Thursday, March 31, 2011

i'm sorry.

right now i am of a mind to pound out a bit of an angry post in which i question why it is that life outside of an addiction is so worth it if we're constantly going to end up being hurt by one person or another. sometimes it makes more sense to just live inside the consistency we can create for ourselves in our disorders. i'm growing increasingly tempted to go off on the aforementioned concept as it continues to spill out onto the screen, but after a heart wrenching discovery i made yesterday morning, i realize i have no right to do so.

in the fall of 2009 [not this past fall, the one before], a friend from high school and i rekindled what had been an acquaintance and embarked upon a budding friendship. we had quite a bit in common. we understood one another, i think, on some on unspoken level. i spent a good two years of college feeling misunderstood and unappreciated, but i always felt i could be myself with this individual, and that he didn't mind.

he was hours away. we talked every so often, sometimes voice-to-voice, sometimes electronically depending upon our schedules. i remember being out of quarters for the laundry machine while we were talking one day. i held the phone between my shoulder and my ear while i washed some thrift store purchases in my bath tub. he laughed and laughed on the other end.

some time in early november, he called to let me know he'd been accepted to teach for america in new york city. it was around the same time that the euphoria of my swift downturn into my disorder had subsided and i was left feeling bewildered, weak and exhausted. i remember feeling constantly buried, as if i was under several feet of quick sand. responding to my phone or participating in a conversation required pulling myself up to the surface and then holding myself there. it required a strength and an effort i just didn't possess.

when i did use my phone or a computer, the keys felt miles away and my head felt floaty. i remember typing my friend a message to let him know what was going on [he'd watched the rise and fall of my disorder in high school] and that i was getting some help and that i wasn't sure when i'd be able to talk.

he sent me a lengthy reply of which i remember reading the first line. i honestly do not know or remember if i was able to attain the concentration to read the rest. i do know that i never responded. i simply could not muster enough of myself to do so.

yesterday morning, i came across his reply. i read his heartfelt words and my chest grew heavy, like it was holding a train. another person has never extended me a more loving, genuine, comforting hand. amidst the anger, sadness and disappoint i felt towards myself, there was a single realization that left me wide-eyed and brokenhearted:

i had hurt him, i had confused him and i had never before considered that my disappearance would or could have caused either.

yesterday, i grew to hate my disorder on a deeper level than before. although i regret the things it stole from me, i regret so much more the innocent bystanders it wounded along the way.

what terrifies me truly, is that all the time my disorder was causing me to hurt people, it had me convinced that no one really noticed me or cared.

fellow strugglers- know that by clinging to the things of which you refuse to let go, you are damaging others outside of yourself. right now, there are people hurting because of your disorder that you may never have imagined even cared.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

"I’ve realized that my aneurysm was a gift in many ways. I learned to live by almost dying. Even though I was always pretty outgoing, I kept a lot inside, too.
I’ve learned so many things about myself.
I’m not sure whether I’m back to normal—it’s a new normal, a different me. 2010 was the year of recovery and rediscovery. 2011 is about living."
-Nancy Jarecki
(reflecting on her year of recovery from a brain aneurysm and four neurosurgeries that resulted. read the rest of her story here)

*the photos below were taken on "the cruise"*

although nancy and i are in recovery from vastly different things,
i have to say i agree with her.

when we are willing to fight, our struggles become opportunities to see the world through lenses of


Friday, March 25, 2011

things we can learn by comparing ourselves to dogs.

i try to avoid writing explicitly Christian posts. not because i'm not an explicitly Christian person, because i am, but because i would hate for anyone struggling with an eating disorder to skip over my blog simply because our beliefs are not the same.

with that being said, i hope that everyone can find something of significance to them in the following explicitly Christian post.

this afternoon, as i was walking my babysitting family's dog, i found myself feeling impatient. the dog's name is max. and max was stopping to smell each individual leaf, acting like he was on some kind of important mission other than to use the bathroom. I kept reminding myself that he probably wasn't going to get another walk and that i needed to make the most of it for him, and so i let him have a few sniffs each time he stopped and then pulled him along.

towards the end of our wooded walk we came to a pile of branches that looked like somewhat of a beaver dam. after a short pause, max decided he was going to walk through it.

"no max," i said, "no. you're gonna hurt yourself, sweet boy."

max didn't care. he was headed straight for a tangled mess of branches and sticks into which he was really going to wish he hadn't gotten himself.

before he made himself miserable, i yanked his leash, pulling him in an easy path that framed the outer edge of the stick pile. he will never know how thankful he should be.

as we hit the asphalt and headed towards the driveway, max kept craning his head to see what he'd missed. i haven't the slightest idea how dogs minds work, but for the sake of the point i'm trying to make, i'm going to say that max was a little peeved at me for steering him around the sticks.

as i was pulling the dog's leash i started to think what life would be like if God pulled us around every stick pile we ever approached. i don't suppose i'll speak for everyone, but i think that i would eventually bite God in the ankle in hopes that he would drop the leash and let me go out on my own for once.

but God doesn't keep us on leashes.

i think it's safe to say that my eating disorder was a pretty tangled bunch of thorny sticks. I think all our struggles are. we've all got plenty of stick piles from which we've been protected, but we've got just as many into which God has graciously allowed us to wander. It is the sole means of learning that He's the only one who can get us out.

amidst of the thorny mess of my disorder, sharp edges scratched me in a hundred places each time i moved. sticks were poking my eyes and my mouth. i couldn't see or hear but i kept trying to convince myself the pile was what i had wanted.

but one day i got sick of just staying in one place. there were a million directions in which i might have been walking, and even more things i might have been experiencing, but instead i'd walked into a trap and i'd stayed within its five foot radius ever since.

i stopped moving. i looked up at Jesus with surrendering eyes and said, "please. pull me out."

lovingly, he reached down and begin to pull the thorns from my skin, to loosen the branches that held me one by one. each thorn he removed left its own surge of pain in my skin. it was almost more painful to sit through Him breaking me free than to writhe around in the sticks myself. a couple of times i began to twist and turn and flail, forcing him to let go, i thought i could surely get myself out faster and easier than he was.

each time he would stand there patiently, allowing me to re-realize that i wasn't going to get out without Him. As soon as peace returned and i grew still and gave Him the knowing eyes, he was once again at my side, painstakingly setting me free.

when at last i was out of the sticks, He cradled me gently in His arms, tending my wounds and whispering softly that i could trust Him, that I could look forward to the beautiful places we would walk in my newfound freedom.

He'd been there beside me, always. much before the stick pile. i'd loved Him all along, but when He allowed me to walk into deeper pain than i'd ever felt before, He allowed me to walk into a need for depths Himself that i would not have found comprehensible outside of my injuries.

the stick pile is far behind us now, and i'm trying to do more following than running ahead, because He's got a lot for me to do and to see. although i am no longer in constant pain, the tenderness of His healing continues to flow through the depths of my soul that were pioneered by fear, anger, and desperation during my time amidst the sticks.

many of my wounds are healed, some are getting close, a few are still bleeding. even when a drop of blood hits the ground, or a remaining scratch is momentarily sore, i thank him for allowing me to walk into the tangled branches. His healing, His love and His peace are worth the pain that is required to experience them in their fullness.



Friday, March 18, 2011

the cruise.

i stepped onto the sun deck and pulled my hair into a low bun at the back of my neck. i looked to the left and to the right. aside from a twelve-year-old girl at the far end of the deck by the hot tub, i had to be the smallest one there.

i pulled my cream-colored cover-up over my head, glancing down just enough so that my eyes caught my hip bones jutting out from my black bikini bottoms. the waistband rested against them, creating a small sliver of space between my swimsuit bottoms and my abdomen, which i loved.

i stretched and turned my face so my chin was parallel with my arm and stared from my shoulder down to my forearm. the joint at my elbow bulged like a swollen sore from the skin-covered bone shaft that connected it to my shoulder. i was pleased.

i grabbed a book and i sat, noting the expanse-like space between my two thighs and feeling peaceful. i wondered how people who ate regularly felt about their bodies in swimsuits.

i stepped onto the sun deck and squinted towards the expanse of blue water on all sides. i'd never seen water so blue, nor had i ever been on a boat so big. the morning sun lit the wooden floor of the deck and brightened the white rails that surrounded its edge. i lifted the strap of my brightly woven shoulder bag that was filled with far more books than i would ever be able to read and lowered it to the ground beside the lounge chair closest to the deck's edge. i wore a grayish-cream zip-up jacket
that was dotted with soft blue flowers. the wind blew it into me and the zipper was cold on my legs. i breathed deeply and slowly pulled the zipper until i ran out of track. i took it off, i sat down, and i noted how easily it all had happened.

i don't have the pure kind of translucent skin that looks straight out of a jane austen novel, but my peaches 'n cream complexion still requires spf 30. i dug through the world's worth of clutter inside my bag and felt around for the bright blue tube of coppertone that would allow me to survive the sun-filled hours that would follow. as i rubbed the thick, white paste into my shoulders and arms, i could feel the hardness that had become triceps and i could make out the grooves that my dumbbells had left in my shoulders. i couldn't say my arms were skinny, but they were certainly firm, which was more than i could say when i'd initially gained the weight. i was satisfied. my legs elicited similar sentiments.

my stomach was a different story. after months of ab work (approved by my nutritionist), it was still slightly soft, especially when i sat. it was also consistently bloated, (which i'm told is a result of the severe neglect i inflicted on my digestive system and will eventually go away) and although it's balloon like appearance is easily hidden under clothes, it was not so concealable in a swim suit. i made a face as i rubbed the soft folds with cold sunscreen, and hoped it wasn't as bad is it seemed.

i opened my book and started to read but could manage only to focus for a sentence to a short paragraph at a time. when i grew tired of grasping and resettling my elusive attention, i turned to my friends and joined their conversation.

they seemed to think something was hilarious. as i smiled faintly, i noticed how beautiful they all were. i was not beautiful, but i was starving, and that was as close to beautiful as i knew i would get. i jumped up and bounced myself onto an open end of a lounge chair, joining their circle. "i'm hungry," one of them said, "has anybody not eaten lunch?" my mind jumped to attention and although my focus refused to assemble for books or conversations, it was readily available to address the situation of lunch, and so i began to think. i quickly determined how much food to put on my plate, and how much of it to actually eat. i was thirsty, but i only filled my water glass half way to make sure my stomach wouldn't stick out.

i pushed the issue of my stomach past me and read awhile, my obnoxiously large headphones blaring. i got a little restless and ended up twirling my ankles around on the top of the railing as i read. my six best friends surrounded me and i remember feeling sure i'd never loved a day as much as that one.
as i looked around at them, i noticed how beautiful they all were. i started to think i was probably the least beautiful, but i cut off the thoughts' access to my mind and heart. they would not rob me of even the tiniest parts of my joy.

we took a break for lunch which we topped off with cones from the frozen yogurt machines. afterwards we returned to the deck for the afternoon's remainder. i read until 5 or 6 at which point i pried myself out of my chair to go and shower.

later on, at dinner, i ordered all kinds of things. i stirred them around and cut them up and took bites here and there. it worked out well and i managed to have a decently fun time.

i wore one of my favorite dresses to dinner, at which i ate and enjoyed. all our food was paid for already, so whether or not we would order dessert was hardly a question. six of the seven us ordered "warm chocolate melting cake". we agreed it was one of the best things we'd ever eaten, and it would end up making an appearance at each of our dinners to follow.

i brought my camera along and took a bunch of pictures. i looked them all over, giving great care to the ones i knew would upset my mother. i always knew i'd been doing things right when i posted pictures on facebook and she called me to tell me how sad it made her to look at them. when i looked at one of the pictures, an emaciated young woman stared back at me. something deep inside me fearfully suggested that i eat something and start to take better care of myself, but i suppressed the urge. "maybe after spring break, i'll eat a little more," i told myself. but then i realized that summer was soon to follow.

we'd all brought our cameras and were taking lots of pictures. i think a lot of groups of friends pose their silly pictures so they're super indie or super sexy, and then they put them on facebook. none of my friends really ever put pictures on facebook, nor do we ever pose our silly pictures. but we take plenty of completely hilarious photos regardless. it usually starts with a picture that was meant "for real", in which someone looks like someone or something else. we all start posing like the someone or something the person resembled, which makes us think about someone or something else and pretty soon we are making all kinds of demented faces and laughing so loud we're turning heads. this was how dinner both ended and segued into the rest of the evening. it actually worked out perfectly because there were photographers with these hideous backdrops on every corner. we gathered in front of one and decided we would all smile with underbites. apparently an underbite means something different to me than it does to any of my friends. in the photo that resulted, i look like a charity case that my friends brought along on spring break to boost either their consciences or their resumes. the mere mention of my face in the picture elicited suffocating, wet-your-pants kind of laughter on the part of all seven of us for much of the rest of the trip.

after dinner we went around to some of the lounges and dance clubs around the boat. everyone was dancing and laughing and getting rid of random men that kept approaching. they looked to be having the time of their lives. i did what i could to at least appear unawkward, taking advantage of the times i had to pee and sitting down every so often to look at the pictures i was taking. i always dreaded going out. my friends had so much fun when we went out places. they weren't the typical kind of college girls, stupidly and facelessly making their way onto the dance floor, latching on to whatever man was willing, never remembering enough to differentiate one night from another. my friends could take a dance floor by storm, making their way to the center two or three at a time, turning every male head in the room. i dont suppose any of them noticed, but i was the tag along. at some point in high school, i'd stopped being able to have fun. i wanted to reach inside myself and find the person that could just enjoy a moment without feeling as though every eye in the room was ripping her apart. but the only time any sort of fire entered my eyes and i found myself passionately and eagerly engaged was when someone suggested we call it a night.

after the photo fiasco we ended up singing karaoke. i sang some alison krauss because i love alison krauss. we obnoxiously filled at a least a 30 minute period with back-to-back performances of some combination of the seven of us. when we'd sung all the songs we knew we walked out on our high heels and proceeded past a couple of bars to a dance club. we walked in with raised hands and made our ways through red leather couches to the dance floor. each of us has her own way of dancing and some are better at it than others. given that rap is not exactly my music and clubs with white walls and leather red couches are not exactly my scene, at moments i felt out of place. but i remembered the ways in which i'd grown to love myself and the scenes in which i felt most at home and i settled into the knowledge i was who i was and that i would have things no differently.

the next day we stopped in mexico. the beach was pretty. i always enjoy a good beach. i saw a few girls who looked my age. they were really skinny, which was unfortunate, because i could think of little else. i wondered how many calories they had eaten already and how tight their jeans would be if i tried them on. i was not so happy with myself as i'd previously thought. why did some girls get to have everything? i started thinking of more ways to cut calories.

the next two days were stops in mexico. we spent both of them on beautiful beaches, which i loved. i saw some skinny girls and i didn't like the ways i compared, but i didn't have a lot of time to think of them further. the first stop required a walk through some village streets that reminded me quite a lot of Honduras. i stopped and talked to a little girl in a lavender outfit and kissed her head and felt right at home. there were vendors everywhere, and they enjoyed my spanish, i think, because i spent a good portion of the day jabbering with them in the sand. i let a woman give me a hair wrap and i bought a ridiculous looking mayan wall-hanging because i hated knowing that those people's livings were made off hot day after hot day scouring the sands for people either willing or drunk enough to buy their things. i met one woman giving 20$ massages who hosted a church in her home and i met another who was walking around selling shirts she'd made with her hands. my friends and i sat in a circle of chairs eating the best salsa and guacamole any of us had ever had. the day came to too soon an end.

cozumel was similar. we spent the day on a beach with swing sets and kayaks and and a waiter named solomon (sah-loo-MAH-n in spanish). i learned that stand-up kayaking is either too difficult to be a legitimate sport, or is a very legitimate sport for which i have no legitimate ability. i read quite a bit and listened to a lot of wilco.

both of the mexico days were the kind that will elicit soft smiles twenty years from now. thinking of them now makes me thankful and warm.

the remaining days were fine. i pushed around a lot of food and made a lot of trips to the bathroom to look in the mirror. i survived the dance clubs and lounges and i managed to make everyone laugh heartily at least a few times. when it was over i went to spend the last couple of days of the break at home. my mom looked at pictures and made some comments about hoping i'd be able to have kids when the time came. i wasn't satisfied with the way she'd reacted to my bony photos. i'd gotten worse out of her in the past and i wanted that again. i wrote out a plan for what i would and wouldn't eat when i returned from spring break. i would be thin by summer at the latest but hopefully before. i hoped the weight would fall fast. the sooner it went away, the sooner i would be worth something.

on our final day at sea i was less than thrilled with my body. i had a feeling it was due in part to the fact that when i travel, things get stuck in places through which they normally maneuver pretty easily. the venture away from my routine with food and exercise was stirring my thoughts around as well. i never thought i'd be thankful for a sun burn, but my back was borderline blistered and so i wore a band t-shirt tied in a knot at my hip for the day's majority. the thoughts were consistent and real, but my personality and great fun were immune to them.

I finished "the bell jar," by sylvia plath and started a.w. tozer's, "the knowledge of the holy". my friends read a lot as well, but the day ended sweetly with the seven of us crowded onto two lounge chairs, just soaking life in.

the following day, we spent the ride back to samford marveling over what a wonderfully fun time we'd all had. we parted ways and headed towards our homes for the remaining three days of spring break.

i ended up at our raw-wood kitchen table with mom, taking her through all of my pictures. i didn't like the way i looked in some of them, but i liked and loved the stories behind and within them, and that was enough. my mom kept hugging me and telling me how happy she was to have me home and how nice and sun kissed i looked. in the early of the night, sleep overtook me and my mom pulled down my sheets and sat and talked with me in my bedside lamplight until my face turned gently to my pillow.

the parts of the story typed in italics are what (based on years of previous experiences) my spring break cruise would have been like with my eating disorder. the parts typed in bold are what actually happened. neither is perfect, but it's pretty clear (to me at least) in which story i would rather live.

happy spring break.



Friday, March 11, 2011

victory in a loss.

I often times say that i would far rather work with adults who are certifiably insane than with kids.

the little boy i babysit makes serves as cold, hard evidence of the above statement on a decently regular basis. sometimes i want to punch him in the face.

yesterday he wanted to play basketball. i considered telling him that it was cold and wet and a bad idea, but i'd put my paycheck in my purse moments before and i wanted to be worth his parents money and so i said okay.

they have an iron spiral staircase that connects their back porch their lower carport. (and thus you have mountainbrook) i discovered as i peered over the railing, that our basketball court was half-covered in cold puddles.

it was already chilly and i didn't have a jacket and all i had on my feet were moccasins, so i decided before the game even started that i wasn't going near any of the puddles.

i lasted a few minutes, but started to get sick of just standing there and losing. i clenched my teeth and made my way into the puddles. at this point, it was 19-6.

as soon as i became willing to step into the discomfort of the puddles, i started scoring basket after basket. we were playing to 21, and before long, i'd gotten there.

i loved that i had just beaten the ten-year-old (embarrassing), because his smack-talking really tends to get under my skin. but as soon as i scored my 21st (22nd, actually) point and raised my hands to celebrate, he came up with a bogus reason that i hadn't actually won.

"nope," he said, "you don't win. you fouled me a minute ago so it's my ball."

my competitive side took off without me and decided to play by his stupid rules, just to show him that i could beat him at his own game.

i gave him the ball and i gave up the winning two points i'd scored and he started to dribble. he shot and missed, rebounded, shot again and missed again.

i grabbed the ball and took it to the top and back down to the basket where i scored my second winning shot.

"nope," he said again, "you traveled."

we continued in similar succession until i'd won fair and square at least seven times.

but finally, it hit me that there was absolutely no way that i was going to win according to his rules.

when he suggested that my untied moccasin disqualified the last of my winning baskets, i laughed and said, "okay. you win."

i realized that i was never going to disprove his stupid rules or his disqualifications of my victory. i realized that i had won the game, and that the fact that he refused to say so meant nothing. i realized that my disorder acts in a similar way.

i got tired of my disorder running circles around me, making me into a loser. i decided that stepping into the cold, uncomfortable puddles was worth reclaiming my life. i got cold and wet and my moccasins were soggy, but i caught up to my disorder. i gained weight and a personality and a clear head. i was winning fair and square.

but my disorder wasn't going to have it. each and every victory was met with a brand new, bogus rule to keep me running around on the court, thinking that i still hadn't won.

nope. it would say, that doesn't count. you never had a heart attack or a near-death trip to the hospital and so you haven't really recovered from anything.

sorry, it told me, you only went to residential treatment once, so no one cares what you have to say...when you become a counselor, your clients will think your story is lame.

i don't like to give in. it's not a part of my nature. i like to win fair and square, and i like to prove points.

but i realized in the carport the other day, that if i had continued to try and win on his terms, the obnoxious ten-year-old and i would still be out in the carport playing.

in the same way, my disorder will never be satisfied with the winning points i score. it will perpetually generate new rules to keep me running around the carport, and if i continue to follow them, i'm going to be out there playing a meaningless game forever.

so i'm letting my arm drop to my side and the ball bounce into the garage door and roll down to the gutter. i'm claiming victory for myself and i'm quitting the game and walking back up the spiral staircase into the house and drying my moccasins and my feet.

my disorder is still out there and its teasing and laughing and thinking that it won and i suppose i'll just let it think so.

the cheering will grow faint.

and one day, i won't hear it at all.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

only 8.

there's this certain type of ice cream at this certain little place, of which you can eat a decently enormous cup for a number calories that is in the double digits.

it's called only 8, and in my opinion, it is like a rain of blessings from the eating disorder gods (a rain of twisted blessings, that is).

i used to eat it every day. sometimes multiple times a day. sometimes i ate it for lunch and all the time i ate it for dinner. when i wrote my relapse contract (a written list of things a person will or will not do in order to maintain his/her recovery) i said that i would not consume only 8 for six months. that is how much of a part it played in my disorder.

i can remember sitting there, eating it, trying to make it last as long as i could. but no matter how hard i tried, no matter how many minutes it took to finish a cup, i was never satisfied when it was over. i always left wanting more.

when six months were over, i didn't go running back to only 8. i eventually decided, however, that so long as i had eaten my entire meal plan, a trip or two to eat only 8 on the basis of fellowship and a little something sweet every now and then would be perfectly acceptable.

now a days, when i eat only 8 (which is far less than often...the desserts i prefer tend not to come from the double-digit calorie range), its after a full day of food groups, textures, flavors and nutrients. i feel satisfied afterwards because it's a bonus, a nice addition to the day. but it's not taking the place of the substance that i need.

as i mulled all of this over, my analogous way of thinking came into play, and i began to realize that we oftentimes take the same approach to life that i took to only 8 ice cream.

we tend to think that the "icing on the cake" aspects of life are worth a lot more than they actually are, and we put all of our time and energy into them, thinking that they will satisfy, but no matter how much we get of them we just end up wanting more.

i'm not going to pretend that being thin isn't something that i still want- that most women want. there's nothing wrong with putting forth effort to maintain a weight within a certain healthy range as long as its a bonus that comes on top of the things that really matter- the "food pyramid" aspects of life, if you will.

it's the same with romantic relationships, material possessions, awards and accolades and so many other things we chase. these can easily become our focus- the things we constantly think about and want to savor as our primary source of nourishment and life. when i treated only 8 as my sole form of sustenance, i found myself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually deteriorating, and i think that so many aspects of life that we blindly chase will leave us the same way.

i can't say what "true sustenance"- the foundation of life that leaves us satisfied with or without the fun and happy extras- is for each of my readers. but i can say what it is for me.

carbs, fats, proteins, fruits, veggies and dairy transformed only 8 into a bonus, rather than the object of an exhausting chase. in the same way, friends, family, creativity and most of all, the soulmate that i have found in Jesus Christ truly fill my heart, and the rest of life's aspects fall into the right perspective.



Tuesday, March 1, 2011

body image part 2.5: a little more survival

in my last post on body image, i wanted to convey the importance of survival techniques for those days, weeks (sometimes months) during which body image is so unbearable, it cannot be combatted, only escaped with mindless activities like marathons of grey's anatomy.

in the beginning of recovery, body image is just too bad to try and fix, and the only way its going to get better is the hard way:

continuing to stay in recovery.

i realize that this is terribly frustrating, that there should be some sort of answer that cures these images that haunt us from our mirrors (from our minds, actually), but the answers, i'm afraid, are completely indirect, and completely slow.

what i'm trying to say is that our body image (or at least the amount of importance we place upon it) is a direct result of our self worth and security. we are for less likely hate our bodies when we love who we are, and its much easier to love who we are when we discover the natures and tendencies and temperaments we were created to embody, rather than pouring our lives' efforts into molding ourselves into an idea of perfection that wasn't even ours in the first place.

i always say that my illness was self-perpetuating, because the less i ate, the more malnourished i became, and the more malnourished i became, the less of a personality and a heart i was left with. i wanted to want to connect with other people, but i simply couldn't. i wanted to care about school, but i was completely incapable of focus. i wanted not to dread walking to class, but i was just too tired to feel otherwise.

i remember a true turning point in terms of my decision to stay in recovery. it was my first monday back in class after leaving treatment.

i was in cognitive psychology, and we were learning about mnemonic devices for short term memory. to demonstrate, my professor read us a list of random, objective terms and told us to try and remember them according to one of the devices we were studying. he made us wait for 60 seconds after he read them and then he told us to write down as many as we could remember and count them.

i remembered all but two of them, the most of anyone in the class. i called people i loved and told them and i continued to marvel at my newfound ability to focus. i literally started making hundreds on tests, and each time i looked in the mirror and found myself tempted to restrict my food to fix the flaws that stared back at me, i reminded myself of what health made me capable, and i ate.

i had similar experiences with friends and with people. (i know that i've mentioned this a million times, but to me, it just never gets old.) i suddenly found myself able to talk and to laugh and to pay attention and be ME. once i tasted what true connection with people really felt like, i found myself afraid to restrict, for fear that i would once again lose myself in malnutrition.

and so, no matter how huge or horrible the person in the mirror looked, i continuously reminded myself of the things i'd "gained" (yes- humor is one of them) in recovery- things that weren't worth letting go of in return for my disorder. no matter how much better my disorder would have made me feel.

to sum up all i'm trying to say- for fellow strugglers and for women in general- i'll leave everyone with this:

give yourself a chance today.
you're worth turning away from the mirror
and loving your own quirks,
your own talents,
your own likes and dislikes and personality.

those things are who you are.

without them, you're just a body,
and what does just a body mean anyway?