Three Year Flashback To When Coffee Was Lunch

Happy Thursday beautiful fighters,

I came across this photo today.

brothers

It’s a picture of my three little brothers that I took three years ago today.  I had taken them out for a fun day of lunch and bowling.

Do you see that cup of coffee to the right hand corner on the table? That was my lunch that day–my lunch and breakfast actually.

I remember that day because I specifically remember every single Ed thought that I had that day. I even remember the jeans that I wore. (I remember because I chose them because they were my baggiest pair).

It was a Sunday so that meant that I was going to my then-boyfriend’s mom’s house for dinner that night. How was I possibly going to go out to a lunch and to a dinner? I remember not knowing how it would be possible to do both.

But I wasn’t going to give up my time with my brothers, either.

So, this was my solution: coffee all day and that’s it.  I remember us sitting at that lunch table and I remember all I could think about was the food. I had one tortilla chip and I broke it into several tiny pieces so it would last me as long as it could.

I don’t remember any of the converastions I had with my brothers at that lunch and I don’t remember what we laughed about. But I remember what each of them ordered because I remember wishing I wanted a bite of it so badly.

I remember every ounce of my time being consumed by Ed and that’s what made me so sad today when I saw this photo.

It reminded me of the heavy and overwhelming thoughts I carried around with me for years when I was suffering from my eating disorder.

It reminded me of the thousands of moments that Ed took from me.

It reminded me of the kind of role model I was for my brothers at the time: the sister who didn’t eat.

My heart has felt broken all day thinking back on that day and the many days I had like it with them and with others.

But at the same time, this photo gave me a chance to appreciate where I am now.

Recovery ebbs and flows, and lately, I haven’t been in the happiest place with what I look like, and while I know it will pass, I needed to be reminded today of how far I’ve come and why I choose to live in recovery.

I would rather spend every single day for the rest of my life fighting to learn to love my new healthy self than spend another second back at that lunch table being a prisoner of Ed.

I don’t want to go into the past two years of recovery and how I got here because I’ve told that story already through this blog over the past two years. That’s not what this post is about.

This post is about remembering where we used to be and never forgetting it.

I feel like sometimes it can be easy to forget where we used to be and focus so much on where we are now. Focusing on where we are is great because it shows we are present- but without remembering the pain of where we once were, we forget how special our recovery is.

It’s also a reminder of the pain and suffering other people who are suffering from an eating disorder are going through right now at this exact moment. If you are one of them, please know that you are not alone in that pain.

For me, this picture will always speak emotions of sadness.

It will forever be the day that I was so stuck in my eating disorder that I don’t even remember what I talked about with my three little brothers.

And it will forever serve as a reminder of how far I’ve come and where I never want to be again.

But to put things in perspective, all five of my siblings were visiting me in Washington two weeks ago, and not only do I remember every single tiny thing each one of them ever said, but we all went out to dinner at a steak house to celebrate Hello Life’s second birthday.

We all got steak, including me.

And we all got dessert, definitely including me.

And coffee was no where to be found.

Hello life.

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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.

Day 327: Hello To My Strong And Ass Kicking Alter Ego

Hello everyone,

Today is one of my cousin’s Bat Mitzvah, which is a big celebration with a big party.

A big fancy celebration of course means a nice fancy dress to celebrate in.

For me, this meant potential Ed destruction.

Which dress do I feel good in? Which ones still fit me? How do I know which one to try on without getting sucked into Ed chaos?

In the past, when I’ve been faced with situations like these, I’ve been known to try on every single outfit in my closet; old clothes and new clothes. It never ended up with me feeling good about myself or my new healthy body.

But these are the habits and behaviors that Ed instilled in me for so many years; they were the rules that he told me I had abide by.

If you’re going to a nice party, and you need a nice dress, of course you should try on the tightest smallest dressed you own and see how they fit you. If they fit good, you  get a pat on the back, if they don’t, you know your not up to Ed’s standards (This is what Ed would say).

I had the choice today if I wanted to continue in my old Ed habits or if I wanted to try to break them.

Before I tell you how I broke those habits, let me say that while through my writing, this victory may look like it was an easy one, but it was extremely difficult.

Making the choices I did today took immense inner strength, dedication and courage to stand up to Ed.

So, what did I do?

I took out the dress that I knew I would not feel good about myself in out of my closet yesterday and gave it to my sister. She didn’t even have to ask why I was giving it to her, she already knew.

But I told her if she wanted she could consider it hers because I am never taking it back.

Then I took out the last dress that I remember wearing that I felt good about myself in and put it out to hang on my door.

That’s it. My decision was made yesterday.

That was the dress and that’s what I’m wearing.

I told myself yesterday that there will be no trying on anything else.

I am writing this post 10  minutes before I need to get ready on purpose; so I am left with no time to try on any new outfits in case Ed starts to creep in.

Today took strength.

Giving my sister my old dress took strength.

Putting on this dress right now when I’m not in the greatest place with my body and still going to the Bat Mitzvah and putting a smile on my face because I know tonight is not about me, takes strength.

I think more than anything, that is what I am priding myself on today.

I don’t like my body right now, I don’t like the way I look in any dress right now, and I don’t particularly love the fact that I can’t wear the dress Ed once thought I looked so skinny in because it no longer fits the same.

But regardless of all those things,I am able to put them aside and step into the shoes of Shira the recovery warrior, she is kind of like my alter ego.

Shira the warrior doesn’t let those things ruin her cousin’s Bat Mitzvah and she doesn’t let those negative thoughts swallow up her personality.

Shira the recovery warrior is present,and she’s strong and she’s ready for tonight.

We already have gone ahead and named my eating disorder with his own name, so why not run with the concept of taping into my alter ego?

If it works, I say I like it. And so far, it’s working.

Hello to my strong and ass kicking alter ego and hello life.

Day 326: Eating Cupcakes In The Sun

Happy Friday everyone,

So I just had lunch/dessert with one of my friends Anna, and I had a little bit of time before I have to go tutoring so I thought I would write about it when these positive feelings are still fresh in my heart.

Hopefully by writing about the positive feelings I have right now, it will keep Ed from coming and trying to ruin it in about twenty minutes when they start to slightly ware off.

Anna and I are Friday lunch and pastry partners.

Whenever we see each other, it’s always on a Friday and we go to lunch and then we go to dessert. Sometimes we get dessert at the restaurant we eat lunch at, sometimes, like last time, we went to a bakery, and other times, like today, we try somewhere new.

Today we went to this award winning cupcake shop by our school.

We actually went in there before eating lunch, made sure the cupcakes were up to our sweet tooth standards, and then drove back after we ate lunch to get our cupcakes.

This lunch/dessert date totally took place in the recovery world, not Ed’s world.

So anyway, there we were, sitting with our Smore’s cupcake and also our mocha chocolate cupcake, just laughing and enjoying and saying how we were happy we could eat like this together.

“Eating cupcakes in the sun, that’s what life is about,” Anna said.

I told her right in that moment that she just named my blog post for today.

What else do I need to say?

Cupcakes in the sun.

Sweetness, company, friendship and enjoyment-on a day that I didn’t workout, on a day that I still don’t have a job-basically on a day that Ed is telling me I am not allowed to do anything but hate on myself.

Well, sorry Ed.

I enjoyed my cupcakes in the sun with my friend anyway.

Hello life.

Day 325: Yes Yes and Yes

Hi everyone,

On Monday, I’m sure you remember my very not proud post about how I was really just mean to one of the little girls I tutor and how I felt like I was acting like Ed to her; so demanding of perfection.

Since that day, I was thinking about how I would make it up to her today when I saw her; what  I would say and how I would apologize.

So, I know how to win this girl’s heart, because after working with her for two years now, there is one thing that never ceases to make her smile and that’s a vanilla frappuccino from Starbucks. Yup, that’s it, a drink, so simple and pure.

When I showed up at her door with her drink in my hand, her entire face lit up.

“No way! No way! Really, Shira? Really? Wow, I’m in heaven.”

All the sudden it was as if that day on Monday didn’t happen and for a moment I was feeling relieved.

But about ten minutes into our session, she looked at me and said, “Shira, am I doing better than I was on Monday? Am I better now?”

Her question broke my heart.

Is she better now? Was she ever bad to begin with? Did I really make her feel like she wasn’t being a good person because of a few mistakes on a math problem?

That’s how Ed used to make me feel anytime I ate even one calorie over his approved limit.

And maybe her comment hurt me so much because lately Ed has been making me feel so unworthy because I have been giving into my sweet tooth, and because I’ve been snacking more that I not as busy with school and a list of other things I’m sure I’ve said a hundred times this week already.

I honestly didn’t know what to say because I almost wanted to cry.

How could I answer an 8 year old girl who just asked me if she’s better than she was three days ago,when the truth is, it wasn’t her who was ever bad to begin with, it was me who was the one demanding perfection of her? It was me who was wrong.

I just looked at her and hugged her and said “Lola, you were never bad on Monday. I was just tired and I was too hard on you. You’re amazing and I love you.”

I tried to show her as much love and compassion as I could.

“You’re the best,Shira.”

That was it. One simple sentence and she forgave me just like that. And we went on to have a really good lesson together.

If she could forgive me after I was so hard on her on Monday, why can’t I forgive myself?

I’m the one who needs to forgive myself for acting too harshly that day.

I’m the one who needs to forgive myself for giving into my sweet tooth.

But on the other hand, does giving into my sweet tooth even need forgiveness?

Does it even have to be considered a bad thing? Ed would like me to think it does, like I am doing something wrong by eating what I want and therefore I need to ask for forgiveness.

But really, now that I write and walk myself through this, I don’t need to forgive myself for enjoying my sweet tooth and maybe I already have permission to move on from Monday since that little girl already forgave me.

Maybe what I need to do is treat myself the way I treated my 8 year old girl, and just how I realized I was too hard on her, maybe I am too hard on myself too.

Ed is hard enough on me as it is, and I don’t need to add myself to that equation on top of that.

We are our own harshest critics.

When will it be OK with our standards of perfection to treat ourselves how we would treat an 8 year old child who we love?

If we’re talking about the eating disorder world of perfection, that time is never.

But if we’re talking about the hello life recovery world, the world of 40 days left to reach a year without a scale and the world of learning how to be OK with being imperfect-that time is now.

If I can treat that little girl with so much love and compassion, there must be enough of that love left for myself too.

Yes to my sweet tooth.

Yes to that girl being in heaven for a simple drink.

Yes to treating ourselves how we would an 8 year old.

Yes yes and yes.

Hello life.

Day 324: Time To Do Some Major Soul Searching

Hello lifers,

So I am no longer the top senior reporter for my university newspaper now that I am graduating, and it’s something that is a hard pill for me to swallow.

Many times, I used my front page cover stories to define me, to justify me, and to credit me with being a good person .

Instead of my scale, I looked to other external accomplishments to tell me if I was “good” or “bad.” Not having that anymore is going to be a challenge and it’s going to force me to look even more inward at accepting who I really am; not me as the writer, not me as the recovery warrior and not me as a college graduate; but just  me as a whole.

So now not having a job on top of no longer having my senior reporter status is not helping me feel any more valuable of a person.

I never thought not having a job could even mean anything to me; it has nothing to do with my weight so how could I even care? But in recovery, I do care.

I sat here ten minutes ago and added up all my calories from today over and over and am really feeling horrible about myself for how much I have been eating lately and how I look lately.

And by now, I know the answer to why I am doing this.

I am in the unknown again. The unknown of not having a job and not knowing what is going to happen with my life, so instead of sitting with those feelings, I let Ed show me what I indeed and most definitely do know.

I do know how to count calories and I do know how to be hard on myself. It could be very easy for me to resort back to restricting right now and back to Ed, it would be almost like second nature.

But what good would that do for me? It would bring me solace and comfort for a moment, and then it would make me feel trapped in a whole other unknown world; the world of Ed-the world of where you never know how far you can fall until you’re already there.

There are no more cover stories, there is currently no job, and there is no more sick skinny body that Ed created for me to find validation through.

E, we have some major soul searching to do, and I am ready.

Hello life.

Day 322: Wearing Ed’s Shoes

Hello everyone,

I was tutoring one of my girls today and it was one of those days where she was just not getting anything mixed with not wanting to do any work, combined with me not having patience and being extremely hard on her.

There was even a moment today where I shamefully and not proudly and so regretfully almost yelled at her and said her answer was stupid. I can’t believe I used the word stupid.

Right before our lesson ended, she put her head in my arms and she cried.

I felt so horrible; for that lesson, I was Ed.

I was wearing his shoes, I was wearing his clone, I was walking in his stride.

I was thinking, talking and acting like him.

I had become everything that I hate about him.

Mind you, this girl usually does very well. But today I was asking her to be perfect; to not get anything wrong, and to get every single thing right, and I realized that right in that second.

“Don’t cry my love, everyone has bad days. I have bad days where I mess up on my homework too. I’m sorry I was too hard on you.”

I mean, was that the best I could say? That I am sorry? That everyone has bad days? It wasn’t anywhere near good enough in my opinion.

Would that be good enough if Ed told me he’s sorry and that he just had a bad day and that’s why he was mean to me? No way. It would never suffice. Just a simple sorry?

And more than that, I lied to her.

I’ve never had a bad academic day. I am a straight A student to this day. I hold myself to the same almost unrealistic standards that I was trying to hold her to, and why? She doesn’t need to be me to be the best version of herself, and as a matter of fact, I hope she is far from me.

I don’t want her to be a perfectionist.

I want her to know it’s ok to have bad days and that it’s ok to not know all the answers on her homework all the time.

But as I sit here and write this, I feel like it would be contradicting myself to not take my own advice.

She had a bad day, but so did I.

Just how she has to know it’s ok to not know all the answers all the time, I have to know that I can’t alway be the perfect tutor and that I too, will slip up.

I didn’t have a perfect day in Ed’s world either.

I didn’t go to the gym, I went out to dinner for my grandma’s birthday and I ate two desserts-two! I even told my cousin that I have two stomach’s, one for food and one for dessert.

In the recovery world that is a great day, but it’s not a perfect day either. It could have been more balanced. And of course Ed is telling me I should have avoided the whole thing anyway.

But the truth of the matter is, so what? I had dessert on a Monday, and yes, it was after eating a lot of sweets yesterday.

Yes, I maybe could be more balanced in my food choices.

And yes, I could have been a lot nicer to my amazing little 8 year old girl today.

You know what’s the craziest part about today?

I can forgive myself for eating the dessert and the food that Ed so badly wants me to obsess over, but I can’t seem to forgive myself for being an Ed to that little girl.

At one time, I would never have cared if I yelled at her or made her cry ,as long as I ate under a certain amount of calories that day or weighed a certain number that day.

Now all I can think about is how I was to her like Ed is to me; demanding of perfection.

So today was another day of imperfection.

Imperfection in my tutoring, imperfection in eating what Ed didn’t want me to eat and imperfection in not measuring up to be the person who I know I can be.

I can’t go back and apologize to that girl again right now, but I wish I could.

I don’t know what else to say. I hope I can forgive myself for making her cry those tears that were pleading for me to just give her approval.

After being in Ed’s shoes today, and after literally being him for an hour, I have never wanted to be further away from him.

Today was imperfect. I was imperfect. But I am learning, and I guess that’s all I can do.

Hello life.