child of God, wife, mother, recovering anorexic who longs to see the beauty in herself that she sees in the world around her

Thursday, May 31, 2012

breaking the silence part 1

It has been a while.  I have struggled and grown, fought and been stretched.  I didn't intend to do any of those things, nor did I intend to do them alone.  The budget was tight this month and the tv/internet was the least important of the bills and therefore, I had no internet and ended up growing and stretching without you, my dear friends and sounding board.

I have to say this month has been one of the hardest and one of the most rewarding.  I had to come to terms with the diet talk at work.  Someone mentioned the person who had taught the class about "the diet" and I know her.  And the "diet" isn't a diet at all, it is a healthy living lifestyle class not a "I'm fat and need to lose 20 pounds" fad diet.  Here's where I had to realize my own insanity.  This class is a really helpful and informative class.  Much of what it entails I had already been doing in my own efforts to live healthy (before relapse) before I even took the class. The problem with it was in my own brain.  I took those healthy living steps in that class and made them into hard. fast. rules.  So though I was already mostly living them, suddenly they were RULES and I would rather not eat than break them.  I am the one who went too far, not the program.  It was my brain not the class that distorted it into what it became for me.  For most people I would recommend it in a heartbeat, just not for me or anyone else prone to eating disorder struggles.

My first three weeks at work were filled with tears.  I loved what I was doing, I loved the people when I saw them in their cubicles or in the hall or mail room just not when they were all gathered together.  I cried more in front of people in those three weeks than I think I have in years.  I just couldn't stop the tears from coming no matter how hard I tried.  I was tired.  I was lonely.  I didn't know where I fit in this tight knit group of people who all already know each other and have a history together and know each others stories.  I tried so hard to make conversation.  I would add something to a conversation and get a polite head nod and then they were back in their own little lives and the conversation went on as though I had said nothing.  They weren't trying to exclude me but I felt extremely excluded.

And then there was food.  Ahhhh, my old bitter enemy.  Rephrase, food isn't the enemy, how I feel about it is, how I interact with it is, how I use it to avoid my feelings is the real enemy.  I wasn't eating breakfast and barely eating lunch.  All I could think about was how I was going to cope in this very lonely place that I now work in four days a week.  Restricting was just the easy go to.  It felt wonderfully terrible.  I cannot think of a time before that restricting made me feel so guilty while still delivering the physical euphoria that I longed for.  I knew I wasn't taking care of myself but for the life of me I couldn't remember why I needed to move forward.  All I could think about was that I don't think I was really that sick EVER.  It couldn't have really been that bad or I would remember why I couldn't go back to it, right?

I have one vivid memory that is the only thing I can see in my mind as proof to myself that it was worse than I ever thought it was.  When I was in the hospital a very overweight woman looked at me and said, "This is what self hatred looks like, eating a weeks worth of calories in a day."  I pulled up my shirt and said, "It also looks like this, eating a days worth of calories in a week."  Three people in the room gasped when I lifted my shirt and showed my ribs.  The face of one person in particular is etched in my mind with the reaction given at seeing my ribs.  It is the only thing I have to remind myself that though maybe I couldn't see how bad it had gotten, it really was that bad.

I tried to remember the feelings but I couldn't.  I couldn't remember what being sick felt like and it really did start to glorify in my mind again.  Since I couldn't remember the feelings, I forced myself to remember the facts.  I may not remember what it felt like to wince in pain when my kids hugged me, but I know that I did.  I may not remember how my body felt when it hurt to just lay down and sleep, but I know that it did.  I thought about my mom-in-law smacking me with a newspaper and telling me I'd lost too much weight.  I thought about the clumps of hair that were constantly falling out. I thought about the worried and sorrowful looks Hubby would give me when he thought I wasn't looking.  I thought about the look on that persons face while I was in the hospital.  I thought about the friend who stopped me one day to ask how she could help because she knew of my past struggle and could see the current struggle getting worse and worse.

I never did feel it, but I forced myself to remember it, even as just black and white facts.  I never did FEEL why going back to sick was bad.  I just had to trust that I knew it.  And that right there friends, was when I realized that I can do this recovery stuff.  I couldn't feel a single reason to pursue recovery or to at minimum to hold steady enough to not relapse and yet I knew those reasons.

The next post is the kindness that I needed in the moment I needed it, the panic attack at work in front of my entire team, the words of wisdom that bring me back to you only a little shaken but not completely shattered.  But for tonight, I'm tired.  It's good to be back.  I've missed you guys!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Post It note frenzy

Today I sat outside in the sun with my lunch and my thoughts.  The weather was beautiful and the fresh air was needed.  The problem was that  I didn't really want to eat my lunch.  I sat trying to remember why I needed to eat it.  I sent my friend a message telling her that I couldn't remember why I needed lunch.  She sent back the perfect words.  So perfect that I copied them to a Post It note and put it on my computer.

It has been really hard to remember lately why sick was bad.  I keep trying to remember the things I hated about being sick, but much like delivering a child, time has a whiskey effect and it doesn't seem as bad as I know it was.  Orange seems like a comforting friend holding her hand out to me and it hurts to turn my back and keep walking.  I know she can't really comfort me but she keeps promising that she can, that this time she has really changed, that she won't abuse her power anymore.

So tonight I made more sticky notes.  I made more notes of why I need to eat.  I have notes to put in or on that adorable new lunch bag I just got.  I have reasons that eating is important.

How about you?  Anything to add?  What reasons do you eat when you desperately want to avoid food?  Do you write them down?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

even though I walk through the valley

I'm up past bedtime but I can't seem to make myself go to bed.  That should be fun tomorrow for work.

I woke up with part of Psalm 23 going through my head.

even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, 
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Those words have brought me comfort all day.  I have been really depressed lately.  I want nothing more than to hide under a blanket, curled up in a ball, and never come out.  And it has been a bit scary, to be honest.  I have a new job that I enjoy but I don't want to go to.  I have things that have to be done and all I can think about is when I can be alone and have no responsibility. 

I guess I would say I've been walking through the valley of the shadow of depression.  But I was reminded that He is still with me, even in the valley.  Today was a difficult day.  Mother's Day usually is but today was weird on top of all of the emotions going on inside of me.  I didn't feel like going to church, it meant having to pretend to be social and ok.  I went anyway, my friend was coming to pick me and the kids up for church and I wanted to be there for her. 

At church I was holding her two year old son and was asked by an older lady if I was grandma.  Yes, I did say grandma.  Seriously?????? I do not look that old! This year for Mother's Day the pastor gave the opportunity for people to say a quick word regarding a mom in their lives (their own mom, a mom important to them, their wife, etc).  Person after person stood up and talked about the love and support that their moms gave them.  And finally I started to cry.  My mom has never been the one who I feel will support me no matter what.  She has never been the mom who I can call when I've had a bad day.  She wasn't even someone I could call earlier this year when I was so sick that I could barely move for two full weeks.  Sometimes a girl just needs a mom, but when I need a mom, it isn't MY mom that I need.

Though I love that I get the privilege of celebrating with my own sweet children, Mother's Day is still a difficult day.  It is a day of remembering the years of longing for a child and wondering if my arms would stay empty forever.  It is a day of remembering that I have never had and likely never will have that soft, warm, accepting relationship with my own mother that I have so longed for.  It is often a day of feeling inadequate. 

This afternoon at the grocery store, I ran into an old acquaintance.  I had worked with her husband many years ago and been "friends" with her by default through working with her husband and being friends with him.  She informed me that she was leaving him.  Then she told me that she hasn't told him yet and that he will take it hard.  I didn't want to hear any of it.  Sigh, happy mother's day to me.

I was constantly reminded today that even though I'm walking through a valley, He is with me and He brings me comfort.  Today was a day that I needed comfort.  It was no accident that it was Psalms that was echoing in my brain from the very moment I woke up.  I want nothing more than to isolate and never speak to anyone again.  I want to curl up in a ball and cry for hours on end.  And somehow, someway, God is going to carry me through.  Somehow, someway, He will bring me comfort in the midst of the valley.

***** there was an upside to my day, not to sound like it was a completely horrible, awful, terrible, no good, very bad day.  My oldest son made me a necklace out of beads.  He worked so hard on it and did a great job.  My middle wrote me a book in which he told me that he loves me more than turtles (which if you have ever met this kid you would know that to say he LOVES turtles is a huge understatement) and that he loves me more than McDonald's.  I'm pretty sure that a child cannot possibly love more than that!  And my baby made me a card and a bookmark. I did enjoy my time with my little family, even in the midst of depression.  I'm so blessed that out of all the women God could have given these sweet boys to, He chose me to be their mamma!*****

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


I only have a few minutes until I need to get ready for work and get my kids up for school.  Yesterday I had lunch in my cubicle but with a purpose.  I put up a few things to make it feel more Dawn-ish.  I turned my phone to do not disturb and hung butterflies and made magnet sayings. It isn't completely where I want it yet.  That will come with time.  But it is a safe place of beauty now and my work day went so much better because I felt so much more comfortable knowing that I have a sanctuary when I need it.

The magnets were makeshift.  I didn't realize until I came in that my filing cabinet drawers are plastic on the front.  So instead I put them on my lights and shelf.  The I believe in you beautiful girl one is right over my computer monitors.  It helps that so many others have said they believe in me but when it comes right down to it, if I don't believe in me will I actually do anything?  I haven't mastered that whole believing in myself message but I'm working on it. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012


It is good and healthy to have just veggies for lunch, until.........

you take pride in and find your identity in being referred to as "the good girl, with the veggies"

you are eating that out of fear of eating anything else

it is all that your brain will recognize as safe.

 In other news, Hubby bought our kids Sour Patch Kids Drinks, or in other words green sugar water, the other day.  I didn't realize until we were walking home that I dislike this drink option for more than the health of my kids.  I didn't want anyone to think I am a bad mom.  I didn't want anyone to think that three little boys walking down the sidewalk drinking kool aid was the norm for this family.  I was just as concerned about my own appearance as I was the health factor of the drinks.  I am that shallow.  Isn't it fun when you realize your motives are only half pure? My poor children.

Oh and one last thought, thanks to my friends doing the Hungry for Change challenge.  Your posts have been really encouraging.  I had good intentions of doing it as well and have just not had the mental energy.  But seriously, reading some of these things has helped me to remember my own reasons for holding on to my recovery with both hands.  I'm not even saying it has been easy, but you guys have made it easier.  It has helped me so much to remind myself what is on the other side of this battle.  THANK YOU! Love you guys!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

lunchroom chronicles

I'm trying so hard and I'm so tired.  Office lunch hour I must figure out how to do healthily.  After 2 days of being able to skip the whole horrible affair, today I tested the waters again.  At first it was manageable with the anxiety not being overwhelming.  I made sure to sit with the 2 ladies who were in the lunchroom.  After all, my job is with a Christian ministry and much of my job revolves around cultivating relationships.

Shortly before my lunch time ended, several other ladies came into the lunchroom.  Someone pointed out that everyone had a salad for lunch.  I had already finished, but boy was I glad that I had brought salad, wouldn't want anyone to think poorly of me based on my lunch choices.  And then it started, fat talk.  Diet talk.  I'm not good enough just the way I am talk.

"Are you doing THE diet again?"  "Yeah, but only for ten days."  "I need to do IT again."  "You shouldn't do it, you are supposed to be training and you need the extra protein and calories."  "I'm just going to do it for swimsuit season and then get back to training."  "Yeah, I'm doing it too, I need to lose about 10 more pounds."

The talk was swirling around in my brain and I just wanted to scream "STOP" and run from the room and hide.  I guess I had hoped that working in this office, though filled with women, would be different from other places.  I thought a place of ministry would be my refuge from the storm of orange inside of me.  I so wanted a shelter from the storm, a safe place, a place where orange would be easier to keep at bay.

I guess it turns out that women are women and we all battle this perfect body bullcrap, even in places that should be safe.  My anxiety skyrockets just thinking about lunch tomorrow.  Do I eat at my desk, like I did on Monday, just to avoid the triggering conversation?  Do I keep trying to make friends and build bridges and eat in that lunchroom? 

I've had a hard time wanting to eat anyway but I have been putting one foot in front of the other, making myself stay present and in the moment, and making the choice to eat anyway.  Everything in my head is screaming at me.  I want to say that the voices aren't bothering me, but I'd be lying.  The diet talk in the lunchroom has my head spinning.  I'm wondering what food games will be played here and wondering how I can minimize their damage to a firm and yet very shaky recovery place.