Day 283: Halloween, The Recovery Edition

Hey everyone,

Today in the U.S. it’s Halloween.

I know there are many international readers in countries that don’t celebrate this day, so for those who don’t know, Halloween is a day when all the kids dress up in costumes and they go from house to house and collect candy and it’s called trick or treating.

I was surrounded by Halloween today.

It was in the kids who I tutor when they showed me their costumes, it was in the picture I have of my little brothers all dressed up, and it was at school with even college aged kids dressed up.

So needless to say, it made me reflect back on my Halloween experiences.

Halloween for me as a child was a bitter sweet holiday.

It was sweet because I got to eat all the candy I wanted for one night, but it was bitter because I was always the overweight girl in my group of friends and siblings and I always felt that people were watching me and my candy because of that.

My pediatrician at the time had told my parents that they should follow this rule for Halloween: let your kids eat all the candy they want on Halloween night, and then throw it all away the next day. That way, it’s not lying around the house for them to keep eating.

Now, of course at the time, the pediatrician was only trying to do her job and keep me as healthy as she could, and my parents, who obviously don’t have a manual on how to treat Halloween with three kids, two who are overweight and one who is skinny, adopted that rule into our home.

I don’t think they or I could ever know the kinds of implications that rule would bring to me about Halloween or the feelings associated with it.

Now that I am in recovery, I look back and see that rule was the most black and white rule I have ever seen.

Eat everything in one night, and then throw it all away.

It’s like Ed telling you to binge and then restrict the next day to fix it.

So when I think of Halloween as a kid, I think of of this one year in particular. I was 8 years old and I was dressed up as butterfly barbie, and I wore this big puffy blue dress with sparkles. I don’t know why, but for some reason, that’s the first time I ever remember feeling subconscious about myself and my weight on Halloween.

And I don’t know the reason for that. I just saw a home video one week ago, of me on that exact Halloween and I was eating pizza with everyone else on the floor and getting ready to go trick or treating just like everyone else.

But even at that age, I knew pizza was bad. And eating it on a night like that was a treat for me.

I guess Ed was just a baby then, but now looking back, he was there with me.

Anyway, I can still remember coming home after trick or treating, and spilling all my candy out on the floor with my brother and sister and eating as much of it as I wanted. No one said anything. No one stopped me.

We just watched TV and ate our candy on the floor in our costumes.

I love that memory.

I was truly a kid in that memory.

I don’t remember what I felt when I knew my Halloween candy would be gone the next day, but I do remember my twin sister always hiding hers somewhere and me going and stealing some whenever she wasn’t around.

This candy was so forbidden after that one night, that eating it afterwards was like a rebellious act that no one could know about; an act I did in secret.

So today, when the 8 year old girl I tutor offered me some Halloween candy, I froze. I  didn’t know what to say.

I had planned that I wouldn’t eat any Halloween candy today, not even one, to protect myself from bingeing.

Or maybe Ed made this plan, I’m not sure.

But then this innocent little girl offered me some, and how could I say no?

I told her we could share.

I sat on my drive home just thinking over and over again about how I am no longer that 8 year old girl in her butterfly barbie Halloween costume who needs to feel self conscience that people are watching her.

I am not her anymore.

Where at one time that Halloween candy held so much power over me, I see now that it doesn’t have to be like that any longer.

There is no longer the rule of eating all my candy in one night and throwing it away tomorrow.And I think I speak on behalf of my parents when I say that too.

As a family, we all have evolved since those that Halloween when I was butterfly barbie. We’ve grown to understand and learn that black and white is not the answer to everything we face.

And now, as I am an adult, I am not that little girl who should feel lucky or rewarded to eat pizza and candy.

I can have Halloween candy now, and I have the right to enjoy it-and not just for one night, but for as long as I please.

Baby Ed may have left his mark on some of my childhood Halloweens, but now Ed and I are both grown, and I am stronger than him.

Today is my chance to take back Halloween from Ed.

So, am I going to go eat a whole bowl of candy? No.

Did I even eat an entire piece of candy yet? No, and I most likely won’t tonight.

But, I did share some candy with the young girl I tutor.

I did enjoy that.

And maybe that’s all I can do for this first year in recovery for Halloween?

Sharing a piece of candy with a little girl who I love.

Maybe next year I will eat one whole candy all to myself?

Maybe next year I’ll be the one offering the candy to someone else?

Who knows where I’ll be next year. But for now, sharing  a piece of Halloween candy was a good enough start for me.

To all of the recovery soldiers like me who celebrated Halloween at work today, or who are taking their kids trick or treating, or who are passing out candy and are faced with the many eating disorder challenges that go along with all of those, may your Halloween be a positive experience that belongs to you, not to your Ed.

Hello life.

Day 282: Excuse Me Ed…But I Have Something To Say

Hi everyone,

As you all know, the past few days have been extremely chaotic, hectic and stressful for me, which really tested my recovery for all that it’s worth.

When I used to be stressed out, pre-recovery, I would turn to Ed for support and guidance anytime I felt anxious.

“If I have to be stressed out about life, then the last thing I need to do is stress about gaining weight, so I won’t eat and it will be one less stressor for me,” is what I used to think.

Well, recovery is not like that and that mindset is no longer an option.

To say that I have not listened to Ed at all while being stressed these couple of days would be a lie, because I have listened to him.

Usually, I am more open and flexible with myself in terms of letting myself eat what I crave or what  I feel like, even if it’s an extra chocolate here or extra frozen yogurt there.

But these past few days, I have stuck exactly, and I mean exactly to the meal plan. Nothing less, but definitely nothing more.

Even though I was eating what I needed to, it still kind of felt like restricting because I wanted foods that Ed wouldn’t let me have, and I listened to him because I didn’t have the energy to fight him at the time.

But today, I told myself that I had to put my armor on and become a fighter. If I couldn’t fight Ed as being Shira right now, then I will fight him with a coat of armor pretending to be some kind of warrior.

And oh, did we fight…all day long.

Finally, at 5:30 p.m. I had a break from class and I really wanted a some m&m’s. I wanted them, Ed didn’t of course.

At first, I sat there in the classroom and told myself I won’t get up to go get the, because it was too far of a walk to go buy them.

Um…it’s a 3 minute walk at most, and I know that. And I had a 15 minute break, so time wasn’t an issue.

In that moment,  I had enough.

I want some m&m’s and Ed is not letting me?

Excuse me Ed, but I have something to say.

“I am getting my m&m’s.!”

And I did get them.

I didn’t eat all of them; not even half of them.

OK, so I actually only ate 5 of them.

But the point is, I got them. It was symbolic of me gaining my power back from Ed.

And to set Ed straight, I got what I wanted for dinner, not what he wanted-and I ate it in bed with him while watching one of my favorite TV shows. It was the best 30 minutes that I’ve had all week.

Ed was there for all of it.

He was there when I threw away the rest of the m&m’s, yes, that is true . But he was also there to witness me buy them in the first place, and that’s a victory in itself.

A small victory, but nonetheless, a victory.

Having him watch me actually enjoy my dinner tonight (and finish it) is a victory.

Sometimes, it’s the small victories in recovery or even in life, that deserve some recognition to remind ourselves how far we’ve come.

Hello life. 

 

Day 281: Raised Spirits

Hello lifers,

I don’t know what it was about today, but after a day like I had yesterday, someone somewhere must have known I needed a little extra support today, and not only was I lucky enough to receive it, I was overflowed with it.

From private e-mails, to comments, to tweet messages and to Facebook messages, and a special phone call from my mom, there was a beautiful person sending me a positive and inspiring message at the end of every media outlet today.

Some gave me words of encouragement.

Others told me how this blog has touched their lives.

One girl even told me this blog has saved her life.

But what no one knew, is that deep down, getting everyone’s support, is what lifted my spirits back up from my hard day yesterday and brought them into the place of hope that they are now.

Because of your love and support, I had a good day in recovery today.

I didn’t have a good day because I worked out (because again, I didn’t workout today yet again).

I didn’t have a good day because I didn’t think about calories in my food (because I most definitley did do that).

And I didn’t have a good day because my newest story for my university newspaper ran on the front cover today.

I had a good day because something so much stronger, bigger, and more fulfilling than Ed could ever make me, surrounded me all day and all night; and that was the support from all of you.

A year ago, I was the girl who would have said that I could handle everything on my own. I was the one who never needed help. I was the one who helped everyone else.

And even though I still tend to feel that I am expected to be this super hero all the time, I am no longer afraid to say that I cannot do this alone.

I cannot do recovery alone, and I don’t want to do it alone.

I am not afraid to admit that it is because of other people that I made it through today with a sound and hopeful mind.

Ed was the one who was afraid of other people, not me.

And now, I get to embrace the love and support I was missing out on for so long when I was letting Ed rule our lives.

This blog is truly no longer only my journey, but the journey of an entire community leaning, encouraging and supporting one another.

Thank you for being the reason I sit here tonight with raised and hopeful spirits.

Hello to the beautiful souls who have made today’s recovery a gift and hello life.

Day 280: Somehow, Someway…I Will.

Hi everyone,

I will.

That is what I kept having to tell myself today, and am still telling myself right now as I write this.

Sometimes “I will” is all you can say. and it’s all you can do.

Today, I had many “I will” statements to myself.

When I woke up stressed out because I had so much work to do and therefore had to cancel going to the gym I had to literally sit, take a deep breath and tell myself, “I will be OK. I won’t workout today, and I will be OK.”

There got to be a point in my day where I was so overwhelmed, the only thing I could tell myself was “I will, I will, I will.” It wasn’t even followed by anything, because today was so chaotic with life being life, that I couldn’t even put in that next word.

I just knew that somehow, someway, I will.

And now that I am sitting here after not having my greatest day in recovery in terms of eating, because when I am stressed out, my hunger cues are the first thing to go, I sit here and remind myself of the saying I have been telling myself all day.

I will.

I will have this last meal.

I will get done what I need to get done.

I will take tonight one minute at a time if I have to.

I will put one foot in front of the other and move forward.

I will let myself cry again if I need to, and then,

I will move on.

I will carry my head high into tomorrow, even though I know I’ve had better days in recovery.

I will make tomorrow better.

Whatever your “I will” statement is for today, I hope it brings you hope, strength and courage as mine have to me.

Mini cry sessions and all, I will get past today and I will give tomorrow all I’ve got.

If Ed can’t be the one to comfort me today, than who will?

I will.

Hello life.

 

Day 279: Oh Yes, I Ordered The Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Happy Sunday everyone,

Every year for my birthday, my aunt takes my sister and I out to brunch, just the three of us.

Every year we go to the same place. This place is very well known for their pancakes.

Every year for the past three years that we’ve gone there, Ed came with me.

I remember going last year and wanting to order these chocolate chip pancakes, but there was just no way Ed would approve of that, so I got egg whites.

The year before I ordered the same egg whites, but my sister got the chocolate chip pancakes, and I remember the one bite I let myself have of it. I think I went home and binged that day,because I thought that even one bite was too much, so I punished myself for it by bingeing.

Needless to say, that restaurant was always Ed’s restaurant, not mine. Until today.

I knew that we would be going there for brunch today, and I even talked to E (my therapist) about it on Friday.

“I really want to go and take this brunch back from Ed and make it my own again. I just don’t think I can get the pancakes, not yet,” I told her.

But when I walked into that restaurant today, I was determined. I was doing it. I was going to take back my birthday brunch with my aunt from Ed.

He had it all to himself for three years now, and now it was my turn to take it back. I mean, after all, it’s my birthday brunch, not his.

So  I was starring at the menu, still kind of nervous and still thinking how I would actually get the words “I want the chocolate chip pancakes,” out of my mouth to the waitress, so I decided to tell my aunt and my sister about what I was going through.

My sister, knowing what an incredibly hard thing this was for me, helped me conquer Ed, and she helped me take back this brunch.

Together, she and I not only ordered and shared the chocolate chip pancakes, but eggs and bacon too.

We divided everything equally and we each had our own plate to ourselves. I made sure we did this, so I could feel mindful of what I was doing. Eating off plates with other people is often times really eating disordered behavior, and it’s become important to me to have my own plate at meals.

I remember spreading the chocolate chips around on the pancakes before I took the first bite and I was just thinking to myself, “Oh yes. I did it. I ordered the chocolate chip pancakes.”

I felt like a mini hero in that moment.

This was the first time  that I have had my own plate of chocolate chip pancakes in many years. And wow, did I miss them. I don’t think I can go years again without them again.

Ed lost today–majorly lost. And I on the other hand, took back my birthday brunch with my aunt and my sister and I took back this restaurant from Ed too.

Hello to eating chocolate chip pancakes, hello to being my own mini hero today, and hello life.

 

 

 

Day 278: It’s Days Like Today That Keep Me Going

Hi everyone,

It is days like today that keep me going. They are the days that remind me why I chose recovery in the first place.

It is days like today where I only did one body check, that keep me going.

It is days like today where I ate birthday cake frozen yogurt in the middle of my day for no reason at all other than the fact that I just wanted it, that keep me going.

It is days like today where I was able to study and get homework done without being so preoccupied by how I look or what I ate, that keep me going.

It is days like today where I didn’t encounter another conversation with myself in the bathroom mirror about why my arms don’t  look good,  that keep me going.

It is days like today where I didn’t go shopping at the mall because I knew I would not be accepting of any new clothing sizes, that I see how I’ve learned to have compassion for myself, that keep me going.

It is days like today that remind me when I gave up my scale to my therapist, why the first words that came to my mind were “hello life,” that keep me going.

It is days like today, where I didn’t have a number to define me, that keep me going.

It is days like today, that I ask you all, what keeps you going in recovery?

It is days like today, where recovery is on my side, that I humbly say, hello life.

Day 277: Talking To Myself In The Bathroom Mirror

Happy Friday everyone,

Well, today’s title kind of explains everything in one sentence, but let me further explain myself so it doesn’t come off as crazy as it may seem. Or maybe it still might look crazy, but that’s OK.

So I had just finished getting dressed this morning when I was standing in my bathroom attempting to do my hair, when I caught myself just starring at myself in the mirror, thinking about how this sweater doesn’t fit me how it used to last winter.

At first I was thinking these thoughts in my head, like why the material is bunching up on this part of my arm, or why it looks a certain way, and then before I knew it, I was talking to myself out loud.

It’s kind of funny now that I write about it, but honestly, in that moment, it was not funny.

I couldn’t believe that I was standing in front of my bathroom mirror having a conversation with me and myself about why my arms look too big in my sweater…this explains only a small fraction of the crazy making things that an eating disorder can do to you.

All by myself, I went through all of the reasons why I don’t think I look good anymore. Out loud. I was actually trying to be kind to myself and justify why it is OK to not look the same as I used to. I’m not saying it worked, but I did try.

And Ed was watching this the whole time because I could feel his presence around me, laughing at me thinking how ridiculous I am for trying to convince myself that these were actually legitimate reasons to not look good.

There is never a legitimate enough reason for Ed to not look absolutely perfect.

Is this really that crazy, or don’t we all have conversations with ourselves on a daily basis?

Those conversations might stay inside our heads and not always be verbalized, but I know for me, I have conversations with myself about the way I look in the mirror almost everyday.

Sometimes they are good conversations and sometimes I tell myself how great I think I look.

Today just happened to not be such a great conversation and it happened to be out loud. I am thankful no one was home, although I guess that doesn’t matter much anymore, now that I am telling you all about it here.

And then later in the day, I found myself having the same conversations with myself in yet another mirror, yet this time it was at my dad’s house and I was looking at the way my jeans looked on me.

But this time, I didn’t talk to myself out loud because my little brothers were there and I would never let them hear the kind of negative thoughts that Ed taints my mind with sometimes.

So, there you have it.

I talked to myself in my bathroom mirror today, out loud, about why I didn’t look good in my sweater.

Was it the greatest day in my recovery? No.

But, it also by far was not my worst.

At least with this experience, I can kind of look back on it as I write this and laugh at it.

Sometimes laughing at even the things that hurt us the most, can help speed up the time it takes us to heal.

Hello to laughing at talking to myself in my bathroom mirror, hello to not judging myself for it, hello to moving past it, and lastly…

hello life.