Day 360: A Journey Coming Full Circle

Happy Friday Eve everyone,

It is a little bit crazy and bitter sweet to think that this is our last official Friday Eve post together.

With that being said, today’s post is probably one of the most meaningful ones I have ever written.

When I was locked in my eating disorder, every Thursday night I would go to dinner with my grandma. (This was before I live with her like I now do.)

Thursday nights were our night to be together.

And every Thursday, we would go to the very same restaurant where I would get the very same salad of lettuce, carrots and cucumbers, and no dressing. It was crucial that Thursdays were Ed’s days because Friday’s were a major judgement day for my weigh ins.

On day 18 of this blog, I wrote about how on the night before that day, the second Thursday of this one year journey, I decided to take my Thursday night’s back from Ed.

That day, day 17 of this journey, I told my grandma that we could go to a new restaurant for our Thursday night dinner. We went to a fish house that she liked, that I liked and that my cousin liked who was going with us that night.

I remember writing that post like I wrote it yesterday because I remember sitting on my bed crying tears of victory and joy as I wrote it.

I felt like I could fly. It’s similar to how I am feeling right now too.

Tonight, the very last Thursday of this one year journey, my grandma had planned to go to dinner with my aunt, uncle, cousins and us to that very same fish restaurant.

When she asked me if I wanted to go, I almost couldn’t believe it. I didn’t even realize the irony in the entire thing until a few hours later.

I could have not gone tonight. I was tutoring late and I could have said no and everyone would have understood.

But for some reason, eating at home tonight alone with Ed, even though it would be a more comfortable meal for me, especially on a day that I only worked out for about 15 minutes, just didn’t seem as appealing to me as it once was.

What once would seem like a perfect night for me at home alone with me and my Ed food, no longer seemed like a fun night tonight.

So I cut my tutoring ten minutes short so I could make it to this dinner on time.

I was starving when I got there. I don’t know why, but it was just one of those days where you just have to listen to your body–even if it’s hungry all the time.

Luckily for me, the waiter brought out a fresh loaf of bread and butter right as I sat down, and he even messed up my order.

The two side orders I got were wrong. So instead, I got the two wrong side orders and the two right ones a few minutes later.

And I enjoyed all four of them, including my main meal and my bread and butter.

I even got a ketchup stain on my jacket. A ketchup stain, guys—ketchup was something I didn’t eat for years when I was locked in Ed,and now it has stained my jacket.

If it doesn’t come out, I will proudly wear that jacket anyway because of what it symbolizes.

I remember sitting at the table tonight, feeling nice and full, and thinking to myself how this journey has truly come full circle.

343 days ago I sat at that restaurant with the same people, and I remember the one bite of bread that I had. I even remember the butter I put on it.

It was unlike anything I ever remember tasting.

And now, I sat there tonight, choosing to be present and choosing to honor my family, but this time around, 343 days later, I was so much more free than I was the last time.

In that post on day 18 , which I titled “A Victorious Thursday,” I wrote, “Eating at a new restaurant may sound silly to some people, but for me, it was symbolic of telling Ed that he will no longer get in the way of my relationships with those who I love and care about in my life.”

Here I am on day 360, and I whole heartedly can say, that I’ve proved that line to be true.

From my second Thursday of this one year journey starting at this restaurant with me trying a bite of bread, to my very last Thursday of this journey ending at this restaurant with a ketchup stain on my jacket and a few pieces of bread and my four sides later, I can truly say that this journey has come full circle.

I called it from Day 18 ,Ed–you won’t get in the way of  my life anymore.

I was right.

Hello life.

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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.

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 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 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 343: The Best Monday of 2013

Happy last Monday of 2013 lifers,

So I kind of stole my own words out of my mouth with how I wanted to start this post with my own greeting, but today is the last Monday of 2013 and thinking about that had a strong impact on me.

When I was locked in Ed all of the time before I started recovery, Monday was my most hated and dreaded day of the week.

Monday was the day after I would let myself “binge” on Sunday night (which looking back now from a recovery standpoint, I was never binging, I was just simply eating), and so it was the most restrictive day of my week.

I would wake up, exercise, sweat, eat 15 prunes throughout my entire day, and then workout again at night, all in efforts to lose whatever amount of weight I had gained on Sunday.

It was prison. It was robotic. It wasn’t free.

I would go to sleep on Sunday’s feeling so full and yet so mad and angry because I knew what Ed had coming for me on Monday. And I don’t think there was a Monday that I ever didn’t listen to Ed while I was locked in him.

He owned every single Monday-every single Monday of 2012 was like that, and even a few in 2013.

But today, I spent my last Monday of this year far away from the trapped soul I once was when I was living, walking and breathing as Ed.

I am still getting better from being sick, so there was no working out today. Instead, there was a therapy session with E.

And then when I got home, it was time I organized my room, and in the process, I ended up organizing my jeans.

OK, so even for people without eating disorders, going through old clothes can be hard, but for people in recovery, it is even harder.

Obviously, I wish I didn’t try any of the old ones on. But I did.

I already told my mom yesterday for all the world to see on this blog that I need new jeans, and she was so happy to buy me some, so why even try on my old ones?

I don’t have an answer for that other than Ed.

But, I tried on three pairs. Three. It wasn’t all of them and it wasn’t the whole drawer. And they were the ones that I also got in the beginning of my recovery which just like the ones from yesterday, are also now tight . So I gave them to my housekeeper.

She was so happy because she said her granddaughter would fit in them.

Knowing that my old jeans that at one time were my first pair of recovery jeans could now make someone else happy, made me feel happy too.

Instead of going back to yesterdays cycle of why they once fit at a time when I thought my body was no longer changing, I decided to just move on. That was yesterday’s lesson, so let’s just leave it in yesterday.

Also, not to put anyone on the spot, but in the meantime of my cleaning I got an email from someone named Rachel in the UK asking for some hello life Bracelets. Rachel, so sorry to address you here, but it’s important to me I get back to everyone, and your email address is bouncing back to me so I can’t respond to you.

The contact me form worked, so if you use it to send me your address, I will have the bracelet on their way to you shortly.

So anyways, right as I was about to write this blog post, I realized that I didn’t’ do a body check this morning.

This is the first time, and I mean first time, ever, that I have not done a body check in at least two years, including my time in recovery and including the entire time of this blog.

I was trying to think of what possessed me to forget about the body check this morning and I was trying to think about what could have been so important that Ed made me forget to do it.

You know what I was doing this morning?

I was texting my 10 year old brother who has the flu and is sick at home, and I was giving him advice on what to eat and drink to feel better.

My care and love for him was greater than Ed’s demise for me.

From Monday’s being my most hated day of the week, to this last Monday of the year being the first time I didn’t do a body check, a day where I gave away old clothes, and a day that I took to rest my body because I am sick, I think it is safe to say that I’ve taken my Monday’s back from Ed.

It was the best Monday of all 2013. Save the best for last right?

Hello life.