Day 38: This Is Hello Life

Good morning everyone,

Wow, I truly had the most incredible day yesterday, and before I say why, I need to give you some background information so everything can make sense.

Having an eating disorder is mainly associated with the concept of not having a healthy relationship with food. Often times, I have written about my eating disorder and how it caused (and sometimes still causes) me to restrict calories and strive for an unattainable weight.

But there are so many other parts to an eating disorder, some of which  I have spoken about a little bit here and there.  Besides controlling my food intake and my obsession with weight, my eating disorder also took over my social life.  Actually, it washed away any social life I had with its long list of food rules and regulations.

When I was fully immersed in Ed (my eating disorder), I would almost never go out with friends, I would almost never go to restaurants, and I would try to never put myself in a situation where I needed to eat with others.

I would stay exactly where Ed wanted me to stay, and that was home, away from other people. Home meant that I did not have to be tempted by any “bad foods.”  It meant that I could eat what Ed allowed me to eat and it meant that I was safe, and therefore my body and weight were safe.  Home meant that no one would see me looking unhealthy so no one could ask me questions-no one could reach out.

My eating disorder literally kept me confined to a few walls-the walls where it was just me and him, and no one else. Within these Ed created walls, there were no outside people trying to peer inside our destructive world, no outside food trying to sabotage our hard work together, and no life outside of the life that he had created for me.

Being stuck inside this box that Ed created for me for so long is one of the worst parts about having this eating disorder.  It is suffocating,isolating and lonely.

I spoke with E yesterday, and she explained to me that learning to step outside of this box and back into the real world, with real people and real food is part of recovery.

Yesterday, I did just that.

I can say, that not only did I step outside Ed’s box yesterday, but I jumped outside of it.

I enjoyed frozen yogurt yesterday with a friend. We actually sat together and ate. I didn’t just get samples and then walk out.  I didn’t get the practically zero flavor, low carb, no sugar added flavor. I got what I wanted, and I enjoyed it.

After that, she, one of my best friends since middle school and my twin sister all sat together at a lounge, and we laughed, we shared stories, and we ate dinner together.

The fact that I ate food that I did not see how was made, or that I did not know how many calories it had, was a huge deal.  But an even bigger deal was the fact that I was amongst friends.  I was actually laughing, smiling, and being amongst other girls my age who love life just as much as I do-something that never would have happened before I started my recovery.

Everyone was so happy to see me eat-and I know it was not about the food, it was about the fact that I was simply taking care of myself.  But for me, it was the fact that I was able to enjoy a meal amongst other people-I did not have to sit and eat alone with my eating disorder talking to me the entire time.

After we were done eating, one of my friends looked at me, knowing that conquering that meal was not an easy task for me, and asked me how I was feeling.

All I could do was look back at her and say, “This is what I mean when I write hello life at the end of each blog. This right here, this is it.”

She smiled and replied back, “Yes, this is hello life.”

I truly meant that when I said it.  That last night–the laughter, the connection with my friends, sharing a meal together-that freedom-that is hello life.

More than that, I was able to talk about my eating disorder to my friends and my sister last night.  Something that was once so forbidden, so taboo and so secretive, is now out in the open.  Ed is exposed, and therefore, he cannot be as powerful. Our once secret life made up of rules, restriction and self deprivation is now broken.

And yes, eating the meal I ate last night was indeed scary-not necessarily because of the amount or the calories, but because it was new; and like anything in life, new things are scary, but they are also exciting and exhilarating.

Now that I’ve jumped outside of the rigid eating disorder box that I was living in for so long, I do not want to jump back in-I don’t even want to take a step back in.  And yesterday, when I stepped outside that box, I left Ed inside.

I am sure he will try to climb out that box and chase me with all of his lies and try to coax me to come back in, and I know I will have to fight his tempting offers with every ounce of strength that I have.

If I had a glass of campaign right now, I would make two toasts.

One toast to Ed never finding a way outside of his box, and one toast to “hello life.” 

Day 37: Not Going To Fail

Hello everyone,

Since I have started this journey of one year without a scale and my journey to recovery from my eating disorder, fear has been the number one emotion that I have felt.

I have been fearful of what recovery would do to my body, I have been fearful of what it would do to my relationships, and I have been fearful if I would be able to know who I am without this eating disorder.

Well, I already have had the fear about what recovery would do to my relationships answered for me.  My three year relationship with my ex-boyfriend ended-which I know is a blessing in disguise for many reasons,(one being my recovery), my relationship with my family has immensely strengthened and my relationship with myself has never been as intimate and strong as it is now.

The fears of not knowing who I am without my eating disorder have largely been dis-proven, as the more I write this blog, and the further into recovery I get, the more sense of self I seem to acquire.

And lastly, the fears about the physical changes my body will go through, are definitely still very present every single day. The difference is, that now, I am not afraid to acknowledge this fear. I feel that now since I have acknowledged this fear, that maybe it won’t have as much power over me.

I remember telling E that my biggest fear about starting this journey would be that I would fail; that I would find a scale, stand on it, and epically fail.

I am no longer fearful of that anymore. I know now, that I will not fail at recovery.

Will I cry? Yes, but I will not fail.

Will I have difficult days? Yes, but  I will not fail.

Will I fight with my own perception of what I see in the mirror as my body changes? Yes,but I will not fail.

Will there be days where my eating disorder is loud and where it tries to knock me down? Yes, but I will fight back ten times harder and I will not fail.

Will there be days that I want to take a break from fighting? Yes, there will. But I won’t take a break from fighting for my life, and therefore, I will not fail.

How do I know I will not fail? Because I have my family who will not let me, I have my treatment team who stands behind me, and most importantly, I have made it this far and I will not give up on myself.

Through my fear, through my daily struggles of feeling uncomfortable and full, through my pain and through my negative thoughts-I will rise above and I will not fail.

Last night, I ate dinner with my grandma. It was the first time in four days that I ate the exact dinner on my meal plan like I am supposed to, which in itself was scary for me. After we were done eating, I remember thinking to myself, “I really am doing this. I can’t believe I really am doing this. I am doing recovery.”

Yes, I am doing this, and I am not going to fail at it, and to that I can proudly say, “hello life.”

Day 36: Choosing To Be Thankful

Good morning everyone,

I can’t let myself be in this darkness any longer.

I know that the struggles I’ve been facing are part of the healing process, and that these walls that I have hit in the past few days will indeed come back. I know the darkness will creep back into my hard earned recovery world, but for today, I am choosing to let the light inside instead of the darkness and I am choosing to be thankful.

I sit here this morning, reflecting back on the past few days-the tears I’ve cried, the self judgement I’ve imposed on myself, and the fearful thoughts that my eating disorder has planted in my mind, and I just cannot go another day like that.

I know that it is OK to be fighting with my eating disorder and it is OK to feel the negative emotions I’ve been feeling, but I also know that sometimes in life, you need to pick yourself up out of a bad situation and land yourself some where very far away from it. Somewhere foreign, somewhere new and somewhere unfamiliar.

Here I am, landing myself in the land of recovery-the scary, unknown land of recovery. But at the same time, it is a land of thankfulness and gratitude.

Today, I am choosing to be thankful for my recovery.

I am choosing to start my day, right now, by turning my head up towards God and thanking him for bringing me to this point in my journey. I am so thankful, that through the good days, and most importantly, through the bad days, that God has given me the inner strength to push through the darkness and he has never let me loose sight of my recovery.

Today, I am thankful for the beautiful family that I have. I am thankful that they love me now, during my process of recovery. I am thankful that they loved me even when I chose to love my eating disorder more than myself. For this unconditional love and support, I am so truly thankful.

I am thankful for E-who without her, my recovery would never have happened. E saved my life, and there is no other thing in this world to be thankful for, other than life.

I am thankful to the support this blog has brought me.

Lastly, and this is very uncomfortable and weird for me to say, since self praise is not something I usually do, but I am thankful to myself. I am thankful that I was born with such an unbreakable spirit, that nothing, even the life sucking presence of an eating disorder, can break it. I am thankful that I found the strength deep within myself, somehow and someway, to choose recovery.

I am thankful that today, I am fighting for my recovery.

Here I am recovery-I am waiting at your door steps with all my bags packed, with Ed shoved inside, not getting a word in. And while I know it will take quite a while for me to climb the steps up towards your door, I am just thankful that I am here climbing them in the first place.

Hello to me being thankful, hello to me climbing towards recovery, and “hello life.”

recovery thankful 2

Day 35: Pushing Through The Darkness

Good morning everybody,

I am feeling very stuck and frustrated as I am writing this post.

Yesterday, I let myself be very vulnerable to my eating disorder. Ed, my eating disorder, got loud yesterday. He got loud, he got mean, and he got dominant again.

I didn’t totally go off my meal plan, but I didn’t completely follow it either, even if I only missed one snack, it is not something I am going to be proud of to tell my nutritionist this later on this morning. And I can’t even sit here and make excuses as for why I didn’t follow it, because I have none. There is no excuse, there is only the true reason, and that is Ed.

Here is where my frustration comes in-all last week- probably one the hardest weeks of my life-the week I left my boyfriend of three years in the name of my recovery, and the week that my will and determination for recovery were truly put to the test-eating on the meal plan did not bother me.

But now, even though I am going through the motions of eating the meal plan, the fear I have of what it will do to my body has greatly intensified.

During my hardest and most difficult times, times where I usually let my eating disorder comfort me, hold me, and smother me-were the times that I was most able to take care of myself best and shut him out.

And now, now that this storm is slowly calming down, now that I am in a safe, loving and warm environment, I have a problem following my meal plan and a problem challenging my eating disorder. Truthfully, I don’t understand what is going on. What is wrong with me? And what is wrong with my eating disorder?

Why is Ed choosing to get loud now-when I don’t need him anymore? He could have been loud last week, when I needed him the most-when I had emotions soaring, pain in my heart, and fear of the future-and maybe he was loud then,but somehow, I knew how to quiet him.

Yesterday, and so far this morning, I can’t seem to quiet his voice and that is extremely frustrating to me. I was in such a place of strength the past week, and I just finally thought that I was starting to become bigger than my eating disorder-that I was slowly crushing him to his death. Today, or at least in this moment, I feel he is crushing me.

This is the dark side of recovery that I hate to look at and that I hate to acknowledge actually has to happen in order for me to truly heal and be free of this eating disorder.

I know, that it is now, more than ever, that I need to stay dedicated and committed to my recovery. I know this because I just left my entire life of three years for it. I left everything I knew-I left the emotions, that even though were painful, were familiar to me for it. I gave up my beloved scale for one entire year for it (it being recovery).

I am fighting my entire life for this recovery-my family, friends and support system are fighting along with me-so why why why am I so stuck in this place of darkness?

Yesterday, I had a Sunday where I didn’t binge-a Sunday that was not Fat Sunday. But on the other hand, it was a Sunday that also had some form of restricting,even if it was only a little bit, I don’t believe that one is necessarily better than the other. It was even hard for me to eat my after dinner snack last night, even though I was hungry-but I will say, that I am proud of myself for listening to my body and eating that snack.

I am thankful that it is early in the morning right now, and that I have the rest of my day to hopefully find strength, inspiration and motivation to put myself back in the ring with Ed.

This week is National Eating Disorders Awareness week, and to think about the fact that there are other people who are experiencing this frustration, this power struggle, and this darkness with their eating disorders right now, just like me, makes me sad and angry. It hurts me to think someone else is going through the pain that I am going through right now.

If there is anyone reading this today who is also on their path to recovery, I wish I could reach out to you and hold your hand. I wish I could give you my strength and you could give me yours. I wish we could look at each other and tell one another that we will overcome our eating disorders and that we will push through this darkness.

In honor of National Eating Disorder Awareness week, I want to dedicate this post’s “hello life,” to all of those who are fighting for their recovery today, to those who have fought for their recovery in the past, and to those who are going to take the giant leap of faith to fight for their recovery in the future.

To all of us fighters, I say, “hello life.”

Day 34:The End Of Fat Sundays

Good morning all,

As you all know, when I was fully in my eating disorder, I would restrict food all week so that on Friday, when I weighed myself, I would get that perfect number that I hoped for. Friday’s were my judgement day.

Following judgement day, came Fat Sundays.

If I would be at that glorified number on Friday, then I would let myself eat Shabbat dinner that night with my family-and I can’t even say I enjoyed eating because it was so ridden with guilt.

The next morning on Saturday, I would go right back to restriction mode because I felt I had to “undo” the damage from Friday night dinner.

If all went well on Saturday and I followed all of Ed’s food rules and kept my calories under a certain number, then it gave me the green light to look forward to my favorite and yet most hated day of the week: Sunday.

I can’t even think of the right words of how to describe the way I viewed Sunday’s when I was living in my eating disorder. Sunday’s were like a small taste of freedom from Ed-they were filled with tiny moments when I would let myself eat foods that were considered dangerous or bad by Ed, and then followed by hours of self torment over why I did it.

For a year and a half, every single Sunday, I would pretty much engage in what to me, felt like binging. I would eat and eat until I was physically in pain, knowing I would restrict again on Monday to fix the damage. I soon became to call Sundays my Fat Sundays.

While I looked forward to that that hour or so of freedom where I would just eat, I dreaded the aftermath of it all.

And truthfully, I was not free in that hour of eating . It is actually during that hour or so of eating that I was more engulfed by my eating disorder than ever before.

It was the morning after Fat Sundays, that I would wake up with my body feeling extremely sore. As my eating disorder progressed, it didn’t take binging to make my body physically sore anymore-now, something as small as even one slice of pizza can cause me to have body swelling and soreness, but that is something that I know will get better as my recovery continues.

I would intensely restrict on Monday’s to make up for Fat Sundays-and because of this and because of my body soreness, I hated Monday’s as well. Every day of my week was somehow affected by my eating disorder.

Sunday and Monday were dedicated to indulging and then fixing Fat Sunday. Tuesday and Wednesday were dedicated to pushing through the hunger. Thursday was dedicated to preparing for judgement day on Friday. Friday was dedicated to determining the success of my entire week and Saturday was dedicated to making up for Friday’s dinner, and then the cycle would continue on.

Writing about that vicious daily cycle right now literally made me relive the feeling of worthlessness that those days brought me. It makes me so sad to think that I let myself feel this way for so long.

Even since I started recovery, and even since I have had this meal plan, Sunday’s are still a taboo day for me. Often times, I notice that I wake up on Sunday morning already feeling anxious, and therefore I let Ed suck me back into that Fat Sunday mentality.

But I am officially declaring today the end of Fat Sundays. Will I still let myself enjoy dinner with my family tonight? Yes. Might I even let myself have something special if I crave it? Yes. But, I will not let Ed tell me to binge and then fix it tomorrow.

I will honor my recovery and most importantly, I will honor myself.

Goodbye to Fat Sundays and goodbye to the feelings of worthlessness it brought me.

Instead, I will start today by saying hello to my recovery, hello to my unbreakable spirit, and of course, “hello life.”

Day 33: Coming Out Of Survival Mode

Good afternoon everybody,

With all the major changes that happened this week, I have pretty much in survival mode . From making the life changing decision to leave my boyfriend of three years for the good of my future, to completely moving out of his home, to fighting my eating disorder every minute, this week has been nothing but my body doing what it needed to do to simply survive .

My mind and soul also stayed focused and did what they had to do to keep me focused on my recovery .

But now that this storm has passed , my body and mind are giving up on being in survival mode, and I don’t blame them.

It is now time for me to let myself break, and let my emotions ride the wave their going to ride.

Yes, I’ve been trying to avoid this moment all week, but for once , I am going to listen to my body with telling me what it needs. And for today, it needs rest.

My eating disorder hates when I let my body rest- this means no calorie burning and no obsessive thoughts about food and restriction. And he has already tried to convince me to skip resting and move into fight and flight mode again because that’s when Ed flourishes – when I can’t handle emotions.

But although I’m ready to let myself take a rest today, I am still strong enough to fight Ed.

Essentially, I’m going to try to take a rest from Ed too. I’m not saying forever, because that’s not realistic , but just for today.

The fact that I am able to connect with my body and feel that it needs a break, is something that I never could have done before I stated recovery .

It is scary because I still don’t trust my body, but listening to it like I am today, is keeping me on the right path to rebuilding that trust .

Today I will rest my body and I will nourish it with food and Ed will just have to sit and watch as I do so.

Hello to listening to my body, hello to another day of me challenging Ed, and “hello life.”

Day 32: Breaking The Rules

Hello everyone,

After I wrote my post yesterday morning about celebrating my one month milestone, I began to think about how I should celebrate it. I thought about getting myself a cupcake or dessert of some sort, but the risk of that triggering a binge would not have been a healthy choice for me right now, so that idea did not work. Then I thought about going to the mall to buy myself a new outfit, but knowing that I am not in a comfortable place with my body right now as it is changing because it is becoming healthier, I decided that was not a healthy decision for me either.

Instead, I decided to put myself up to a challenge. Being able to beat that challenge would be my way of celebrating my one month milestone of not weighing myself.

The challenge was to break three of my food rules.While I have been consistently breaking many food rules since I started recovery , yesterday I decided to break more.

Before I go any further, let me explain what I mean by my food rules.

When I first started seeing E, she asked me to write her a list of my food rules. At first, I didn’t understand the assignment. But as I went home that night and began to think about it, I realized that Ed (my eating disorder) had created an entire rule book of food regulations that I needed to abide by every single day. By the end of the night, I had came up with seven entire pages of food rules.

These rules are what I lived my life by for the past two years . These rules ensured me that on Friday morning, I would get the number on the scale that Ed wanted me to get. They were my facts; they were how I navigated my life in my eating disordered world.

To not have them, is unknown and the unknown is terrifying. To not have them feels like I am losing . a sense of control over what I eat. Those rules listed my safe foods, the foods that Ed was ok with me eating, and they listed danger foods-foods that he would never let me eat.

To put it simply, those rules are what feed Ed. They are what make him stronger, louder and more physically apparent in my life. And in order to break Ed, I need to break his rules.

The first rule I broke was that I put creamer into my coffee without measuring it. This may sound so tiny and ridiculous to many people, but for me, this was huge. It felt scary because by not measuring, I did not know the exact amount of creamer going into my coffee and I did not know how many calories it was. More so, I should say that Ed did not know how many calories it was, and he did not like that.

The second rule I broke was that I ate the lunch on my meal plan, not the lunch Ed wanted me to eat. I was not hungry, and Ed was telling me that lunch was really not what I needed right now, and that instead of eating my lunch on my meal plan, I should just eat my 80 calorie muffin. But I fought him, I disobeyed him, and I broke the rule that said lunch has to be only 80 calories. This was very hard for me due to the fact that I was so full for hours afterwards and I don’t know how I will push through that uncomfortable feeling again today .

Lastly, I broke Ed’s rule about salad dressing. I actually was able to put dressing on my salad for dinner , and even more than that, I did not measure it out.

Breaking these rules all meant one thing-it meant leaving more of my black and white eating disordered life behind, and stepping into the gray areas of recovery.

I am scared for this gray area. I am scared about this meal plan. I am scared that it will change my body in ways that I will not be able to accept. But I know that recovery means change, both emotionally and physically, and that is something I am going to need to learn to accept. How I will accept these changes, I am not sure; but I know with the help of my support system and my treatment team, I will find a way.

And at the end of the day, I gave Ed one last major blow; I deleted my most beloved app from my iPhone, Lose It. I used to look up every single food on Lose It and see how many calories it had. I would play with different goal weights for myself, and I would refer to it multiple times a day. But yesterday, I deleted Lose It and I replaced it with two new apps, both made for people in recovery for eating disorders.

Those seven pages of food rules still sit in my nightstand, and one day I know I will be able to shred them to pieces.

But for now I still want to keep them there. They are the last part of my eating disorder that I am holding on to and while I’m ready to start breaking the rules, I’m not ready to totally throw them away.

Line by line and page by page–every single one of Ed’s food rules for me will one day be broken, and to that I can say, “hello life.”