Your loss

Three weeks ago, I woke up and went downstairs. I peeked out the window to see if my mom was waiting outside in the driveway. Not yet. She was picking me up for an early doctors appointment. Soon enough I heard her pull up and I grabbed my purse and went out the door. We went to my appointment and the doctor told me she was proud of the progress I was making. I then went to an appointment with my dietitian, and she told me I was doing well also. I felt good, and I was happy that others were feeling good about things with me.

My mom dropped me off at home after the appointments and breakfast at her house. I chatted with her about work for a few minutes, and she told me to have a great day. I went inside and prepared my lunch for later that day and made sure I had all of my food gathered up to take to work with me. Then I relaxed for a while and read, finishing up a book I had started over the weekend.

12:30 rolled around and I started to get ready for work. I hauled my bags of food and books and magazines to give away to my car and drove the few blocks to the library. I killed some time checking email before work, and messaged my husband, saying I hoped he had a good day. The clock read 12:55. I got out of my car, and lugged my bags up the stairs to the back entry that only staff uses, but sometimes certain librarians let their family members use, even though I was told we weren’t supposed to. I stuck my key in the lock and twisted, making sure to get my key out of the door and not leave it there like I accidentally did last week. I felt a little nervous, but I didn’t know why. Let me tell you this…our bodies and minds are amazing things. Somehow, I think I knew today wouldn’t be typical…I just didn’t know why or in what way it would be different.

I walked into the work room and though my co-workers were around, they didn’t greet me. I stuck my food in the fridge and took off my coat, and then started in on the interlibrary loan books I needed to mail out. The library director walked into the back room and asked me if she knew the instagram password and username. I told her I didn’t know, but that I’d tell her, which I proceeded to do. She walked out. Then she came back into the work room and asked me to follow her to her office.

Less than ten minutes later, I had packed up all of my stuff and carried it back outside to my car. I was shaking and my mind was whirling. I felt like I should cry, but I was too shocked. I had just been terminated from my job as a librarian.

I immediately drove to my house. I felt like I was in a nightmare, like the trees surrounding the streets were closing in above me. I knocked on the front door and my husband answered the door. He didn’t believe me. I talked with him for a while and promised to drive safely to my parents house, a few blocks over. I still felt like I was living in a surreal reality. My mom asked me what was wrong, and I told the story over again. “Why?!” My mom asked. And I answered as best I could. But I honestly didn’t know the answer. All of the allegations were petty and had no substance. In fact, some of them were based on assumptions that given further looking into, having the opportunity to explain, could have been cleared up.

Several weeks ago I had heard a potential employee talking to a man in a suspicious way, saying “get the good stuff this time” and shaking hands. I had voiced my slight concern with a co-worker and she, in turn, had told the director. The director had approached me about the whole thing, wondering why I hadn’t told her about the conversation I had overheard, if I really thought something illegal had been going on. We talked for a while, and at the end she told me not to be upset, that she would talk to me if she ever had something she was concerned about. I trusted that she was speaking the truth. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I can’t help but wonder if this instance had something to do with my termination. How long was this being planned? Did she know weeks, months ago that I was not going to be around much longer?

Yes, I lost my job. A good job. But I am so much happier now. I have more time to focus on my recovery. I have more time with my family. I have a new job that I love, even though it doesn’t involve books. I work with wonderful people, one of them being my sister. I have an amazing boss who isn’t afraid to reprimand me when I am doing something the wrong way, but who I know will give me the chance to grow and learn and relearn. I am at a place in my life right now where I am much more stable. If this would have happened a year ago, I probably would have been devastated. Now I can’t help but wonder if it was a blessing in disguise. Their loss is someone else’s gain. I feel so free and happy now. Life is good. Sometimes we don’t expect what life throws at us. Sometimes when a door closes, a window opens. Through all of this; losing my job, making positive choices for my health…I am learning who really cares about me. Who and what is really important. The people I have in my life are so good. How did I get so lucky?
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Things. Lots of things.

I would like to report that Thanksgiving didn’t have any huge impact on me. Well, except for the DELICIOUS apple pie my sister in laws made. I seriously wanted to eat the whole thing. My mom also made some wheat rolls that practically melted in my mouth. I had mozzarella sticks with marinara sauce last night, so I am slowly chipping away at the list of food I want to try. I am making a new list though, which includes, but is not limited to:

Toaster strudels
Apple crisp
A brownie with caramel on top

Obviously, I have a sweet tooth. Anyone who wants to join me in eating, let me know…I seriously need the support. I have found that it’s so much easier to follow through eating new foods if someone is there to cheer me on. I’m just so excited that I survived my first real holiday in recovery without a breakdown. It makes me feel like I can face anything. And something else that makes me feel invincible is my family telling me I look well. My sister’s boyfriend was in town and told me over the phone after her left that he didn’t want to sound weird, but that I looked so much better. Tears welled up in my eyes, because I was reminded of how much people care and especially how concerned they can be. For me. Even in my darkest times, someone out there loved me. Even when I hated everything about myself, the very cells that made me up, and the marrow in my bones, someone out there was hurting for me too.

I hate how painful I have made my life, not only for me, but for loved ones. Especially for my grandma, who is now passed. I wish I could have found the strength to get better when she was still alive to be there and see me rise above this. I know she was so worried for me, as were many people. I know she prayed, but I also know she worried. I hate to think how many nights she worried over me and pleaded with God for help. I am happy to say it wasn’t in vain though. Here I am, and I am not going to give up easily this time. If ever I am at a loss for reasons to continue in recovery, I’ll remind myself to “do it for grandma”.

I’m not really sure where this is going…so I will continue with this addition for those of you following and wondering what my next steps into recovery were. After my initial meeting with my dietitian, I found a doctor and made an appointment. When the day of the appointment came, I was super nervous. My mom accompanied me to the appointment, and talked with me while waiting for the doctor to arrive. My doctor is super sweet and compassionate. She has scheduled appointments on days that she is supposed to have off, how dedicated is that? At first I freaked out a little on the inside, when she started telling me if I gave up this time I would die. That this was my last chance. That I shouldn’t be there, that I should be somewhere safe, with 24/7 care. I nodded and responded that I knew, oh how I knew. I knew then and I know now that I have had so many second chances. I am a cat of a person, with nine lives. She must have thought I seemed dedicated to recovery, because she moved forth with some plans and ideas, and telling me she needed bloodwork done. I left the appointment feeling very good, and like I had found the right people.

One thing that I would like to point out that has been so helpful in my recovery is antidepressants. I have been on several over the years, and every time I cease taking them I think I’ll be OK on my own…and then things get a little icky. For the past year I have been on Citalopram. Just a low dose, but it has been amazing for me. It helps tone down the anxiety I feel around food. It lifts my mood a little to keep me from sinking into depression. I think it helped me to be ready to recover. Every time I tried before, I was so depressed I wasn’t thinking straight. I would cry at the drop of a pin. I was resistant, underweight, and sad. So sad. Hopeless, really. I was always put on an antidepressant when I went to see a doctor, but it wasn’t enough. I didn’t want to be there in the first place, I didn’t see an end to the starvation, I didn’t feel hope. Being on the Citalopram has opened my mind, I think. I know not everyone has the option of doing things the way I am, but I think that this is the best scenario for me right now. And I honestly feel that if I get to a place where I just can’t do this anymore, I will be able to voice that and ask for more help, like…residential help. Medicine, asking for help, accepting that help, helping myself…it was so hard, but exactly what I needed. When I was first on an antidepressant, I felt like I had a secret. I would see advertisements for Zoloft, and think, “hey, that’s me!” but I never told anyone that I was getting help to be happy. I felt fake. I felt ashamed. Nobody else in my family needed help feeling happy, I must be broken. Well, I was and am broken, but antidepressants have helped glue some of my broken pieces back together. Goodbye crappy life in shambles with eating disorder. Hello good life trying to push Ed out and live successfully without him as a crutch.
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Holidays with Ed

For many years, there has been an uninvited guest at the holiday table. He is rude, selfish, awkward and annoying. No one knows how to approach him about leaving though. They feel that if they are too obvious or pushy, he will be offended, or maybe cause a scene. This guest is named Ed. He usually dresses the part of a polite guest, and for the first while when he walks through the door, he is on his best behavior. Once he sits down at the dinner table though, he is a force to be reckoned with. He pokes at his food, barely takes a bite. He keeps pushing and shoving and knocks over glasses while he reaches for the bottle of soda. He “kindly” refuses any butter on his roll, and eats loads of raw carrots, chomping loudly over and over. Guess who isn’t being invited to Thanksgiving dinner this year?

I have feared and dreaded holiday meals for years. All of that “forbidden” food. I knew I would never let myself eat enough to feel full, so I freaked out on the inside whenever I knew a big traditional meal was coming up. I would scheme and devise plans weeks ahead of time, how to navigate around family and food, and somehow keep myself from fainting of hunger, but also not make too big of a scene. I usually ended up eating something “safe”, like carrot sticks, and pretending to eat the rest of my meal, then later I would fill up on a sandwich with “my” food on. Ed always told me I don’t really like ham or Turkey anyway. And why eat a roll when you could have a piece of plain bread? What’s the point of eating mashed potatoes with all of those extras when you could have a plain baked potato? This year, I am determined to enjoy myself, and savor my food. And also, to relish this time with my family, instead of focusing solely on the food I am eating (or not eating). Maybe I’ll even find it in me to eat a slice of (gasp!) pie.

How do I plan to do this? If you know me well, you know I plan most things in advance, especially when it comes to food. Honestly? I have been putting off thinking about Thanksgiving, because I have other things to worry about…but it’s staring me in the face now, so here is my plan. The Herrin Food Plan. If you can’t open that link, let me break this down for you. Basically, the plan is to eat all food groups in moderation. Calcium, carbs, fruits or vegetables, protein, fat, and a “fun food”. My dietitian introduced this idea to me in the very beginning of my treatment, but we didn’t implement it until recently. I haven’t really been great at using it as a solid guide yet, so I’m a little anxious to begin. But what better time than now? Usually I have the same thing for lunch every day. A protein on a slice of bread, a serving of veggies, and some chips. An example meal for tomorrow (Thanksgiving) looks like this:

Wheat roll (complex carbohydrate)
Potatoes or raw vegetables or cooked corn (vegetable)
Ham (protein)
Butter on roll, in potatoes (fat)
Pie(?!) (fun food)

The only thing missing here is calcium, which might end up being a “combo food” but I will be sure to get it in somewhere, since osteoporosis is most likely prevalent in my bones. I’m quite nervous about tomorrow, but I think this is a good time for me to step outside of what I am comfortable with and test the waters a little. I just really hope Ed doesn’t decide to make an unannounced appearance.
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Winning: taking the first steps

I wore a pair of jeans today. A pair of jeans that I used to wear a lot, three months ago. I haven’t really worn them since I started eating better. It might sound dumb, but I’ve been scared. I put them on today, and I didn’t freak out. In fact, wearing them felt pretty normal. I know I’m healthier now, in more ways than one. I know that’s a positive thing. On my journey to recovery, I’ve been sharing a lot. But some of the smallest details are really important, and I’m not sure how in depth I have gone. In this post, and more posts to come, I am hoping to give some advice as to what helped me heal, and maybe some day, somewhere, another person going through something similar can relate and find a light at the end of the tunnel.

Almost three months ago, I reached out and asked for help. I was scared. I was tired. And I was ready. For years, my mom had encouraged and stood by me. Watching my highs and lows, offering a helping hand, and being turned down and refused time after time. Appointments would be made, efforts too…but no matter how hard my family tried, no matter how much they wanted recovery for me, I just couldn’t do it. I would go to a few initial doctors appointments, eat extra bubbles of food…but I never stayed on the right track for more than a few months at a time. When I did make progress, I made sure it didn’t stick. I was an expert at losing. Losing friends, losing weight, losing confidence.

The first person I contacted was a registered dietitian who had worked with me a little bit in the past. I really felt like she was knowledgeable about my situation, and that she understood exactly where I stood, and would respect that. My gut told me she could be trusted. I think my gut was right…No, I know my gut was right. This woman is dedicated. Not only to me, but to learning more about the disease I have. When I am least expecting it, she will message me and ask me how I am doing. When I get anxious about my food plan, or have questions, she answers, even when I am sure she is off the clock. She doesn’t let Ed win. She is on my side. I went to her, knowing I wanted to get well. I went to her knowing it was my choice this time. We talked a lot about recovery, and the intensive work it would take. We talked about how inpatient treatment was probably a very likely option, especially if I didn’t make fast progress. I left my first appointment with her feeling motivated and confident. She told me to find a doctor at our hospital to help me and be on the “team”, and so I did just that. This first task was really difficult, because I had had a problem with a doctor in the past, where she tried to force me into inpatient treatment, threatening to have the sheriff escort me to Iowa City if I didn’t go willingly. Needless to say, I had trust issues big time from that. I am so fortunate to have been given options. I found a female doctor and made an appointment.

The first few steps were careful and tentative. I was at a critically low weight. Technically, I should have probably been put on bed rest, so as to keep me from expending any extra calories. My dietitian is very smart and thoughtful. She has done her research, and told me what I would need to do in order for her to be able to work with me. This time, instead of balking at orders, I nodded my head and complied. This time I would put the time in. This time I would follow through. This time I will triumph.

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It’s worth it

I got to my parent’s yesterday and started to eat lunch. I saw a few papers on the table, but didn’t really think anything of it. Then a few minutes into my lunch, my eye caught the insurance company logo on the pages. I asked my dad if they were bills for me. He replied yes, and picked them up, looking at them, and then began to speak. He told me the one paper was a bill, the other was just a statement, telling me how much I would owe eventually. The bill was sixteen bucks. No problem. The statement said I owed around $100. Ok, that was kind of a lot, but I knew going into this that some of this stuff wouldn’t be cheap. Then my dad said he had another statement downstairs that had come in the mail, that was a little steep. “Like how much?” I asked. “Close to $800” he said hesitantly. My breath caught. My heart sped up. “Wow”, I said, stunned. And then…I looked closer at the statement I had in my hand. There were two different totals there. I crunched some numbers mentally. The total so far for all of my visits to the doctor, and the extensive blood work was nearing $1500. Crazy, but let’s put this into perspective…

~ Inpatient care at a residential treatment center can run upwards of $30,000 per month

~ The residential facilities are all out of state. This would mean leaving behind family, friends, jobs, my home

~ The stats for recovery without relapse after being treated in a facility are kind of scary . It’s hard to find stats that are accurate, but there is a lot of information on it out there

~ In the past several years, Family Based Treatment (FBT), and the Maudsley approach are getting more and more publicity and supporters

Anorexia is the deadliest mental illness out there. When I was in the throes of Ed and his controlling grip, I will admit that this fact had little to no sway with me. I was actually kind of proud. “See!” I thought. “I have this figured out.” Even though I didn’t choose anorexia, it chose me. Somehow I felt like I had done something right. Guess what? There is absolutely nothing “right” with anorexia, or any eating disorder. It’s a complicated game that you can never win. So, instead of winning you have to just quit and start playing a new version of the game. With rules Ed doesn’t know about and that he can’t manipulate. This involves telling Ed you are worth recovery. Telling Ed you need food, even if he doesn’t. Telling him calories are fuel, not numbers to avoid. You are worth more than money, just like anyone else. If you knew someone was having treatments for any other disease, and they had medical bills, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary. Heck, a couple thousand dollars is just a drop in the bucket to some people. Plus, it gives a person some incentive to not relapse, not that Ed cares…but there have to be incentives and ways to stay positive and strong. This is one of them…and a healthy body that can do what you ask of it, a healthy mind that is always ready to do the jobs set forth, a brain that can control mist everything in your whole system, relationships that are steady and true, a healthy relationship with food that allows you to eat well with yourself and others…the list goes on and on. Anorexia isn’t living. It’s death.
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How to love

I feel broken most days. I feel this pull inside me…like I want to want to love, but I don’t know how. Am I afraid? Do I think that if I love something, I will lose it? Or that I will ruin it? I already ruin things, so what would the difference be in this case? A while ago I was reading about “love languages”. Apparently everyone has one. When I picked up the book, I felt doubt swirling inside me. I could hear Ed taunting me, saying “sure, that’s a nice idea, but come on you can’t believe that you have a love language.” I admit, I believed him at the time. But I still looked into the idea a little further.

Here is a list of the five love languages:

  • Gifts
  • Quality Time
  • Words of Affirmation
  • Acts of Service
  • Physical Touch

If I did have a “love language”, it would probably be “acts of service”. In the past, I had come to the conclusion that I was not capable of having a real language of love. I don’t know how to accept love, or give love. When someone does something nice for me, I am thankful, but I always feel this cloak of guilt around me afterward. I feel bad that they have sacrificed something for me, whether it be time, money, thoughts…I will accept prayers though. I’ll always accept prayers. I suppose I accept gifts under the right circumstances, but often, I find myself thinking that the person shouldn’t have done whatever it was they did for me. I feel like I owe them, or like I don’t deserve their kindness. Why can’t I just accept things and let them be? If a person wants to do something for me, it’s not always because they pity me, I know that. After all, when I do something for someone, that is rarely, if ever the motive behind my actions.

It’s hard to explain how I digest love. How I react and don’t react. I hate it. I wish I could just be and let be. But something in me is always pushing back, always feeling smothered. When I was reading a non-fiction book about body image not long ago, the author mentioned that she, like many other eating disordered patients, had a tough time accepting love. She also had a tough time with trust, and touch. I will be the first to admit I flinch if someone reaches towards me. It’s quite visible. I don’t trust easily, I would just as soon do something for myself, rather than entrust someone else with a task. I am quite content sitting alone for hours. I have actually cried in frustration when someone I love did something nice for me, simply because I was mad they had thought of me. Who am I to say someone can’t do a kind act? Who am I to think that I am better off doing things my way, in an attempt to keep everything from falling apart? I know part of it is OCD. Part of it is anxiety. Part of it is definitely Ed. He is a jealous suitor, one who is not eager to let others step in and show they care. But I can’t help but think that I should stop myself from having these feelings. If I weren’t so selfish, I could. My anti-depressant that I am on has helped a lot, I must admit. Is it evening out my emotions? Feeling my feelings for me? Am I even real? Most days I feel real, but there are always going to be days that I struggle more than others.

I think in the end, I will owe an apology to everyone who has ever known me. If it isn’t because I haven’t loved enough, it is because I have not loved well. I have not trusted others. I have cringed when someone leans in for a hug. There is no way for those around me to not take this personally. And for these things, I am ashamed to admit, I am at fault completely. Please don’t tale these reactions personally. I am trying to fight back. Trying to show Ed that he is so wrong. This is just one more thing I must learn. How to love.91f69eb6e88e954e7c8727b38a493caf

I just want to feel OK today

You used to not eat because there were just too many options and too many calories. You could never make up your mind, so you always chose what was “safe” and “good”. Even now, it’s easier for you to pick the “healthier” option rather than what might actually taste best.

When it comes to making decisions, you often deflect the question of “what do you want?” You tell them you don’t care, whatever is fine. And most of the time it is true, isn’t it? Any food is going to taste pretty good, and you know you have to eat anyway, so you might as well keep it open and simple, let them make what they want.

Except when you’re at the coffee shop, and you used to work at a coffee shop, this coffee shop in fact…but you can’t make up your mind on what drink to try because you’ve only ever had brewed coffee or iced coffee. So your sister chooses for you, and she must have the same taste buds as you because the caramel macchiato is delicious and so creamy and good.

Except when your husband asks you what sounds good for dinner and you have no idea what really sounds good and he throws out options and you think your mind is made up but then you remember you had a big breakfast (like you always do) and you don’t know if you can handle having a sandwich with meat and mayonnaise and you tell him that wait, actually you might not know what you want and might not be able to handle that and maybe you should just stay home and not eat. And then he reassures you that he’ll take care of it, and not to worry, and surprisingly, you feel calmed and just fine, even though you know dinner is now out of your hands, out of your control.

You see a woman eating a cupcake and she leaves some behind on the plate, which you can’t even comprehend. It’s a cupcake. One does not simply leave half a cupcake on a plate to be tossed out. And yet obviously, this woman does. Lots of people do. Because they have had enough, because they are full, because the food is rich and filling. This is when you start to think…How hard it is to know when to start, and how hard it is to know when to stop. You worry you might become bulimic, because the food is so good, and you’re supposed to eat now, and there are no limits except for the ones Ed has put up and what if he changes the rules?

You are getting better. I can see it, in everything. In how you talk, how you eat, how you interact. You still have a long way to go, but you have come so far. You have never eaten this much. You have never weighed this much. But it’s OK, you’ll be OK. Because you have to do this for yourself, to live. And you don’t want to live in hell and despair anymore. No one should have to live like you were, and yet they do. Even if they don’t realize it. They say they’re doing it to be healthy, they say they just want to lose a few pounds. And yes, for some people, this is necessary, possibly a good thing. But you know that it is often so much more than that. But that you can fight it for yourself, and maybe of you can do that, others will see how sad their diets and restrictive eating patterns are. Or maybe they won’t. But at least you will have made the right choices you need to make for you. And everything is going to be OK.

These days, they look brighter

A week ago–

I woke up counting calories last night. This has happened to me before, and it is usually a prelude to dreams (nightmares) about eating things I don’t want to, or being forced to eat. A few days ago I had a really “bad” body day. I ate breakfast fine, even had some coffee. But then in the afternoon I just felt uncomfortable in my body. I felt irritable and scratchy. Like I wanted to rip my skin off. I think I may have felt this way because on Friday night I put on some jeans and they fit weird. All of a sudden I was much too aware of my body and being larger in places than I had been before. My thighs. My waist. They are growing. I have taken to wearing leggings or yoga pants when I can, because I feel better when I wear them. I know some day I will have to face my jeans, this week probably. When I put on clothes and they fit me “right”, I usually respond in one of two ways. One, I am excited I can wear something I haven’t in ages. Or two, I am overtaken by Ed and he pinches the fat around my middle and circles his hands around my legs, showing me how they aren’t small enough for his long fingers and broad palms to span them anymore.

He reminds me that this might be forever. My body will never be as small as it is today again. That’s a hard truth to face. It’s not like I enjoy being the smallest adult in the room, but it has been me for so long. I need to find a new identity, and right now I’m not sure what that will look like. Will I be the funny one? The weird one? The strong one? I try to remind myself I don’t have to BE anything. I can just be me, whatever that turns out to be. All of my work seems temporary. Ed whispers that this doesn’t have to be forever, I am an expert at losing weight. I can do it again. I have to shut those whispers out though, because the truth is; I can’t go back. These changes I make? All or nothing. Steps backward are ok if I take two steps forward. Otherwise I will just keep going back and back and back.

Today–

I had my first ever caramel macchiato. Last night I had a doughnut for the first time in forever. This past week has been super stressful, and I feel like demons are on the prowl. But with support from my family and friends, I am hanging in there. I feel good physically, and much more stable mentally. I am now able to bounce back from tough situations without taking much, if any damage. I am loving how mild our fall here has been. It’s been so beautiful and I have been able to enjoy the sun, sitting outside and reading. I’m also really excited to be starting a new job next week. Hopefully I’ll have some extra free time and be able to participate in more family events and hang out with friends more. I’m trying to focus on the things that matter in life. So many years, I spent my days hating myself and my life. Now each day seems brighter, and I am confident that whatever comes my way, I have the tools and resources to live through it and thrive.

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Started from the bottom now I’m here

I knew for more than a month that I was going to meet with a counselor at the hospital. Several times Ed told me I could call and ask if I could reschedule my appointment with her, simply because I didn’t want to go to a counselor again (I’ve had a few rocky sessions with past counselors). Ed also told me that these sessions are going to cost money, and if I had never developed an eating disorder, I wouldn’t have to pay for such things. Normal people don’t have to go see counselors (actually, they often do), normal people don’t have to have someone tell them what to eat, why can’t I just be normal? Thanks, Ed. I realized I’m not normal years ago, when you so lovingly stepped into my life and made it hell, so you can just shut up now. I’m worth the money to get me better. I’m worth all the time I’m putting in, and everyone else is putting in. I am going to finally show you who’s boss, because I hate you, and want you gone. I fear I may never fully get rid of you, but I’m gonna try my hardest to shut you out.

I knew going into this that it would be time intensive, exhausting, frustrating at times, easy at others. I knew it would cost money, and that I had the time and money to get me better. After all, if I don’t recover, I probably won’t have a life, so I might as well try. Slowly I am learning to be OK with things that were never all right in the past. I can have my evening snack before I wash my face. I don’t have to read the newspaper over lunch. If I don’t get to read a magazine while I eat dinner, I can actually talk to my companions. I can sit down and relax when I get home from work before putting my house and things in order. I can buy food for myself, or pay for a doctor’s appointment, because I need to show myself I am worth it, and no one else is going to do it for me. I am an adult, even if I may not always feel like it. Ed likes to think he has control over all aspects of my life. Lately though, I have felt his grip releasing and me getting stronger. I really feel like right now, Ed is only controlling some of my decisions around food. And even in that realm, he doesn’t have as much say. I had a milkshake, and then for dinner I had pasta drizzled with olive oil (extremely scary, he didn’t tell me but when I asked if he had put some on, he bashfully answered yes. Way to be bold and fight, Ed!) and sauce and some garlic bread. Then I had peanut butter and crackers and all of the other food I am supposed to have in a day, and Ed was quiet throughout most of the day. Here and there he spewed a few expletives at me, but right now I envision him in a holding cell, with shackles on. The only power he has is to stay in one part of the cell (my brain) and yell crap. He’s waiting to be found guilty, just so you know. I’m pretty sure he’s going to get the death sentence. Maybe he’ll hang himself first. Sometimes he gets really loud and riled up and it’s hard to ignore him. Other times I can hear him, but I laugh at what he is saying. He’s so pathetic. I like those days best, the days I laugh in pity at how lame he is. How he thinks he’s so special, and worth listening to. It’s like I have a running commentary going on not head. “You shouldn’t have had that”, “that’s too much”, “you’re going to get fat now”. That’s all Ed, yelling at me from the corner of his damp, smelly prison cell. Enough already.

Every time I shut Ed out, drown him out, is a tiny victory. I may be the only one feeling victorious, but that is enough, because I am enough. Finally, I am enough. Some people seem to be born feeling entitled, but I never could find that within me. Heck, I could hardly find the self-esteem to brush my hair in the morning. Now when I do these things that everyone else finds normal, I rejoice in the every day ease of living. I find myself reveling in being able to nap without feeling guilty (ok, not too guilty), and eating and feeling mostly OK about it. It’s so nice to be able  to dress up and not feel shameful of my body (until a woman shopping at a thrift store bends her head and whispers to her friend and I can see their darting glances, hear their slight intake of breath). That stopped me in my tracks for a while. But then I realized- so what? They don’t know me. I can’t let petty things stop me. They may slow me down…but they won’t make fail.

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Milestones

It has been years since I walked into a restaurant and ordered ice cream of any sort. For so long,  if anyone had invited me along on an ice cream run, I either turned them down, or went along but didn’t get ice cream. Usually this would happen in the summer, sometimes it was when my aunt and  uncle were in town. They always liked to visit the local Dairy Queen and get Blizzards. One time I went along and got a diet soda instead of ice cream. I know my aunt was worried about me, and she made the comment that she said she’d buy us ice cream, making it obvious she didn’t approve of my antics. I felt so sad that I couldn’t do that for her, or for myself. I just couldn’t.

This past week, I reached my own little milestones. I ate a grilled cheese sandwich (I’m twenty two, I can have a grilled cheese sandwich! <—–if you get this reference, I love you) that my husband made for me. It was delicious, and I think I spent less than a millisecond thinking about the butter used to make it. I went out for milkshakes with my sister in law and got a salted caramel milkshake…it was delicious and I don't regret one sip. Honestly? I wish there would have been more! I found myself not thinking that I'll have to restrict later, but instead wondering how the rest of my days eating will go. I know that all kinds of people eat ice cream and drink shakes…but the fact that my beautiful sister in law sat across from me and said "these are pretty big, you don't have to eat the whole thing" and then joined me in slurping down every last drip of our shakes, makes me feel so good. Eating is normal. All kinds of foods are normal. I can try to be normal. The people that are eating with me, are showing me that food is OK, I am OK, and things are going to turn out to be fine. Because this time, there's no going back.

I have been so fortunate to have had very few side affects so far, in regards to upping my food intake and how my body is reacting. No swelling or vomiting. So dizziness or blurry vision. A few days ago my legs began to feel really odd. Like my veins or muscles were about to pop. It was kind of painful to walk and stand, but if I sat I would be ok. No one said anything about this issue…but apparently when you have been starving yourself, your muscles decide to break down. And now that I am getting sufficient nutrients, my body is beginning to heal. Which is a very good thing. I have never gotten to this point in recovery before, so I feel like everything is going to be unknown territory from here on out.

Another milestone I am oddly excited about is that…my dress pants fit! I have two pairs of pants that I have been holding onto for quite some time. Years ago I was able to wear one of the pairs, no problem. The other pair I got more recently and have never been able to wear, my waist was simply too tiny. Now, I don't necessarily feel like I have gained much weight, but I guess I have gained enough to be able to wear both pairs of pants. I feel kind of like I want to tell everyone. But most people probably wouldn't care, so…but anyway, I'm excited.

I'm excited, I feel good, I get this yummy hunger in the morning in anticipation of breakfast. I have not chewed sugar free gum for weeks and I hardly miss it (I used to chew it all the time, I needed the illusion that I was giving my stomach something to digest.). I just feel so good. It's been too long since I've been able to honestly say that.

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