Day 359: My Recovery Heroes

Hello everyone,

I let someone else pour milk into my coffee today without me measuring it.

I ate a piece of the special black and white cookie today that my grandma bought me yesterday.

I even had a job interview today that I think went really well.

But that’s not why today was a good day.

Today was a good day because I was inspired, lifted and filled with complete joy.

This joy did not come from Ed and it did not come from my own personal recovery.

It came from the recovery paths of others who have been walking this journey with me.

As you know, there is a Hello Life fighter support group online. Over the past few weeks, these fighters and I have grown to become friends, supporters and safe people to lean on for one another.

Over the past few days, they have blown me away.

And today, it was just the icing on the cake. Totally no pun intended .But I do love cake and I do love icing and I do love these strong women, so I think it’s ok to say that.

We have one fighter who is eating a lunch tomorrow with her co workers. A prepared lunch that she did not make; a social lunch. She is a recovery hero.

We have one fighter whose new years resolution included being more kind to herself. She is a recovery hero.

We have one fighter who is the spiritual guide for this entire online support group. She is a recovery hero.

We have a fighter who just joined our group and sat at a table with her children while they ate food. She is a recovery hero.

We have one fighter who is letting her mom move in with her in order to help her stay on track with her recovery. She is a recovery hero.

We have a fighter who despite not feeling well and being in physical pain, stays full of light, hope and optimism and continues to not let Ed be her escape. She is a recovery hero.

We have one fighter who ate a Hershey Supreme with her family this past month. She is a recovery hero.

We have a fighter who cooked her husbands favorite meal for his birthday this year. She is a recovery hero.

We have a fighter in France who continues to push through her hardest days. She is a recovery hero.

We have a fighter who reached out when she was having a hard day. She is a recovery hero.

And lastly, we have one fighter, who right now, has friends over her house where she put out a chocolate cake, cheeses, crackers and pepperoni and veggies with dip.She even posted a picture of this on our support group wall.

She is being present tonight. She is not letting Ed have her disinvite her friends over tonight because food will be there. She is a recovery hero. And seeing those pictures almost made me cry.

They symbolized freedom. They symbolized her taking her life back from Ed.

And this post is in honor of her, in honor of the recovery heroes both in the support group and outside of it who email or comment or read this blog every day,  and who are all around the world. I wish I could list everyone but it would be hundreds of people.

If this year has taught me one thing about others, it’s that nothing in the world, even our relationships with our own eating disorders, are stronger than the support and understanding that we can have for each other as people.

Today, these heroes are my inspiration.

They will be my inspiration when I go out to dinner right now.

They will carry on into being my inspiration far past when this blog is over in 6 days.

In honor of my recovery heroes, hello life.

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Day 356: Don’t Eat Dessert Without Me

Hi guys,

I apologize in advance for this blog post being a little shorter than usual, but I came to write this right as I finished dinner with my brother and sister and some of our friends, and they are still here, so I don’t want to keep them waiting for too long.

The reason that I cooked dinner tonight was because my brother, who is 20, is leaving tomorrow for two weeks, so I wanted to give him a nice goodbye dinner with my sister and I.

I invited him last night, before I knew that I would wake up with my body sore this morning (yet again).

Right away, Ed wanted me to cancel this dinner.

I actually thought about it. And I thought about ways I could get around it.

I thought that maybe we could go to a restaurant where I could order something different than everyone else. And even if I did decide to do that, it wouldn’t be bad, but the point was that I had said I would make dinner, and I was really looking forward to it.

I used to cook for my brother all the time when I was locked in Ed, and I never got to enjoy the food with him, so tonight was going to be a special occasion.

I didn’t have to think about it too much. It was one of those days where I just knew what I had to do, and so I did it.

Stuffed salmon, roasted butternut squash, roasted brussel sprouts, champaign and bread rolls later, I can say that although Ed is not happy with me, and he is very much with me right now, I am happy.

I am happy because when I hear my brother laughing right now from up in my room, I know it is this dinner that made that happen.

I am happy because him, my sister and I just sat around at a dinner table and enjoyed good conversation.

Regardless of how many times I have to shut Ed up tonight, this dinner was worth that; it was worth the connectedness, the selflessness and worth the company.

My brother even came wearing his hello life bracelet, which I forgot he he even had.

And right as I left the table to come write this post, I told them very seriously and matter of factly, “guys, don’t eat dessert without me.”

On that note, I am off to enjoy my dessert, even with Ed next to me.

We’ll be fine , Ed. It’s time for dessert.

Hello life.

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Day 352: Chef Shira Is In The House

Hello everyone,

Let me start this post by saying hello to the good days that we have after the bad days, because it is after the bad days,that we can truly appreciate the good ones, and that’s where I am at right now.

I am appreciating this good day that I had today, and I am really excited to tell you guys about it.

I don’t know what inspired me today, but I decided I wanted to cook myself dinner.

I was home alone, and it wasn’t even dinner time, it was in the mid-afternoon,but the feeling  just came over me. Knowing that it’s sometimes difficult to eat when I am by myself, I decided to seize the opportunity before Ed could talk me out of it.

And so I made dinner. Well, I made it and then saved it for when I would later eat it, but I made it.

And it was fun. I had my TV on, I could hear my pan sizzling, I felt like a real chef.

I used to cook all the time when I was locked in Ed. I would cook for everyone in my family and for my ex-boyfriend who I lived with at the time,but I would never enjoy my own cooking.

I would cook them something really yummy, and then make myself my “Ed” food, which was usually a plate of veggies.

And even throughout my recovery, cooking is not something I’ve done too often just because I am usually really busy.

But I decided that if I still don’t have a job and am graduated out of school, I guess I can take advantage of the time I had today to cook myself dinner.

It was a dinner that I’ve made in my head many times before, but I just never did it. It wasn’t anything insane or difficult or so gourmet, but it was what I wanted.

It had all the components a balanced meal has: proteins and fats and carbs and just deliciousness.

When I went to go eat it about an hour ago, I decided that for the first time in a while, I am going to eat just at the table with no distractions.

I usually watch TV when I eat alone so I have something to do, but when I do that, I often times can’t focus on my food, which sometimes works for me if Ed is there.

But today, I really wanted to focus on this food; I cooked it and it’s something I really wanted and have been wanting since I made it earlier in the day.

At first, sitting and eating in silence felt really lonely. But then, I began to really enjoy the act of what I was doing.

I was enjoying my own cooking. It was a beautiful moment.

And even though I had portioned out my meal according to my meal plan, I went back for seconds.

No meal plan in recovery is ever against seconds, right?

I took my plate to the sink thinking “wow, I am a good cook. Chef Shira is in the house.”

It was just yesterday that my little brother, who is now 5, asked me if I still eat prunes.

Prunes used to be my Ed diet, and there were many occasions where I took my little brothers out to eat at a restaurant and instead of eat with them, I would just bring my  little plastic  bag of prunes to eat for myself.

They always asked what it was and  I didn’t really know how to explain it, so I told them they are my special healthy food that’s good for you.

Last night, out of no where, he asked me “Shira, do you still eat those things in a bag that are healthy for you,”?

At first, I couldn’t even believe he remembered that. But at the same time, I guess it’s kind of a hard image to forget when you see your sister eating from this little plastic bag whenever you ate together for a long time.

I looked at him and smiled and said “nope, not anymore.”

If only he would see the dinner I made tonight, he would give me a big high five.

No more prunes baby and no more plastic bags at the table.

Hello life.

Day 346: Food Comas

Hello everyone,

Let’s start off with the fact that I am currently in a food coma. And a major food coma at that.

Before I had this food coma, let me back track to earlier in my day and tell you about what I had planned to originally do today-or well what Ed and I had planned to do.

Today was my first day back at the gym since I was sick for a week and half and I couldn’t work out during that time. Honestly, I would like to say I walked in there feeling good and strong, but I didn’t.

I walked in there feeling like I was buldging out of all my clothes in every area and pretty much just uncomfortable in my own skin and for moments of time, I really thought that I was one of the biggest people there.

This is so not true. And will probably never be true, but this the kind of stuff Ed tries to feed me with, and I use the word feed because when I listen to his lies, I literally feel like I am swallowing them into who I am as a person and for that quick moment, I let it define me.

I looked in the mirrors at the gym while I was walking on my treadmill, after I was done walking on my treadmill, and even as I was walking out to my car.

Ed, Ed and more Ed.

He was holding my hand the whole time I was there. He was literally hugging me, holding me, and pinching any extra skin he didn’t like on my body.

So anyway, this was when I thought “It’s ok Ed, it’s ok. I will just eat totally on the meal plan today, nothing extra , and you can just be quiet.”

That didn’t quite happen because I went out to dinner with my grandma and my sister at this restaurant where they fill your table with all these yummy foods that are never ending.

Deliciousness, yes.

Ed approved, no.

So now I am here, in my food coma, writing this post.

I am also writing this post knowing I am taking my cousin to lunch tomorrow for her 18th birthday, and I also know I have a big family dinner tomorrow night too.

Ed wants me to not go to either because of this dinner tonight.

He wants me to sit here and cry because of how full I am.

And to be honest, it wouldn’t be so hard to do that. Actually, it would be easy to do that considering how I am feeling at the moment.

Yes, I looked in the mirror way more times than I would like to today.

Yes, I am not happy about my current food coma.

And yes, I am still going to go to that lunch and dinner tomorrow anyway.

And you know why?

Because I would rather sit here in my food coma and even cry over it if I have to, than cry another night because I am scared that my heart beat is too slow because I didn’t eat, or cry another night because I ate one extra piece of gum that I shouldn’t have.

If I cry over this food coma, let it be a victory to me that the reason for my tears is not one that my eating disorder caused.

They will be tears caused my recovery. I can live with that.

And with that, I just finished reading an email that another fighter, we will call her B, sent me in which she told me she just tried pasta for the first time in a long time, and she ate this amazing dessert called Hershey Symphony.

If B can do that, I can get through my food coma.

I even told B that I need to try Hershey Symphony now too. And I will. And it might be another food coma night.

And that’s ok with me, because what is life without Hershey Symphony and dinners to enjoy with friends and family?

It’s a life filled with food comas, some uncomfortable ones, yes. But it’s also a life filled with freedom, family and deliciousness.

Don’t we all deserve that?

I guess I can handle a few more food comas in that case. Bring it on.

As B wrote to me today, “Hello Hersheys symphony, hello shrimp pasta, hello snow, hello 2014, hello life.”

Day 344: This Was The Year Of Hope

Hello everyone,

Today started out bad. Really, really bad.

The kind of bad that included almost a 30 minute body check, which was more like of a body attack on myself, and pictures of this body check (deleted right away but still) and pretty much just a lot of sadness.

I was sad because I felt like I was letting Ed just swallow me up in his mean and suffocating self and I was feeling stuck in it. I was so mean to myself and to my body in that mirror today.

It was like a 360 from yesterday where I had my first day of no body checks.

I was upset at how my body looked and I was mad at myself for this entire month of eating all this delicious holiday food, and even not holiday food, just eating sweets for fun, and I was mad at myself for not working out this week when I was sick.

Somehow, I found one moment of strength to stop myself, look at my own eyes in the mirror and give myself a pep talk.

At first I might have been embarrassed to say on this blog that I sometimes talk to myself in the mirror, but I’m not anymore, because it is the truth.

“Shira, so what if you don’t love your body right now? You are like every other American in this world who enjoyed the holiday season, give yourself a break.”

That’s the only thing I could manage to say to myself. But it was true.

I don’t own a scale of course, so I can’t tell you how much “holiday weight” I’ve gained (or think I’ve gained), but I figured it’s no more or less than the typical average American person.

And although part of me is still in Ed’s hands at the moment, the healthy recovery part of me is actually really proud of myself after that self talk intervention.

For the first time in years that I can remember, I was like everyone else this year.

For the first time in years, I actually went from Thanksgiving to New Years and ate and enjoyed yummy food and more than that, enjoyed the social gatherings around it.

If a few extra pounds comes with that, the recovery part of me says it is so worth it.

Not only was this the year that I was like every other American and indulged during the holidays but it was also the year that I started living in recovery.

This was the year that I rang in with my now ex-boyfriend, who is no longer in my life. This is the same year that I left our three year relationship to go find my own voice and my own strength, and it’s the year I left him knowing I am deserving of someone to respect my voice.

This was the year that I left his family, who had become my family, back in my past. His family was Ed’s family too. We loved them. I loved them.  It was one of the greatest heartaches I’ve felt this entire year.

This was the year that loneliness and self doubt often kept me company, but it was also the year that I’ve grown closer in my friendships than any other time in my life.

This was the year that 20 days after 2013 started, I decided to give up my scale.

This was the year that I stopped using my weight, my calories and my clothing sizes to define me.

This was the year I was forced to unlearn every truth I ever thought was true about myself, many of which Ed taught me, and the year I was forced to create new truths for myself.

This was the year that my truth now begins with my story. This was the year that my truth begins with my soul, my inner being, and my spirit-not with my physical looks.

This was the year that I not only was the top senior reporter for my university newspaper, but the year I graduated college.

This was the year that someone sent me an email saying this blog saved their life.

This was the year that strangers from all around the world, have now become friends and support systems for one another, through this journey.

This was the year that an online support group was created out of this blog- a support group that will live on so far longer than this blog ever will.

This was the year that my black and white way of thinking turned into gray.

This was the year that I have learned how to finally start showing myself the kind of unconditional love that I have always shown to others.

This was the year that I decided to change my life for no one else other than myself.

This was the year hello life was born.

This was the year of hope.

Hello life.

Day 340: Our Bodies Have A Mind Of Their Own

Happy Friday everyone,

The recovery fighter support group is officially started and active online with discussion forums already flowing, and I just want to say thank you to the strong souls who are putting their heart, time and support out there to help one another.

If anyone else wants to be a part of it, please let me know. It’s a private group so you can only join via email invite through me. I set it up this way so it remains a safe and private place for all of us.

So onto today, who knew that my sweet tooth is still alive even when I am sick? 

Being sick has really taught me a different level of self care.

It’s taught me that my body truly has a mind of its own.

Now that I am sick, I am not really in control of what my body needs right now. If it doesn’t need exercise, it doesn’t, and that is something I have to honor.

If it wants food and sweets even if it’s not working out, it needs that, and I need to honor that too.

This is the kind of self care where I really need to take my own self out of the picture and just listen to my body.

My body has a mind of its own, and it really doesn’t care what Ed thinks.

Even on the days where we try to tell our bodies not to crave certain things, it doesn’t care. It will crave it even more, right?

Our bodies don’t care that it didn’t exercise today, it still wants and needs food. My body is probably enjoying its staycation from the gym in bed most likely-even if Ed is not.

My body doesn’t care that Ed is telling it to not want certain foods.

Praise and long live to my strong fighting body that doesn’t care what Ed says.

Hello life.

Day 337: Christmas Eve With Ed: Recovery Edition

Happy Christmas Eve everyone,

Thank you to everyone for sending me your emails if you want to be part of the email fighter support group. I am going to give it a few more days for people to send me their emails if they would like, since I know everyone is busy with the holidays, and then I will send out the first group email message.

Today and tomorrow are some, if not the absolute hardest days of the entire year for people in recovery for an eating disorder, or actually in recovery for any kind of addiction.

When we spend time with relatives or close friends and family, it is easy for old memories or feelings to come up and trigger our Ed’s or our addictions.

I know that for us in recovery for eating disorders, these two days (Christmas Eve and Christmas) are especially difficult because they are two days that are totally surrounded by food.

As weird as it may seem, while I am Jewish, I actually do celebrate Christmas and it is my very favorite holiday.

My uncle is not Jewish and celebrates and practices Christmas every year, so just like any other family celebrating Christmas, so do we on behalf of my uncle.

I am not sure what Christmas Eve dinner or Christmas dinner looks like for others around the world, but for us, it’s basically like Thanksgiving all over again.

Wether you are celebrating with a dinner tonight, or a breakfast or dinner tomorrow, we are all going to be surrounded by food today.

If you’ve been reading my recent posts lately, you know that I haven’t been in the best place with Ed. Realizing that my big Christmas Eve dinner falls today was not an easy thing to take in.

My first instinct was to not go and stay home and eat what felt safe to me.

But I knew that would not only be selfish and disrespectful to my family member who celebrates this holiday, but it also would be taking away my joy from a holiday that I love so much.

Here is the thing with today: I would like to say that this is my Christmas and that this is my holiday and Ed can’t ruin it at all and he will be no where in sight.

But that is just not true.

It is indeed my holiday,and Ed will not ruin it for me, but to say that he won’t be anywhere in sight is not true and I don’t think it’s fair to expect it to be.

For a long time, I thought that if I had Ed next to me, it meant I was failing.

But I see now how wrong I was.

The fact that yes, many times I do have Ed with me, yet I am still succeeding in my recovery, speaks volumes.

That is strength and bravery.

I don’t expect Ed to not be with me at my Christmas Eve dinner tonight.

I know he will be there. He will be sitting right next to me on my chair.

And you know, I think that’s OK for the moment.

Ed was with me for so many years, to say that he would just disappear during my very first holiday season in recovery would be the perfectionist, black and white person in me speaking, and I have let that part of me go.

The biggest lesson I continue to learn is that none of us have to be perfect in our recovery.

Today, my recovery means being present and going to that Christmas Eve dinner, even when Ed is telling me not to.

And if he comes with me, so be it.

And if I need to wear my stretchy pants and loose shirt, so be it.

The fact is, I am there. Period.

I am there.

And to my dear friends and fighters, please know, that wherever you are, we are all going and fighting through these hard holiday gatherings together.

At least for me, knowing that I am not alone, during a time where I feel like it’s difficult for others around me to understand the anxiety around food, is a big source of support.

When you will be at your dinner table tonight celebrating Christmas Eve, I will be at mine doing the same thing.

When you will be around the delicious holiday treats tomorrow morning, so will I.

And so will our Ed’s too.

But that’s ok.

Last year, only Ed was present during this time of year for me; Shira was not.

I was physically there but my mind wasn’t.

Now I am here.

I might be here with my Ed next to me–my little, annoying Ed who doesn’t hold much power anymore. But nonetheless, I am here.

If we have our Ed’s with us at our tables tonight and tomorrow, let’s forgive ourselves for it.

If we eat what our Ed’s tell us not to, oh hell yes, let’s forgive ourselves for it, because it’s Christmas and we deserve it.

And if we feel our Ed’s are taking over us, lets forgive ourselves for it, because regardless of what our eating disorders want us to think, we are not perfect.

We are learning.

And for me and for many reading this, it’s our first Christmas in recovery.

Let’s love ourselves and give ourselves some slack.

Wishing everyone and their Ed’s (if they will be present) a very happy, safe and delicious Christmas Eve.

Hello Life.