Gasping for Air

It’s day 10. That means 10 days of really making an effort to improve. 10 days of trying to push away excuses. 10 days of saying no when I want to say yes, and yes when I want to say no…

Today I practiced an act of vulnerability with someone close to me.  I thought it would make things harder, push me back over the edge, but it didn’t.  While the conversation made me sad, I allowed myself to say exactly how I felt for once.  Instead of wanting to eat a gallon of ice cream like I thought I would, I actually felt better.

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I’ve long known the importance of vulnerability in relationships and life, but rarely have I been brave enough to embrace it.  If today’s conversation taught me anything, it is that I will be hurt more by living my life in a suit of armor than I will by being vulnerable. In this metaphor bulimia has been my shield, protecting me from feelings I didn’t want to feel, thoughts I didn’t want to think, and words I didn’t want to speak. 

I say that I “practiced” an act of vulnerability today because I believe that’s what it honestly takes – practice. I hope that by laying my sword and shield to rest and habitually removing my armor, not only can I defeat bulimia, but I can also lead a happier and more fulfilling life.

If I make it through tomorrow without engaging in ED behaviors, I will have made it a whole week without giving completely in to binging and purging.  While it may sound like a short run, this will be my longest time going unaccompanied by bulimia in a very long time.  That possibility both excites and terrifies me.  10 days on the road to recovery and possibly 7 days of success.  While I still feel like I am drowning under the weight of this pressure to get better, one week feels like a break in the surface.  One long gasp of air before being pushed back below the inky abyss to battle my way through a second week. 

However, like the quote above, today I am hungry for more than food, today I am hungry for success, passion, love, and so much more.

I can do this.

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Suffocating

Today I feel as though I am suffocating, drowning in my own fears and uncertainty. Not really wanting to be fully vulnerable but also no longer wanting to hide behind this monster which both haunts me and protects me from having to experience this world’s full and unrelenting forces.

Last evening I was craving doughnuts more than anything else. The desire was so strong, even in conversation I could not ease my mind from the desire. I tried to rationalize with myself, think of what little I had to gain by going to the store for doughnuts, but every inch of my being screamed for it…

In the end I ended up munching on the things available to me, a disgusting array of canned tuna, pasta sauce, and Greek yogurt. I talked with friends so late into the night that I was finally able to go to bed without indulging in any glorious fried dough. It wasn’t on purpose that this happened, if I had my way I probably would have, but I am thankful that I didn’t.

  

As greatful as I am for the success, this morning I am left feeling empty, counting the days since my last failure and wanting so desperately to crawl back under the covers of my cruel addiction.  Deep in my heart I know giving in to bulimia feels so incredibly awful, but when I am at a distance it seems like an ex-boyfriend – tempting, familiar, and toxic.

I can’t go back though. I won’t. 

While succeses may feel like a punishment right now, each day makes me stronger. I can’t keep kidding myself. I can’t lose 15lbs in one week. I can’t have the body of a full time athlete or model. I can’t defeat bulimia by having one good day. But I can win eventually. Days turn into weeks and weeks into months and one day those months will be a year, one glorious year living a free and healthy life. 

I can do this.

Climbing the Mountain

As I reflect on months passed today, I recall the many times I have been on the phone lying through my teeth about my whereabouts and doings.  I would be on a call listening to a friend talk about how they resisted some food temptation as I parked my car at the grocery store and surveyed the pastry aisle for my next victims.  I would nod my head and make a passing comment about allowing yourself to enjoy things in moderations as I climbed back into the car, already ripping open a package of cookies to mindlessly shovel down on the drive home.  I would tell them I planned on enjoying a quiet evening in as I sat down on my bed, downing chips and bowl after bowl of cereal.  I would finally hang up and make my way to the bathroom, shoving fingers down my throat and hoping I could purge myself of the food, of the calories, of my emotions, of my insecurities, of my jealousy of the friend who could walk by the pile of cookies again and again without struggle.   

It is these things that haunt me.  And tonight I think of all I have lost because of bulimia  Money, spent on food I would not keep in my stomach. Time, that I will never get back and can never use on the things that are truly important to me.  Health, flushed down the toilet every time I threw up.  Youth, draining from my face as wrinkles and pimples formed from the abuse to my body.  All of this going against everything I have ever championed: minimalism, women’s rights, body image positivity, independence, strength, intelligence, the environment… Especially the environment.  With each double flush to get the food down the toilet, the running water to mask the sounds of my retching, the time and energy spent by countless laborers and farmers to make my food, the gas for trips to the grocery store, I get further and further from my most precious and touted values.

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I suppose this is the start of a new week.  It’s day eight of my journey and I am sorry that I missed posting yesterday. Dinner last evening wasn’t a binge, but I didn’t stop when I felt full.  The greasy french fries and chicken were too delicious and tempting on my weakened mind. I crawled into bed with a stomach full of these unhealthy things, but I did not purge.

Today has been far better by a long shot, and even though my emotions have been tried and tested, I feel OK.  While I regret all that I have wasted and lost, I know that I should not dwell in the past.  I can’t change the choices I made or the damage that has been done.  Now, while I will never forget, I must work to forgive myself.  Forgive myself for the waste, lies, destruction, weight (literally and figuratively) that now hangs off me.  This is not a mountain I wish to climb right now, but here I stand, hands and feet gripping the edge, knowing that I must if I am to move forward, to get better.

I can do this.

My Life as a Peach

I think I have been living life like an overripe fruit. Still sweet to the smell and full on the outside, but upon further inspection you’ll find I am soft and vulnerable. Dig a little deeper and you will see my insides are mushy and near rotten. At my core still rests a seed that holds the power of new life, completely unaffected by the sickly sweet surroundings. But no one wants to buy a rotting fruit…

As I lay in bed tonight, I can feel a fullness in my stomach. It’s anxiety inducing and I found myself mentally tearing my body to shreds every time I passed a mirror today. In spite of this, I also feel full in spirit. Surrounding all the negative body image, I had a spiritually wholistic and fulfilling day. And just as importantly I had a fairly successful day. 

 

It reminded me of the seed that remains deep within my core. This ED has rotted me away both literally and figuratively. But it is the decomposing fruit which eventually brings new life to the seed.  I hope in this journey to recovery I can take away strength and regrow from the healthy foundation I know lies within me.  Like a seedling I will start weak and fragile, but one day I will grow tall and strong. This rotting flesh will become merely a thing of my past.

I think I have been living life like an overripe fruit. Still sweet to the smell and appealing on the outside but give me a squeeze and you’ll find I am soft and vulnerable. Dig a little deeper and you will see my inside is mushy and near rotten. At my core still rests a seed that holds the power of new life, completely unaffected by the sickly sweet surrounding.

I can do this.

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Today was mostly a great day but I failed this evening. In the face of a double blow, epic amounts of food and some unexpected bad news, I crumbled and gave in to this ED tonight.

As devastated as I am by this setback, it helped me realize that this monster is largely an emotional and control response. Upon feeling upset and out of control I was unable to stop myself. Bulimia is like a drug, when things are bad it both numbs the pain and makes things worse.

  
I read a great article regarding this today: http://www.scienceofeds.org/2012/12/24/the-double-life-of-bulimia-nervosa-patients-perspectives/

I know my mind and body are weak now, so much more prone to giving in tomorrow and the next. In the past I might have… I am dedicated to winning this time around though.  I am determined to let this setback make me stronger. These next two days I will try harder so I can complete this journey and move past this chapter of my life.

I can do this.

Anticipating Fear

Day four has come and gone, but my journey is far from over. I’m leaving tonight for a much needed, but much feared, three day vacation.

Why fear a vacation? Well, vacations for my family always mean eating out every day and indulging in all the local delacasies and desserts… Three long and glorious days of stuffing my face three times a day at the very least.

For a normal person, a couple of indulgent days may reset themselves after a week back in reality, but in my mind, I only anticipate destruction.  In my mind, I know pacing myself and stopping when I’m full is an uphill battle. In my mind, leftovers are a cruel ghost of my meal, haunting my thoughts even if I feel as though I may burst at the seams.

 My goal this weekend is to not let food rule me, to truly enjoy and be engaged with my surrounding and the trip. I have yet to discover how possible or impossible a dream this is, but right now all I can do is pray for success. 

I know this is a curveball, a big challenge at the beginning of the game but I will try to make the best of it. I have every intention of coming out the winner.

I can do this.

Don’t Give Up

Day 3 of this blog… I felt great waking up this morning knowing I made it through yesterday. I felt great getting ready for the day, listening to my new podcasts, and swirling around my room. I felt great through the morning, filled with a new sense of accomplishment and purpose…. Then this afternoon rolled around.

For whatever reason my worst cravings have always hit me in the afternoon and evening. And boy did it come with a vengeance around 4:00. Suddenly I wanted to eat EVERYTHING. I snacked a little here, snacked a little there, and before long did some snacking everywhere. It wasn’t a full binge by any means but I wasn’t exactly in control either.

Later this evening around dusk, I took a walk to the drug store to get some contact solution. Upon entering through those doors I was immediately greeted by a wall of all kinds of nuts and trail mixes. I eyed some cashews before taking a turn down my real danger aisle. My mouth watered at some chocolate covered pretzels before my eyes fell upon my true weakness. Chocolate chip peanut butter cookies.

Historically the combination of chocolate and peanut butter has always been my downfall, and a very common item in my binges – be it cookies or ice cream or cereal or some other delicious manifestation.

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So there I stood, in the aisle, face to face with the devil. To any onlooker I probably appeared a perfectly average girl, on a perfectly average day, doing some perfectly average shopping, and making a perfectly average choice. However, my mind was on fire. For anyone reading this who has ever had any kind of addiction, you know the feeling – when every atom of your body is screaming for you to go one way, while your mind and soul do their best to calm the insatiable.

I probably spent a matter of second looking at those cookies, but it felt like an eternity.  In my mind I summoned up information from one of my new podcasts; If you buy something and bring it home, or have it in close proximity, you are MUCH more likely to indulge significantly in that thing.  This is something I have always known to be true so my mind then made the leap to the same excuse it always has; There is nothing wrong with moderation, if I get these and only have 1 or 2 that will be a huge success.

The part about this being a success is true.  However this excuse is a lie I have been telling myself for years, especially with another one of my problem foods, cereal.  Every time I see cereal I want it, after all, who doesn’t love cereal?  Every time, I tell myself it will be different and every time it never is.  Best case scenario I make it through a day of normal consumption before finishing the entire box off the next evening after grabbing a handful for a “snack.”

So, knowing this about myself, despite my body’s aching desire, I moved away to find my real purchase and walked out without any food in hand.  I am very proud of this, but to be honest these couple of days without binging and purging feel like forever.  As much as I hate the way I feel when I do it, part of me wants to “reward” my good behavior with more bulimia.

I am continuing to prevail though.  Like today’s image says – I wan’t to give up, but I won’t.  After all, it’s not the easy stuff that is worth fighting for.

I can do this.

Don’t Be Afraid to Fail

It’s day two and I have found myself reflecting on the millions of times I have tried to end this madness – telling myself that I am in control and that I can end things once and for all.  A few days of feeling good felt like a huge success in the past but it also felt like forever.  Inevitably a week, tops, would go by and I would fall back into the same abyss.  I hope this time is different but it’s not enough to hope, I know I need to change my perspective.

Before, it was always all or nothing.  Either I failed or I succeeded – there was no in between.  As I begin this journey though,  I hope to become more tolerant and accepting of these grey areas.

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Today, for example, has not been perfect – but it has not been bad either.  In the past, “not perfect” was enough to push me over the edge and send me right back into oblivion.  Today I stopped myself though.  I started listening to podcasts for the first time and I have found those help greatly.  They distract me, motivate me, keep me mentally engaged.  This evening I did mindlessly shovel microwaved popcorn down while playing on my phone, but I also took time to go outside, take a walk, and talk with someone I love.

My inspirational image for today is my personal reminder that sometimes it’s OK to fail.  It is unrealistic of me to think that from today forward everything will be golden and this ED will cease to plague me.  Deep in my heart I know this is going to be an uphill battle but I WILL try, and for now that is all I can do.

This is something I hope to be able to accept one day – that trying is all I can do and that has to be good enough. My hope though is that through these ups and downs, I will never stop trying.  I believe that if I can accomplish this, I can accomplish all the other things I dream of, things this ED has thwarted me from working towards.  Many of my dreams have become dry and shriveled from bulimia, but I have started the rehydration process.  Today was a droplet – but every waterfall starts with a drop.

As cringeworthy and uncomfortable as complimenting myself is, I realize it is a good and healthy thing to do.  I can’t remember the last time I thought something really positive about myself without letting doubt seep in, or summoning another trait that counterbalanced that positivity.  Today though, I will celebrate me.  I am working towards something that is truly and deeply good for not only me but for those around me and whom I love.

I can do this.

It’s Never Too Late

Welcome to my blog.   It is here that I hope to find the strength, courage, motivation, and drive to overcome my greatest demon.

See, I suffer with an eating disorder known as bulimia.  Bulimia manifests itself in many ways and forms, but for me it has morphed into a weekly cycle of eating foods I perceive as “bad” or “too much” food, then going to the store to buy more “bad” foods, before heading home to shovel said food down as quickly and thoughtlessly as possible, then ultimately attempting to throw that food up again or flush it out with laxatives… or both in many cases.

It feels gross, it IS gross, and it’s the last thing I thought I would ever be dealing with.  Ask me four years ago and I would have told you there was no way I could EVER develop an eating disorder of any sort.  I loved food too much, baking was my lifeblood, I was decently content with my body, and the idea of starving myself or throwing up was simply revolting.  I was well educated on Photoshop and the media, a self-proclaimed feminist, and a huge advocate for not comparing yourself to the images in advertisements and magazines.

So what happened?  To this day I’m not entirely sure.  I don’t know when, or where, or how I ultimately lost control – all I know is that I did. These days food has become an enemy that controls my mind and seeps in to all that I do.  Despite knowing better I tear apart my body, compare myself to others, and lament every little flaw I find. Much of my money, time, and energy is taken up by this monster which has prevented me from following my dreams and pursuing my goals to the best of my abilities.

So now I have decided to fight back.  I have tried journaling about this time and time again but I am never able to keep it up for more than a week.  For whatever reason, knowing that this will be posted publicly fills me with a greater sense of accountability a journal lacks. It also fills me with dread knowing that anyone can judge me for my thoughts and struggles, but this is not a call for help or attention.  No, this is what I truly believe will help me through the roller coaster of highs and lows I know await me on the horizon.

Moving forward I will post thoughts, inspirations, articles, motivators, successes, failures, and everything in between on this page.  Take it as you will, I hope this will one day serve me as an archived montage of how I was able to defeat my worst demon, and reclaim my health and fitness.