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.