Taking Some Suggestions

Ryan and I used to joke when we would visit Penn State, that there was a uniform for all female students.

As we walked down College Ave. nearly every girl we passed wore black leggings, a North Face jacket and tall Ugg Boots.

Working in a school I also notice the similarity in style within the population and it makes me think of when I was that age, I also lived by the “code of cool.”  For my secondary education years that meant Abercrombie, Juicy Couture, boot-leg jeans, and whole slew of name brands that have still surprisingly maintained their popularity.

I also listened to rap music for a while, drank before I turned 21 (ha-I haven’t had an alcoholic beverage since then) and did some things that shall remain a secret, just to fit in with my peers.

I am not proud to admit this, and although rap music is ok, I can say now I participated in the cultural fads regardless of my personal taste.

The point is, I never wanted to be rejected by others.

I wouldn’t get too close to anyone, because the chance of getting hurt absolutely terrified me, but I did want to be liked and included by my fellow classmates.

I find myself doing similar things now, or just avoiding social situations, because I am still scared to be the odd-ball.

I felt most comfortable within the four walls of a hospital and even though I only knew some of the other patients for a month or so, most of the friends I made in those places, know ME, the real ME, better than anyone else in my life.

I have two problems right now.

…(ok I have a ton more but there are two I am specifically referring to here)

First, I am a great chameleon.  I can morph into whoever someone wants me to be, depending on the environment in which I am placed.  This means I essentially change who I am, what I like, etc. to be a part of the group.

And second, I only identify myself as an eating disordered person, or the person I become mentioned above.

Since I have been focused on getting well for the majority of my adult life after college, I never got to form a sense of self outside being a student, or a patient, which makes it very difficult to ever envision being recovered.

Essentially, these two things together are one in the same; I am pretty damn lost.

Like I said, in the years of adolescents, I did things because they were expected or asked, not because I wanted to.

I played a ton of sports I had absolutely no interest in.  I worked so hard in school and put so much pressure on myself just because I felt my family would be let down if I did not bring home the perfect grades.  And I wrapped myself up in extracurriculars, jobs, time-sucking good-girl things, because that is what I needed to do to be considered a “success.”

Well that did a lot of good, because even though I graduated college with a pretty stellar GPA, I also nearly killed myself because I felt so hopeless on my own; when someone wasn’t always dictating my every move and telling me who to be.

All these ideas came to my mind the other day when Gwyneth left a pretty profound comment on my post; I need to separate CJ from ED.

People have suggested this numerous times throughout my journey but I never really paid attention, because I just thought this is who I am.  I am in love with fitness, I NEED to eat “healthily” all the time, come into work early and leave late just so I don’t seem like a lazy employee.  I thrive on over-achievement and perfection.

But is that who I am?

Do I even enjoy the treadmill as much as I claim?

Do I ever want to have a hamburger on a bun rather than a veggie patty wrapped in some lettuce?

What does identifying myself as an eating disordered person take away from being CJ?

Well obviously it eliminates a great many things in my life; including going out with friends, participating in physical activity I once truly loved but was unstructured and recently deemed “not enough,” overall it reduces my ability to ENJOY anything.

The hard part is separating the two parts of me, because I am so familiar with the ED voice and all the rules “he” has made me live by.

Essentially, ED was my normal, my reality.

I literally have to sift through my thoughts and choices to determine one from the other and I often don’t even know where to begin.

I have been active in Gwyneth’s challenge of writing things down to help evaluate and decipher CJ and ED and she was spot on when she predicted the unhealthy column is really negative and mean, whereas CJ has some joy inside that hasn’t come out for a very long time.

I like singing to Justin Bieber in my car, super loud and totally off-key, but ED tells me to stop because heaven-forbid someone in the vehicle next to me would think I was weird.

CJ is really sick of plain oatmeal, and totally loved every single bite of her cranberry pomegranate bagel, but ED kept telling her how disgusting it was and how it should never be purchased again.

CJ was totally excited about a day out with her friend, and ED just kept repeating how she would be judged the entire day if she ate a sandwich when we went out for lunch, even though it tastes like heaven on two slices of breads.

Ed wants CJ to do more than 60 minutes on the treadmill, even though she was totally bored halfway through the routine.

There are a ton of examples I could list, and I am hoping the further I progress the more I can decipher one from the other, rather than continuing to mesh ME with the parasite that has latched on inside.

I am not ED, and I have some pretty cool interests.

  • I like being outside sometimes rather than alone in my walking-machine room at 4 in the morning.
  • I like watching trashy tv sitting-down rather than lifting weights or standing at my desk all the time.
  • I like the theater even though I am terrified of being sedentary for so long.
  • I crave compansionship even when my mind tells me I need to stay away from others.

And slowly I am learning that when I defy my old sick thinking of “normal” it does not turn out as badly as it may initially seem.

Breaking News: I did not gain 109345 pounds from the tuna-fish sandwich that CJ thought was really freakin’ delicious.

So I appreciate all your comments the other day, encouraging me to challenge myself at an extreme level rather than the miniscule steps I was taking before.  I think I, and all of you, were right in saying conquering the big stuff is the only way to break ED down and finally move on with my life.

I hope you all had a fabulous weekend and enjoy your Sunday.

I know I will, as I am headed to lunch and for a day date with an amazing lady 🙂

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12 thoughts on “Taking Some Suggestions

  1. Wow! This is awesome and such a wonderful post! I have recently been doing this same thing…after reading Life Without Ed by Jenni Schaefer, I have come to recognize Ed as a real person who I need to divorce in order to be free again. It’s actually fun sometimes knowing that I can tell Ed no and see disappointment on his face haha! Keep moving forward, I believe in you! YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL 🙂

    • I love the concept of divorcing Ed! That was a great book and i hope you are using all the wonderful wisdom to help you in your own recovery 🙂 I believe in you! and YOU are beautiful ❤

  2. Loved this post. Super important distinction to make. I remember thinking I had to order the healthy thing around my friends since its “who I am”. But it’s SO freeing to just do and eat what you freaking want. And just doing something “splurgy” once gets it out of your system for a while, instead of sitting around craving it for days and days.
    ❤ you girl. I feel like you're making such amazing progress, even if it's only thoughts at first!

    • thanks hun and it definitely doesnt make a person “unhealthy” by enjoying something indulgent. What i am learning is balance is way healthier than any form of extreme!

  3. I want you to realize that
    Most of the things you find so odd about yourself are actually pretty darn normal. Doing things
    You didn’t really like in high school just to fit in, feeling weird after college because the real world is so different than being in school, staying in on a Friday night, being exhausted after work on a weekday and not wanting to move from the couch. I wish I could just shake you back to health. You’re wasting the best years of your life worrying about things you don’t need to worry about. You’re beautiful and smart and stylish……nobody gives a fu** what you eat or if you walk on the treadmill or if you gain 20 pounds. None of those things define YOU. I just had a burger on a full bun and 5 mimosas. My bf and I sat at the bar and laughed our asses off for 2 hours. Yes, I feel a little guilty for putting that crap in my body but so what? I’m not going to eat like that everyday, I’m not going to blow up, my bf won’t love me less, no one at the bar was thinking “look at that cow” and tomorrow in my bathing suit I will look like the same girl I did yesterday. You’re a person. You’re going to experience self doubt and insecurities and sadness. Those emotions don’t have to CONSUME you though. I hope you find a balance soon because you deserve it.

    • thank you so much for your encouragement and I really hope you are enjoying vacation, savoring every minute.
      you have been a really positive commenter and I cant tell you how much you relaying your experiences has helped me through some challenges. thank you 🙂

  4. Great work C. J….and very important too! I hope you can continue to differentiate the ED thoughts from CJ thoughts…an integral part of your recovery! I think you are awesome, and I like the way CJ thinks, way better than how stupid ol ED thinks. Also, I hope you can listen to your thoughts and when you are bored to tears half way through a tread mill workout, get off and follow your gut…
    I love you girl, you know I do!!!

  5. Ohhhh man, I could have written most of this word for word. I’ve always been “confident” and “successful” and a leader rather than a follower, but the older I get, the more I have HUGE doubts about whether what I do is because I like it or because I’m terrified of failure and need to validate myself. In a lot of ways, the ED has amplified this: I’m very conscious of the “failure” it is to have dealt with an ED for such a long time and so severely, so I try to compensate by getting into the “best” programs and having the “best” internships and working the most hours and blah blah blah. Ironically, one thing I feel hasn’t been fueled by the ED and fear is ballet, and that’s also one thing the ED has basically taken away entirely.

    It’s great that you are reflecting so consciously about all of this, and I hope you begin to sort out what it is you really love and enjoy. 🙂

    (And PS…at my undergrad, the North Face fleece/black leggings/Uggs uniform was SO true! The North Face fleeces were pretty much always pink, too. haha.)

    • Thank you so much! and isnt it funny (maybe not funny but terrible?!) how similar some of our minds work in regards to being sick. I am really sad ballet was taken from you. I hope you can someday have it back because I too love the dance (although I am not coordinated nearly enough to do ballet…Zumba has become a good friend of mine recently haha) and I think it is a fabulous way to get out emotion and just feel free.

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