Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Life > Eating Disorder

Recovery continues to be a strange place for me these days. I find myself avoiding this blog and running from talking or thinking about anything eating disorder related, which is completely opposite from how I was a few short weeks ago. It almost feels like life is becoming more important than the eating disorder, and while that's a wonderful thing, it also makes me a little uneasy.

Life is actually pretty great right now.  Last week I finished up my first (and only) semester back at the university I failed out of a few years ago. I found a way to face my daily triggers and push through the courses - which isn't something I was sure I could ever do, but I did it. Wait, not only did I do it, I also ended up getting all As.

In three weeks I'll be starting at a new university and am finally moving back out on my own. My housing arrangements were just finalized yesterday and I could not be more excited. For the past year or so I have felt trapped living in my parents basement, but there is finally an end in sight. The past couple of months have been spent worrying about the future and driving myself crazy for no reason. Things really do seem to fall into place with time, patience, and a little hard work.

There are also a few new relationships developing in my life right now. New friends have come into my life and I have been lucky enough to reconnect with a few old friends. It's a really nice change to see my social circle slowly developing again. As I begin this new chapter at the new school, hopefully the number of new friends will continue to increase. I don't think many people realize how isolating eating disorders can be or how scary it can be to put yourself out there after years of being sick. Thankfully, my fears of never being accepted due to my past have been proven wrong.

Eating, as unbelievable as this may sound, has almost become second nature. Don't get me wrong, I still have days where I try on every single sweater in my closet only to leave the house with a heavy bad body image cloud hanging over my head - but what girl doesn't experience that from time to time? 

Recovery is no longer about food for me. In fact, I don't think it has been about food for awhile now. Recovery has become a constant battle against my inner, incredibly harsh self-critic. I'm starting to think this battle and constant quest for self-improvement is what recovery is all about. It is possible I will spend the rest of my life searching for this so-called "happy place," but I have learned over the past few weeks just how important it is to focus on how far I have come rather than how far I still have to go.

This place in recovery is also strange because I feel like I will somehow begin to relapse if I continue to allow my life grow larger than the disorder. A good friend of mine gave me the most perfect advice last night, "Your life revolved around EDs for years! And now separation from that is an option. It is reasonable to want to take that!"


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas List

How is it possible we are only fifteen days away from Christmas? How is it possible this is finals week already? I swear, just yesterday I was still wearing flip flops and working on my summer tan; today there are four or five inches of snow on the ground and temperatures aren't even supposed to peak in the twenties. Can someone please tell me where the time goes?!

Yesterday my mom asked me if I would put together a list of gifts I want for Christmas this year. I'll be honest, in years past this has been one my favorite tasks. My Christmas lists have always been a good page or two (or three or four) in length just in case my parents magically discovered extra spending money that year.

This year, however, I am finding it incredibly difficult to come up with much of a list at all. The two things I do have on my list are a haircut and a pair of jeans; both of which I could probably do without (well, except maybe the hair cut. I might end up taking a pair of kitchen scissors to my locks if I don't do something about this hair in the next fifteen days). 

Maybe this is a sign of my old age officially kicking in. This year Christmas isn't necessarily about Christmas morning. While I was a kid, and while I was sick, the more gifts I unwrapped Christmas morning the better I felt about myself. I wanted to tell all of my friends I now owned the latest piece of technology - whether it was a computer or a phone or whatever. I wanted to show up at school after break in my new clothes because I knew everyone else would be doing the same. Christmas gifts gave me a false and very temporary boost in self-esteem and distracted me from actually enjoying the Christmas season.

Also, for several years Christmas was an anxiety-filled time for me. All of the family parties, cookies, and heavy winter comfort foods sent my eating disorder into panic mode. Rather than spending my days running around campus alone, not only was I forced to sit with uncomfortable emotions while on break, I was also surrounded by people who I thought had a close eye on my eating habits. Maybe recovery has taught me a thing or two about the joys of Christmas, too.

Again, this year is somehow different than Christmas's past. Maybe I have finally learned the road to inner peace forces us to dig much deeper than material things. Don't get me wrong, if I really wanted to come up with a longer Christmas list, I could absolutely do so. Instead, for a change, I think I will see what happens if I ask for less.

I just might be surprised and receive "more" as a result.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

It's About Self-Care

Over the past few weeks I have had several people ask me if I am okay. Compared to the constant writing and publishing of posts the first year of my recovery brought, I have been slacking a little. My best friend recently asked if something had changed to cause this lack of blogging, but I was unable to pinpoint one specific reason.

Maybe I am avoiding certain uncomfortable emotions by not writing as much. Maybe this is a sign I am stepping forward into the next phase of recovery. Maybe I just can't think of things to write about everyday anymore. Maybe life is starting to become more relevant than the eating disorder.

I found this quote last night and thought it was perfect. A week or two ago I had a chat with my therapist about how I sometimes feel guilty for not blogging, which is silly. It has become such an important part of my recovery, so it makes sense why it might seem like I am struggling. I assure you, however, by taking a step back I am learning to practice a little self-care.

"Your needs don’t make you too much.
They don’t make you selfish or weak or greedy.
They make you human. We all have needs. 

And those hungers aren’t something we should feel ashamed of.
They’re normal, we didn’t get enough of them as children hungers.
Affections we’ve been deprived of by the people who are supposed to care for us.
Connections we needed to feel whole and spaces we needed to feel safe.
Cravings we’ve been taught we didn’t deserve.
Appetites we’ve learned to suppress and fill with guilt.
Again and again we’ve neglected our needs 
because we’ve been taught that they were too much— 
that we were too much.

But we don’t have to any longer.
You don’t have to.
Whether you need support, alone time, affection, connection,
validation, or reassurance that you are loved — 
it is more than okay to ask for what you need.

Making your needs known isn’t about being demanding or selfish.
It’s about self-care.
It’s about creating a safer space for yourself.
It’s about using your voice and speaking your truth.
It’s about giving yourself permission to take up space.
It’s about listening to your hungers and honoring them.
It’s about honoring yourself."
 -Daniell Koepke

I think this idea of practicing self-care during recovery (and life in general) is often overlooked. There have been countless occasions over the past year and a half where I have felt guilty for needing more time to heal. Time and patience can be incredibly irritating at times, but they also happen to be a huge part of self-care.

Right now I am doing what is best for my health and recovery by trying to find balance between my eating disorder/blogging world and the new person I am becoming without the eating disorder. I have a feeling writing will always be a part of my life in some form or another; this certainly is not the end of my blogging days. However, I needed to take a step back for a week or two and that's perfectly okay.