there.

in other words, starving a body in order to calm a mind is as absurd as
pumping morphine to numb an arm or a leg that doesn't exist.

the only real solution is for the sufferer to stop catering to the false version of his or her body. at first, It may be impossible to bridge the gap between delusion and reality with thoughts or words, so the sufferer must bridge the gap with actions. the amputee has got to get off the morphine and move forward. the anorexic has got to trust that her perspective is skewed and she's got to keep eating and living and waiting for the day that some ray of truth comes shining in her window.

when i look in the mirror, the girl i see is fat. as maddening as it is to see her staring back at me, taunting me and telling me i'm worth nothing, i know somewhere, deep down, that the fat i'm feeling and seeing and hating isn't there. it's a phantom- an illusion cast before me by my disorder. as sweet a relief as acting in my disorder would bring, i refuse to live my life according to a perception that isn't real. 

thankfully, my phantom pain is not constantly at its worst. this morning, i was thankful to wake up to a version of myself in the mirror that was a little easier to swallow. so i'm going to keep living and eating and i'm going to wait until the phantom in the mirror goes away for good. until then, life is sweet enough to manage, and it's certainly better than the alternative :)


Thursday, August 4, 2011

1. (see definition 1 above): for most women, a size zero does not only denote the absence of magnitude and quantity of a woman's physique, but of the functionality her reproductive, integumentary and cardiovascular systems; her mental focus and clarity; her relationships; her sense of humor; her outside interests, hobbies and talents; who she is. 

2. (see definitions 2 & 3 above): the number zero is the first of many numbers which were created by man to achieve some cohesive sense of order and quantity. leave it to our culture to seek redemption and self-worth in our own number system, rather than the multitude of beauty (or lack thereof for which we might serve as vessels of restoration if we weren't so distracted) our Creator meant for us to enjoy. 

3. (see definition 4 above): why do we think that we will tap into an unending wealth of self-significance by fitting into a size that is called and recognized by a name denoting insignificance?

4. (see definition 5 above): for most women, fitting into a zero means hollowing out the place our hearts and minds once dwelled, creating a starvation-induced absence in which we think that we'll find ourselves. we forget what opinions, thoughts, and needs and wants feel like. when we seek neutrality in our pant size, we must accept neutrality in exchange for individuality as well. 

5. (see definition 6 above): perhaps, the size we so desperately desire to claim as our own is as its definition denotes: an arbitrarily, conveniently assigned label; a puff of air we abandon all else to grasp- only to find our hands empty.

yesterday, i dug the last of the zeroes from my closet and consigned them.  my laptop is currently sitting on a pair of thighs that will never touch the inside of a garment sized zero again. i'm thankful.



Tuesday, July 26, 2011

clay birds.

when i was in honduras, a couple other women and i joined a mi esperanza founder on a short road trip to a pottery co-op on the el salvador border to restock the pottery we sell in our store.

the pottery is made from natural clay derived from the banks of a nearby river and fired in clay stoves behind its makers houses. the co-op with which mi esperanza partners is comprised solely of women. i spent the day getting to know them. they are golden.
although i had not previously seen its place of origin, i've been viewing/purchasing the pottery ever since i began work with mi esperanza, so i knew which pieces we needed.

as i sifted through a floor full of pottery, searching for the bowls and cups and vases we typically carry, i saw a different piece i'd never seen. it was a small bird with a rounded head and a sloping neck that widened and shallowed into a triangular body. it sat a cool smooth weight in my palm and stared peacefully from two dotted eyes on either side of its rounded head that preceded a barely protruding beak. it was striped with off-white lines that swirled down its neck and around its body and across its back.
a honduran woman had artfully drawn each of the swirls with her hands. the bird was one of a kind. there never had been, nor would there ever be, another like it.
I looked at the bird and smiled. I would absolutely be taking one home.

When we'd gathered all we were planning to buy, the stocky Honduran woman in charge of the business smiled warmly, lifting her forearm to wipe the shine from her brow before beginning to count our number of pieces.

While we waited, the girls and I made our way behind the house, startling black speckled hens with our steps. The ground below was dusty and rough with rocks and twisted roots; but the dust, as if pouring itself forth into regeneration, led into lushness upon lushness. First was green grass, followed by dew-dripping crop rows from which black tree trunks rose, the fullness of their green leaves like an open curtain. The leaves gave way to rising grey mountains which stood in untouchable friendship, as if they protected the lenca potters and their houses and the woman and child across the street scrubbing clothes on a washboard.

I breathed a moment and looked, then stepped to shed on the left. The floor was smooth concrete. The roof overhead was held up by four posts, the walls open. Aside from a small path that'd been cleared, piles and tubs full of yet-to-be finished pottery lined the shed floors. There were thousands of pieces, all of them light, wet looking grey.

I came to a yellow tub and leaned forward to see inside. The bottom was filled with birds like the one I'd held moments before, none of them with vibrant designs, but identically empty-eyed, each of them the same, murky grey as the pieces surrounding.

The birds stared blankly from their sides. To look at them was to lose sight of what they were, to understand them as a pointed pile of grey inside a plastic yellow circle. If not for remembering their future as polished cordovan individuals with designs of hand-drawn ivory, to look at them would be a minor heartbreak.

I considered the vastness of difference between the finished birds. No two were alike, but all were equally beautiful.

I considered the facelessness of the birds at my feet, and I remembered the dull monotony with which I lived each day in my disorder. I wanted to make myself exquisite and unique and beautifully alone; i wanted to be special and unordinary and above; but my very attempt at redemption reduced me to a diagnoses, a single number out of nearly 10 million females in my country alone who were waking up and thinking the very same thoughts. I stripped myself of me. I was empty-eyed and grey, a clay bird in a pile of identicals.
When for a moment, I understood what I'd done, understood what I was missing, and stepped into the fear, it was as if a kind Honduran women in dirty, black Mary janes and once-white apron reached into the tub and pulled me out. She dusted me off and rinsed me in water. She painted me with stripes and swirls and shapes- a design no other bird would ever have. She made me beautiful.

But to set the designs would require a time of firing inside the hot kiln behind her house. Once emerged from the flames, the designs would no longer be painted, they would be an irremovable part of me forever.

In many ways, recovery is like a hot kiln. It is uncomfortable and sweaty and sometimes it burns. But recovery, if maintained, will make each of us the person we are- the person we thought we would find in the grey.


Monday, July 18, 2011

please accept my deepest apologies...

...as i've taken more than the brief hiatus i promised two posts ago. 

i was not relapsing, as i fear some of you may have suspected. i was recovering from a case of stubborn honduran diarrhea/fever which was followed by vacation bible school which was accompanied by a terrible cold (who gets a cold when its 120 degrees out?).

anyways...i'm back now.

my mom has kind of a terrible back that likes to wedge itself out of place time-to-time. it decided to wedge the other day and in an effort take better care of herself than usual (this stuff runs in families), she's actually staying off her feet, and asked that i help her by running a few of her errands today. for whatever reason, she didn't like when i referred to it as "doing her bidding".

one of the tasks scratched onto the post-it she gave me was to run by her place of employment (which happens to be my former high school) and pick up a few papers.

i always feel a little bit like i might have a nervous breakdown when i visit the old campus. it's just hard to reconcile my present self with my eating disorder's old stomping grounds.

i attempted to mask my discomfort from myself by defiantly swerving my car into a handicapped parking space. i'm an alum, i thought, i can park where i want.

i walked inside to the office and peaked down the hall, searching for the familiar face with access to the papers i was getting for my mom. moments later, her large brown eyes appeared from a small back office and we greeted one another.

"you look great!" she said knowingly.

to my pleasant surprise, i found myself happy that'd she'd said so. to my pleasant surprise, i felt my mouth turn upward into a smile and thank her, as if her words were a nice addition to a day with which i would otherwise have been perfectly content.

as i walked to my car with a manila folder newly tucked under my arm, i realized what people were really trying to say all those times when they said i looked "better" or "healthy" or "beautiful" or "glowing".

no one was trying to tell me i'd gained weight or that i was looking chubby or fat or any of the other irrational things i thought.

i thought about seeing a person after a measure of time and noticing that the person had gained a substantial amount of weight that they did not necessarily need. i thought about how dumb it would be to tell someone that they looked great if they'd gained a whole bunch of unnecessary weight and how most people would just say nothing.

in other words, the countless number of "you look so much better"s i've gotten and resented would never have formed as thoughts in any of their speakers' minds if i had been fat or an unneeded number of pounds larger when they said them.

what i took as flaming arrows that seared my heart and twisted my thoughts were really just people who loved me wanting to say, "hey- you didn't look so good for awhile- but now it doesn't hurt me to look at you- i see that you've experienced some victory and i wanted you to know that i noticed because i'm sure it's been hard."

fellow strugglers- if people are relieved to see us "healthy", so much so that they speak it aloud, then we must have looked worse than we knew before, and we must look far better than we know we look now.

it's good to be back.



Wednesday, June 29, 2011

some lovely facts.

1. i changed my plane ticket and therefore, am still in honduras

2. mi esperanza's awesome jewelry designer is here this week. we are collaborating on several projects and im learning lots from her.

3. tomorrow, some cool people and i are visiting a beautiful place full of artesian shops known as Valle de Angeles.

4. i have successfully incorporated a number of new words into my working spanish vocabulary.

5. my hondo-mom {lori connell: the woman in charge of mi esperanza} made banana walnut pancakes with nutella for dinner. we ate them outside and enjoyed them immensely.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

of one mind.

im currently sitting in "my" bedroom in my missionary friends' house in honduras, listening to early birds chirp outside my open window and taking comfort in the humming breeze of the large white box fan at the right-hand foot of my bed.

beneath me is a patchwork quilt of a hundred different colors and behind me is a stack of feather pillows. i am exceedingly happy.

ive spent the past twelve days working again with mi esperanza, designing a couple of new products, loving the women we work with, and spending lots of time with the founder of mi esperanza, one of the very best people I know.

i can't excuse the past 12 day's lack of blogging with the fact that ive been busy. although I have been on somewhat of a constant go, i would be lying if i said that i haven't had plenty of time for writing at night; this is a third world country and im a young female- there's not a whole lot i can safely be up to after dark.

I hope that no one takes this wrongly, or assumes what i am about to say as anything more than temporary, but the reason that ive chosen to neglect the blog for nearly two weeks is simple: i haven't wanted to think about eating disorders.

my eating disorder was such a measure of who i was for so long, that when I went into recovery, I found myself wondering who I was supposed to be. for a time, i think it was necessary and i think it was healthy to just know myself as someone in recovery from an eating disorder. the absence of my disorder left me with little else to which i could cling. i thought just as much about recovery as id thought of my disorder- both were full time jobs- and both required constant care and maintenance.

ive often wondered about the distant future- when my recovery will be a fact about me, rather than the core of me. I used to fear the time that those days would come true- subconsciously imagining myself suspended in space with nothing to ground me, nothing solid to grab- when I though of them.

but here in honduras, i am wondering if those days are still so far away.

when im soaking in this time with some of the most precious souls I know, ive found that to divide my attention, to anchor a portion of my thoughts to my own recovery, to recovery in general, would not solidify who i am as one might think, but would dilute the kind of focus I want to give.

I am forever shaped by the road that ive walked, but im beginning to see that it is not where ive come from nor where im going that makes me worth being where i am right now.

i have not blogged for two weeks, because although my actions have continued to mirror that of a recovered lifestyle, my thoughts and my heart have been on the work here.

i am no less passionate about recovery from eating disorders. in some ways, i think i've found a new level of passion for recovery in my desire to separate my thoughts from recovery itself.

this is by no means the end of my blog. ill be back next week, but until then, i hope no one minds if i simply don't think about it.

ill still be me {if not, ill be more of me} when i get back.

love from Honduras,

ea...p.s...see a picture of mi esperanza's newest product below:

Friday, June 10, 2011

i've got a lot of things i want to say...

..so it's going to be hard to narrow them all down into one cohesive post, but i suppose i'll try.

i've spent this past week at the beach with my family. i always think a lot at the beach. i think its because my family is one of those families that likes to keep a lot of things the same. so we've essentially enjoyed the same basic beach vacation in the same condo on the same beach since i was 14. living the same week over and over, one time each year, is quite the thought-provoking tradition, as i can consolidate all the past year's changes and growth into my thoughts and feelings and responses and behaviors of this one week and compare it to its past versions.

i was walking down the beach early yesterday morning and talking with God. I found myself thinking that this was the best feeling in the world- communing with my father and best friend- hearing the heart-swelling whispers of His spirit inside me alongside the waves that He created, crashing at my feet.

my mind shifted, as it often does, to my disorder. and i thought that sometimes it felt like the best feeling in the world too. i spent a lot of time attempting to cater to my disorder and my life simultaneously- living ** or so pounds underweight, taking downward dives every so often, only to pull myself out for another few months' until i could stand it no longer and i gave in to the compulsion to dip down into worse danger again. each slip deeper into my disorder was a thrilling sense of rightness with myself and with the world. each lowering heart rate i counted, each grave look on my doctor's face when i was in high school, each walk up to my college dorm my junior year that i wasn't sure i was going to be able to finish gave me a feeling like i was holding a kite and it had suddenly caught wind- i was doing what i loved and i was doing it well. it was the best feeling in the world.

as lovely a feeling as immersion in one's greatest downfall can be, and as unpleasant as life so often is, I began to wonder how it is that anyone ever makes it out of anything. i concluded that the best way to describe the journey to recovery {from anything} is as a realization of how much one loves the thing one is supposed to hate; an admission that there are two "best feelings in the world". the one of them is real and true- it is a summation of all things felt and experienced- it allows and celebrates the feeling of all feelings- it is imperfect and it is human but it is life. the other, though safe and unpainful and avoidant, is a phony, hollow existence that if not death itself, is a direct route to it.

i'd been looking at the houses up the sand banks as i thought. my mind stilled and i shifted my gaze straight down the shoreline. The sun was barely out of the eastern most horizon. It shone low and bright on the morning waves. They were luminescent like molten silver, rising to a bright boil and crashing into the glittering sand. the stacks of distant high rises were a foggy, majestic gray, standing against the sky like a holy city, its only road the silver shore.

i turned and stood with my feet wide apart, facing outward to the endless ocean. to my left was the unearthly beauty of the rising sun on sea- a momentary manifestation of divine promise- what i will forever believe was in some way, a preview of my eternal home. to my right was a beach- it was a watercolor palette of blue and sand with white caps and a brushed blue sky. it was lovely. but compared to the regal sight to my left, to turn and to walk to the right would have been an utter waste.

it isn't often that we're allowed a black-and-white sort of picture of the choices we have in life. many times, we know little more than what's good and what's best, and we're afraid to choose what's best because we only know that the people we admire and God and everyone else think its best, and we're afraid that we'll give up what we know and love, only to find that what was supposed to be better isn't better at all. 

but as i stood there, staring out, turning my head to the left then to the right, i felt i was experiencing the way that many of our choices would look if we were able to see their consequences beforehand. 

but the thing is, we aren't able to see the outcome of our decisions before we make them. to really gain anything in life, (no pun intended) we have to submit ourselves to a measure of risk. we have to risk losing what we think we love, risk feeling what we thought would kill us to feel, risk doing what we thought would destroy us in order to find that for which we were really made to live. 

i suppose what distinguishes one "best feeling in the world" from another is identifying what we really want our lives to mean. i could refuse to eat another bite for the remainder of today, and i could put on my shoes and make my way to the elliptical and i could stay there and let the euphoric numbness mount and it would feel like the best feeling in the world. but i'm not living for numbness and i'm no longer living to be thin, so as good as immersing myself in my disorder may feel, it couldn't possibly be the best feeling in the world, because it is a path completely opposite from the one that i've chosen to take. 

sometimes, it's hard to face life without our downfalls, but it'd be harder to walk their shores knowing somewhere deep down that we were making the mistake of a lifetime.



Tuesday, May 31, 2011

a short {angry} rant.

i'm fairly sure that the majority of my posts serve as evidence of the fact that i am a selectively religious follower of grammar/punctuation rules.

although i disregard capitalization and find it simply unnecessary to avoid run-on sentences, i try my best to use its and it's in their correct contexts respectively {i've probably erred by sheer carelessness in a number of posts}, and i do not and will not end sentences with prepositions.

a preposition just before a period disgusts me about as much as another branch of grammar atrocities- the kind that fill female facebook walls and sorority girls' text messages- the kind involving unnecessary repetition of letters and exclamation points, obnoxious abbreviations and overuse of the words "sexy" and "girl" {the gym shorts and uggs combination of the english language, if you will}.

as much as these atrocities make my skin crawl by themselves, what brings me to a boiling anger- the kind so frustrating it's uncomfortable- is when these degradations of the english language are used to congratulate a girl on her recent weight loss.

i'm fully aware that there plenty of people whose health depend on them losing weight and that these people deserve to be encouraged when they succeed with healthier lives. but this morning, when i saw a photo of an alarmingly frail version of a friend of mine with comment after comment beneath it, i found myself clenching my jaw and both my fists.

"OMGGGGG my girl you look PERF!!!!!!!," one of the comments said. as horrible a version of english as the quote is, what's worse is the fact that "perfect" {or "perf" as the individual behind the quote has chosen as her means of conveying that her friend looks flawless} is something that young women in today's culture are taught to believe is achievable on any level, particularly through starvation and over exercise.

"sexxxxxy!!!!!!" another comment said. what isn't sexy at all is that the type of thin the girl photoed has reached, the type of thin our culture embraces as attractive is also the type of thin that disables a woman's estrogen production- virtually shutting off her reproductive system- disabling menstruation and poising her for premature osteoporosis by sucking calcium from her bones.

what's worse than any of the heinous abbreviations or abuse of exclamation points is the fact that the commenters continued throughout the facebook album's remainder to marvel over the photoed girl's weight loss, without realizing that their encouragement was much the same as telling an alcoholic to keep drinking- that they'd grown more successful, lovable and worthy since they'd taken to the bottle.

when i started losing weight, i remember the influx of congratulatory remarks that quickly became my daily sustenance. i lived for each one of them. family, friends, friends' families, teachers and people i barely knew all seemed to notice and all seemed to suddenly hold me with higher esteem than before. i thought i must have been doing something right, and as behavioral psychologists always say, behaviors that elicit reinforcement will be repeated. in other words, the comments made me feel really good, so i kept doing {and not doing} the things that got them coming in the first place. i do not blame any people or their attempted encouragement for deepening my dependence on my disorder. i blame our culture, rather, for being one leads its people to seek redemption and worth in physical appearances and obtainments rather than in things that actually matter.

the heart of the problem that's going to cause the photoed girl to read the comments on her album and continue doing {and not doing} whatever it is she's been doing {and not doing} is one with a long and difficult fix. changing a culture was never something that one person could do in one lifetime.

but helping one person with an eating disorder means as much as to me as helping a million, so i hope that this short {angry} rant will open at least one pair of eyes to the importance of cautiousness with weight loss comments.

you never know to whom {or what} you're talking.

love {and a little frustration, perhaps},


Friday, May 27, 2011

one-year anniversary.

two days ago, i watched the sun rise from a plane that was 12 hours delayed. my dad and i made our way into the house, dropping our luggage inside the back door and rubbing our eyes as we stumbled up to our beds.

i woke up a few hours later with no sense of direction or purpose for the day other than to lie on the couch and watch crime shows on tv.

it's rare that i resign myself to the television for an entire day, but i was too tired and dull to really accomplish anything, so i thought it was fitting that i remain worthlessly on the couch and watch other people who hadn't spent the night in an airport terminal solve crimes.

it's also rare that i go a day without looking at my computer, but i was so tired that pulling my computer out of its sleeve in my backpack seemed like some unreachable task, so i let may 25, 2011 slip away without even realizing that it was may 25th.

i'm actually really good at going a fair number of days without ever knowing the actual date of any of them. i've managed to make it through life without ever missing any huge deadlines or events (not to say i haven't come close), but unfortunately, as i lay there watching CSI on wednesday, i let the first birthday of the blog go unacknowledged.

i don't suppose it's the blog's birthday that holds so much significance as it is the fact that it's been one year and two days since i let everyone know i was starting, "the rest of my life." this is the longest period of time since 2005 that i have lived life outside of my disorder, the longest period of time since 2005 that i have maintained my body weight within a recommended healthy range, and the longest period of time since 2005 that i have experienced consistent joy and peace.

{click the links! they are old posts :) )

on may 25, 2010, i wrote the first ever post of this blog. i wrote that i was mourning the loss of my disorder, but that i was persevering with the hope of a new morning- one that would be worth all my tears.

i was mourning the loss of my skinny body, of my size 0 clothes, but i tentatively embraced new sizes and months later, found myself basking in the morning glow of accepting my new self.

i was mourning the loss of what i felt made me worth something, but i awoke to a brilliant morning light, the light of Christ, and i learned i can't make myself worth anything, but He is worth everything and it is only in Him that my life can have meaning at all.

i was mourning the loss of my protector, but i awoke to a morning in which i felt strong enough to feel, to seek Christ's healing through the pain rather than my disorder's numbness outside the pain.

i was mourning the loss of the ease of restriction to combat bad body image, but i found myself thankful for the morning of my last final of college when i was able to succeed because i fought body image, instead of fighting my body itself.

i was mourning the loss of my "eating disorder foods". it's taken awhile, but i now celebrate morning after morning, each of them starting days during which i choose foods because i want them, not because i'm not afraid of them.

i now find myself mourning the sweet life- the morning- that this past year has unfolded. i'm going to miss my friends being next door and down the street, my apartment and my school.

but i look forward to the morning to come:

the morning when my friends and i adjust to living in different cities and fall into a rhythm as easy as what once was- the rhythm in which we stay close through phones and computers and girls' weekends- the rhythm that will result in our kids meeting each other one day.

the morning (the morning i was traveling last weekend to confirm): when i've grown accustomed to life in denver, colorado, where i'm moving in august to obtain a master's in counseling from denver seminary.

and all the mornings to follow. i've got no clue how they'll look, but i know how they won't look, and how they won't look, i've realized, isn't something to mourn.

it's something to celebrate.

thanks to each of you, whether you've been reading for a year or for a week. i can't describe what it means for caring people to walk beside me in this journey.