Sad But Proud

Hi everyone!

I have been meaning to update you guys for about two months now and kept finding excuses not to.

Sometimes, when I was having a hard day I would say “ok, today is the day. I want to remind people that even once we are a while into our recovery we still have hard days.” Then I would think, no, I’m not ready to admit that at the moment-not even to myself and not to the world.

Then there would be great days that I would want to share, and then thought that it wouldn’t be totally accurate of the hard times I’ve been having lately. And when I mean hard times, I don’t mean with eating. I mean with accepting my new body and talking positive to myself.

And then today happened and I broke down and cried in my car at work and I knew the time has come to share a little bit about what’s been going on with me lately.

I knew today was coming since I got hired for my job in March.

“In October we do health screenings where they weigh you so you can get a discount on your insurance if you have a healthy weight,” my editor told me months ago.

I even remember talking to E about it and what I would do when that time came. We decided to cross that bridge when it came.

Well, today, it came.

I’ve had to tell doctors multiple times now to please not tell me my weight and that I won’t look at the scale.

It’s become easier and easier over time, but it is never without struggle and second thought that I say it. But when that happens, they write down the number, and we carry on.

That’s not how it went today.

Today, with my heart beating, I told the woman doing the screening to please not say the number and that I won’t look at the scale.

And I decided to only do this because it is saving me about $700 a year on my insurance. Otherwise, I would never have even put myself through it.

So there I was, yet again standing on a scale.

It was absolutly horrible. Even hearing the words “ok, now stand on the scale,” made me feel like I was stuck in a trance I just wanted to escape from.

I felt so judged. This one big number was all they cared about.

The lady doing it said she had to write my weight down on a paper for me for my records. While she didn’t tell me my weight , she told me my BMI number (a number between 19-29 that supposedly indicates where your weight is on a spectrum from overweight, healthy weight or over weight).

During my darkest times of my eating disorder, I would plug in numbers on an online BMI calculator to see how little I had to weigh to make the underweight category.

I took the paper that had my weight written on it and folded it in half right away, walked out of the room and ripped it apart and threw it away as fast as I could.

It sounds so easy, but it was so hard.

I just wanted to cry, which ended up happening a few times already.

My weight was in my hands. Literally, in my hands.

I felt like my entire recovery rested within this piece of paper. Do I look? Am I ready to look? Maybe I am ready, I told myself over and over.

“No Shira, you are not ready. You are not ready!” I was screaming to myself in my own mind.

I had to tell myself that at least 30 times.

And you know how I know I was not ready to see this number?

Because lately, more than ever in the past six months, I have been doing a lot of the negative Ed actions that I vowed to stop doing : taking pictures of myself in the mirror, telling myself mean things, being hard on myself.

But at the end of the day, this is the human side of me. And for every picture I take, I delete it right away. And for every negative comment, I later tell myself I love me anyway.

But, being that I haven’t been in a good place with myself recently and being not even two years in recovery yet, I very much knew I wasn’t ready to see that number.

Maybe one day I will be-for now, I am not.

But to have it in my hands was an unreal feeling.

In all my recovery I have not been so close to knowing my weight.

If I wanted to, all I had to do was open the paper.

Even to know that BMI is very triggering for me.

If I wanted, I could sit here on my computer all night plugging in different weights on a BMI calculator to see what weight gave me that BMI, but I won’t do that. I won’t do that because I deserve better than that for myself after all the work I did ripping apart that paper and throwing it away.

But I am still so sad. Sad, but proud.

Part of me is sad because I let Ed tell me that if I did see that number, I would be so upset with myself for letting myself get this “big,”-and more sadly, I believed him. I still do believe him.

The other part of me is sad because, to be honest, a part of me misses knowing. I miss knowing that number. I miss knowing that kind of measurement in my life. For years, it was all I knew on how to measure my success.

And the biggest part of me is sad because seeing the power that little piece of paper with my weight on it had over me reminded me that Ed is still a big part of my life.

And for whatever reason, that keeps making me cry, even right now as I write this.

It pains me to know that my eating disorder still, even to this day, can make me cry-to know, that if I did for whatever reason see that number, I would not be ok.

I wish I could say I would see that number and be ok with it.

I wish I could say I could know that number and not let it ruin everything I worked so hard for. But that’s not the truth.

The truth is, life after the initial first phases of recovery is so emotionally tasking. It takes a lot of work. Every day I work at being kind and compassionate to myself- every. single. day.

Every day I work to tell myself I love myself even if I hate what I am seeing in the mirror.

Today, though, I was reminded of the dark space Ed still holds within me.

It’s no where near the space he used to take up and it’s no where near as deep, but it’s still there.

I can still hear him now telling me that I should have just looked at that paper and seen the damage.

I probably will wonder for the rest of the night what that paper said. I will have to refer back to this post multiple times to keep me from searching for a weight that fits that BMI calculation.

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while–about how life, even after almost two years into recovery, is difficult.

So many people email me daily and ask me if Ed just ever goes away, and sometimes, they even feel bad that they are in recovery too and still have Ed in their lives–they think it makes them weak.

Today, I felt that way too for a moment.

I felt like I took the easy way out by throwing away that paper.

But the truth is, we are not weak. We are strong. We are strong because we choose to acknowledge Ed and fight him instead of just give into him and pretend that’s the life we want to be living.

Strength, however, does not make life easier.

My strength that led me to throw that paper away today is not making me cry less.

It’s not making the reality less harsh that part of me still wishes to know what that number is.

It’s not making it easier knowing that part of me still wants validation from my weight-and maybe that’s human.

And maybe the best thing I can do for myself tonight is let myself cry and feel human.

I know tomorrow I will be so proud of myself for throwing that paper away. I will be so proud of myself for not searching for that BMI information.

But for right now, a part of feels a little broken as I sit here and cry and write this.

I still long for that validation that Ed gave me and it kills me and hurts me in the deepest part of my soul that I want that.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned along this journey,I always feel better when I extend myself to others.

On that note, I would like to give a big shootout to all of our Hello Life fighters all around the world who’ve made insane strides in their own recovery.

We had one lifer ask me to send her cookie dough today in France since its a kind we only make in the United States. How amazing is that?

I still send out bracelets each week: this week’s will be to Germany.

And I still have a vision of expanding Hello Life to help many more people around the world.

But tonight, I need to help myself: so I wrote this post–and am sharing my sadness about today’s reality with you all.

Once again, today I made the choice to choose recovery.

I literally chose recovery over relapse, because that’s exactly what would have happened if I saw that number today–without question.

I could have looked at that paper and given it all up and started all over.

But somehow, I didn’t.

I am not even sure how, but I didn’t. And that’s what makes me a fighter.

I fight even if I feel my gloves are on the wrong hands and my back is turned to my opponent ready to give up-I somehow fight.

Today I fought once again for my recovery, even if it means a night of tears and curiosity and sadness.

Here’s my plan: I am going to cry tonight out. Maybe I will tomorrow night too.

And then on Saturday, I will celebrate my 24th birthday.

It will be my second birthday without a scale to ruin it. And I know by then, when I am sitting with my birthday cake and new friends in Washington, I will be so grateful that paper from today is torn up and thrown away.

But for now, I know I am not the only one today who made a hard choice to keep my recovery.

I know I am not the only one today who has cried.

And because of that, I know I am not alone.

For the many of us who will be crying together tonight around the world, for the many of us who are fighting for our recovery and for the many of us who aren’t’ ready to fight yet, but are even reading this blog because we know deep down we deserve to one day love ourselves fully, hello life.

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Day 357: Closer Than I Was Yesterday

Hi everyone,

I was sitting in E’s office today (E is my therapist) and I was telling her how I felt so chubby today and not good in my body.

I was expecting her to say something like “let’s find out why you are feeling this way,” or something like that, but that’s not what she said.

She just answered one simple statement: “why do you have to be chubby? why do you to look a certain way in your body?”

I didn’t get it at first.

“Um…what do you mean? If I’m not chubby than what am I,” I asked her.

It was a serious question.

“Your Shira. Why can’t you just be Shira?”, she said.

I didn’t know how to answer. I think it was one of the first moments in therapy all year that I actually  had nothing to say for a split second.

Why did I have to define myself as chubby today? Why do I have to define myself by my body checks every single morning?

They are good questions that I don’t totally have the answers to yet.

Why do I think that being Shira means having to tag on a label about my body to that, like chubby or skinny or whatever other word that can be used to describe someones physical being?

I’ve spent pretty much my entire life since I was 8 years old calling myself these labels.

In some parts of my life I labeled myself fat, in other parts I labeled myself chubby, and in other times I labeled myself skinny. Regardless of what time period I was going through, I always used one of those words as my label.

And of course, I used my weight as a label  too.

I still remember how much I weighed the day my grandfather passed away-becasue it wasn’t a good number but I “allowed” myself the extra room because I was so sad, I told myself I could give myself a break.

These numbers and labels have been such a huge part of how I’ve  defined myself for so much of my life, it was honestly mind altering when E asked me why I even had to be any of those things.

Almost one year into being scale free, and I never thought about that.

Who would Shira be, without her being attached to a chubby or to a skinny or to a “I’m sore” today?

It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to think about.

I know who I am without my number on my scale for almost a year now; that I know because I’ve been learning that through this year. And I love who I am becoming without that number to define me.

I love the writer in me.

I love the reporter in me.

I love the sister in me.

I love the friend in me.

I love the fighter in me.

But numbers and labels are two different things. A number is  fact, a label is a feeling.

But just Shira. Plain and simple, no extra labels-that’s totally different.

I guess what I walked away with today, because it was a day of much self doubt, also in other areas of my life, is that when this blog is over 8 days from now, I am not going to have all of the answers I thought I would have.

I may still label myself with those names or those words.

Or I may not.

I am learning.

I used to think that after this one year journey, it will have meant I was cured from Ed and cured from all the negative ways I used to view myself.

That is far from the truth.

And I am glad I can be accepting of that.

The closer I get to this blog ending, and the more I start to wrap things up, the more I am learning that this one year was not meant to be a solution or an answer; it was meant to be the beginning of something.

I have a long way to go, far past this one year journey, until I think I can figure out who Shira is-with no labels attached.

But I am ok with that.

I’m not where I thought I would be at the 8 day count down to this one year journey being completed,but then again, how could I ever know where this journey would lead me?

But I do know I am a lot closer to being where I want to be than I was yesterday; I am a lot closer than I was the day before, and I am a lot closer than I was 357 days ago.

Hello life.

Day 351: We Are Worth Fighting For Ourselves

Hello everyone,

While today wasn’t as good as my many of my good days in recovery have been, it was better.

I still did way more body checks than I would like to admit, I tried on two pairs of pants just to see how they still fit, and I let Ed talk to me for a little longer than I would like.

But, it was a better day than yesterday.

There were definitely hard moments in my day today, like when I went to go get frozen yogurt with one of my brothers and I let myself put some extra toppings. Ed was not happy.

There were hard moments when I was eating dinner with my brothers because I didn’t know how the food was made.

But above it all, never once did I space out into Ed’s world and never once was I not in the moment.

Every single second spent with those three beautiful souls today was spent with them in real life, not in Ed’s far away life.

And I made sure to smile, laugh and love each of them as best that I could, even when Ed was trying to hug me as I was sitting there hugging them.

Today wasn’t better because Ed was any quieter than the past two days, because he wasn’t.

It was better because I am actually taking a moment right now, as I write this, to be proud of myself, which is something I don’t do too often.

Despite Ed’s voice today, I surpassed it.

When he tried to wrap me with his presence, I wrapped myself with my brothers instead.

When he told me to not eat with them, I smiled through my own self doubt instead.

It was hard.

But it was also showing me that I still have the same fight within myself that I had when I first started this journey almost one year ago.

And as many good days as I might have, and as many bad days as I might have, I am beginning to see more and more, nothing can take that fight away from me.

A year ago, Ed would have won me over today and I would not be sitting here in front of this TV sipping hot chocolate with whipped cream and watching a movie with my little brothers.

It doesn’t matter what kind of Ed battles I had to fight today–the jeans, the food, the mirror checks–the fact that I am here on this couch in this very moment, reminds me this fight is worth it.

I don’t know if fighting for a life of freedom from Ed and a life of living in recovery truly ever stops, but I do this: we are worth fighting for ourselves.

Hello life.

 

Day 348: My Extended Holiday

Hello everyone,

My alarm went off this morning waking me up to go to the gym, and the first thing I felt was that my body was sore from the food I ate yesterday.

Feeling that soreness was Ed’s way of making me feel guilty about whatever amazing food I ate yesterday, and it was his way of telling me to go work it off today.

But I knew I was meeting my friend Anna for lunch today (and I was meeting her for dessert too- Anna and I always need dessert) and I really wanted to dress up and feel really good when I went. I don’t know why I wanted to, but I did.

I only had time for one or the other: go workout and go see Anna sweaty and in yoga pants, or take my time to get ready, do my hair and feel good.

Despite Ed telling me to go to the gym because of the food I knew I would eat with Anna, I decided to stay home and get ready.

Sometimes I think that getting ready and feeling good about ourselves, wether it be the way our hair looks, or the outfit we choose to wear, or the make up we wear, can make us feel even better than some workout at the gym.

And indeed, that was the case for me today.

It was a different kind of self care.

And when the jeans I decided to wear were a little tighter than usual, (which I already knew these pants are kind of tight, and it was a totally Ed based choice to wear them, probably in the hopes I would feel guilty and eat less today or something because of it) I decided to throw on a loose shirt over it and carry on.

The problem was not solved forever, but the problem was temporarily solved.

I looked good. I felt good. I felt comfortable.

I didn’t feel like I just had some great workout, but I felt pretty, and I think that actually felt better than sweating at the gym today.

So on Anna and I went to have our lunch and two desserts.

Two, yes, two.Two amazing desserts.

At first, I left that restaurant thinking “Oh my God, Shira, you’ve been eating so bad for a whole month straight now. Holiday season is over. Stop with these lunches and mid day desserts.”

But then when I really sat and thought about it, and walked myself through my own thoughts, I realized that while it is true that holiday season is over, the birthdays I celebrated this week were not over, and the birthday I am celebrating tomorrow with my other cousin is not over,and my lunch dates with friends are not over either.

So maybe my  holiday food vacation is a little bit extended?

Even though I do feel guilty and anxious right now about this entire month of sweets and big lunches and dinners, part of me is feeling proud and part of me is laughing at Ed that he can’t stop me from enjoying them.

I am in the time of my life right now where I am transitioning from college into the working world, trying to find a career and trying to establish my life.

If in the mean time of doing that, I happen to have time for birthday lunches in the middle of my day with my cousin, dinners with my family during the week, and lunches and dessert for no reason at 2 pm on weekends with my friends, then why not?

Although I might not feel so great right now, I know that there will come a time in my hopefully soon to be career and job oriented busy life, where I am sure that I will miss the days of mid day lunches and desserts, and miss the days of birthday celebrations and dinners in the middle of my week.

So for now, even if Ed trying to ruin it for me, I am going to try to enjoy my extended vacation-delicious food and all.

And it’s really not the food that makes these lunches, birthdays and dinners so special, it’s the freedom that comes with being connected with others that makes it special.

But, if I had to choose between a special meal with loved ones that included Ed approved food, or choose between a meal with loved ones that is down right delicious and yummy, even though it’s not on the safe calorie list, I will take that one.

It’s not that long ago that I let Ed keep me in my house every day and every night away from the world , isolated, deprived and unhealthy.

Now that I am able to go to lunch, dinner and dessert, I think it’s ok that I let these extravagant meals and social gatherings last a little over the one month allocated to holiday eating like other people do.

After all, I have many years that were taken by Ed to make up for.

Hello to my extended holiday and hello life.

 

Day 347: The Other Side

Happy Friday guys,

If you guys remember, yesterday I wrote that I was taking my cousin out to lunch today for her 18th birthday. She is actually my step cousin, but really, it’s the same thing.

This was a lunch that Ed was begging me not to go to.

After yesterday’s food coma that uncomfortably lasted all night long and even into my breakfast this morning, this lunch was the last thing he wanted me to go through with.

But I had a very special and personal reason for taking this 18-year-old young woman out to lunch today. Her and I have a very special relationship. Other than being family, we are also friends, and I am also her tutor.

I was her tutor for a few years now, including during my worst times of my eating disorder.

And while I was battling with my own eating disorder, so was her mom. But her mom has been battling with an eating disorder for years now.

I saw first hand with my own eyes how her mom’s own Ed crept into her life since she was 16 years old, maybe even before that.

I would hear her tell me how she wanted to lose weight, which diet she was trying today, and I would see her papers on her door that were taped up there that listed all the ways she could lose that weight.

I would see all of this when I would go to her house to tutor her. And what did I do when I saw this?

I would stand in front of her mirror, lift my shirt up, and tell her how fat I got and how I was the one who needed to lose weight;not her.

I would let her mom, who because she didn’t eat, found solace in feeding others, give me food to take home that we both knew would be thrown away.

But this girl, my cousin, she is the other side of Ed.

She is the side that we don’t talk about.

She’s the loved ones who are affected by our Ed’s, who when we are so locked inside our own disorders, fail to see the impact it has on them.

Along my road to recovery, she has stood by my side, she has lifted me up when I was down, and she has tried to get her mom to read this blog in order to help her, although she never has.

It was crucial for my recovery that I went to this lunch today.

Going to this lunch meant showing her that it is possible to live a life free from an eating disorder, even if her own mom is still stuck in it. Going to this lunch meant showing her the beauty in the fact that we can now eat together and have a good time together.

I was proud to walk into that restaurant with her next to me.

And right as we sat down, the most unexpected and most inconvenient thing that could happen, happened.

Out of all the places to eat and out of all the people in the world, in that exact moment, I happened to see my ex-boyfriend of three year’s, sister, husband, and their baby.

This was the same family I wrote about only a few days ago who I said leaving caused me the greatest heartache this year that I’ve ever known.

This was the same family that I was the maid of honor at their wedding.

This was the same family who I cried tears of joy when I found out she was pregnant with the baby they were now with.

And as we made eye contact and I got up to say hi, they walked away.

Just like that. And got in their car and drove away.

I was shaking and I was heart broken all at the same time.

This lunch was my cousin’s lunch, it wasn’t about me. But in that moment, there was nothing I could do but just say “oh my God” a hundred times over.

I didn’t want to eat anymore. I didn’t want to be there anymore. I wanted to cry.

But just like my cousin was the other side of Ed who we don’t want to talk about, so was this family. Except they were the other side of my heartache and my past that I don’t like to talk about.

It’s the other side that I need to let go of.

I had two other sides standing right in front of me.

One, my cousin, who’s side of the Ed world she lives on, deserved to be free of today with me. And one, the other side of leaving my past behind me, had just walked away.

I had to choose which side I wanted to save.

I chose her.

It took me a few minutes to gather myself together, but I decided I was going to stay present during this lunch.

We ended up taking about her friends, her surprise birthday party that she just had, and her plans for going away to college.

When we finished eating lunch, she even thanked me for sharing our meal together, because she enjoyed eating it with me much.

And of course, not only because I love dessert, but because it was her birthday, and what kind of birthday is complete without a dessert, we had to get dessert.

She asked me if I would have some.

At first, I was thinking to myself “girlfriend, are you serious? Of course I am having some!”

But then I remembered, that this is the same girl who I once ate cake with on her moms birthday, only to leave early because I had to go to the gym to work it off.

This is the same girl who I told I ate a bag of carrots a day as my meal.

I was no longer shocked why she asked me if I would share this dessert.

And when I said “hell yeah,” we ordered and it was the best dessert, ever.

Not because of how it tasted, but because of what it meant.

She was once part of my Ed, as if being part of her mom’s Ed wasn’t enough, I let mine into her  life too. She represented  the other side of my eating disorder, the side that I didn’t care who was affected by it, as long as I was “skinny” that day.

Today, she became part of my side in recovery.

That dessert became part of my side in recovery.

And with one part of my past leaving me today forever, I let a new part into my life–the part where I showed my cousin the recovery side of me and celebrated her 18th birthday with her with lunch and dessert.

And as far as I get in my recovery, I hope to never forget those on the other side who were affected by my Ed.

It is because of that reminder, that I find strength today to continue in my recovery, and let my past be my past.

On with recovery we go.

Hello life.

Day 345: I Will Love Myself More

Happy first day of 2014 everyone,

Happy new year fighters, supporters and beautiful souls.

I spent pretty much all of today responding to the beautiful and kind email messages and comments from all of you and I spent a lot of time being part of our online fighter support group chats.

There is no other way that I would have liked to spend the first day of 2014.

I spent all day being inspired, uplifted, touched and moved by not only reading such kind words, but by being surrounded (well, virtually surrounded via internet) with such strong people. We truly have a special community on this blog, and I want to thank everyone who is part of it.

My plan today was to wake up, go to the gym (now that I am feeling better), and that was pretty much it.

Instead, I woke up, ate breakfast, took a nap, answered my emails, took another nap,ate lunch,and now am about to go watch a movie with my grandma and my sister.

So much for plans, right? And so much for Ed’s plan at that.

I guess the gym just didn’t have a place on the first day of my new year today, and I am actually really feeling OK with that.

I was all excited that the “holiday food season” was over after New Years and I could get back in my routine today, but like always, I have learned yet again to not plan every part of my life.

The holiday food season might be over, but the days of lazy days in bed and movies with my family are thankfully not over.

Another fighter had asked me what my new years resolution was, and up until she asked me, I really didn’t think about it. I have never been one to make new years resolutions, and if I did, they were Ed’s resolutions, not mine.

And right after I read that, my aunt sent me this picture.

resolution

It couldn’t have been better timing.

Essentially, I have been working on this resolution since I started recovery, and so instead of set a new goal for myself, I have decided to keep working towards my goal from 2013.

I think I will work on this resolution far past 2014 and 2015 and 2020, and as long as I can say I am working to still love myself more, Ed is not winning.

I will love myself more through my hard days, through my body checks, and through my sometimes negative self talk.

I will love myself through my body changing, through my good and bad moods, and through my hard days of recovery.

I will love myself more on my easier days, my peaceful days and my quiet days, and try harder to not be upset with myself and think that because I had an easy day, I must not be trying hard enough.

I will continue to work on loving myself through the last 20 days of this one year journey that we have left together.

I don’t know where I will be in 20 days from now when we reach the end of this one year mark together, but I do know this:

I will have loved myself more in these past 365 days of this blog than I ever have before.

Hello life.

Day 334: This Is How We Celebrate One Month Left

Happy one month left of our one year journey lifers,

Before I start today’s post, I just want to say the Facebook forum will be up soon and I am still figuring out how to do it so I need a few days. But please continue to let me know if you want to be part of it =).

Today marks the official one month count down of our one year journey together.

So, how did I celebrate it?

I had a movie date with my 8-year-old brother, the one who said he would like to switch brains with me so he can have all the right answers in school.

Let me explain something about this little boy to you: not only is he funny, but he is warm, loving, and he loves sweets almost as much as me. So there was no one else I would rather spend this day with other than him.

I would like to say that I am the one who took him out, but he had two free movie tickets, so besides the candy and cookie we ate, he actually treated me.

Before we go to a movie, I always take my brothers to this candy store by the theatre so they can pick whatever they want.

Last time we were at this candy store, I remember exactly what I got: a few sugar free chocolate covered almonds and sugar free jelly beans. They were horrible.

Today, each my brother and I got our own bag, and this time, there was nothing sugar free in mine.

We watched the movie together and laughed together and I just kept thinking to myself how lucky I was that out of all the people in the world, he chose me to go watch it with him.

You know the craziest part? He had no idea that I was celebrating the last month count down of my year without a scale today; no one actually knew.

On our way out to the car, we stopped to get some pastries for a friend, and of course for us too, and he said to me, “Shira, if I could make a rule for the world, it would be that everyone loved pastries.”

And then we both laughed and said we both wish it could be true.

The entire way home, we talked about funny lines that we remembered from the movie, and we talked about how the boys bathroom in his school are not as nice as the girls bathroom (he says he only knows this because a girl, who he made very clear to me is not his girlfriend, told him the girls bathroom is nicer).

This is what I am celebrating today.

I am celebrating the world of loving pastries being a rule.

I am celebrating the world of sharing movie lines in the car.

I am celebrating the world where the fact that the boys bathroom is not as nice as the girls bathroom is a major issue.

I am celebrating the world where the girl you talk about when your 8 years old, is a girl, but make bi mistake, but she is not your girlfriend.

I am celebrating the world of things that really matter in life: the small, innocent, touching moments that no number on a scale and no job and no fancy title could ever give you.

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate my one month count down.

Hello life.